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The U.S. and the Philippines: a History Lesson at the Mall


Neda goes searching for history at the mall

Have you ever tried to learn about history at the mall? Me neither -- until I went to Serramonte Mall in Daly City, California, to learn about the Philippines. Daly City is home to one of the biggest Filipino communities outside the Philippines, and my mission was to find signs of Filipino history at the mall!

Daly City -- not just any old freeway exit

The Philippines is a nation of islands in the Pacific Ocean. It has a long history of being colonized by other countries. In fact, the Philippines was ruled by Spain for 333 years -- yikes! In the late 1800s, the United States fought against Spain in the Spanish-American War. During that war, Filipinos hoped that the U.S. might help them throw off Spanish rule. But they were sorely disappointed.

When the Spanish-American war ended in 1898, the U.S. bought the Philippines from Spain for $20 million. After this little exchange, do you think the American government let the Philippines run their own country? No sir-ee, Bob, it sure didn't. Instead, U.S. President William McKinley told the Filipinos that the United States would take control of the Philippines "for their own good," because they were "unfit" to take care of themselves.


You can imagine how angry the Filipinos were. They were so angry that they fought the Americans. A man named Emilio Aguinaldo, who had helped the U.S. fight the Spanish, now led a rebellion against the Americans. But the U.S. defeated the Filipino rebels. The Americans promised they would give the Philippines their independence, but they took their sweet time doing it.

Basically, the U.S. wanted the resources in the Philippines, and they wanted an easy way to trade with the rest of Asia. Holding on to the Philippines gave the U.S. both those advantages. Meanwhile, the Americans made all sorts of changes in the Philippines, building roads and teaching English in the schools. Many Filipinos learned to speak English -- whether they wanted to or not.

And many Filipinos were still angry that the Americans had taken over their country: they'd rather have freedom than roads and English. Finally, in 1946, after a 45-year wait, the U.S. left the Philippines.

Because the U.S. took over the Philippines for such a long time, many Filipinos moved to the U.S. looking for work. At first, Filipinos moved mostly to Hawaii and California, where they worked on farms. But then many Filipinos from all walks of life began coming to the U.S., and settling all over -- and settling in Daly City, California.

That brings us back to the mall, where I found Filipino food at Manila Bay Cuisine in the food court!

Manila Bay Cuisine -- definitely got some funny looks taking pictures of Filipino food at the mall

From now on, when I go to the mall in Daly City, I'll remember the battles fought and the lives lost, the colonialism, and the immigration that brought Filipino food to the Serramonte Mall!


Please email me at: neda@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephanie - A state for Puerto Rico?
Jen - The first U.S. president of Nicaragua!
Stephen - Cuba Libre! The sweet taste of freedom
Stephen - The Great Panama Canal Grab