Chapter Four: The Long Road to Equity

1965 – 1980s

A New Community

New migrations and political perspectives opened a door for World War II veterans.

The alliance between the United States and its former colony of the Philippines remained steady during the 1960s. Meanwhile, Filipino American communities changed dramatically. New migrations and new political perspectives opened a door for World War II veterans. As they gathered power, found allies, and educated the public, they launched new challenges to the Rescission Act and its ongoing denial of citizenship and veterans benefits.

Los Angeles Philippine Women's Club Meeting, 1966. Shades of L.A. Collection, Los Angeles Public Library
The United Farm Workers Organization, which orchestrated the Delano Grape Strikes, showing support for Filipino agricultural workers. United Farm Workers
The Filipino Student Association at the University of Washington, comprised of about 30 American-born and Philippine-born students, enjoy a tribute dinner sponsored by the Philippine Consul. Elefanio Picture Service
Citizenship Class, Vallejo. Filipino American National Historical Society

The Immigration Act of 1965 broke down barriers to immigration that the U.S. had imposed on Filipinos ever since the 1930s. The law eliminated a national quota that capped immigration from the Philippines at only 100 migrants per year. It made family reunification a principle of immigration policy, connecting Filipino Americans with relatives back home. It also opened up new opportunities for highly skilled workers in fields such as engineering, medicine, and nursing to immigrate to the United States.

The Immigration Act is signed by Lyndon Johnson. Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library/U.S. National Archives
Dolores Ramolete with fellow nurses representing the Filipino Community of Los Angeles, Inc. at an event held at City Hall. Shades of LA Collection
Filipinos partake in a bowling league. Shades of LA
A Filipino father enjoys a beverage while taking his daughter out for ice cream. Shades of LA Collection

Overall, the law made it possible for tens of thousands of Filipinos to come to the United States in the decades after 1965. First- and second-generation immigrants formed community associations, built religious congregations, and supported arts and music programs that bridged American and Filipino cultures. But Filipinos who settled in the United States still faced discrimination and prejudice. Many would come to learn about and organize against the injustice of the Rescission Act.

Ruben Curameng, Rose Curameng, Alex DePeralta and Florentina DePeralta in traditional Filipino dress dancing, Washington DC, 1966. Rita M. Cacas Filipino American Community Archives, University of Maryland
“Veterans begin to change the landscape of America. Among them are the veterans of Filipino regiments.” - Pete Aduja, WWII Veteran, First Filipino Infantry Regiment.
Sandaan: One Hundred Years of Filipinos in America

Protest movements sweeping across the country in the 1960s inspired Filipino Americans, especially young people born after World War II. Activists began organizing elderly veterans, some of whom were homeless or living in poor conditions in urban areas.

Standoff between police and protestors fighting against mass eviction from the International Hotel, a historic affordable housing option for migrant workers, including Filipinos. San Francisco, 1968. Nancy Wong

Oral History

Our sense of community was shaped around how generations were defined by their experiences.

Marlan Maralit, Activist


They increasingly worked with other Asians and Asian Americans as a coalition united against racial injustice. Some of the largest communities of Asian Americans lived in California, Hawai’i, and other West Coast regions. As their numbers grew, they found their elected representatives began to respond to their concerns.

Photograph of Val Laigo next to his mosaic in Dr. Jose Rizal Park, Seattle, Washington, between 1988 and 1989. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

As their numbers grew, they found elected representatives began to respond to their concerns.

Next Section

  • 1990s

    Early Legislative Efforts

    Filipino Americans took their fight to Congress, ensuring that immigration laws reflected veterans’ rights.

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