For over 80 years, the Filipino Community of Seattle has been a galvanizing force and a cultural touchstone for thousands of Filipinx Americans and other immigrants throughout our community. We were born out of a time of great racial strife and segregation; when people of color were barred from owning property in many portions of Seattle; a time when communities of color turned to each other for social, cultural and civic support. Over the years, we have helped to shape and enrich the Greater Seattle community we know today, and to provide leadership on many issues of civil rights, social justice, and culturally appropriate and relevant response to basic needs. We are especially proud to be one of our community’s longest-standing, most impactful, people of color-led organizations, and one of the first Filipinx organizations in the nation.
University of Washington Filipino students conceived of purchasing a students’ clubhouse. A committee was formed; and an aggressive fundraising campaign from the Alaska canneries during the fishing season yielded a sizeable amount.
To attract broader support, the name of sponsoring organization was changed from University of Washington Students Clubhouse to Seattle Filipino Community Clubhouse.
The Philippine Commonwealth Government was inaugurated in Manila. To have a common celebration in Seattle, the disparate Filipino organizations agreed to form a new organization called Philippine Commonwealth Council of Seattle (PCCS), which was to hold a two-day Philippine Commonwealth Day celebration. A constitution and a set of by-laws were drafted and approved. The two-day celebration was a resounding success. A new era has arrived, Filipinos in Seattle had finally become united. The organization was incorporated.
Pio de Cano sued and won a landmark case enabling Filipinos to purchase land. He contested the application of the 1921 Alien Land Law to Filipinos, which prohibited non-citizens from owning land. He won the case on the grounds that Filipinos had not been “aliens” but “nationals” at the time the law was passed. After that ruling, de Cano became the first Filipino homeowner in Seattle
The Philippines was granted independence on July 4. The name Philippine Commonwealth Council of Seattle became inappropriate. The Filipinos adopted a new name: the Filipino Community of Seattle and Vicinity. A new constitution and a set of by-laws were adopted and was re-incorporated under the laws of Washington.
In anticipation of the 3rd wave of Filipino immigrants entering Seattle, the organization was renamed “Filipino Community of Seattle, Incorporated.”
The Community Council (FCS Leadership Council) authorized and approved the purchase of a property (a bowling alley) at 5740 Empire Way S (now MLK Jr Way S). The property is now known as the Filipino Community Center (FCC).
The mortgage for FCC has been paid in full.
A mortgage burning ceremony was held. With the complete ownership of the building by FCS, a milestone has been reached by Seattle Filipinos. It is a symbol of a people’s unity.
The Senior Lunch Program was established. It is funded by the City of Seattle Senior Services through the Pacific Asian Empowerment Program. Low cost, hot, delicious and nutritious lunches are served to seniors on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The lunch program continues to this day and now serves over 100 seniors.
FCS launched Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) with a $38K grant from the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods. The program, nurturing growth and maturity among Filipino American youth, is designed within the perspective of Filipino culture and values to provide them leadership skills, civic consciousness, and self-help for the youths to help their peers, and to provide pro-active action in their respective neighborhoods.
The first FCS Miss Gay contest was staged. It was considered “daring” at the time as it was the first of its kind to be held at FCC.
The community saw major renovation of the Filipino Community Center and the development of responsive programs and services.
The FCS Board members voted unanimously to proceed with the pre-development stage of the Filipino Community Village; working toward the development and construction of a two-phased housing, commercial and community service facility with projected cost of $20 million.
FCS hired is first paid Executive Director.
By unanimous vote of the Board Members, the FCS by-laws changed from general election to recruitment of board members subject to board approval. The board elects the President and Officers from among the board members. Term of the President is limited to 2 terms with 3 years/term; the other officers are limited to 3 terms with 3 years/term.
The Washington State Legislature awarded $1.2 million to FCS to fund the construction of the
Innovation Learning Center.
FCS Board selected Beacon Development to build the Filipino Community Village. Cost of the Village was projected to be $30 million.
Capital campaign for the Village entered a hectic phase. One-on-one solicitation with community member, and events, like Kamayan, were held to raise the funds. By the end of the year, approximately $3 million were raised from individuals, foundations, corporations, and state, city and county government for the Innovation Learning Center.
Board Members adopted a 3-year strategic plan to guide FCS operations in 2019 – 2022.
Groundbreaking for the Village was held on September 18, and construction commenced in December, 2019.