Filipinos in Washington, D.C.
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More About This Title Filipinos in Washington, D.C.


Filipinos arrived in the Washington, D.C., area shortly after 1900 upon the annexation of the Philippines to the United States. These new settlers included students, soldiers, seamen, and laborers. Within four decades, they became permanent residents, military servicemen, government workers, and community leaders. Although numerous Filipinos now live in the area, little is known about the founders of the Filipino communities. Images of America: Filipinos in Washington, D.C. captures an ethnic history and documents historical events and political transitions that occurred here.


Rita M. Cacas is a native Washingtonian and daughter of one of the Depression-era pioneers. A longtime federal government
employee, Cacas previously worked at the National Gallery of Art and currently works at the U.S. National Archives. Juanita Tamayo Lott was raised in San Francisco, but her adulthood has been spent in the Washington, D.C., area. She is a retired federal senior demographer, policy analyst, and special assistant to the U.S. Census Bureau director. She cofounded the first U.S. Filipino American Studies at San Francisco State in 1969 and the Filipino American Studies Program at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2007.


Title: 'Images of America' book launched in D.C.

Author: Maurese Oteyza Owens

Publisher: Philippene News

Date: 12/11/09

Who were the Early Filipinos in the Washington, D.C. area? Ever wondered about this?

There's a new book that tells that story -- "Images of America: Filipinos in Washington, DC," by Rita M. Cacas and Juanita Tamayo Lott. The book was launched December 1 at the Marvin Center of the George Washington University. Here's the story of Filipinos in the nation's capital told through more than 200 vintage photos pulled mainly from family albums centering around settlements and stories of our community from 1900-1964 (before the beltway was constructed), as well as photos from the National Archives collections.

The book launch was sponsored by the Philippine Cultural Society of the George Washington University (GWU) in cooperation with the Philippine Arts, Letters, & Media Council (PALM). The Philippine American Foundation for Charities (PAFC) and the National Federation of Filipino American Associations supported the project.

The launch, organized by Mitzi Pickard of PALM and Kaye Ablen, president of the GWU Philippine Cultural Society, drew a diverse audience. Questions from the audience elicited curiosity and awe at who these Filipinos were at the turn of the century. Director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland, College Park Larry Shinegawa was present and applauded the publication of the book. Filipino Americans who are interested in their history will find this 128-paged pictorial both fascinating and informative.

Copies of the book may be purchased from PAFC. Please contact Ador Carreon at [email protected]/tel. 240.475.2645 or Maurese Owens at [email protected] or 703.606.8796.
Title: Authors shine a light on local Filipino heritage

Author: Brooke Kenny


Date: 1/27/10

Rita Cacas decided to remedy a situation that disturbed her. After realizing that most accounts of Filipino immigration to the United States focus on the West Coast, the Silver Spring resident created the book "Filipinos in Washington, D.C." to spotlight the lively community and rich culture that exist on the East Coast.

She teamed up with demographer and fellow Filipino-American Juanita Tamayo Lott to research and write the book. It is part of Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series that seeks to preserve the history of various communities across the nation.

"Filipinos in Washington, D.C." documents area Filipinos from the early 1900s to the present, from pioneers through the generations that followed, mostly through pictures of families, cultural events and workplaces. The photographs have detailed captions that place the people and events in a larger historical context.

According to Cacas, Filipinos who came to the U.S. between 1900 and 1945 sought education and opportunity. The book highlights the lives of ordinary people who served in the U.S. military in World Wars I and II and Vietnam, and continue to be an important part of the military, as well as academia and the private sector.

Both women brought a wealth of personal and professional knowledge to the project. Lott, who grew up in San Francisco and now lives in Colesville, is a retired demographer and policy analyst who worked as the special assistant to the U.S. Census Bureau director.

Cacas, who works at the National Archives, is an experienced photographer. Her father arrived in the D.C. area in 1929. He tried to tell his children about his experiences, but "We weren't ready to hear those stories."

Later, when her father began to suffer from Alzheimer's disease, Cacas realized it was time to document his experience and those of other Filipino immigrants he knew.

"A lot of the stories that he tried to tell us about were disappearing," she says.

In 1993, Cacas received a small grant from the Prince George's Arts Council to document the local Filipino community through photographs and began her project, "A Visit with My Elders: Portraits and Stories of Washington area Filipino Pioneers." She presented the photographs and gave talks at conferences, libraries and cultural centers. Along the way, she connected with even more people in the Filipino community.

The project laid the groundwork for the book that Cacas and Lott began working on in earnest in 2008.

"Trying to collect pictures for the book was one of the biggest challenges," Cacas says, explaining that some of the older people she dealt with did not save old family photos.

Fortunately, she found mounds of pictures collected by the Toribios, long-time family friends. She gathered some 1,000 photos, and chose about 250 for the book, the ones she thought best told the local Filipino story.

Another challenge, Cacas notes, was that publishing guidelines dictated that the captions could not exceed 70 words. Boiling down life stories was difficult.

Cacas feels the stories in the book have value to anyone interested in the immigrant experience in America, and hopes to encourage young people to keep track of their family histories.

"You have to understand and appreciate your past to move forward," she observes.

Lott believes the personal nature of the stories makes it easy for readers to connect with the experiences.

"We tell the story of people who overcame a lot of things so that they could have the American dream," she says.

"Filipinos in Washington, D.C." is available at Politics and Prose Bookstore & Coffee Shop, 5015 Connecticut Ave., Washington, D.C, as well as online at www.arcadiapublishing

.com or The authors will sign copies of their book from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 18 at Barnes and Noble, 4801 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, as part of the Bethesda Literary Festival.