Celebrate Filipino American History Month

Did you know that October is Filipino American History Month? It is celebrated in October because the first recorded Filipinos landed on U.S soil on October 18, 1587. Yes, they arrived on the west coast before Christopher Columbus saw any portion of the Americas. You didn’t know? That’s why you should celebrate Filipino American History Month.

Image of a Filipino Flag partially behind an American Flag with the words October is Filipino American History Month across the top.

Who Came First

The Manila Galleon Nuestra Senora de Esperanza commanded by Pedro de Unamuno sent a landing party to the area of the coast now known as Morro Bay, California. They claimed the area for Spain and marked it with a cross made of branches. Native indians attacked the group two days later. Unamuno and his crew gave up exploring the coast any further.

Image of a triangular-shaped boulder with a plaque on it about the Morro Bay landing by Filipinos marks the landing spot as we celebrate filipino American History Month.

First Permanent Settlement

History is often murky. But we know that the Manila Galleon Trade thrived and connected Asia, the Americas and Europe for over two centuries. Luzones Indios, natives from the Philippine island Luzon, were among the sailors and indentured servants vital to that network. 

During those two hundred years many Luzones Indios escaped to Mexico and parts of the US. In Louisiana, they became known as the Manilamen. 

The oldest documentation of Filipinos in St Malo, Louisiana was a Harpers Weekly magazine article from 1883. The author of the article thought they’d been there for at least fifty years. Oral tradition puts them there a hundred years earlier. They were fishermen, privateers in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, and fought in the War of 1812.

Sadly the historic St. Malo suffers from destruction by hurricanes and the changing climate. One day that historic site may vanish from sight. 

Manilatown, San Francisco

From the 1920s to the late 1970s, Manilatown in San Francisco thrived. A Filipino American neighborhood, a five block stretch near Chinatown.

California Alien Land Law forbade Filipinos from owning land or businesses. This meant they had to be transient. Live in rooming houses, hotels, or work camps. In San Francisco’s Manilatown, the International Hotel (the I-Hotel) was one of the places Filipinos called home. It was a low-income residential hotel. 

The I-Hotel came to national attention in the 1970s when the urban renewal project in San Francisco threatened the hotel’s existence. The project bought buildings and evicted people who were poor, old, black, and brown. 

In the 1970s, the building housed nearly 150 Filipino and Chinese seniors, three community groups, an art workshop, a radical bookstore and three Asian newspapers.


By that time the financial district’s slow take over the area, had reduced Manilatown to the one block the I-Hotel stood on.

Landlords wanted to evict the residents of the I-Hotel. They planned to put a parking lot there.

Image of people protesting outside the International Hotel, Manilatown ,San Francisco 1977

For almost a decade (1968-1977), a “mass-based, multiracial alliance which included students, unions and churches, fought the eviction.” At 3 a.m. on August 4, 1977, 3000 people fought hundreds of club-wielding riot police at the I-Hotel. The eviction was successful.

The Rest of the Story

The building stood empty until it was demolished in  1979. Then the lot remained a vacant hole until local neighborhood groups succeeded in their efforts. Rebuilt in 2005, the I-Hotel houses 104 low-income seniors and the International Hotel Manilatown Center.

Want to know more? Check out Wikipedia’s List of Filipino Americans.

Learn More and Celebrate

The stories above are only a tiny slice of Filipino American history. There are “little manilas” in many major cities across America, yet little if any Filipino American history makes it into our history books and schools. America is a melting pot that historically ignores nonwhite contributions to our history. Please help change that. Share any Filipino history you know in the comments below and celebrate Filipino American History Month.

Image Credits: Top: Images of the flags and the words October is Filipino American History Month by Lynette M Burrows using images of the flags of the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America by Clker Free Vector Images of Pixabay.com. Second Photo Morro Bay historical marker by Harry Cutts, CC BY-SA 4.0. Third photo images of protestors in front of the International Hotel by Nancy Wong, CC BY-SA 4.0 Published

Categorized as History, Holidays, Inspiration and Motivation Tagged ,

May the Fourth is More than a Movie Meme

I was a high school senior in Westerville, Ohio, weeks away from graduation, when Kent State became national news for all the wrong reasons. Kent State University, a mere two hours away, was one of the few places of higher education on my list of colleges to consider. That tragic part of history etched itself in my memory. Do you remember May the fourth is more than a movie meme?

On May 4, 1970 National Guardsmen opened fire on a crowd of Kent State students protesting the Vietnam War. They killed four and wounded nine. To this day, I still struggle to understand what happened and why.

Vietnam War memorial photo by Znatalie33, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Simplified Summary of The War

The Second Indochina War, more commonly known as the Vietnam war probably began before World War II. But Japan’s invasion, defeat, and subsequent withdrawal from Vietnam left the nation vulnerable. 

Communist-leaning, Ho Chi Minh claimed the northern city of Hanoi to be the capital of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, and appointed himself president.

The French, wanting to reclaim control, backed Emperor Bao Dai. Saigon became the capitol of the state of Viet Nam. They wanted a country with close economic and cultural ties to the west.

Fighting ensued.

A treaty split Viet Nam along the 17th Parallel and called for a nationwide election to unify the country.

The United States, caught up in the Cold War and the domino theory of communist invasion, threw their support for Diem with military advisors and the CIA.

The fighting escalated. (For a more detailed explanation and timeline, read History.com.

The Protests

Photograph of protestors on two sides of a river. A protest sign "get the hell out of Vietnam"
March on the Pentagram photo by Frank Wolfe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

By 1967, the draft in the USA. called nearly 40,000 young men each month to fight in Viet Nam. More than 15,000 soldiers died, and more than 100,000 were injured. Few recognized the effect of PTSD on those fortunate enough to return home.

The anti-war movement began mostly on campuses. Students gathered and protested. But famous people like author Norman Mailer and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. protested too. Anti-war songs filled the airwaves.

There were anti-war demonstrations in London, Great Britain, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Amsterdam, Indonesia, and many other countries. 

Protests Turn Violent

In October 1967, University of Wisconsin students staged protests against maker of napalm, Dow Chemicals, the protests and police response there were the first time a campus antiwar demonstration turned violent.

Skirmishes between antiwar demonstrators and police grew more and more frequent. Demonstrations became unruly and occasionally violent.

Kent State

On May 1, 1970, 500 Kent State students gathered on the Commons (an open grassy area) to protest the war. It and a second rally in the afternoon ended peacefully.

That night, Friday, May 2, drunken demonstrators in downtown Kent taunt police and break windows in the downtown businesses. The town’s entire police force responded. The mayor declares a state of emergency and the Governor calls in the National Guard. 

The National Guard arrived to find a crowd of about 1,000 people surround the school’s Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). It’s burning. Many in the cheering crowd prevent firefighters from extinguishing the blaze. The Guardsmen disperse the crowd with tear gas and bayonets.

The next day the Guard use tear gas on scattered protests. The college issued a ban against rallies, and classes resumed on May 4th.

May 4th

Image from behind National Guard Soldiers marching on students on the Commons at Kent State. May the fourth is more than a movie meme.
Kent State National Guard marching on protestors
photo by Kent State University News Service, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

By noon, approximately 2,000 people gathered on campus protesting the war. Guardsmen fired tear gas and with fixed bayonets advanced on the protestors. Some protestors wouldn’t leave. They taunted the Guardsmen. Some threw rocks.

Minutes later, the National Guardsmen opened fire, killing four and wounding nine students.

Never Condone

The horrors of protests turning into riots and violence by demonstrators and police weren’t new. I was ten when I witnessed civil rights protests and riots and violence on a small but very personal scale.

When I saw the news of the violence at Kent State, less than two hundred miles from where I sat in my home, it hit me hard. I was a high school senior who couldn’t wait to be a college student in three months.

None of my friends or acquaintances every confessed to being at those demonstrations. But I’ve carried the memory of “that could have been me” ever since. That thought, or fear, resonates every time there are deaths or injuries by Americans against Americans—regardless of color, preferred gender, or who they love—they are all Americans. If we can turn against one another, if we don’t respect one another, who is safe?

No one.

I had hoped we would always remember and learn to be better. That all would recognize peaceful protests as peaceful and demonstrations would never turn violent. That we would never condone violence against anyone for any reason.

A Painful Memory

From Nov. 1, 1955 until April 30, 1975, the conflict raged between Communist North Vietnam and South Vietnam. More than 3 million people (mostly Vietnamese) were killed in the conflict. That number includes 58,220 Americans killed. About 304,000 American soldiers were injured during the war. That doesn’t consider soldiers from other nations, the countless number of others missing or presumed dead, or those killed or wounded during antiwar demonstrations.

It also doesn’t count the dead or injured of other past, present, or future conflicts. 

Many of my family members and friends have painful memories of violence, of the Vietnam war and the antiwar demonstrations in particular.

Perhaps you know someone, soldier, demonstrator, or family member, who has painful memories from the Vietnam war. And if not that war, perhaps previous or current armed conflicts, or the violence of hate crimes.

Remember May the Fourth is More than a Movie Meme

Did you remember May the fourth is more than a movie meme? Too many of us, not just in the USA but worldwide, share painful memories of violence, injury, and death. Or the painful, shameful memories of people injuring and killing other people because of differences in belief systems (hate). I wish we had learned to be better… Sometimes I despair. Can we ever remember our violent past and learn to be better? And sometimes, I raise my voice and ask us to remember and be better.

When a Department Store was an Experience

Department Stores, they ain’t what they used to be. There was a time when a trip to the department store was an experience. You had a nice meal, you got personal service, and you were pampered.

Before department stores came about, upper- and middle-class women didn’t go shopping. Door-to-door salesmen brought their wares to the home. Or servants went to stores for groceries and such. People thought it was too dangerous or risqué for a woman to be on the streets alone.

The First

The first department store opened in London in 1796. They sold furs, fans, haberdashery, jewelry, clocks, and hats. It was called Howell & Co’s Grand Fashionable Magazine 

Macy’s opened in 1878.

Department store owners sought upper- and middle-class customers. Everyone else lacked the time or the money to shop at their leisure. 

Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.

— Bo Derek

The Experience

Aimed at women with money, most stores had elegant tea rooms or full restaurants. The buildings had high ceilings, luxury fixtures, and beautiful views. They had lounging areas, personal assistants to help you shop, and weekly fashion shows.

Women loved the freedom that shopping gave them. They got out of the house. And—learned to love to shop. Read more about how 19th-century women gained their freedom thanks to department stores. 

Happiness is not in money, but in shopping.

— Marilyn Monroe

You could buy anything at a department store. Each floor of the larger stores was a “department” like men’s clothing, women’s clothing, shoes, housewares, etc.

Around 1900 American department stores began selling cosmetics. It was such a high-profit item, it became a feature of the first floor of all department stores.

Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.

— Oscar Wilde

They considered men to be too timid to walk all through the store. Thus men’s departments were on the first floor. There were smoking rooms set off from everything else, so they wouldn’t “disturb” the ladies. 


Image of Garfinckel's Department Store Building--when shopping at a department store was an experience
image by AgnosticPreachersKid [CC BY-SA 4.0]

In My Soul to Keep Miranda makes her escape from Garfinckel’s Department store. Learn more about My Soul to Keep.

Garfinckel’s opened its first retail store in 1918 in Washington D.C. Known for its high fashion, it closed in the 1990s.

Have I visited Garinckel’s? Only virtually. You can learn a little more about Garfinckel’s here or here


Image of a former Lazarus in Philadelphia--when a department store was an experience
public domain image of a former Lazarus store in Philadelphia

After their escape from Redemption, Miranda and Beryl shop at a department store called Lazarus. 

F&R Lazarus & Company was founded in 1851. Commonly called, Lazarus, its headquarters were in Columbus, Ohio. It operated in the midwest until 2005. Learn more about Lazarus here and here.

A first reader laughed out loud at the name of the department store and thought I’d named it that for its Biblical association. Granted, the implications did occur to me, but the real reason I had them go to Lazarus? I lived in the Columbus, Ohio area in the ’60s and had visited the store more than once. 

Experience or Convenience?

Our department stores today are pale shadows of what they once were. Back when a trip to the department store was an experience, women loved to go to the store. Shopping was an added bonus. Somehow internet shopping, while convenient, doesn’t create an experience. Would you prefer a shopping experience or shopping convenience?

Inspiration from Fire and Brimstone and Redemption.

public domain image via Wikimedia Commons

I come from a family with deep roots in conservative religion and found inspiration from fire and brimstone and redemption. Where did I find that inspiration? American Christianity has a history of periodic revivals of conservative religious fervor called the Great Awakening.

During each of these periods of Awakening, there were widespread revivals led by evangelicals The phrase “Great Awakening” refers to all the periods collectively. The term Awakening refers to the awakening of interest in religion.


Revivals were a series of religious gatherings. They lasted from three days to a week or more. Meetings would happen in the same location at the same time every day or evening. At these meetings, the evangelist preached of fire and brimstone and redemption. In the American South revivals were commonly held in tents through the summer months. In the northern states, halls and auditoriums were rented. Some areas and denominations continue to hold annual tent revivals to this day.

Thousands attended these revivals. The evangelists produced a profound sense of conviction and redemption among believers. The Fellowship in my novel, My Soul to Keep, was created with this history in mind.


Historians agree that there were three Awakenings. The First Great Awakening occurred during the 1730s and 1740s. The Second Great Awakening ran from the late eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century. The period of revival from the 1850’s to the 1900s is called the Third Great Awakening.

Up for debate is whether a Fourth Great Awakening happened during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Experts disagree. Air-conditioned megachurches and televangelism were more popular then than tent revivals.

A period of lower interest and sometimes disillusionment followed most of these Awakenings. Readers over a certain age likely remember one such period. Anyone remember Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker?


Each period had its religious leaders. Do you know who they were? Below is a list of real and fictional religious leaders. See if you can identify the real ones. Don’t look them up. Go with your best memory or guess.

Inspiration from Fire and Brimstone and Redemption--The History of the Great Awakening

You can download the quiz here: The Great Awakening Quiz


The answers to the quiz can be found here: The Great Awakening Quiz Answers


How did I first become aware of the Great Awakening? Family history. Plus, I attended some tent revivals as a child. In time, my immediate family’s religious beliefs veered away from the ultra-conservative. I’ve gone a bit further away than that. But let me make it clear, I am not against any religion conservative or not. I wrote a dystopian novel about abuses of religion and government. Abuses that I fear.

So, how did you do on the quiz? Anyone get 100%? Let me know your score in the comments below.

How to Time Travel Without a Delorean

Would you like time travel in a Delorean? In 1981 a Delorean cost $26,000 US dollars. In 2016, the Delorean Motor Company planned to make three hundred replicas of the 1982 Delorean. Each of those vehicles cost approximately $100,000. I don’t know about you, but that is too pricey for my budget. What if I told you how to time travel without the Delorean? In fact, what if I said you needed a Ford or a Studebaker? Would you still want to travel into the past?

When writing a novel, the right details create a verisimilitude that helps your story take on a life of its own. This is especially true when writing an alternate history like My Soul to Keep. Thank goodness I learned the secret of time travel and a way to make a new, alternate America. By now you’ve guessed the secret to time travel—the internet.

Not participating in WWII, America would be a bit slower coming out of the depression. So when I looked for vehicles I looked for those that were around ten- to twenty years earlier than the 1960s when Miranda’s story takes place. I found a treasure trove in antique and classic car sales websites.

Time Travel to Old Cars

The first victim of the Azrael drove a Studebaker, like this one.

My time travel device even allowed me to hear what the Studebaker sounded like.

During their escape, Miranda and Beryl travel in a red, two-door Hudson Commodore V8.

A brief search even yielded the owner’s manual.  From the manual, I found out the fuel capacity of the Hudson. But I wanted to know how many hours it would take to get from Kansas City, Missouri to near Lynchburg, Virginia. I needed information about old highways.

Time Travel Old Highways

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 on June 29, 1956. This act authorized the Interstate Highway System we have in the US today. Oops. That Act wasn’t going to get passed in Miranda’s world. She and Beryl would have to travel without any Interstates. Google Maps to the rescue!

Google Maps allows you to add destinations. You can also exclude the highways, toll roads, and ferries that Miranda’s world would not include. I made maps of each segment of the trip, calculated the time, and the gas mileage.

A dark Ford Sedan

…and a Chrysler chase them through the streets of Louisville, Kentucky. The Chrysler crashes.

How to Time Travel Without a Delorean by Lynette M. Burrows--creating the world of My Soul to Keep

This Police car is from the San Diego Police Museum’s fleet. Beryl had to walk past one that looked like this while on the run in Lynchburg, Virginia.

How to Time Travel Without a Delorean by Lynette M. Burrows--creating the world of My Soul to Keep

Of course, on such a long trip they’d have to make stops. They’d go to places like the once popular Lazarus Department Store, diners, and gas stations. I researched them all. Not all my research ended up in the novel. (Aren’t you glad!)

Figuring out how to time travel without a Delorean was fun. My thanks to Webeautos, Classic AutoTrader, Imcdb, the San Diego Police Museum for the fantastic images. I hope it this short time travel trip was fun for you, too. Next week I will conclude my exploration of creating My Soul to Keep. I also hope to make an announcement or two. Stay tuned!