By Glen S. Ramos
MANILA — We already know that Filipinos can be found anywhere in the world, especially in the United States (US), where there are over 4.2 million, as estimated by the 2019 American Community Survey.
This is why “Tagalog” is the third most popularly spoken language in three US states, namely New Jersey, Nevada, and California.
The survey also showed that Ilocano is the third most commonly used language in Hawaii, mainly because Filipinos are the second largest racial group on the island.
According to the 2010 census done by the state of Hawaii, Filipinos surpassed the Japanese population with a total population of 342,095 where 197,497 were pure Filipinos compared to the total population of Japanese, 312,292 with 185,502 pure Japanese.
According to Belinda Aquino, emeritus professor of Political Science and Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii, 62 percent of the Filipinos recruited between 1916 and 1928 was Ilocano. They were hired as laborers by the Hawaii Sugar Planters’ Association to work in the plantations in the early 1900s.
Another surprising fact is that Tagalog was also the fourth most popular language in Alaska, one of the coldest places on earth. And one of the places you wouldn’t think you can find a “kababayan”, but actually, there are over 30,000 Filipinos in Alaska, making them the largest immigrant minority in the state according to a 2017 news article in the South China Morning Post.
Filipinos have been in Alaska since the 1700s and working in exploratory and fur trading ships, then in canneries during the 1920s and 1930s, they were known as “Alaskeros”.
All these reports show that Filipinos have been migrating to the US for many decades. The most significant factor is family responsibility which forces Filipinos to leave the country and work abroad.
The promise of greater pay and better living after only a few months overseas is an opportunity for them to try their luck. (ai/mtvn)