Filipino Love Stories

Forget Me Not

Forget Me NotThe stories of love, marriage, and community building reflect the gender ‌imbalance of the first wave of Filipino migrants who arrived to the U.S. before 1934. Because the Central Coast was primarily a rural region with few opportunities for Filipinos outside of seasonal farm work, the male to female ratio was especially skewed—for example, in the Pismo Beach area, there were over sixty Filipino men for every one Filipina woman.

For these primarily young single men, kinship-based networks centering around the nuclear family were not only limited due to the low numbers of Filipina women, but also because of legal and social proscriptions against interracial marriage. When families did emerge, they were often established by Filipinos who first lived and worked in Hawaii since, unlike the mainland, the sugar plantations there required year-round labor and preferred the stability that families provided. Some Filipino men started the rare family by marrying, even eloping with, non-Filipino local women. Such couples traveled to other states to wed because, until 1948, California did not allow mixed race marriages.

Forget me Not collage of mixed-race couplesFrom left to right: Unknown couple. (Courtesy of Lucille Lor) // Angel and Maria Tacbas at their farm in Shell Beach. In 1947, they went to New Mexico to marry after the judge in San Luis Obispo refused to marry them because of their age difference (thirty years) and because of their racial difference: Maria is Mexican and Angel is Filipino. 1947. (Courtesy of Susie Tacbas Nabor) // Unknown couple. This photograph is perhaps taken at Steele Ranch in Arroyo Grande, CA. c.1930s. (Courtesy of Juliet Betita) // Benny Daquilanea and Juanita Ulloa could not legally marry in California so they married in New Mexico in 1945. They celebrated their wedding in Pismo Beach, at the local lodge of the Legionarios del Trabajo, a Filipino fraternal organization to which Benny belonged. Benny was also one of the shareholders of the P.I. Market, a hub for Filipino American community. February 22, 1945. (Courtesy of Julia Richards)

Jimmy and Mary's StoryJimmy, Filipino migrant, and Mary, Mexican American, met working in the fields of Lompoc. They courted in secret through love letters, and in 1935 eloped to Yuma, Arizona, because of legal and social restrictions against interracial marriage.

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