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man earing a hat in overalls holding small wood lattice
Filipino lettuce field laborer. Imperial Valley, California, 1939. Lange, Dorothea, photographer.

The Filipino Forum as Business Research Resource

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Not too long ago I ran into an interesting publication in Chronicling America called Filipino Forum. According to the resource record for the paper:

“The brainchild of editor, writer, and publisher Victorio Velasco, the Seattle Filipino Forum was one of the many newspapers aimed at the early 20th century’s growing Filipino community in Seattle and the broader Pacific Northwest.”

Filipino Forum, Independent organ of Filipinos in the pacific northwest, 5 cents a copy
Masthead for the Filipino Forum, 15 Oct. 1928.

It might not seem obvious as a good business source, but like with newspapers generally, it is. The record continues:

“It was consistently a pro-labor, pro-Phillipine Independence voice in the region. Labor issues in the cannery industry were of particular relevance to the paper’s audience, as the Filipino population swelled in the early part of the 20th century thanks to that industry’s need for workers.”

The first issue in Chronicling America is October 15, 1928 and despite the fact that it is only eight pages, there are a number of interesting business-related tidbits in this issue. There were advertisements for a cannery contractor, a grocer, a billiard parlor, a store that sold typewriters, two restaurants, a photo studio, and a clothing store.

Many of the news items the paper published indicate they were keeping an eye on what was going on in the Philippines. For example, in that October issue, they reported on incorporation papers filed for a sugar business opening in the Philippines and a coffee business opening in Lipa, Batangas. Otherwise, this paper was much more about the larger Filipino community in the Seattle area.

During World War II the paper continued publishing and given that the Philippines was a major focus for the war in the Pacific, the paper made sure to include articles reporting on the country for readers hungry for news. One article from November 1943 reports on the government in exile, while another from December 1944 has a photograph of General MacArthur. Of course, those weren’t the only types of articles that were published because the only issue we have digitized from 1942 reported on the Cannery Workers Union asking for a deferment from the Manpower Commission. Between all the serious news, they ran advertisements and published poetry.

full page with a series of advertisements and articles on the Puget Sound's Rizal Day commencement program
Filipino Forum, 10 Dec. 1963.

As time passed the paper did grow and there were more and more advertisements. The November 11, 1950 issue had advertisements for a number of businesses including Kay’s 10¢ Store, Rodrigo Radio Sales & Service, Bataan Recreation Club, Golden Pheasant Café, the Maneki Café, Togo Clothing Co., Bishop’s Pharmacy, Filipino Social & Improvement Club, Tony’s Flower Shop, Philippine Produce Inc., Victory Flower, Dr. James Unosawa, etc..

Early issues were usually under 10 pages and looked more like a newsletter, however by the last issue available in Chronicling America from December 1963, it had expanded and looked more like any other city newspaper.

If you are interested in researching Filipino American economic history and businesses and want to go beyond this newspaper, the Library has material in its collection that may be of interest.

If you want an even broader picture, below are just a few books and periodicals focused on the broader Asian community.

If you are interested in more Business and Science topics, then subscribe to Inside Adams — it’s free!

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