The Sarimanok & My Immigration Story

October is Filipino American History Month

Every October, Filipinos in the United States celebrate Filipino American History Month. October was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Filipinos who landed in what is now Morro Bay, California on October 18, 1587. It is also the birth month of Filipino American labor leader Larry Itliong. Proposed in 1991 by the Filipino American National Historical Society, it wasn’t until 2009 that it was nationally recognized by the US Federal Government with the passage of H. RES. 780 by Congress.

Filipinos are the second-largest Asian American group in the United States, behind Chinese-origin Americans, and the third-largest ethnic group in California behind Latine and Blacks. However, it wasn’t until recently that society has begun to appreciate the integral role that Filipinos and Filipino Americans have had on shaping the United states, with many learning more about significant members of the Filipino diaspora and critical events in our shared history as immigrants to this country.

About the artist

Bren Bataclan is a Filipino artist based in Boston, MA. Born in the capitol city of the Philippines, Manila, at age 12 he immigrated with his family to Daly City, CA. Informally known as “Little Manila,” Daly City has both the largest concentration of Filipinos and is the largest majority Asian city in the contiguous United States. Bren’s life, as well as his complicated relationship with his mother Fe, can further be explored in his memoir, FE: A Traumatized Son’s Graphic Memoir.

Prior to becoming a full time artist, Bren taught design and computer animation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Boston Museum School. In the early 2000s, Bren began giving away paintings in public spaces with a note saying, “This painting is yours if you promise to smile at random people more often.” Since then, he has given away over 3,000 paintings in close to 80 different countries and to all 50 states in the U.S. As anti-bullying programs gained popularity, schools began to ask Bren to give presentations about his kindness-related street art project. His “Pay-It-Forward” themed presentations led to mural projects. Bren has now painted over 250 murals for schools, hospitals and businesses.