Dreamland: The Filipino American Story

In 2017, I worked as a photographer for a 6 part  commissioned series entitled: Dreamland: The Filipino American Story. The series tells the untold story of the Filipino Migration to the United states.

Dorothy Cordova is the head of the Filipino American National Historical Society, an organisation more commonly known as  FANHS. For the past 35 years the organisation has been collecting, archiving and safe keeping the history of the Filipino Americans in America. 

This was the first day we met Dorothy. “All I do is attend funerals” she says, as she expresses the urgency of this film project — a dire need to tell all the stories that need to be told.

Pio De Cano Jr. is a veteran of the US Marines with a PhD and research experience. He dropped by FANHS to talk about his childhood in America and the work of his Father. Pio De Cano Sr.

On April 30, 1940, his father, Pio De Cano Sr. won right to own property in America. He contested the application of the 1921 Alien Land Law to Filipinos. The 1921 Alien Land Law prohibited non-citizens from owning land. However, at the time the law was passed, the Filipinos were American nationals as well— being that the country was under the American rule.

Pio, shows a photograph of his father. He wears the hat in this photograph

Escolastico Galarosa is one of the last living survivors of the Bataan Death March that happened in the Philippines in 1942. The infamous march was a transfer conducted by the Imperial Japanese army of the Filipino and American soldiers  from Bagac, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac. The soldiers walked a distance between 96km to 112km. Many perished on the way. 

In a house across the street from the office of FANHS, Escolastico Galarosa, better known as “Scotty”— rests on the porch. On most days he still walks around. In fact, people in the neighbourhood know Mr. Galarosa as the centenarian who walks around.

He tries to tell the stories of his younger years but forgets many details, especially that of the war.

“I had many wounds” he says.
“That’s why they gave me The Purple Heart”

The Purple Heart is a military medal awarded by the United States Armed forces to members of the military who were killed or wounded during the war.

The series, “Dreamland” is currently in production.

Published by Venice De Castro

Venice De Castro is documentarist whose curiosity is observing how personal and societal transformations manifest in everyday life.