Saturday, May 26, 2007


Did you know in 1870 the Chinese in New York City decided to create an Asian community, later to be dubbed “Chinatown”. The selected streets have a distinctive Chinese flavor that still exists today. It is a major tourist attraction and a frequent location for movies.
Even earlier than this, in 1848, there was a Chinese community created in San Francisco. Today San Francisco’s “Chinatown” ,with it’s narrow twisted streets and complex underground tunnels steeped in “Tong War” mystique, still attracts thousands of tourists every year.
But what was the oldest Asian community in America? It was a little fishing village called “Saint Malo “established 240 years ago (1763). The houses and general lifestyle were exactly like that enjoyed in their home country, but even before it was destroyed in 1915, no tourists ever bothered to visit.

Now for the rest of the story.

Saint Malo was the oldest of six Pinoy villages in the swamps of Louisiana. The largest village was “Manila Village”; eventually that was destroyed by a storm in 1965. Now, how did Filipinos get to North America 14 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed? Simple, they came the same way we did, by boat. They were sailors on Spanish galleons and a variety of other sailing vessels. Often they were treated worse than slaves, so when they had a chance, they deserted. These hardy Filipinos lived secretly in the Louisiana swamps for almost 100 years. Their existence and lifestyle was revealed in a newspaper article published in 1883.

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