There was a time in the not too distant past when Filipinos in the U.S. were subjected to violence and the same, cruel negative stereotypes currently levelled against recent immigrant populations. Somehow or other, they survived these attacks, persevered, and endured. As Filipino American attorneys, we are the embodiment of what they had sacrificed and fought so hard for. It is a true privilege and an honor.
Pablito Manlapit is attributed with being the first Filipino American attorney licensed to practice law in the U.S. Manlapit was a labor leader in the 1920s and organized a strike led by Filipino plantation workers in Hawaii. Following Manlapit, there is scant history about Filipino Americans in the law, up until 1981, when the Honorable Mel Red Recana from California becomes the first Fil-Am judge in the U.S. While not much is known of the period between Manlapit and Judge Recana, we do know that today, Filipino American attorneys are significantly underrepresented in the legal profession and government. What this translates to is a substantial period of important American history devoid of our voice and public policy created without our contributions. Our values and ideas have not had the full opportunity to become realized and integrated into a part of our legal culture and the country’s social fabric.
Organizations like the National Filipino American Lawyers Association exist to give voice to a population that has a lot to say. For attorneys of color, it is a source of strength, empowerment, and focus. There is something to be said about being able to walk into a room and, without having to utter a word, knowing that those around you all share the same challenging and uplifting experiences in becoming and working as attorneys. That instant relatability accelerates conversations to the subjects most important to us--family, friends, and food, of course.
As NFALA enters its seventh year, the organization continues to passionately serve its members, inspiring them to speak out against injustice, become better attorneys, and influence positive change. As one of the many leaders of this tremendous organization, I am committed to the following in 2019:
We have a very busy year ahead of us, and we thank you for your continued support of NFALA.
Thank you for visiting our website. Please continue to check us out throughout the year as we will be updating the site regularly to include feature articles, updates, community happenings, and new membership services.
Eric C. de los Santos