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Hurricanes and Filipinos in Louisiana

A Filipina librarian has made it to the front page of the newspaper with the widest circulation in the Philippines. It's quite sad, however, because in "History of 'Manilamen' of New Orleans lost to 'Katrina'" by Frank Cimatu (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 18 September 2005), Marina Espina is said to have lost not just her house, but also 40 years of materials that she collected on Filipino-American history.

The article then proceeds to summarize Espina's research, which was published in Filipinos in Louisiana (New Orleans, LO: A.F. Laborde & Sons, 1988). Two Filipino villages in Louisiana are said to have been destroyed by hurricanes in 1915 and 1965. And then Cimatu writes, "Now it seems their memories have been drowned by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina."

It must be noted, however, that Espina's claim (which the article echoes) that the first Filipino settlement in Louisiana was founded in the 1760s has been disputed by Malcolm Churchill in "Louisiana History and Early Filipino Settlement: Searching for the Story" (Bulletin of the American Historical Collection Foundation 27.2 [1992]: 25-48). This, however, does not diminish what Espina has achieved as a historian and librarian.

Category: Librarians

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