Filipino Club (Established in 1917)
The first Filipino organization at the University of Washington was established in October 1917 by the pensionados. Pensionados were Filipinos that migrated to the United States to obtain a Western education so that they can later return the Philippines as educators, bureaucrats, and leaders. At the time, the Philippines was considered a U.S. Territory. Through the Pensionado Act of 1903, Filipinos studied across the United States at many well-known universities such as the University of California Berkley, Cornell, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The University of Washington enrolled the largest number of Pensionados in the United States.
Life in America was not easy for the Pensionados. In addition to culture shock and homesickness, they encountered discrimination on and off campus for being “foreign”. Out of the need to find belonging and community, they pioneered the first Filipino organization on campus, the Filipino Club. Members of the Filipino Club continued to make their mark in the community. For instance, Vincent Navea organized the University of Washington’s Alumni Association in 1929. Other members also went on to establish the Filipino Community of Seattle in 1937.
FilUnist (Established 1950)
The third wave of Filipino immigration began after the Second World War. At the time, the Filipino student population began to gradually integrate an increase in second generation immigrants. This change in student demographics prompted the members to change the name from Filipino Club to FilUnist.
“To get better acquainted with foreign students on campus, to draw the individual group of Filipino students on the campus together, and to encourage other Filipino students to study at the University of Washington.”
Filipino Student Association (1960s - 1994)
Fueled by the Civil Rights Era of the 60s, Filipinos on campus had another pivotal point when the name changed from FilUnist to FSA. FSA’s contributions to UW are still prevalent today. FSA members were at the forefront of campus activism, making demands to keep the administration and school departments accountable for upholding diversity and inclusion.
FSA became a part of the Legacy Group, along with the Black Student Union (BSU), First Nations at UW (FNU), Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan (MEChA), and Polynesian Student Alliance (PSA).
Together, they fought for the formation of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMAD), the Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center (ECC), and the integration of Filipino/Tagalog courses into the Asian American and American Ethnic Studies.
Filipino American Student Association (1995 - current)
In 1995, the word “American” was added to FSA name to symbolize that Filipinos are also a part of America and all that it stands for. The members were not only Filipino, but Filipino-American.
“...to foster unity and pride among its members and surrounding community through educational, political, cultural, and social advancement.”
Although the name of Filipino organizations on campus has changed time and again, some things will never change: our dedication to provide our community a home away from home, our desire to learn and teach more about our culture and history and our devotion to continue and protect the legacy of those who came before us.