Trace Your Filipino Roots
6/9/2014
Let our guide get you started discovering your roots in the Philippines.
The Philippines represents a rich mix of native, Spanish and Asian cultures, but since 1898, its history has also been intertwined with that of the United States. In just the 30 years after the Spanish-American War, more than 63,000 Filipinos immigrated to Hawaii and another 45,000 came to the US mainland. As residents of a US overseas territory, Filipinos were exempt from restrictions that limited other Asian arrivals. Following the Philippines’ key role in the Pacific during World War II, thousands of Filipino war brides led a fresh wave of immigration. Today, nearly 4 million Americans have some Filipino heritage and Filipino-Americans are the second largest population of Asian-Americans, with concentrations in California, Washington state, Hawaii, metropolitan New York City, Texas and Illinois.

Because so many Filipinos arrived fairly recently, you may be able to quiz first- or second-generation Filipino-Americans in person to learn when your family arrived in the United States and their origin in the Philippines—two necessary details for finding records there. Also look for this information in US census, immigration and passport records, and old family letters or paperwork. Philippines emigration and passport records, some of which FamilySearch has microfilmed, could prove helpful, too (find these in the online catalog under the county, then Emigration and Immigration).