Interview by Trevor Griffey
and Meg Elston, November 23, 2004
Summary by Meg Elston
00:00 Born in the
Philippines in 1947. Father joined regular army so he could come to the U.S.
Lived at Army bases in Kansas, Germany, and ended at Ft. Lewis. His father
retired there and the family of 7 settled in Tacoma. Frank was in the Army for 3
years after HS. He didn’t like the discipline and started to see contradictions
in what they were telling him and what he was seeing. Didn’t go to Vietnam b/c
his duty was almost up. Wanted to leave the Army to follow RFK’s election and
the anti-war movement. When his friend was killed in Vietnam, he thought about
re-enlisting to avenge his death but then came to his senses. Instead he used
his GI Bill to attend Tacoma Community College (’68-’69) and then Seattle
Central (’69-’70). His friends from HS helped with the tough transition to
civilian life. His sister was at the UW and encouraged him to enroll. He moved
up there b/c Tacoma was too small. He came with friends to the UW.
10:00 He started seeing
more contradictions in the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc. that made him
question things. He remembered that the military stresses that everyone was one
color but looking back he didn’t see it that way. Colored officers always
living in poorer quality housing than whites. There was racism.
12:45 More into the
social aspects of life at the UW (1971). Anti-war participant but not a
leader. Printed flyers and marched in parades etc. Gets involved with Asian
Student Coalition for social reasons. But then he begins to see that they are
doing important things. Like advocating for more ethnic studies, Asian profs.
He talks a lot about his Filipino identity here. In order to get money for the
ASC, they decide to run for offices in the ASUW. He’s elected to the board of
control. The following year they put together a ticket with Latinos, blacks,
Asians, and women and they win most of the seats. Some of the Greeks win as
well but they all worked well together. Their common goal was to make students
happy. He never thought that years later his daughter would join a sorority.
21:34 He joined the ROTC
to make extra money. He didn’t think it was a contradiction. He made $300 from
ROTC and ASUW plus the money from his GI Bill. His housing was $90…so he was
doing pretty well. He got kicked out of the ROTC b/c of anti-war protests.
Most of the ROTC kids were there for the money, they weren’t the right-wing
conservatives that he expected.
23:55 Kingdome protests –
argued that it would have a negative impact on the neighborhood. There were
many elderly people at risk of losing their housing. ASC wasn’t originally
involved with the protests until they heard there would be a big ground-breaking
ceremony. They decided they had to voice their opinion. They marched there
peacefully. Everything was very orderly at first and then some began yelling at
the speakers. The police were caught off guard b/c no one knew the protestors
were coming. Someone threw mud at a plaque which started a mud fight. Police
crowd control came. Protestors were trying to leave as a group (so as not to
leave anyone behind). The next day, the protest was in the news but many facts
were skewed. Frank challenged her account. The passive nature that he says is
a common stereotype of Asians, often is a helpful one b/c when he takes a stand,
people are surprised and they really listen.
37:40 There is a lot here
about committees to save the International District. Also a funny comment about
making up committees to get things done like the “Asians for a Fair and
Responsible Media.” The real Concerned Asians for the International
District worked towards health care for the elderly as well as getting an Asian
on the Kingdome Selection Committee. Bob Santos got the job, he was good at
following through with things. He talks a little here about Selme (sp?) and
Dimicio (sp?) Domingo.
52:24 Asian Family
Affair. The ASC needed something to get their voices heard. This paper was a
political mouthpiece from an Asian viewpoint. For 14 years, it was printed at
the Ethnic Cultural Center at UW. It reached the entire Asian community each
month. Sometimes the staff wrote their own letters to the editor to get people
thinking the way they were.
00:00 EOC founded to give
unemployed Asians a place to go. Model Cities wouldn’t give any funding. There
were lots of problems in schools with Asian b/c they weren’t getting as much
attention. It always seemed to be a “black/white” issue.
7:50 Money was never
going to lower socioeconomic minorities, it always filtered to the middle
class. He explains reasons why black clinics never were successful.
10:42 Asians and blacks
worked together, they had different self interests but could move beyond that to
12:30 There is a
generation gap between how Asians accomplish things. Each generation uses
different method, but they all have the same goal of advancement.
14:15 People were
searching for an ideology. Many found it in communism. Frank wasn’t into that
but many of his friends were (KDP).
20:00 Committee For
Justice, he was not involved. There were a lot of women on that committee.
Many of these organizations had a lot of women involved b/c there was no
23:25 In the 70s and 80s
there was a high dropout rate from the Educational Opportunity Program. Board
began making some policy changes. They wanted to only accept the best and
brightest. Frank disagreed, said he would have never have been accepted.
Students in protest asked Frank to join them protesting at Schmitz Hall. They
were calling President Gerberding names. They ended up getting the policy
thrown out but the students wanted to get arrested so it would make the news.
So they stayed in the building and the campus police arrested them as the
building was about to close. Other groups started to look to Frank as the only
Asian who was willing to get arrested for a cause.
Frank ends the
interview with a lot of insight, and what people should take away from these
struggles. He explains why he’s so outspoken (there’s a bit of swearing in this