Fred and Dorothy Cordova have been involved
in Filipino American activism since the 1950s. Dorothy Laigo grew up in the Central District of Seattle. Fred Cordova was born in California and moved to Washington in 1948 to attend Seattle University, meeting Dorothy soon after. Turning to journalism, they published Bamboo: The Filipino People
in American Life while students at Seattle University.
Fred began professional career as a journalist with the Catholic Northwest Progress, later serving as information officer for the University of Washington. In 1957, the couple founded Filipino Youth Activities (FYA), which over the years brought together hundreds of young people eager to join the award winning FYA drill team.
Active in civil rights efforts throughout the 1960s, in the following decade Dorothy also served as Director for
the Demonstration Project for Asian Americans (DPAA), which conducted a wide
variety of studies on the problems Asian Americans faced in the 1970s.
In addition, DPAA recorded an invaluable collection of oral histories that preserve memories for West Coast Asian American communities..
In 1982, the Cordovas helped organize the Filipino
American National Historical Society (FANHS), with Fred serving at the organization's first president. FANHS now has nearly two dozen chapters
around the United States. In Seattle, it houses the National
Pinoy Archives (NPA), which is one of the largest collections
on Filipino American history anywhere. It includes materials on more
than 9000 individuals and approximately 1500 organizations throughout
the United States.
Fred Cordova passed away on December 23, 2013 at age 82.
Fred and Dorothy Cordova agreed to shared
their memories of a lifetime of activism in two videotaped interviews, one
conducted by James Gregory and Micah Ellison on January 12, 2005, the second by Donald Noble and Michael Schulze-Oechtering Castenada.
Fred Cordova (far left) at an FYA meeting
in the early 1970s