Philippine-American Chronicle

(Seattle: 1935-1936)


Report by Rache Stotts-Johnson

Abstract:The Philippine-American Chronicle was a biweekly newspaper published in Seattle from 1935 – 1936. Although its motto was "For Truth Freedom and Justice We Champion the Cause of Labor," the paper covered labor as well as non-labor issues. Labor issues related mainly to the Cannery Workers and Farm Laborers’ Union Local No. 18257 and its attempts at securing higher wages and better working conditions for laborers. National labor news was mainly composed of American Federation of Labor news. General national and international news, local society news, poetry, wit and humor sections, and numerous advertisements were also a part of the paper. The paper provides information on the Filipino labor movement in the Pacific Northwest, but at the same time provides insight into the daily lives of Filipino laborers and their experiences in the Seattle area.

Dates: January 1935 - March1936; published biweekly; four pages; $1.00 US for one year subscription

Editors: Frank Alonzo – Editor-in-Chief, Vincente V. Rosal – Associate Editor, Tel I. Baylon – Feature Editor

Political Affiliation: Cannery Workers and Farm Laborers’ Union Local No. 18257 as affiliated with the American Federation of Labor

Business Address: 417 6th Ave South, Seattle, WA, PO Box 345, Station H (PO Box 54, Nippon Station after May 15, 1935)

Location of Research Collection: University of Washington, Suzzallo Library, Microforms and Newspaper Collection, A6140

Status of collection: Incomplete; Volume II, No. 1-3 missing; Volume II, No. 6, pages 2-3 missing; Volume III, No. 8 and No. 11 missing; no volumes after March 11, 1936 available

Summary

The Philippine-American Chronicle billed itself as the "largest Philippine news service along the Pacific Coast" and covered not only labor issues, but also national news, international news – especially that relating to the Republic of the Philippines, and University of Washington news. The paper also included society news, wit and humor sections, and articles published in Tagalog, the main language of the Philippines. Labor news in the paper was mainly focused on the Cannery Workers and the Farm Laborers’ Union, as those were the two industries that the majority of Filipinos worked in. Many of the articles focused on labor struggles in the Pacific Northwest, but there were also quite a few articles from the American Federation of Labor News Service that talked about national labor issues. The paper was not only a way to inform Filipinos about the state of various labor movements, but also a way to provide Filipinos with a sense of community. By printing Filipino society news, news about "home" (the Philippine Islands), and even articles in Tagalog, the paper provided its readers with a proof that being a Filipino in the Pacific Northwest could be a good thing and that Filipinos could become successful if they were hard working and dedicated.

Labor News

"Wage earners must be organized to have rights and promote their own welfare whether the method is collective bargaining with employers or the administration of law. With organization labor is all powerful: without organization it does not have power, authority or rights."

- American Federation of Labor

Much of the local labor news in the paper focused on the plight of the cannery and farm workers who were fighting for higher wages. In the February 15, 1935 issue it was announced by Virgil S. Duyungan, the president of the Cannery Workers and Farm Laborers’ Union (CWFLU), that over 1,000 farm workers were ready to strike if the farm owners would not consent to collective bargaining. The workers were protesting long working days of 10-14 hours, lack of overtime pay, and low wages, and the paper supported them by printing short speeches about how Filipinos must band together and support the workers if they chose to strike. In this case the workers were able to get most of what they were asking for and the paper heralded this as a great victory for the CWFLU. There were many other articles printed about various groups such as the local cannery workers and the Alaska salmon cannery workers who were asking for higher wages. Every time there was a campaign for higher wages the paper would print articles and speeches encouraging Filipino solidarity and championing the cause of the CWFLU. During one of these wage campaigns the vice president of the CWFLU printed a speech in the paper which stated that "Selfishness, envy, and predatorines invite chaos that can be prevented a thousand times cheaper than it costs to cure it." This comment and several others like it were printed in the paper showing that the CWFLU was determined to keep the workers together and fight for better wages and working conditions for Filipino laborers.

Beginning in the May 1, 1935 issue of the paper a feud between the CWLFU and the Filipino Protective Association (FPA) came to light. There seemed to be general disagreements between the two about how best to improve the lives of Filipinos in Seattle and this led to the groups publicly criticizing one another and accusing each other of working against the best interests of the people. An FPA officer, Leo Roduta, even went as far as to file a lawsuit against Virgil Duyungan, the CWFLU president, accusing him and two others, Cornelio Mislang and Antonio Rodrigo, of embezzling $4,514 of union funds. At this time articles began to appear in the paper about the now public feud. Some urged cooperation between the two groups since they should both be working toward the betterment of Filipino life, while other articles accused the Filipino Protective Association of attacking the CWFLU and trying to steal its members, while not doing anything to improve life for Filipinos. The larceny charges were later dismissed due to lack of sufficient evidence and nothing more about the FPA was printed except for a short paragraph saying that the two groups would now try to work together when possible.

In terms of national labor news, the paper printed articles about the National Recovery Act hearings, changes in labor laws such as the classification of professional employees’ wages, the varying pay rates found in women-employing industries, and the congressional status of the proposed 30 hour work week among other things. The April 10, 1935 issue printed an article based on information from the Committee on Social and Industrial Relations of the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the USA which stated that the church supported the right of the workers to bargain collectively, obtain a living wage, and apply Christian principles to living. This was the only article in the paper in which labor was tied in with religion. Overall, about half of the national labor news came from the AFL News Service and so had a decidedly pro-labor, pro-AFL stance.

 

Repatriation

"I feel that I express the general opinion of the citizens of the Pacific Coast when I say that we will be pleased when we see these Filipinos leave our shores."

- Anonymous Editorial, July 1, 1935

Discussion of the U.S. government’s plan to pay for transporting Filipinos back to the Philippines was an ongoing topic in the paper for some time. The paper regularly printed updates on the status of the bill regarding repatriation and provided its readers with contact information should they be interested in securing transport back to the Philippines. It was estimated that 15,000 to 30,000 Filipinos were interested in returning to the Philippine Islands due to trouble adjusting to American life or having difficulty in finding a good job. The paper printed a variety of editorials and articles expressing very different views on the repatriation bill. Some people, such as the author of the above editorial, felt that many Filipinos had failed to take advantage of the opportunities in America and were hurting those Filipinos who were hardworking and industrious by remaining here. Others felt that some people should return to the Philippines because the country was in need of hardworking, highly skilled workers who could help support the Philippines in its quest for independence. The repatriation bill was passed by the House of Representatives on May 20, 1935 and printed in full in the July 15 issue.

 

The Republic of the Philippines

"Animated solely by feelings of cordiality, sympathy, and loyalty, the people of the United States and the people of the Philippine islands have been conducting together a great experiment, and during the period of the Commonwealth Government this experiment will continue until the ultimate withdrawl of United States sovereignty and the establishment of complete independence."

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

At least two articles about the Philippine Islands appeared in almost every issue of the paper. Many of these articles were related to the relationship between the Philippines and its neighbors China and Japan. Everything from China buying Filipino mangoes to Japan respecting the sovereignty of the islands was discussed. Three of the most pressing issues were the new constitution of the Philippines, the defense of the Philippine Islands, and trade relations between the Philippines and the U.S. The proposed constitution of the Philippines and all the proposed amendments and bills were generally printed in full in the paper, as well as a lengthy article about the history of the Philippine government. In addition, commentary about the proposed legislation and President Roosevelt’s reaction to it was usually included. When Manuel L. Quezon was elected as the first president of the Commonwealth Government this development also garnered heavy coverage. The paper had a very pro-constitution stance and made much of the fact that the Philippine Islands would now be stronger, better, and wealthier.

The threat of Japan and China and how best to protect the Philippines from them was also a very thoroughly covered topic. Whenever China or Japan signed treaties or pacts, or renounced them, the paper covered these developments and tried to determine the continuously shifting balance of power between the Asian nations. In addition, several articles discussed the American military presence in the Philippines and pointed out that American troops needed to have a base in the Philippines in order to protect Hawaii since it would most likely be the first target in an attack on the United States. The stance of the paper seemed to be that the American presence in the Philippines was not ideal, but it did provide protection from other Asian nations and it was good for business, so it should be tolerated. When the Philippines began to establish an army of its own, the paper covered all the military developments.

On the issue of trade relations, the main topic was how the Philippines could increase trade with the United States. America’s efforts to ban competing Japanese textile imports to the Philippine Islands was the most heavily covered trade issue, followed by discussions of what raw materials the Philippines could provide America with.

 

Marriage Law

"Could all the people be cosmopolitan, could the people be broadminded enough to mind their own business and not be a peeping Tom, watching with long necks, telescoping and gouging at Mary and John across the street simply because one happens to be darker color than the other, yet it so happens that their blood is the same "red color," possessing [an] even higher intelligent quotient."

 

  • Anonymous Editorial, February 15, 1935

 

Several articles in this paper are related to House Bill No. 301, introduced by Dorian Todd on February 6, 1935, which was a bill seeking to make interracial marriages illegal in Washington State. The bill was published in the March 1, 1935 issue of the paper and as written it made marriages between whites and "negroes, Mongolians, or Oceanics" (as defined in the bill) illegal in Washington State. The bill further proposed that marriage licenses must show the identity of the parties, their real and full names and place of residence, ages, and race as defined in the bill. This bill was met with anger and distaste among the Filipino community and the paper printed several articles and letters that denounced the bill as "un-American" and a "violation of individual freedom." The marriage law was especially distasteful to the Filipino community because several prominent Filipino men, including the editor-in-chief of the paper, were dating, or had dated, white women.

 

Gambling

It is really a pity for those who do not seem to realize the demons of gambling. Besides robbing us of our money, our physical fitness, dragging us to a very low level of living condition, gambling has been the cause of various forms of disorderly conduct, as stealing, fighting, and murdering."

- Anonymous, June 15, 1935

Beginning in the June 15, 1935 issue a series of articles denouncing gambling dens and their detrimental affect on the Filipino community began to appear. Anti-gambling sentiments reached a peak when the August 2, 1935 issue screamed with the headline "Vigorous Picket Against Gambling Resorts Launched by Union Local." This issue of the paper contained not only two anti-gambling articles, but also a plea to Filipinos to stop gambling to avoid being caught up in the associated criminal activity. The paper estimated that Filipinos lost over $500,000 a year in the Chinese run gambling houses which were accused of paying off police to avoid being shut down. The paper urged the Filipino community, church organizations, and the police to support the anti-gambling movement and help preserve the welfare of the Filipino community. Virgil Duyungan, the CWFLU president, sent a letter to the police (later printed in the paper) giving the addresses of two gambling houses and Frank Meners, an ordinary citizen, took it upon himself to write letters to the police telling them he could provide them with information on the gambling dens as part of his personal campaign to do away with gambling in the Filipino community. Gambling was seen as a parasitic drain on the health and wealth of the Filipino community and the paper did what it could to try to curb its popularity.

 

Conclusion

The Philippine-American Chronicle is an excellent source of information about the work and home lives of Filipinos in the Pacific Northwest in the 1930’s. It provides detailed information about various campaigns within the CWFLU and also about the state of labor as a whole. In addition, the inclusion of general and society news gives the reader a sense of the daily trials and tribulations of Filipino workers in Seattle. This paper stands as a testament to the progress of the Filipino community in coming together and fighting for the best interests of the individual and the community.

Appendix A

People of Interest

Rufo N. Coracha, President of the National Labor League of the Philippines: August 2, 1935

Clarence Corpuz, Boxer: April 14, 1935, August 2, 1935, September 24, 1935, October 24, 1935

William Green, President of the American Federation of Labor: June 4, 1935, September 10, 1935, October 22, 1935

Chiang Kai-Shek, Chinese leader: April 15, 1936

Douglas McArthur, American General: February 26, 1935

Victorio Velaasco, President of the Filipino Press Club: December 10, 1935

Matthew Woll, Vice President of the American Federation of Labor: September 10, 1935

 

Click to enlarge


(September 15, 1934, p.1)

 


 


(November 15, 1934, p.2)


Labor News

While the paper ran stories about news in the labor movement, the paper often focused on the Cannery Workers' Union and Farmers' Laborers' Union, where many Filipinos labored.


(April 7, 1935, p.1)


(March 13, 1935, p.1)


(July 1, 1935, p.3)