History of Filipino Americans
First Filipinos in North America
Manila Galleon Trade
1556 Jan 1 - 1813

First Filipinos in North America

Morro Bay, CA, USA

Migration patterns of immigration of Filipinos to the United States have been recognized as occurring in four significant waves. The first wave was a small wave during the period when the Philippines was under the jurisdiction of the Spanish East Indies, a territory ruled by Mexico City in New Spain; Filipinos, via the Manila galleons, would sometimes stay in North America as slaves or workers.

Between roughly 1556 and 1813, Spain engaged in the Galleon Trade between Manila and Acapulco. The galleons were built in the shipyards of Cavite, outside Manila, by Filipino craftsmen. The trade was funded by the Spanish Crown, with majority of the products coming from Chinese traders, while the ships were manned by Filipino sailors and slaves, while "supervised" by Mexico City officials. During this time, Spain recruited Mexicans to serve as soldiers in Manila. They also took Filipinos to serve as slaves and workers in Mexico. Once sent to the Americas, Filipino soldiers were frequently not returned home.[4]

First Filipinos ("Luzonians") to set foot in North America arrive in Morro Bay (San Luis Obispo), California. These people were slaves on the galleon ship Nuestra Senora de Esperanza, under the command of Spanish Captain Pedro de Unamuno; These Filipinos were the first known Asians to set foot in California, post-European colonization.