When the US Navy came calling..velasco. Machinist's Mate 1st Class William Velasco, from Batanes, Philippines, is surrounded by shipmates as he anxiously watches his daughter, Camile Velasco, 18, of Maui, Hawaii, as she performs on the nationally televised show, American Idol.

jasmine Jasmine Trias the other Fil-Am American Idol Finalist. Rudy Trias is with his daughter during the ongoing sing-out, he is on leave from his job with the Fleet Technical Support Center at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, where his colleagues dutifully watch and vote. "I call them weekly, phone and tell them what's up," he said.

an engineering technician, where he works on the submarines at the Pearl Harbor naval shipyard.


   External Links to related News <click

Filipinos in the US Navy & Coast Guard During the Vietnam War


Third novel by Ray Burdeos (Available Barnes&Noble, AuthorHouse, http://www.rayburdeos.com/)


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BEYOND THE MASK: Untold Stories of U.S.-Navy Filipinos

New book by Oades/Ruiz Book Launching 4/17/2004

The US Navy stopped recruiting Filipino nationals at the end of 1992, ending a unique program under which tens of thousands of Filipinos served in the Navy since the Spanish-American War when the Philippines became a US colony. The recruitment of Filipino Sailors was formalized in 1947, when the US and the Philippines signed an agreement on military bases. The agreement allowed the US to maintain military bases in the Philippines. The end of Filipino recruitment resulted partly from the end of the base agreement and partly from the reduction in the military. Filipinos were the only foreign nationals allowed to enlist in the US Armed Forces without immigrating to this country and the Navy was the only military branch they could join.

     PILIPINOS IN THE U.S. NAVY.  In l903, the U.S. Navy listed 9
Pilipinos in the ranks; by l905, there were 178.  Pilipinos were
restricted to the steward rating until the late l970's, but were
found throughout the Navy, on ships, at shore stations, and
wherever senior Navy officers were assigned.  Between World War I
and World War II, the number of Pilipinos remained more or less
constant at roughly 4,000.  Despite their restriction to the
steward rating, duty in the Navy was far preferable to remaining
in the barrio.  A Pilipino steward remaining in the Navy until
retirement could lump his retirement pay and savings together and
live rather handsomely in his Philippine hometown. 

     World War II precluded the enlistment of native Pilipinos in
the Navy, but immigrant Pilipinos in the U.S. were allowed to
join both the Navy and the Army.  But, as before, the Pilipinos
in the Navy were limited to the steward rating.  After the allied
landings in l944, native Pilipinos were again recruited by the
U.S. Navy, with 2000 enlistments by l946. 

     The primary motivation for Pilipinos to join the Navy was,
and is, poverty at home.  The 1946 wartime devastation at home
left little hope for a future in the Philippines.  Those
Pilipinos who had retired from the U.S. Navy and returned home
were respected by their villages because of their high social and
economic status.  As a result, the number of Pilipinos wanting to
enlist has always exceeded the number of available openings.
Competition is keen for the limited slots.  (Regents of the University of California.  Letters in Exile.
     Los AngelesUCLA Asian-American Studies Center, l976

     Pilipinos have a "special relationship" with the U.S. Navy
as a result of the Military Bases Agreement of l947.  Article 27
of that agreement allows the U.S. to enlist citizens of the
Philippines into the Armed Forces of the United States.  It did
not initially set quotas or restrict the enlistees to the steward
rating; those were Navy policy decisions.  The agreement was
modified in l952 and l954, setting the number of Pilipino
enlistments at 1,000 and then 2,000.  The thousands of applicants
for these limited positions have allowed the Navy to selectively
recruit only better qualified individuals, many with some college
education.  By l983 there were l9,733 Pilipino enlisted persons and
379 officers in the U.S. Navy.  The Navy Military Personnel
reports that, as of September 30, l989, there are 19,251
Pilipino enlisted personnel and 588 Pilipino officers in the
Navy.  These figures represent 3.7 percent of the enlisted force
in the Navy, and .8 percent of the officer force.  All ratings
that do not require specific security clearances are open to them
just as they are to other personnel.  (Pido, Anthony.  The Pilipinos in America.  New York:  Center
     for Migration Studies of New York, Inc., l985)

     In l985, Commander Tem E. Bugarin became the first Pilipino
to command a surface ship of the line when he assumed command of
USS Saginaw, LST1188.  Bugarin was born in Bay-Bay Leyte
(Republic of the Philippines) and immigrated to the U.S. with his
parents at the age of 2.  1.  (Almodouar, Evelyn F.   "First Filipino CO Was Runaway Teen
     Chasing a Dream."  All Hands  (August l989) 


As of June 1992 Filipino-American in the US Navy by rank:

 Rank ---Title ----------Filipino ---Total Asian-- Total, all active

E-1 ------Recruit -----------499------- 675 -------22,974

E-2 ------Apprentice------- 699------- 982------- 30,067

E-3 ------Seaman ----------1505 -----2110 -------69,112

E-4 ------PettyOfficer 3rd-2644 ----3372 ------101,044

E-5 ------PettyOfficer 2nd-3966 ----4486 ------102,649

E-6 ------PettyOfficer1st-----471 ----4991 --------84,281

E-7 ------Chief PO -----------726 ----2852 -------34,128

E-8 ------Sr Chief -----------1055 ----1102 -------10,219

E-9------- Master Chief -----403 -----423 ---------4,842

W-1------- Warrant Off ---------0 --------0 -------------53

W-2------- WO2 ----------------43 -------46 ----------1534

W-3 -------WO3 ----------------34 -------34 -----------813

W-4 -------WO4 ----------------17 -------18 -----------533

O-1 -------Ensign ------------101 ------243 ---------7,753

O-2 -------Lt (jg) -------------100 -------250 --------9,870

O-3 -------Lt ------------------213 -------474 --------2,4382

O-4 -------Lt Cdr --------------89 -------193 -------13,368

O-5 -------Cdr -----------------46 ---------95 --------7,847

O-6--------Captain -----------14 ---------36 --------3,612

O-7 -------Rear Adm(L)------- 0 ----------1 ----------124

O-8 -------Rear Adm(U)--------0 ----------0 -----------80

O-9------- Vice Adm------------ 0 ----------0 -----------29

O-10 ------Adm-------------------0 ----------0 ------------9

 I am getting a copy of the US-Philippine treaty that ratified our contract in 1953. A former US Army Veteran who worked hard in behalf of the WW2 Filipino Veteran in Washington. I was lucky to shake hand with Guillermo O Rumingan who was arrested in the White House demonstration couple of months ago. He is a former US soldier who fought the Japanese during the last war and currently attached to the Philippine Embassy Veterans Affairs.

During the height of US Navy recruitment there were more Filipino Sailors in the US Navy than in the Philippine Navy. Some of the recruits were assigned in the US Coast Guard. Earlier recruitment was processed in Sangley Point prior to the closing in the late 60's. Filipino boys eager to see the world were lining up at the Main Gate daily. The processing of enlistment was later moved to Subic Bay. The only known armed forces that had similar foreign acceptance would be the French Foreign Legion (soldier of fortune) and the Gurkhas' enlistment in the British Army.

Thousands of Filipinos took advantage of this enlistment to find a way to come to America. Prior to the liberation of the immigration law in the early 1970's, the US Navy provided the easiest and fastest way of seeing the world and earning a living at the same time. Today we find them settled in coastal regions of United States communities of San Diego, San Francisco, Charleston, Norfolk, Jacksonville, and other military cities. The second generation of children makes up a large part of the student body in Norfolk. A small portion of the retirees went back to the Philippines to live solely and comfortably on Navy Pension. They fared well while the US military bases were still open.

This is the 50th anniversary of the initial enlistment in 1947. I am not surprised to see that one of the "you might be a Filipino" traits was "if one of your parents is in the US Navy." For us it is not only an adventure but also a profession. We made it a career and most of us stayed for life (lifer as it was known). Our marine instinct made it easy. I am calling former and active US Navy and Coast Guard to join me in creating a support web site. The least we can do is share our sea stories and in process find old buddy.


Filipinos Coming to America Webpage-INDEX
FYI- Filipino American National Historical Socieity (FANHS) conference June 28-July 2, 2000
I will be presenting the topic of Filipinos in the US Navy

Nestor Palugod Enriquez


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