Sunnyside man seeks community recognition

REVIEWING THE PAST — Rey Pascua, far right, shares his scrapbooks of Filipino history following a recent talk with Nouvella Club members including, left to right, Marlaine Mars and Libby Werkhoven.

SUNNYSIDE — Rey Pascua is often seen locally as a spirited Seattle Seahawk, a description, he is proud to acknowledge.

“I rarely miss a game,” he acknowledged.

But Pascua is also proud of his Filipino heritage, a topic he was excited to share with the Novella Club members at their March 21 meeting.

He currently serves as the president of the Yakima Valley Filipino community, which meets regularly in Wapato at the Filipino Hall.

“I was born in the Philippines in 1950 and came with my family to the Yakima Valley in 1953,” Pascua said.

Minus the time he spent attending college and living in Seattle, his home has always been in the lower valley. “Sunnyside has been my home for a long time,” he shared.

His father was a laborer and his mother worked as a seamstress.

“My family followed the migrant labor trails while I was growing up,” he said of his childhood.

He spoke of the complex life of the Filipino families, who lived in the United States. They were often treated as other Asian populations in the States; however, they were allowed to own land.

“We were afforded different rights than other immigrants in America, because the Philippines had been a United States colony following the end of the Spanish American War in 1902,” he explained.

“When we emigrated to the States, we were able to buy land, others weren’t,”

The Philippines continued to be an American territory, “…very much like Puerto Rico is today,” Pascua explained.

His native country became an independent nation in 1946, following World War II.

Today, Pascua is working on a petition to have the month of October recognized by legislative decree as “Filipino American History Month.”

As of the March meeting, Pascua said his proposal had made it through the house and was on its way to the senate.

“October has been designated as a special month by gubernatorial decree, several times,” he explained, noting he has been working on this issue for several years.

“We have strong Filipino American communities, including Wapato, along with Bainbridge Island, Seattle, Tacoma, Auburn, Bremerton and Pateros,” he added.

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