Short History

History of the the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA)

The Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) was established in April 26, 1945. It is the oldest non-profit organization in the United States.

The history of FACLA is colorful and is deeply ingrained in the interesting century old history of the Filipino American community in the United States.

It is etched and embroiled in its sixty eight (68) year turbulent history from the American “benevolent assimilation” of the Philippines during the turn of the century to its independence as a nation and its birth pains as a young republic.

It also experienced the nightmare of a dynastic dictatorship and again as it rebirth into democracy and progress for the last 30 years.

A. From Inception to Growth

FACLA started as a half-way house for Filipino farm workers who settled in Los Angeles to work as seasonal workers in different states from as far north as Alaska and as far west as Missouri and Illinois.

A halfway house is a shelter where people who have no work and place to stay can stay for a definite period of time. Until they can find a place to stay and work that can sustain them. That halfway house is where the FACLA facility is located until today.

The halfway house was bought and maintained by the Filipino farm-workers for their community on Temple St. more than a mile west of downtown Los Angeles. It is still the site where the building was erected in 1965.

According to accounts, a group of Filipinos fresh from their voyage from the Philippines who started in San Pedro started this worthwhile project in Los Angeles. San Pedro was the home of the first Japanese American community.

San Pedro was the main seaport of Los Angeles. It was also the home base of the US Asiatic fleet until 1930’s when the US Navy decided to build another naval base in San Diego and eventually shifted the fleet to its forward base in Hawaii in 1939.

The first recorded arrival of the Filipinos was on 1906 when several Ilocano farm workers were hired by a Hawaiian plantation as sugarcane workers at the sugar plantation. From there they trickled to the mainland to go to the farms in California and nearby states as far as Alaska. They worked as workers in the canaries and fishermen in the fishing fleets in Alaska. They were called as “Alaskeros”.

The newly arrived Filipinos who will be employed as seasonal farm workers formed their own community in San Pedro-Wilmington area. Many of them are still there until today. Later some of them who moved decided to build another community inland in Los Angeles in the late 1920’s

The halfway house was maintained through the contributions of farm workers from different regions and showed their unity to fend for themselves because they do not have relatives in this foreign country. This became their temporary shelter, home away from home, and their hangout. meeting place and rendezvous area.

For the predominantly “bachelor society” because the United States forbid inter-racial marriages due to the Anti-Miscegenation Acts and the highly mobile nature of Filipino farm workers during pre-World War II, Filipinos just stayed in the enclave called “ Little Manila” which is now known as “Little Tokyo.” District of the present day Los Angeles.

B. Post World War II

After the war, when the growing Filipino population settled in the United States, many Filipino soldiers returning from the war made Los Angeles their home. Many of them joined the US Army and brought home Filipina fiancés also called “The war brides” to settle in the United States

By this time, the “Little Manila” extended into the premises around Bunker Hill and its environs now known as the 101 Freeway. This area extends up to Beaudry Street and 6th Street to the west.

On the closing stages of World War II , on April 25, 1945,A Filipina named Petra Hernandez, and three Filipinos; Jose A. Reyes, B.G. Aquino and Alex g. Velasco, all residents of Los Angeles established the Filipino Community of Los Angeles (FCLA) as a non-profit organization and made it the oldest existing non-profit organization in California and the United States;

When the 1963 Immigration reform act was enacted, more than 300,000 API’s predominantly Filipino professionals emigrated to the United States. LA became one of the growth areas for newly arrived Filipinos and the embryo of a thriving Filipino -American community began in earnest. In the Philippines this was called “The Brain Drain” because the best or the cream of the cream of the Filipino upper and middle class decided to emigrate to the United States.

From 1945 until 1963, FACLA grew from two halfway houses into growing facilities. They were able to add a big annex with a social hall and planned to build a cultural center. This became that became a reality in 1965 when a modest one-story building with a social hall was built.

It was named as the Filipino American Cultural Center. Basically a center for Filipino American Cultural identity.

C. Golden Years

After the post war years, when “Little Manila” was virtually dissolved by the creation of a downtown Civic Centers and the government infrastructures were built in Los Angeles, the Filipinos were forced to relocate to what is known as the Temple-Beverly Corridor from the early 1950’s to the 1960’s.

FACLA spearhead the Filipino community celebrations of American holidays like the July 4th Parade in Los Angeles every 4th of July, America’s Independence Day. Usually FACLA holds a motorcade from a known hotel to City Hall as a form of commemoration. It only stopped when the Philippine Independence Day was transferred to june 12 by virtue of a law passed in 1962.

In 1975, when the Alameda Economic Corridor suffered a slump due to the end of the Vietnam War and the last of the Filipino Enclaves in Bunker Hill was forcibly closed to give way to modern housing and the building of new establishment along the Figueroa Corridor and the 101 Freeway. Filipinos moved Westward to the Temple –Beverly corridor.

Filipinos who arrived during the late 60’s acquired homes in the Temple area which was later called “Philippine Town”. They and the Latinos replaced the majority African American community mostly wrkers from the Alemeda Corrdior that left after the economic recession of 1975.

FACLA’s building was built in 1965 became one of the fixtures and a symbol of a thriving Filipino-American community in “P-Town.” It was called the golden years of FACLA because the Filipino community was active, thriving and united in its activities.

D. Martial Law and Post Martial Law Years

The declaration of martial law by Dictator Marcos greatly divided the Filipino American community especially FACLA. There were groups who supported the status quo and Marcos while there were others who favored democracy and were anti-Marcos during the 14 years of the dictatorship in the Philippines. FACLA became a battleground in the intramurals of these groups.

“It depends what group is in control of FACLA. When the group is pro-Marcos, we were not allowed inside FACLA. When the group is pro-Democracy, we can hold our activities in FACLA.” That is how Prof. Ojeda-Kimbrough define those trying times from 1972-1986.

There was a time when the pro-democracy icon Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. made his final speech in FACLA before he went back to the Philippines. This was one of defining moment in the history of FACLA.

Mrs. Remedios Geaga, president of FACLA was awarded for his contributions for democracy by no other than the President Cory Aquino after the EDSA Revolution for her anti Marcos advocacy. To the present she is the only FACLA president to be awarded by the Philippine government for her advocacy.


Despite all the controversies, FACLA has its colorful 68 years history and its achievements. Until today, that facility is known as FACLA.

This is the only building in Los Angeles that displays the Filipino and American Flag side by side, a landmark that FACLA is well known.
Today FACLA embarked on new capital development project to improve its 45-year-old facilities. We hope the public will support these FACLA endeavors for FACLA is for Filipinos and will always serve the Filipinos.