Highway marker honoring Filipino sailors who settled in Virginia to be unveiled
VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia – A highway marker will be unveiled in Virginia Beach on Saturday, May 28 to honor the legacy of thousands of Filipino sailors who have made Hampton Roads their home.
The U.S. Navy had a long history of recruiting thousands of sailors from the Philippines many of whom settled in Hampton Roads. Filipinos in the U.S. Navy have been in Hampton Roads for more than a century.
An agreement between the Philippines and the U.S., that included keeping American military bases and Subic and Clark also allowed the U.S. Navy to directly recruit sailors from the Philippines, professor-historian Jeffrey Acosta told WKTR.
The Virginia historical highway marker will be at the Filipino Cultural Center. “We have the largest naval base in the US and when you look at it, we also have the largest Filipino American community in Virginia and the majority of that group immigrated through the U.S. Navy,” Acosta said.
Dr. Cynthia Romero, chair of the council of United Filipino Organizations of Tidewater, is part of that legacy. Her father was in the Navy and her mother was a physician. She was born at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center.
“So my dad served in the U.S. Navy, and he was recruited in the Philippines in 1960 he was part of a pretty large recruiting effort in an area called Sangley Point where a group of them were recruited about 150 at a time,” Romero told WKTR.
“Those who are still alive, our Filipino veterans, especially those who served in the Navy, have the opportunity to see this marker unveiled dedicated and blessed right here within our community of Hampton Roads. I think it’s going to be quite emotional,” Romero said.