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The Alvarado Project comes to Jersey City

The Philippine Consulate General invites the Filipino American community to view the forthcoming exhibition "Through My Father's Eyes" at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum from 13 November 2004 to 09 January 2005 . The Exhibit is a collection of old photographs featuring Filipino life & history in the West Coast region in the 1940's and 1950's. It will be made possible by The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition (SITE) in collaboration with the Alvarado Project, the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program.

The Filipino American Photographs of Ricardo Ocreto Alvarado

The Filipino American Photographs of Ricardo Ocreto Alvarado

Ricardo Alvarado immigrated to San Francisco in 1928 from the Philippines. He was part of the early 20th-century wave of Filipino immigrants known as the Manong generation. At first, he made a living working as a janitor and houseboy. During World War II, he served his new country as a medical technician in the Army's highly decorated First Filipino Infantry Regiment. When he returned from the Pacific, he supported himself as a cook. In many ways, his biography reflects the conspicuously limited career opportunities so many immigrants encountered in the 1940s and '50s. from the Alavarado Project: .

The Alvarado Project - News and Info

Alvarado's photographs capture a complex social climate. He lived through and recorded not only the euphoria brought on by the end of the war, but also the prevalent anti-immigrant discrimination, oppressive job restrictions, and frightening racial unrest of the time. He found kinship among his kababayan (Filipino countrymen) and those outside his ethnicity, through his group and solo portraits of   Filipino-Americans with African Americans, Mexican Americans and Anglo-Americans. The faces depicted in these photos reveal much to the viewer: hope, dignity, harmony, joy, grief, hardships, and respect. Alvarado embraced the contradictions of his subjects' lives with his camera's eye.

D uring its peak years-1892 to 1924 Ellis Island received thousands of immigrants a day. Each was scrutinized for disease or disability as the long line of hopeful new arrivals made their way up the steep stairs to the great, echoing Registry Room. Over 100 million Americans can trace their ancestry in the United States to a man, woman, or child whose name passed from a steamship manifest sheet to an inspector's record book in the great Registry Room at Ellis Island.

Filipinos coming to America by way of Ellis Island are few. I found only a handful so far but listed on the immigrant steamship manifest are Filipino seafarers. The profession that has attracted our marine tradition to date. The Philippines currently supply 20% of the world merchant fleet crew.

The early generation of the Burtanog family is best described by a 6 th generation Rhonda Fox in her letter to me. Grandma and Grandpa Burtanog lived next door to us.  They always had relatives living with them who had come on hard times. Grandma and Grandpa Richoux lived across the street. My daddy, divorced from my mom , stayed there when he wasn't at sea.  My uncle Frank Reyes lived on the corner, in a big house that seemed to hold half the neighborhood .  It didn't dawn on me until I was older that some of those Filipino men I saw at the house were not relatives, but seamen who boarded at Uncle Frank's house.  And then, there was a Filipino Club somewhere in the neighborhood at one time or the other. The picture of the Filipino-American life at the Fauberg Marigny , right outside of the New Orleans' French Quarter was not exactly what Alavarado had captured. While browsing the records in Ellis Island I





found Rhonda's grandfather, Walter Burtanog is listed on the Ellis Island registry as crewmember of SS HALWAY. The vessel landed in New York on Oct 1, 1921 with boatload of immigrants from Port Lobos, Mexico. The Ellis Island records described Walter, 5 ft 6-1/2 inch 19 years old working as a Wiper in the steam room engine. Most of the crew mustered out of Mobile, Alabama. On another ship WEST ELDARA arrived in New York on Feb 4, 1920 from Liverpool. Among the 9 Filipino crewmembers was Tranguilino Cordova from Manila. His full residence address was 361 Asuncion St, Manila. DOB Feb 25, 1895 5ft 4inc 115 lbs ship's oiler. I wonder if he is Fred's cousin! The early Filipino-american in the East Coast were the merchant seaman as the Filipinos in the West Coast took on farming in Hawaii and California. Salmon was the sea bounty of the Alaskeros and the Shrimp was for Manilamen of the Bayous.

I have researched about dozen sailors who settled in the area of New Jersey. The founded the Knight of Rizal in 1928 in New Jersey and held monthly meetings in Union Beach, New Jersey as the immigrant ship started to slow down with restrictions on immigration in the 1920s Ellis Island's population dwindled, and the station finally closed its doors in 1954. One of the grandchildren wrote me that he remembers as a child being brought in the holiday picnics and parties with the traditional beauty contest.

On Christmas day in 1914 SS Buenos Aires departed Barcelona loaded with Spanish immigrants for New York. Among the dreamers were Claro, 29 year old   and Modesta Zumel 25 classified as members of the Filipino race.    The ship arrived on January 12 at   Ellis Island and the two Philippine born joined their brother Carlos Zumel in Metuchen, New Jersey.

Round Trip ferry tickets cost $10.00 for adults, $4.00 for children age 4-12 years old and $8.00 for senior citizens age 62 and over. There is no admission fee for Liberty and Ellis Island. The best place to take the ferry is from Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey.

Ellis Island was the first immigration processing center. There are very few Filipinos who made the Ellis Island gateway but I discovered that the first group of Filipinos who settled in New Jersey in the early 1900's was Filipino seafarers who were manning the steam ships. Between 1892 to 1924 there were over 22 million passengers and ship's crewmembers processed through the Ellis Island and Port of New York (ref: American Family Immigration Center.) The crewmembers are listed and the names above are just a few of the Filipino mariners who transported millions of these new Americans. During the final years I found that Filipino-American sailors were already working onboard.. The ethnic classification was either, Filipino or Philippino. The Ellis Island records are now online ( ). All you need is the name of the person and/or name of the ship. The ship manifest will tell you the point of origin and the ethnic description. The other interesting thing was when I was able to trace the descendants of the Filipinos who settled in Liverpool, England circa 1880.

They came to America with the Irish immigrants from Mersey side that became the hub of the passenger ship to the Ellis Island.  

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