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Burtanog Update

In the early 1800's, heavy Irish immigration brought many new settlers to America. From Liverpool to the East coast that transit that ferried the Slave trade now expanded The marine chart from Liverpool (I found Filipino settlements in Liverpool in the mid-1800s) to New Orleans is probably the undercurrent for New York as a destination but it was in this Atlantic voyage that was the beginning of a love story of a seafarer from the Philippines and a young girl from Ireland that blossomed into the first Filipino American family. Yes, it is not the famous Manila galleon trade.

The union celebrated its eighth generation just a couple of decades ago and it took the work of Marina Espina and the PBS video, "Honk Your Horn” to bring it out to us. At the same time invited skeptics who questioned the existence of the long generation of Madrigal, Martinez, and the Burtanog line.

Rhonda Fox remembers,
"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."  

The picture of the Filipino-American life at the Fauberg Marigny, right outside of the New Orleans' French Quarter is similar to many major seaports on the east Coast.

While browsing through records at Ellis Island, I found Rhonda's grandfather, Walter Burtanog, listed in the registry as crewmember of SS HALWAY. The vessel landed in New York on Oct 1st, 1921 with a 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. The early Filipino-Americans on the East Coast were the merchant seaman while the Filipinos on the West Coast took on farming in Hawaii and California. Salmon was the sea bounty of the Alaskeros and Shrimp was for Manilamen of the Bayous.

For you researchers, the best sources of will be the ship logs that recorded these voyages. St Peter and Paul Church in New Orleans was established in the early 1800 for the emerging population of Irish settlers in New Orleans. It is located in the Marigny area. Where the Irish found employment in the shipping related commerce. It was founded by Father Moynihan (who else?) who then replaced the French and Spanish speaking priests. It is also where the Filipino descendants of Elizabeth Nugent were baptized, christened, and married. In a nearby memorial park, a shrine property was acquired by the Filipino-American in that century for family entombment. It is written down the long lines of stone tablets from Elizabeth. It is a documentation that can not be denied. This family should not be confused with the Saint Malo Filipino men. They lived in their own a small community of their own far removed from the city.   The pictures over 13 houses complete with balcony and small sailboat are almost amazing as it parallel in time. The complete separate story is of a south of New Orleans. (   I am yet to find out whether these groups even met during that century.

Over time, the children lived normal American lives and welcomed new immigrants from the old country. They were grew up speaking English and played with new European kids, the Italian, French, German, and non English speaking people. New Orleans later became a favorite destination for Filipino sailors.

Rhonda Fox recently sent me her family genealogical line from the Filepe Madrigal and Bridget union where she is part of the 6th generation. Othelia Borabod, granddaughter of Felipe was born on about 1884. She married Eulogio Yatar who was born in Capiz, Philippines. They have 2 sons, Daniel and John. The later married Victoria who is amazingly still alive at the age of 94.   I came across Eulogio Yatar from a news articles (Philippine Dispatch) sent to me by Alex Fabros. Yatar wrote to the Philippine Dispatch in 1906 that there were about 2000 members of the Phil-am community in New Orleans.

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