Origins of Little Manila
War, Immigration, and Labor
For the majority of the twentieth century, Stockton, and more specifically the intersection of South El Dorado and East Lafayette Street, was home to thousands of Filipina/o immigrants and migrant field workers. After the Philippine American War of 1902 caused destruction of Filipino land, economy, and culture, many of the islands struggled to recover. In addition, the Philippine Organic Act allowed the United States to take full judicial and military control over the islands. Under American colonialism, young and impressionable Filipinos enrolled in mandatory American schools and grew up believing that America was the land of opportunity. As they looked around at damaged agricultural land and increasing numbers of Americans assuming positions of power, both remnants of war, Filipinos looked to the United States to improve their prospects. During this annexation period, the United States sponsored Filipino elites to study in American universities throughout the country and consequently Filipino immigration boomed. Due to the abolishment of slavery and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, labor shortages left America looking for new sources of cheap labor. Because of their status as U.S. nationals, Filipinos flocked to the fields to fill the myriad agricultural positions. But their American dream was barely fulfilled. Because their pay was so much lower, Filipinos’ presence in the fields challenged the white working class. As a consequence, Filipinos became the target of violence, racism, low wages, segregation, and antimiscegenation laws.