Filipino men began arriving in Louisiana as early as 1765, arguably establishing the first Asian community in North America. They came by way of the Spanish galleon trade between Manila and Acapulco, and while it may be easy to picture them becoming dissatisfied with their lives as merchant seamen, it takes a little more imagination to figure how and why they made their way from the Pacific coast of Mexico to the New Orleans area. Filipino sailors are rumored to have been among Jean Lafitte’s Baratarians at the Battle of New Orleans.
They were referred to in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as Malays or, more commonly, Manilamen.
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