Striving to Establish Identity

1946 Rizal Day Gathering of the Texas Filipino Club

The 1946 Rizal Day Gathering of the Texas Filipino Club. Teodolfo Dizon is located in the lower left-hand corner.

In the first half of the twentieth century, many Filipino immigrants strived to establish their identity among the majority culture groups in Texas. One of these Filipino immigrants was Teodolfo "Dolfo" Dizon, who was just fourteen years-old when he moved to the United States to serve Seargeant Cononel Sibley as a houseboy in the San Antonio area. He worked for the Sibley family for several years, perfecting Mexican recipies while introducing adobo (a traditional Filipino dish wherein meat is marinated in soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorn) to his local community. He would later become one of the founders of the Texas Filipino Club, an organization aimed to establish Filipino identity in San Antonio.

Almost all Filipino Texans during this time period were men — many of whom either worked for affluent families or served in the U.S. Military during World War II. This phenomenon created both professional and familial connections between Filipinos and other culture groups in Texas. For instance, many Filipinos worked alongside Mexicans in the households of affluent Texan families; as a result, they learned to speak Spanish and oftentimes married into Mexican families. Many also frequented Chinese grocery stores, as these were the only places that sold the ingredients needed to make traditional Filipino dishes. To maintain a sense of community, they would host dinners and prepare Filipino dishes with friends and family — a tradition that continutes in many Filipino households today.