These Filipino Fishermen Built the First Asian-American Settlement in the United States

These Asians were responsible for the thriving shrimp industry of Louisiana State

Jhemmylrut Teng
The Collector
Published in
6 min readMay 18, 2021

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Manila Village of Louisiana | Credit: State Library of Louisiana

There are over 4 million Filipino migrants living across the United States. The relationship between Filipinos and Americans has gone way back in the early twentieth century when Filipinos were once an annex of America in Asia.

However, records show, that long before American imperialism occurred in the late nineteenth century and the annexation of the Philippines after that. Filipinos had already arrived on American soil in the 1700s and established their settlement in the murky mosquito-infested marshland, St. Malo, in Louisiana.

Galleon Trade

Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade | Credit: Amuraworld.com

In the 16th century, the Philippines was one of the colonies of the Spanish Empire on the east side of the world. Manila, the Philippines’ capital, transported goods to the western colonies of the Spanish crown — the New Spain, which is composed now of Latin America, the west coast of America, and Louisiana.

The Manila Galleons were Spanish trading ships that operated between 1565 and 1815. It connected the economies of Asia, the Americas, and Europe for over two centuries. The link between Manila and Acapulco was making one or two round-trip voyages per year.

During this era, Filipinos became vital in the biannual voyages of the Spanish Galleons across the Pacific. As early as the 16th century, many Filipino sailors and indentured servants jumped out of ships and settled across the land that is now Mexico and Louisiana. They were placed under different racial categories that only added to their mystery. In Mexico, they were often listed as Indios Chinos (Chinese natives), while in Louisiana, they were called as Manilamen.

Manila Village of Louisiana | Credit: State Library of Louisiana

In the 1760s, during the Spanish rule, Filipinos were the first Asians to settle in the…

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Jhemmylrut Teng
The Collector

Communications, public relations, and marketing professional, and content creator during free time. A former TV Reporter. A life warrior.