FILIPINO AMERICANS. Immigrants from the Philippines first settled on the West Coast, and only later began to relocate elsewhere. The Philippine-American community began its Greater Cleveland connection in 1920 when the first known Filipino, Martin Conde, moved to Cleveland from California. Attracted by the promise of plentiful employment opportunities, others were soon to follow. In 1927 Juan Reyes came to Cleveland and opened a boardinghouse for his fellow immigrants at E. 82nd St. and Wade Park Ave. Although the boardinghouse offered a comfortable starting point for some new arrivals, the Filipinos tended to settle near their jobs rather than in one geographical area of the city. And while scattered, the community did patronize the stores and restaurants of Cleveland's Chinatown. By 1930 Cleveland's Filipino-American population had grown to 30.
The bulk of the area's Filipino population came to the U.S. following WORLD WAR II, during which their native country's traditional ties with the U.S. had been greatly reinforced by their joint efforts to liberate the islands from Japanese control. Beginning around 1955 and continuing through the 1960s, many Filipinos came to Cleveland to take advantage of the city's higher education opportunities, particularly those in medical training, but with the intention of returning to their native country. Many remained, however, and the local Filipino population increased dramatically; by 1970 their Greater Cleveland population numbered nearly 1,200. During the next 2 decades the Filipino population of Greater Cleveland continued to grow. In 1980 the census recorded 500 as living in the City of Cleveland, and a total of 2,198 in Cuyahoga County. By 1990 the Cleveland population stood at 601, and the county's at 2,957. In 1995 it is estimated that over 4,000 Filipino-Americans reside in the larger Cleveland cosmopolitan area. Most of the community now resides in the western and southwestern suburbs of the city.
In 1967 the local population formed the Philippine American Society of Ohio (PASO) as the umbrella organization to foster common goals. The society is committed to working for the welfare of the Filipino community, strengthening U.S.-Philippines ties, providing a social network for the local population, and preserving and celebrating its native culture. PASO's regular membership stands at about 300. Another organization is the Assn. of Philippine Physicians of Ohio. Founded in 1972, the group is devoted to humanitarian service to the Philippine peoples. In 1981 it began an annual program where local doctors, nurses and paramedics return for a week to the islands on a medical and surgical mission. Not only do the members contribute their services, they also pay for many of the needed medical supplies. About 30-40 professionals are involved on the mission each year.
Another outreach group was founded in 1990. The local chapter of Knights of Rizal, named after the homeland hero, was formed, and its members, too, are concerned with supporting humanitarian assistance to their homeland. Another organization is the Philippine-American Ministry, which exists to better serve the spiritual needs of the almost entirely Catholic Filipino population. The ministry celebrates liturgical services on religious holidays of special meaning to the community.
The Greater Cleveland Philippine-American community constitutes a relatively affluent segment among the area's various ethnic groups. Physicians represent its single most common profession, and other medical professionals and engineers are also numerous.