Filipino American History Month: A Testament to Decades of Cultural Synergy
October is a special month for the Filipino American community as it is recognized as Filipino American History Month. This month-long celebration is an opportunity to honor and pay tribute to the rich heritage and contributions of Filipino Americans to the United States.
Throughout history, Filipino laborers have played a significant role in shaping the cultural and agricultural landscape of both their homeland of the Philippines, and United States. Their hard work, resilience, and dedication have contributed to the growth and prosperity of both nations.
Every year, as October rolls in, the whispers of a long-forgotten tale grow louder. On October 18, 1587, the Luzones Indios, intrepid Filipino natives from Luzon, made their maiden voyage, disembarking in Morro Bay, California. They weren't just early adventurers; they were the pioneers of what would become a vast Filipino diaspora in America.
What began as a week-long celebration of this legacy in 1982— courtesy of the passionate Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS)—expanded into a rich, month-long tapestry of events in 2009. The U.S. Congress, acknowledging the importance of this cultural exchange, put its stamp of approval on the celebration, giving Filipino Americans a rightful place in the chronicles of American history.
The Diverse Societal Impact of Filipinos
Through the 1920s and 1930s, America's agricultural backbone in California and Hawaii owed much to the sweat and determination of Filipino laborers, affectionately termed 'Manongs'. But their journey wasn't just about tilling the land; it was about sowing the seeds of change. The Delano Grape Strike in 1965 stands as a testament to their spirit, where Filipino farm workers hand in hand with their Mexican counterparts, demanded justice and fair wages.
The 1940s saw the world embroiled in conflict, and the Filipino spirit shone brightly. Under the fluttering banners of the U.S. and the Philippines – then a U.S. colony – countless Filipinos laid down their lives. Their valor in the face of adversity, from the beaches of Leyte to the trenches of Bataan, remains an indelible chapter in the annals of wartime history.
Beyond the agricultural fields and the warfront, the call of the sea beckoned many Filipinos. With the U.S.' colonization of the Philippines in 1898, began a rich naval tradition. Filipino Americans served with distinction, with their legacy echoing in the U.S. Navy's corridors even today.
The latter half of the 20th century witnessed a new kind of Filipino migration – that of caregivers. As many Filipino nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers crossed the Pacific, they didn't just bring their expertise; they brought with them a legacy of compassion and care, further entwining the destinies of the Philippines and the U.S.
The realms of arts, culture, and entertainment have felt the Filipino touch. With their melodious tunes, and cinematic prowess, and humorous personas, Filipino Americans like Apl.de.Ap, Olivia Rodrigo, Vanessa Hudgens ,and Bretman Rock, among others, have captured hearts globally.
Honoring Filipino Farmers
Love for Philippine Farmers
As Filipino Americans, we want to honor Filipino farmers as not only a way to recognize their contributions, but also to shed light on the challenges they face.
Agriculture is an integral part of Filipino culture, with farming practices passed down through generations. Many farmers work hours on end to provide food for their communities, while often facing the obstacles of limited resources, accessibility to markets, and fair compensation. By acknowledging their efforts, we can advocate for their rights and support initiatives that promote sustainable farming practices and fair trade.
"We started this company fueled by a dream to close the divide between rich and poor, and to help elevate and dignify the Filipino farmer."
Mostra Coﬀee is one of the ﬁrst specialty coﬀee roasters to bring specialty grade coﬀee from the Philippines to market since 2015.
In 2015, we sourced approximately 50 lbs of coﬀee from Mindanao, Philippines, and in 2021, we purchased via direct trade relationships 70% of the total coﬀee bound for the United States, totaling approximately 17,000 lbs of coﬀee. Our economic impact directly to farmers in the Philippines is estimated to be over 10,000,000 Pesos.
By championing Philippine Specialty Coﬀee and helping to bring it to the world stage, we envision generational impact wherein the farmer's children will be the beneﬁciary of our work. When we see images of the children of the farmers, we see pictures of our own children reﬂected back to us.
Our mission around championing Philippine Specialty Coﬀee has created sustainable livelihoods for hundreds of small shareholder farmers across the Philippine Islands.
Mostra does most of our true "Direct Trade" work in the Philippines, and you can check out the video on our About Us page for more info and a look at our first trip to the farms! Our biggest partner has been Kalsada Mill.
In 2014, among Kalsada’s first purchase of coffee was from a small community called Sitio Kisbong in Atok, Benguet. Farmers processed coffees from their own backyards with their hand-cranked pulpers and dried them bilao, or winning baskets, on top of their roofs.
Despite growing coffee for decades, most farmers regarded it as a secondary crop and only applied traditional ways of processing. Coffee quality was inconsistent, and production was low. On average, each farmer can only produce 35kgs to 50kgs of coffee.
In partnership with Bo’s coffee, a Philippine coffee house chain, they established a small community washing station in Sitio Kisbong in 2019. In years prior, their coffees were processed at Sitio Belis, Kalsada's first mill. In Sitio Kisbong’s first year of operation, coffees from 14 family farmers went through the natural process.
On the sunnier and lower side of Sitio Belis is another small community of dedicated coffee growers – Sitio Naguey. Although it is only 800 meters away from the first mill, Sitio Belis, the hike is very steep and there is no access to transportation: everything must be hauled by foot.
They decided to build a mill at this location after a series of consultations with the farmers. By bringing the mill closer to them, farmers spend less time hiking and carrying coffee cherries, and are able to spend more time picking and sorting. This helps maintain coffee quality: with the coffee cherries having a shorter distance to travel to a mill, the coffees are processed more immediately.
Sitio Belis sits atop a mountain range in Benguet, Philippines with an elevation of 1400–1700 MASL. It is blessed with natural springs that flow all-year round and is home to both vegetable and coffee growers. This community has been cultivating coffee since the end of WWII and while sayote (chayote) is their primary crop, they expanded their backyard coffee plantation when buyers came looking for supply.
The individual farmers of the Ibaloi tribe have been processing their coffees in different ways, with practices that were either passed on from their forefathers or from farmers who have joined trainings outside the community. There were no set standards and quality had been inconsistent.
With the creation of the community washing station, farmers and their children were trained together. In addition, those who have less trees were given the opportunity to earn more by working in the processing while those who had more trees were given financial aid to hire pickers so they could harvest more.
October isn't just another month in the calendar; it's a tribute and a celebration of the Filipino American spirit. As we reflect upon our history, we recognize and appreciate the contributions of a community that’s woven into America’s cultural fabric.Let us celebrate Filipino American History Month with pride, gratitude, and a commitment to honoring the legacy of Filipino laborers and farmers. Together, we can ensure that their contributions are recognized, their stories are told, and their future is secured.
- Mostra Coffee
Philippine Auction Lot Coffee
In 2022, we faced the challenge of low harvest yields by the farmers we have traditionally worked with. We sought other mediums and new producers to help us on our mission. We went in to the 2022 Philippine Coffee Auction with the goal of buying ALL the coffee, and setting record prices for farmers in the process. Collectively, we drove the #1 lot up to a stunning $75/kg, blowing out the previous auction record price!
The lots we bought come from various farmers in Bukidnon and Davao del Sur, reminding us that great coffee is being grown all over the Philippines. Help us shine a light on underrepresented regions and put Philippine coffee on the map, all while enjoying a supremely excellent cup of coffee.
2023 Philippine Auction Coffee Offerings
Peanut butter cup, cream soda, nutmeg
Cherry Gil Cabanday
Cherry cola, lime zest, chocolate mousse
Dates, rich vanilla, fudge
Bringing Philippine Coffee to the Specialty Radar
We put Philippine Coffee on the map by receiving one of the highest honors on Coffee Review: making their list for the best coffees of the year in 2022.
Coffee Review is one of the world’s leading coffee guides, pioneering a wine-style point system in their blind assessments of coffee. They set out to help consumers identify and purchase superior coffees while driving demand to deserving farmers and roasters who invest their time, passion, and capital into producing high-quality coffee beans.
Submitting our coffees to Coffee Review and receiving high scores aids us in making a statement for both Philippine coffees and other directly sourced coffees.
We are so thankful to be recognized by such distinguished tasters, and thrilled to have one of our coffees, Philippine Heritage Microlot, make the list for Top #30 coffees of 2022. Never before had a Philippine coffee made the Top #30 list, and we are full of gratitude for the opportunity to showcase Philippine excellence.
2023 Philippine Coffee Offerings
Sitio Belis Garnica
Apricot, lemon verbena, cedar. Rated 93 points on Coffee Review
Rated 92 points on Coffee Review
Sitio Kisbong Anaerobic
Rated 92 points on Coffee Review
Sitio Belis Experimental Yeast
Star fruit, red velvet, cashew butter
Star fruit, red velvet, cashew butter
Philippine Heritage Microlot
Chocolate, baking spices, nutty finish
Ghost Bear: Philippine Coffee in Every Cup
Elevate your coffee experience with our signature espresso blend, Ghost Bear. Philippine coffee beans are included into this special blend, along with 3 other coffee origins, yielding a deliciously smooth, balanced, and chocolatey cup.