A photo from Ilocandia: A Photographic Odyssey on display at Hamilton Library.

A photo from Ilocandia: A Photographic Odyssey on display at Hamilton Library.

In celebration of Filipino-American History Month, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library, the Center for Philippine Studies and the City and County of Honolulu present the exhibit, Ilocandia: A Photographic Odyssey, A Tribute to the First Filipino Migrants to Hawaiʻi. The photo exhibition by award-winning photojournalist David Leprozo Jr., Kristian Leprozo and Art Tibaldo is on display at Hamilton Library on the first and fourth (Asia Collection) floors until November 30.

The exhibit depicts current lifestyles of the Northern Philippines, the region which most Filipino immigrants to Hawaiʻi came from before the turn of the 20th century.

More on the Ilocanos

The term “Ilocano” was derived from the words “i” (from) and “looc” (cove or bay), which when combined means “people of the bay.” Ilocanos are descendants of mixed races (the Austronesian/Malay, Chinese, Indian and Spanish). Early Austronesian ancestors of the Ilocanos arrived in the Philippines through barangays (boats) and settled throughout the country.

An exploration led by Juan de Salcedo led him to the coastal towns of what is now Vigan, Currimao and Laoag. He found the people living in coves and described them as more barbarous than the Tagalogs in Manila. When he conquered the area, he established a province called Ilocos, which originally was comprised of what is now Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and parts of Abra and La Union.

Ilocanos are the most migrant of all the ethnic Filipino groups. In the 19th century, the mounting population pressure due to substantial population density and the search for better opportunities moved the Ilocanos to leave their homeland.

The Ilocos Region (aka Ilocandia) is located at the northwestern tip of Luzon in a narrow plain squeezed between the barren Cordillera mountain ranges and the South China Sea. Inspired by the promise of a much better life, the Ilocanos immigrated to the United States in 1906.

The first wave of Ilocano migration to Hawaiʻi was from 1906–1919. Most of the Ilocano migrants worked in sugarcane plantations, along with recruits from Germany, Portugal, China, Japan and Korea. The second wave occurred from 1920–1929 and was the largest Filipino migration in Hawaiʻi of about 73,996 Ilocano people. Today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Filipinos are reportedly the largest Asian ancestry group in Hawaiʻi.

A UH Mānoa news release