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The Rita M. Cacas Filipino American Community Archives collection

 Collection 0371-MDHC

The Rita M. Cacas Filipino American Community Archives documents Filipino American communities in the Washington, D.C., metro area (including Maryland and Northern Virginia) and in the state of Maryland more broadly. The collection also documents significant historic events related to the transition of United States' occupation of the Philippines (1898-1946) to the country's independence, including Filipino military and government service under the United States in the two World Wars. The collection includes evidence and documentation of historic special events such as dances, celebrations and receptions, and social/professional clubs of the D.C. area Filipino community. Family records include the Brazal, Cacas, Fuñe-Palangdao, Panaganiban-Chapman, Quidangen-Sarmiento, and Toribio families among several others. Also included in the collection are newspaper clippings and press release photographs concerning Filipino and Filipino American dignitaries, officials and military personnel. Finally, the collection contains materials related to art, research, and publishing projects completed by Rita M. Cacas. Materials in the archive include photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, publications, ephemera, audiovisual materials, and electronic records. The Rita M. Cacas Foundation (RMCF) has partnered with the UMD Libraries to create this collection and supports the community archives in a variety of ways. Additional materials for the archives are welcome from members of the local community.


  • 1900-2016
  • Majority of material found within 1930-1993

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


9.00 Linear Feet

91 Photographs (digital photos)

9 Linear Feet (9.00 linear feet and 91 digital photographs)

Scope and Content of Collection

The Filipino American Community Archives includes materials dated from 1921 to 2015, as well as undated materials, some of which could be from before 1921. The bulk of the materials date from 1930-1993. The collection consists of personal and published materials, including photographs, audiovisual materials, documents, newspaper clippings, digital photographs, ephemera, research notes, and publications. The collection is primarily an assortment of family photographs from first-generation immigrant families from the Philippines. Family records include the Brazal, Cacas, Fuñe-Palangdao, Panaganiban-Chapman, Quidangen-Sarmiento, and Toribio families among several others.

Administrative History

The Rita M. Cacas Filipino American Community Archives documents Filipino American communities in the Washington, D.C., metro area (including Maryland and Northern Virginia) and in the state of Maryland more broadly. The collection currently documents significant historic events related to the transition of United States' occupation of the Philippines (1898-1946) to the country's independence, including Filipino military and government service. Unlike the west coast Filipino immigrants (primarily farmers, laborers, cannery workers) during the first half of the twentieth century, D.C. area Filipino immigrants worked for the U.S. government and the military serving in World Wars I and II, and for federal or local government and educational agencies. This collection is important in depicting the lives of first and second-generation Filipino-American immigrants and how their families developed. The collection demonstrates Washington, D.C., Filipino ties and fluidity of movement to the Philippines, to other areas of the country, and to the Washington, D.C. area. The individuals portrayed in this collection are the Filipinos who eventually created a community in the D.C metro area before the immigration reform of the 1960s and the completion of the Beltway in 1964.

Simultaneously, this active collection also is also beginning to document the succeeding generations of Filipino Americans. After World War II, and especially after immigration laws relaxed in 1965, the next large wave of Filipinos began arriving and settling in the D.C. area primarily in the Oxon Hill and Fort Washington communities in Maryland. Their stories are very different from the early Filipino immigrants in D.C. who were U.S. colonial and federal civilian government workers, taxi cab drivers, and WWII soldiers who fought under the American flag. The new Filipino immigrants were doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, and WWII U.S. veterans. The stories and details of the post-1965 D.C. Filipino immigrants remain relatively unknown outside of their own families. Focused on surviving as new immigrants during difficult times, they worked to blend in with American culture and communities. Fostered by public categorizations that didn't include "Filipino" as an option, many later generations lost their sense of how their community was unique, and where they had come from. By the 1980s and 1990s, members of the early pioneering generations were aging, downsizing, and eventually passing away, leaving third and fourth generation descendants and more recent immigrants little knowledge of the early Filipino communities or their shared history. Some descendants still have memories, stories, and historical materials to share and it is imperative to capture this history before it is lost. In sharing this history, community members and members of the public will better understand how over more than a century of Filipinos have shaped the American experience.

One area of life which is clearly shown in this collection is the participation of Filipinos in the Filipino and the United States governments. The government of the Philippines (the government in exile) was based in Washington, D.C., during World War II. Many prominent individuals participated in events held by Filipino Americans. Some influential figures depicted in the collection include Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady of the United States from 1963-1969; Diosdado Macapagal, ninth president of the Philippines from 1961-1965; and Manuel L. Quezon, president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines (1935-1944). Many members of the Filipino community served in the United States military and this collection contains photographs of these men from the mid-twentieth century onward, including documentation of Filipinos serving in the Navy and working at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

This collection also depicts both family life and social aspects of the Filipino American community in Maryland, Virginia, and the D.C. area. A majority of the photographs are from social events: dances, birthday parties, picnics, weddings, etc. These events include both Filipinos and members of other ethnic groups involved in the Filipino American community. Portrait-style photographs of individual Filipino Americans are also included. Additionally, the collection depicts interactions between the Filipino community and the greater community around them through photographs.


The collection is organized as 17 series

  1. Series 1: Rita M. Cacas Project Files
  2. Series 2: Buena Family
  3. Series 3: Cacas Family
  4. Series 4: Calabia Family
  5. Series 5: Paredes Family
  6. Series 6: Quidangen Family
  7. Series 7: Fuñe Family
  8. Series 8: Panganiban-Chapman Family
  9. Series 9: Puyot Family
  10. Series 10: Gaudiel-Toribio Family
  11. Series 11: Madelo Family
  12. Series 12: Sarmiento Family
  13. Series 13: Brazal Family
  14. Series 14: Lagoy Family
  15. Series 15: Mondoñedo Family
  16. Series 16: Press Release Photographs
  17. Series 17: Montano Family

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Rita M. Cacas collected materials from the Filipino American community in the Washington, D.C., area in 2015 and 2016 and continues to solicit materials for the collection. Cacas began collecting many of these materials in 1993 for a photograph exhibition named A Visit with My Elders: Portraits and Stories of Washington, D.C. Filipinos. She later collected materials in order to publish a book on Filipino Americans in Washington, D.C., Filipinos in Washington D.C., Arcadia Publishing, 2009. These materials come from many different families. For more detailed provenance information see the description for each individual series. The materials were donated between March 31, 2015 and October 19, 2015. Additional materials were donated in January 2016. An oversized photograph was donated by Prima Lagoy on April 27, 2016. Digitized photographs and correspondence, as well as photocopies of newspaper clippings were donated April 30, 2016 by Anthony Sarmiento, Teresa Carandang and Erwin Tiongson, Elena Brazal, and Nila Straka. Additional materials were donated by Nita Mondoñedo Smith in August 2016 and Rita M. Cacas in October 2016. Additional materials or assistance identifying the people in photographs are welcome from any interested member of the community. Contact the curator for more information.

Existence and Location of Copies

Some photographs have been digitized and are available online through links in the finding aid.

Related Material

At the University of Maryland, College Park, Libraries. Books on Filipino Americans are available at Hornbake Library and McKeldin Library. Examples include:

  1. Afable, Patricia O., and Filipino-Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon, Inc. Japanese Pioneers in the Northern Philippine Highlands : A Centennial Tribute, 1903-2003. Baguio City, Philippines: Filipino-Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon, 2004.
  2. Findlay-Brown, Ian. Pacita Abad, Exploring the Spirit. Jakarta, Indonesia: National Gallery of Indonesia, 1996. Hornbake Library - Folio ND1029.A22 F5 1996
  3. Cacas, Rita M., and Juanita Tamayo Lott. 2009. Filipinos in Washington, D.C. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishers, 2009. Hornbake Library - MD Stacks F205.F4 C33 2009
  4. Cordova, Fred. Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans. A Pictorial Essay 1763-circa 1963. Demonstration Project for Asian Americans, 1999. Hornbake Library - MD Stacks E184.F4 C67 1983
  5. Heyne, Quentin. True Taxi Tales. Washington, D.C.: Mount Vernon Publishing Company, 1963. Donated by Nita Mondeñndo Smith
  6. Lee, Queena N. Ten Outstanding Filipino Scientists: Queena N. Lee-Chua . Barrio Ugong, Philippines: Published and exclusively distributed by Anvil Pub., 2000.
  7. Lott, Juanita Tamayo. Common Destiny: Filipino American Generations.. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006. McKeldin Library - E184.F4 L68
  8. Roxas, Grace. Watersheds : Sheltering Life. Quezon City, Philippines: Wide Angle Media, 2010.
  9. Smith, Nita Mondonñedo. Forever in Our Hearts. Baltimore, Md.: Publish America, 2004. Donated by Nita Mondeñndo Smith
  10. Smith, Nita Mondoñedo. Say Uncle! : Life in DC with My Filipino Uncles. Denver, Colo.: Outskirts Press, 2005. Donated by Nita Mondeñndo Smith

The UMD Libraries Special Collections also has the Millard Tydings Papers ( Millard Tydings served on the committee for Territorial and Insular Possessions while a member of the United States House and Senate as a Maryland representative. Tydings pushed for Philippine independence and co-authored the 1934 Tydings-McDuffie Act. Series 4 of this collection is on the Philippine Islands.

See the UMD Libraries research guide on Philippine and Filipino American History and Culture for a more complete listing of related materials.

Processing Information

The materials of the Filipino American Community Archives are organized into series primarily by individual or family provenance, except for the first series, which represent various historical and cultural projects undertaken by Rita M. Cacas, and the sixteenth series, which includes press release photographs. The series were originally organized alphabetically after the first donation of materials, but now simply reflect the chronological order in which individuals and families have donated materials. This decision was made in order to maintain original order and allow for ease of adding new accessions to the finding aid. All materials have been placed in acid-free boxes and some materials are in acid-free folders or other acid-free enclosures.

The materials collected and displayed in Rita Cacas' 1993 exhibit, A Visit with My Elders: Portraits and Stories of Washington, D.C. Filipinos, (Series 1, Subseries 1) are boxed together as a part of the Rita M. Cacas Project Series. These materials were left in their original condition and include matted photographs and photographs mounted on foam core. The remaining physical materials in Series 1 were placed in acid-free folders. All staples and paperclips were removed and replaced with acid-free plastiklips.

The materials in the two notebooks created by Rita Cacas for research on the book, Filipinos in Washington, D.C., have been left in original order and in the notebooks. The donor information pages were removed for reasons of privacy and confidentiality. Dividers were placed between series in the notebooks. Although Cacas collected these materials, they largely reflect the history of the families throughout the collection and so these materials are intellectually listed in the relevant family series. The number of the notebook where a photograph can be found is noted at the end of its title in brackets. The series which have materials in the notebooks include: Buena Family, Cacas Family, Calabia Family, Paredes Family, Quidangen Family, Fuñe Family, Panganiban Family, Puyot Family, and the Montano Family. The notebooks consist primarily of photographs, notes, and some documents. The materials have not been placed in acid-free sleeves. Future preservation needs may require a reassessment of these initial decisions. Additional preservation work and separation of materials may be required.

The materials in the Mondoñedo series were originally housed in a notebook but were placed (in their original order) into acid-free sleeves and are stored in an acid-free photograph binder box, which can be found in box 2. Photocopies of the outside of the original notebook are included in the photograph binder box.

Oversize photographs, which were not part of the research notebooks (these photographs are generally too large for the notebooks), were placed into acid-free folders by family provenance. Each photograph was placed in Mylar sleeves. Any plastic wrappings previously used were discarded. Paper notes are attached to many of these photographs either with plastic paper clips or with the Mylar. Oversized photographs are listed in the finding aid in box 2 with the smaller photos, but are stored in box 4 due to their size. Oversized photographs' physical locations are listed at the end of their title in brackets. The framed colorized photograph from President Quezon's Luncheon (1942) was wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and placed in a separate box. A spacer was used with extra tissue paper to secure the object in place.

This collection includes a complex array of digital materials including digital materials from a USB stick, three CDs, some digital photographs of events, and digitized photographs and correspondence scanned at a community digitization event held April 30, 2016. An inventory of all digital materials was created. Unique digital materials (ones for which there was not a good physical original copy of or no physical original copy) were placed into a file and added into the appropriate series. The USB is in an acid-free folder with the Cacas Project Files. The CDs (scanned pages of a scrapbook) are in the sleeves in the first notebook in their original condition. Back-up copies of the original USB and CD are stored on a UMD Libraries local drive. Digital files are in a variety of formats including Adobe Photoshop (TIF file), JPEG, and Adobe Fireworks PNG File. Some of the digital files are available online and this is indicated in the item-level listings. Files with the notation "[Digital Only]" indicate that there are only copies of these materials available in the UMD Libraries Digital Collections. These files were digitized at a community digitization event by the UMD Libraries and original copies of materials were retained by the donors. Items with the notation "[electronic records — see curator for more information]" indicate that items were donated as digital files (and do not have physical copy in the collection). These files are not yet available via the UMD Libraries Digital Collections and can only be accessed by contacting the curator.

Guide to the Rita M. Cacas Filipino American Community Archives collection
Processed by Christina L. Fairchild, February 2016, and Maya Riser-Kositsky and Elizabeth A. Novara, September-October 2016.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2016-11-02: EAD markup checked and verified using Oxygen software by Joanne Archer.
  • 2018-02-07: Finding aid reviewed and minor edits made by Caitlin Rizzo.
  • 2020-08-06: Accession 2018-0109-MDHC incorporated into finding aid by Joanne Archer
  • 2021-08-03: Jacob Hopkins made minor edits to the Scope and Contents note for the Sarmiento Family series per request of donor and subjects.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742