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People of Filipino descent make up a large and growing part of the State of Hawaii's population. In 2000 they were the third largest ethnic group and represented 22.8% of the population, but more recent data indicates they have become the largest ethnicity in Hawaii (25.1% in 2010).
During the colonial era, the Spanish East Indies, which included the Philippine Islands, were administered as part of New Spain. It is likely, but not documented, that people from the Philippines visited the Hawaiian Islands en route to/from Mexico.
A few Filipino, known as "Manila men" settled in the Kingdom of Hawaii during the 19th century. They mainly worked as cooks and musicians in the Royal Hawaiian Band. No deliberate migration existed during this period.
The importation of Filipino workers for the sugarcane plantations began between 1906 and 1910. By the 1920s Filipinos in Hawaii were still largely male, men outnumbered women by nearly seven to one, and unmarried. They represented, at one point, half of the workers in the sugar industry. Initially the Filipinos tended to be "peasants" of lower education than other groups.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 allowed more Filipinos to bring family to Hawaii and this allowed more Filipino arrivals, particularly Filipino women, to enter the state. The increase in arrivals also caused some backlash and in the 1970s Filipinos felt discriminated against. They also tended to do more poorly at schools than average in that decade. The reasons why Filipino students underperformed in school in the 1970s is unknown, but discrimination may have contributed. In 1970, of the 93,915 Filipinos living in Hawaii, only 34.4% were high school graduates.
The 2010 census showed that Filipinos surpassed Japanese as Hawaii’s largest ethnic group. The total population of Filipinos was 342,095 of which 197,497 were full Filipinos, the total population of Japanese was 312,292 of which 185,502 were full Japanese. According to surveys conducted by the American Community Survey showed that Filipinos overtook Japanese between 2007 and 2008.
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