An oral history project centering Alaska’s Filipino elders will debut in Anchorage this October on Filipino American History Month.
Mana Alaska is an oral history archive created by Joshua Albeza Branstetter, Shayne Nuesca and Tasha Elizarde honoring Alaska’s Filipino elders with photos and stories sourced by younger generations. The first collection, Mana: The History We Inherit, will be unveiled at the Anchorage Museum Atrium on Oct. 28, during Alaska’s first Filipino American History Month since the signing of House Bill 23 enshrining Filipino American History Month into state law. Filipinos settled in Alaska beginning in the late 18th century. Yet, little is known about their origin stories and the communities they helped build. With narrative storytelling connecting the past and present, Mana is a window into the histories of Filipinos in Alaska.
“The word ‘mana’ means to inherit, but it also means to pass down. As storytellers, we’re learning from our elders and bringing that wisdom to our generation and the next,” said co-founder Shayne Nuesca.
“I want people to see our elders the way I do: beautiful, layered, hard-working individuals who have shaped our state for the better,” said co-founder Joshua Albeza Branstetter.
“I want other Filipinos to look at Mana and think, ‘Wow, I never knew how incredible my community is. I'm so proud to be a part of it,’” said co-founder Tasha Elizarde.
There will be free admission to the museum on Oct. 28, made possible by Filipino Community of Anchorage Alaska, Inc., along with an event at the atrium showcasing Filipino culture and highlighting Filipino-owned businesses. Special programming from 11-1 will include live performances, guest speakers and food, with traditional celebratory dish lechon. Rep. Genevieve Mina, who spearheaded House Bill 23, will provide the keynote address and leaders from the Filipino community will also take part in the program.