Celebrating the Many Cultures of Asia and the Pacific Islands
One of the great strengths of our country is its diversity. People with ancestry from literally every corner of the world call the United States home. At CoolSys, we intentionally seek diversity when we hire new team members, knowing that fresh perspectives and life experiences bring new energy, flexibility and creativity to our organization.
This month, we join millions of others in celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The official observation started as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week in May 1979; it was officially extended to a month-long event in 1990. May was chosen to recognize the immigration of the first Japanese people to the U.S. in May 1843 and to honor the Chinese workers who were instrumental in building the transcontinental railroad, which opened in May 1869.
The Melting Pot of Filipino Culture
Adam Tan, regional director of our Southeast Region, is among the many employees of Team CoolSys who are of Asian and/or Pacific Island descent. Born in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, Adam moved with his family to Sacramento, California, when he was a child. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he joined Source Refrigeration — now a CoolSys company — in Northern California in 2002. He and his family currently live in Jacksonville, Florida.
Because he was young when he moved from the Philippines, Adam says he really learned about his culture after moving to the United States. Family members passed along stories about life in the tropical nation and cooked traditional Filipino foods — including lumpia (a type of spring roll), which is Adam’s favorite. They also attended signage-tala, cultural festivals that recount Filipino history and culture through songs and dances.
One of the most memorable dances, Adam says, is tinikling, which features two dancers rhythmically beating, tapping and sliding bamboo poles. (Watch a video of tinikling.) The dance also highlights one of the most prominent features of Filipino heritage: the influence of Spain, which colonized the country in 1521 and remained in control until the Philippine Revolution in 1898. “Spanish tradition is infused into our Filipino tradition,” Adam says, adding that Chinese, American and other cultures have also had a great influence in the nation, which lies at a geographical crossroads in Southeast Asia.
Adam and his wife, Angie — who is also from Manila — have passed aspects of their cultural heritage on to their three children. Reflecting the mix of cultures that make up Filipino life, Angie and their daughter Ava, have taken up Hawaiian dancing, and Ava also does Tahitian dancing. (She is pictured in a Tahitian raffia headpiece with Adam, who is wearing a traditional barong, an embroidered, long-sleeved formal shirt for men.) “I’m very proud of my Filipino culture,” Adam says, “and the way it is a melting pot for so many other cultures.”
Dive Deeper into Asian American and Pacific Islander Culture and History
Learn more about the wide variety of cultures, history and experiences among the people of Asia and the Pacific Islands:
- Read President Biden’s Proclamation on Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
- Check out the beautiful images and fascinating stories on Google Art & Culture.
- Try your hand at making lumpia, Adam’s favorite Filipino food.
- Look for collections of movies and documentaries about or featuring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on streaming services like PBS, Netflix, HBO Max and Hulu.
- Add a book by an Asian or Pacific Islander author to your collection.