Saturday, April 27, 2024


Robert Francis Flor presents the Introduction to

Alaskero Memories by Robert Francis Flor 

(Carayan Press, 2016)



Father crossed from Philippines.

He came in coldest winter. 

Sought new life, home, beginnings… 

A handsome orchid transplant.


I spent four summers in King Cove, Alaska as a salmon cannery worker on a Filipino crew in the early 1960’s. I crafted poems about that experience which were published in 2012. After presenting them in a few poetry forums, my wife suggested I consider developing a chapbook.  I wrote several additional poems and revised some of the originals.

My poems are a collage of remembrance, recounting my coming-of-age during those times. They provide a window into the lives of Filipino migrant workers, the organizational and social structure of a cannery and the small fishing enclave surrounding it. They are a historical immersion into a way of life that is receding with the transition of time for those who arrived from the Philippines in the early 1900’s to toil America’s fields and factories.

Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States following the Spanish American war in 1898 for $20 million dollars. The Philippine Insurrection followed resulting in the Islands becoming an American colony and territory.  America’s primary motivation was acquisition of a naval base from which to project its nascent power into the Pacific. But, America also introduced an educational system instilling many young Filipinos with dreams of education, economic success and equality in a distant land.

Several other actions initiated the Filipino immigration to America. The Chinese Exclusion Acts of 1882 and 1892, resulted in the scarcity of Chinese laborers. The Gentleman’s Agreement with Japan in 1907 followed, restricting Japanese immigration and workers. The Philippines, now a U.S. Territory, was viewed as a prime source of “cheap labor” filling America’s need for agricultural, cannery, domestic and service workers. 

My hope Is “Alaskero Memories” will increase the understanding of Filipino history In America. I also hope that my chapbook might function as a catalyst for discussing relationships between diverse ethnic groups…how we work and live together. 

I owe a special thanks to Ador Yano of the Filipino American National Historical Society in Seattle (FANHS) for religiously compiling and verifying so many of the photos and for helping me with the design and layout of the book. There were many others from FANHS who are acknowledged further in the book. 

David Stallings raised insightful questions and valued ideas about the work. Anastacia Tolbert from Richard Hugo House provided thoughtful comments and much encouragement on the poetry through her course on chapbooks. Edwin Lozada, Carayan Press, Inc. shared the vision of utilizing proceeds from it for the professional development of Filipino writers and artists.

I am grateful to Artist Trust for providing funding through a Grants for Artist Project award. 




Robert Francis Flor, PhD is a poet and playwright, whose work largely revolves around Seattle’s Filipino community.  His poems have been published in the Soundings Review, Four Cornered Universe, 4 and 20 Journal, the Wanderlust Journal, the Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry Review, Poets Against the War, Raven Chronicles, the Seattle Post Intelligencer. The appear in two anthologies “Where are You From” and “Field of Mirrors”.  Caryan Press published his chapbook “Alaskero Memories” in 2017. Robert has memberships in the YMCA Poetry Group and the Western Washington Poets Association.


His plays The Injury, Pinoy Hill and Pinakbet were performed in the Eclectic Theatre and the Filipino Community Center.  Mabuhay Majesty, a full- length play, was produced at the Rainer Arts Center. The Eagle’s Curse was produced by Bindlestiff Studios. The Bechtel Group (2021) and Playwrights Center San Francisco (2023) selected Salamangka Returns for their developmental reading series. He is currently a Jack Straw Cultural Center Resident recording s radio plays supported with a 4Culture grant.  He recently received a Seattle Office of Arts & Culture grant to produce a stage play.  Robert co-chairs Kultura Arts, a Filipino arts organization.  He is a member of Seattle Playwrights Circle, Theatre Puget Sound, Rain City Writers and the Dramatists Guild.


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