Sociedad de Beneficencia de los Hispanos Filipinos

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The Sociedad de Beneficencia de los Hispanos Filipinos, also La Union Philipina [1], was the first Filipino Association in the United States. It was formed in 1870 by Filipinos from Saint Malo, La. while they were studying in New Orleans.


Immigrant communities organized benevolent societies in part to support the unemployed and disabled. For Filipinos, the societies provide the support they might normally receive from the local community or "barangay" in the Philippines. The societies were charitable ventures that supported members in difficult times and helped new community members adapt to their new home. The Sociedad de Beneficencia services included support for funeral services and burial. The group owned a community vault where members could be laid to rest.

The organization celebrated the Spanish roots of its founders and was affiliated with other organizations with ties to Spain or Spanish colonies. In 1878, members of the organization joined in the celebration to commemorate peace in Cuba. [2]


In 1921, the organization merged with Kapisanan Pilipino with new group going by the Tagalog name of the younger group. [3]

Community Vault

Residents of St. Malo were buried in community vault at St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery, in New Orleans. When a fisherman died, he would initially be buried in St. Malo, but "when the flesh was rotted from the bones," his remains were brought to the community vault where the body was "shelved away." [1]

A contract shows that on January 14, 1989 the community paid $100 for the perpetual care and improvements of the the tombs. [4] The vault was badly damaged in Hurricane Katrina. In 2011, Rhonda Lee Richoux started a campaign to get the vault restored. She created a Facebook page “Save The Historic New Orleans Filipino Tomb,” that showed the state of the vault. [5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hearn, Lafcadio. “St. Malo, A Lacustrine Village in Louisiana,” Harper’s Weekly 27, 31 Mar 1883.195-199.
  2. The New Orleans Daily Democrat. (New Orleans, La.), 11 March 1878. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. [[1]]
  3. "Two Filipino Societies Fuse in New 'Kapisanan Pilipino'" The Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 21 Jul. 1921 (9).
  4. “Hispano Filipino Society Cemetery Contract,” FilipinoLa, accessed April 12, 2016, [[2]]
  5. “Save The Historic New Orleans Filipino Tomb” (2011). In Facebook [Community]. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from