Manila, U.S.A., 2019–current
Shortly after the 1898 Spanish-American War in the Philippines, 12 US towns were named after the Philippine capital of Manila to commemorate American victory at the Battle of Manila Bay. The end of the war and the establishment of these towns across the US marked the transition from Spanish colonial rule to American imperialism in the Philippines, a 48-year period until the United States recognized Philippine independence on July 4, 1946.
The majority of the US Manilas are scattered throughout the rural Midwest and South. Echoing the status of the former territory of the Philippines, many of these towns are designated as unincorporated areas; under the governance of larger neighboring cities. Often tucked away off quiet backroads, these Manilas are “undestinations” that bear no resemblance to their namesake, sometimes leaving me to wonder if I ever arrived.
In Manila, U.S.A., I travel across the United States to document the remnants of a forgotten colonial history in these places that were not built for Filipinos.