Background and setting

Based on the lives of the people in Los Angeles Little Manila, the book “Creating Masculinity in Los Angeles Little Manila:” is a historical writing that focuses on the lives of Filipino laborers from 1920 to 1940s. The writer, Espana-Maram, analyzes the participation of this community in politics and the use of leisure time which commonly involves boxing, dancing and gambling. Using oral histories, archival material and existing scholarship the author paints a culture that uses leisure and popular history to challenge the difficulties they faced as working class laborers. The characters depicted in this book outline the theme of racism as they are both minorities and immigrants (Espana, 2006).

Themes addressed

The book focuses on the way the Filipino immigrants expressed themselves through their work, formed long lasting relations through the ethnic press and derived a sense of belonging, brotherhood and masculinity through the vice industry. Taxi dancing halls are used as a social bonding place where the immigrants are able to explore their issues and engage in a sporty life free from worries. The young men took this opportunity to socialize with women and showcase their sense of style, as they buried their sorrows enjoying the hard earned money (Espana, 2006). The author draws a community that went to a greater length of working the hard way in order to construct dignity, self-respect and autonomy. Contrary to the expectation of many, the gambling halls served as a rest to the immigrants and also an economical way of gaining financial well-being. The winning in this club were more than a mere lowly immigrant could make in any legitimate work.


The book successfully portrays how the leisure activities allowed the Filipinos to construct an ethnic and masculine identity. They were able to defy the rules and regulations of the world of labor and achieve self-respect, dignity and honor.

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