In addition to families and neighborhoods, Filipinos also gather in social, professional, and charitable organizations. Many of these raise funds to assist new arrivals from the Philippines while they settle in Louisiana, to support victims of disasters in the Philippines or in Louisiana, to support favorite charities unrelated to cultural groups, or to support ongoing community activities. One of the earliest important social clubs, with a clubhouse in the Faubourg Marigny area in New Orleans, was the Filipino-American Goodwill Society. According to Rhonda Richoux, new arrivals from the Philippines were quickly welcomed into the local Filipino clubs. The clubs celebrated holidays and maintained customs from the home country, and also embraced local customs. This helped immigrants to learn about new customs by participating in them with fellow Filipinos. One example is Mardi Gras; individual Filipino clubs held their own Mardi Gras balls and elected their own carnival courts. Rhonda Richoux describes the activities of the Filipino-American Goodwill Society, nicknamed "The Flip Club" by its teenaged members, to which her family belonged:
Out of the shuddering reeds and banneretted grass on either side rise the fantastic houses of the Malay fishermen, posed upon slender supports above the marsh, like cranes or bitterns watching for scaly prey. . . . All are built in true manila style, with immense hat shaped eaves and balconies, but in wood; for it had been found that palmetto and woven cane could not withstand the violence of the climate. Nevertheless, all this wood had to be shipped to the bayou from a considerable distance, for large trees do not grow in the salty swamp. The highest point of land as far as the "Devil's Elbow," three or four miles away, and even beyond it, is only six inches above low-water mark, and the men who built those houses were compelled to stand upon ladders, or other wood frame-work, while driving down the piles, lest the quagmire should swallow them up. . . . There is no woman in the settlement, nor has the treble of a female voice been heard along the bayou for many a long year. Men who have families keep them at New Orleans, or at Proctorville, or at la Chinche. . . . There is no liquor in the settlement, and these hardy fishers and alligator-hunters seem none the worse therefore. [They] live largely upon raw fish, seasoned with vinegar and oil. (Hearn 1883)
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This first Filipino migration to the United States was followed by successive waves as the early "Manilamen" were able to send for their families. These islanders were well able to adapt their seafood-harvesting skills to fishing and shrimping Louisiana's coastal waters, and the typhoons of their homeland somewhat prepared them for its precarious weather. On barrier islands and coastal marshes, in communities with names such as Manila Village, Bassa Bassa, and Saint Malo, the Filipinos built housing in their traditional style. These "stilt villages" comprised living structures that were raised completely above the ground, about ten feet high. Environmental educator Lynn W. Schonberg notes that other wetland communities adopted and adapted this practical style, until the coast assumed its present look, lined with camps on stilts.