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Potenciano Parin Columna was born on May 19, 1905 in General Trias, Cavite, Philippines. He often went by "Parin Colombo." Columna traveled to the United States in 1924, eventually moving to Los Angeles after brief stays in Vancouver, Seattle and New York. In 1933, Columna earned his pilot's license, becoming the first Filipino pilot in the United States. During World War II, Columna served in the armed forces as a technician overseas. He was also a long-term member of the Caballeros de Dimas-Alang, a fraternal organization in the Filipino community and filled many important leadership roles. When Carlos Bulosan, a noted Filipino novelist, poet and labor activist, was ill with tuberculosis and receiving treatment at the Los Angeles County Sanitarium (now the USC Medical Center), Columna and the Caballeros raised funds to help cover Bulosan's medical costs and try to send Bulosan back to the Philippines to recover. Columna also acted as the manager of The Luau, a Polynesian restaurant in Beverly Hills where he frequently hired Filipino immigrants, often for their first jobs in the United States. He acted as a benefactor for several Filipino students as they made their way through college, continuing to be an important leader in the Los Angeles Filipino community until his death on January 7, 1997.
TIFF scans of a scrapbook of Potenciano Parin Columna's personal papers documenting his career as the first Filipino pilot in the United States, his service in World War II as a technician overseas. Other materials in the scrapbook chronicle the Caballeros de Dimas-Alang, a fraternal organization in the Filipino community and that organization's role in aiding Carlos Bulosan during his battle with tuberculosis.
Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.