The Larry Itliong Symposium on Saturday celebrated the 100th birthday of the labor leader with the unveiling of tapes of an Itliong lecture never before played in public. The Little Manila Foundation and the Stockton Chapter of FANHS sponsored the event in Itliong’s hometown of Stockton, Calif.
Itliong talked about the importance of fighting for your rights and speaking out as Filipino Americans. He also revealed that he had been offered hundreds of thousands of dollars by unions and corporations to do their bidding. But Itliong saw that as a “selling out” of Filipino Americans. In fact, with over 300,000 Filipinos in America at the time, he said an offer he had on the table of about $200,000 was less than a dollar a Filipino, and certainly not worth it. (See the story at www.aaldef.org/blog on what Itliong called offers to “buy him off.” He also mentions Cesar Chavez on the tape.
San Joaquin Delta College’s Debbie Louie was a student in 1976 at UC Santa Cruz and taped Itliong as he talked to a group of 20 students. The tapes reveal the tough unionist side of Itliong, as well as a softer grandfatherly side. Itliong died a year later in February 1977 at age 63.
For Louie, the memory of Itliong speaking to the class had her on the verge of tears as we talked.
“His courage and wisdom fighting for equality and justice for Filipinos and workers everywhere should be acknowledged widely and revered for all time,” Louie said.
Debbie Panganiban Louie, San Joaquin Delta College in conversation with Emil Guillermo, Oct.26, 2013.