Tag Archives: Cesar Chavez

“Delano Manongs” gets CAAMFest 2014 screening in SF; Tells true story of Filipino American role as the original instigators in the UFW labor struggle unlike typical stories that delete the Filipino and glorify Cesar Chavez

Marissa Aroy’s “Delano Manongs” gets a sold-out screening at CAAMFest2014 in San Francsico Sunday night. Just saw a preview of the documentary and it fills in the blanks in the Filipino-less, UFW/Cesar Chavez story.

It clearly shows how the Filipinos and the Mexican workers forged a union to fight for fairness.

Aroy’s documentary (which will be making the festival circuit and shown on PBS station KVIE-Sacramento) is  in stark contrast to the new narrative feature film on Cesar Chavez opening up in your nearest 12-plex. But the multi-million dollar feature film very conveniently streamlines the UFW saga to make it seem like Chavez did it all.

Oh, a Filipino actor is seen, but it’s almost like an extra.

Accuracy is not a strong point.

In one historical scene, the feature film leaves out Filipino labor leader Larry Itliong entirely.

I asked Arroy if the filmmakers should have made Larry a more prominent part in the new commercial picture opening next week.

“It was a conscious omission,” said Arroy in a phone interview just. “And I……(long pause) ….I think it’s unfortunate not to have Larry there at the table.”

See my post on Itliong:



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PODCAST: She taped Larry Itliong at her Filipino American student seminar in 1976; Debbie Panganiban Louie interviewed by Emil Guillermo about a rare recording of Itliong

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.


She taped Larry Itliong

PODCAST: Labor Leader Larry Itliong,Filipino American Icon, Remembered By Fred Basconcillo,former national president of the Iron workers Union. (Interviewed by Emil Guillermo)

Oct. 25 is the 100th birthday of Larry Itliong, the iconic Filipino American farm worker labor leader overshadowed by Cesar Chavez.  On this podcast, I interview Fred Basconcillo, a former national president of the Iron Workers Union.

Basconcillo, 76, knew Itliong and was mentored by him. Basconcillo says why Itliong was important and why he may have been overlooked by historians. He also shares stories of Itliong, including an episode that may have led to a split between Itliong and Chavez. Basconcillo says Itliong was upset Chavez treated Filipino workers differently at one site in the Coachella Valley where goonies were called in to beat up Filipino workers.

The podcast is about 13 minutes long, and was recorded on 10/22/2013 at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco after  a Filipino American History month program honoring the 69th anniversary of the Leyte Landing.( Leyte was a turning point in World War II where U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, accompanied by Sergio Osmena and Carlos Romulo, returned to liberate the Philippines).




Read more: http://aaldef.org/blog/restoring-larry-itliong-to-his-rightful-place-during-filipino-american-history-month.html



Fred Basconcillo, one of the few first generation Filipino Americans born and raised in America, at a Filipino History Month celebration of the Alvarado Project at the San Francisco Philippine Consulate.


Labor Leader Larry Itliong,Filipino American Icon, Remembered By Fred Basconcillo,former national president of the Iron workers Union. (Interviewed By Emil Guillermo)

On the “new” immigration debate, Latinos, Asians, and the “documented undocumented”

At the Fred T. Korematsu Day ceremonies in San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre (Korematsu is the man who said no to the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans during WWII), I saw two American Filipino heroes most people should know but usually don’t:  Labor organizers Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz. 

Itliong and Vera Cruz were the heart and soul of the farm worker movement when Filipinos dominated California’s Central Valley fields. But they were overshadowed in the 60s by Cesar Chavez, who took advantage of the massive wave of Mexican immigrant labor, and became the face of the farmworker movement.

Were Filipinos in the fields? Aren’t the workers all Mexican?

Itliong and VeraCruz have long been ignored and left out of the histories. Chavez gets streets and schools named for him.

A generation later and Latinos seem poised to trump Filipinos  again as our politicians consider comprehensive immigration reform.

One would think it shouldn’t be so hard to find common ground between Filipinos and Latinos. Thanks (or “no thanks”) to imperialism, the broad group of American Filipinos, both born here and immigrants, legal and illegal, usually have Hispanic last names, as well as the Catholic Church in our DNA. 

For these purposes, I like to call us “Aspanics,” Asian Hispanics by way of those wayward explorers. 

But we definitely screw up the political puzzle in the U.S. especially in this new immigration debate where those of Mexican descent dominate the discussion.

And while there are a lot of them in the 11 million estimated undocumented immigrants here in the U.S., there are a lot of Asian Americans too. It’s estimated there’s an undocumented community of around 270,000 Filipinos, and another 200,000 Asian Indian. All told, there’s maybe a million Asians who are undocumented.

One million and we’ll likely not even be seen as significant in the debate.

Instead, we’ll all be lumped together, as if you can apply a single standard to immigration reform.

You want to talk about immigration? Why is anyone linking any reform to beefing up the Border Patrol and border security with more money and resources?

Does that even make sense if you’re talking about Asian immigration?  Latino advocates say it doesn’t even make sense for them.

I know some Asian immigrants do come in through Mexico, but this is the problem about immigrant “lumping” that I see is a big problem in the ongoing debate.

I’d say for Filipinos and other Asians, the biggest problems are overstays and tourism. There’s something about the bureaucracy where people lose track, documents are forged.

How is Border Security relevant to our group?

Another idea President Obama mentioned is a requirement to “learn English.”   Shouldn’t apply to Filipinos or Indians who know English and spawn call centers. But the whole idea of requiring English seems counter to our democracy. Why are we bringing back the legacy of  literacy laws?

Indeed, there’s a lot of ideas being kicked around. The only thing that seems to unify everyone is that magic phrase:“pathway to citizenship.”

But this is hardly a red-carpet or yellow-brick road. What if the pathway takes decades?

 And where would one wait?

If you have to go back to your ancestral home, where is the line? Hey, there really is no line. You just have to put your life on hold. For decades, maybe.

Where’s the fairness there?

And what if you go home and die waiting? Sounds like the virtue of “self-deportation.”

OK, in an attempt at compromise, what if you get to stay here in the U.S.? 

Then congratulations, you’ve voluntarily turned yourself in and have become an official “documented undocumented person.” 

You had jobs and paid taxes before (not all are paid under the table and skip taxes). Some banks even made mortgages to undocumenteds.

Now will you be allowed to collect on the public benefits you contributed to?

Or will you now have the official brand that allows for people to legally discriminate against you?

At least the bureaucracy that failed to keep tabs on your student or tourist visa, now has you in their sights.

One thing people seem to agree on is the Dream Act. Maybe all the talk of comprehensive reform will allow for that to finally happen. In his Las Vegas speech, Obama definite seemed to signal that would be coming as he told the story of a young man who was among the first to be approved in the deferred action amnesty program.

But what about the mature  immigrant? Why discriminate against the older immigrant who works here, pays taxes but doesn’t have papers?

He has to start over in mid-life back in the Philippines?

There’s lots of problems in beginning this debate that the president says we could be ready for. Let’s hope so. But let’s also hope that Aspanics and other Asians don’t get lost in whatever compromise plan, if any, gets adopted.

But I have to admit, just thinking about what happened to Filipinos when Chavez took over the fields, gives me pause.

Let’s hope fairness doesn’t get lost in the compromise.