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The Delano Manongs: Little Known Filipino Contribution To The Chicano Movement & The Rights of US Workers & Immigrants

Updated on June 7, 2011
Cigar chomping Larry Itliong,UFW First Assistant Director
Cigar chomping Larry Itliong,UFW First Assistant Director

If you are a Filipino-American then you should know a thing or two about the FANHS or at least you should be aware that October is the Filipino-American History Month.

Now if you are Mexican-American (or Hispanic-American) you should be well familiar with Cesar Chavez.

Come to think of it, if you are Filipino-American or Mexican-American or an Immigrant to the US of A, you should know a man named Larry Itliong.

Larry who?

Now it’s understandable if you are Mexican and you know legendary Julio Cesar Chavez (the boxer) or if you are Filipino and you know the current boxing living legend Manny Pacquiao.

But if you a US Citizen of Filipino or Mexican roots, and you don’t know a thing about your people’s history in the United States, then I suggest that you read up as much as you can about Cesar Chavez and more importantly, about the conveniently forgotten hero of the United Farm Workers Union (!Si Se Puede!), the late Larry Itliong. Remember him, for anything else as the Filipino who played a big part in making Cesar Chavez a household name and in helping in the bloosoming of the Chicano Movement in the 1960s.

Now you may have heard this many times, but this saying is true. History repeats itself. And it should be wise for anyone to study history and more importantly the lessons of the past, so as not to repeat the same mistakes again.

Now for the most part, a California Farm worker’s (or any worker’s) working conditions in the early 1900s is almost as miserable as today's, yes over a hundred years later.

Also, today much like in the 1930s, the United States of American is under another Great Depression. And like the first one, again it has taken a toll in California’s economy, making the State, most of its cities, counties and countless residents almost penniless. Yes, and big part of that is because California is a largely Immigrant State.

Today, like in the 1930s, immigrant workers or more importantly illegal immigrants are becoming targets for discrimination and deportation. But as I have said, what else is new?

This is just history repeating itself.

People, big business and more importantly politicians don't care whose legal or whose not-- when times are good. But everyone conveniently points the finger on immigrants when times aren't.

Which of course is normally a good idea but these people pointing that one pointy finger is also conveniently forgetting that the other three is pointing back at them and their thumb at somebody else. And that is what most people are blind to, which is that all of us are to blame for this economic downturn.

Now at the time of the (first) Great Depression, the State of California and local governments implemented repatriation plans and sent Mexicans back to Mexico in boxcars if not by the busloads.

And today even with the successes of the UFW Union, California farm workers (of all races) continue to be exploited as it was in the early 1900s.

And all immigrants of any race to the United States should know this.

Because these pioneer immigrants to the Wild Wild West, whatever race they may be were so marginalized, they could only earn a living and survive by taking odd jobs or work as farm workers.

Now Filipinos were among the worst people who were discriminated upon, not only because of the strict Anti-miscegenation Laws (laws banning interracial marriages and relations) and it was worse on them as the early immigrant Filipinos were probably 98% males. And you probably heard that Filipinos in those years which we have conveniently forgotten, were treated and almost likened to dogs. And so in areas such as that of Stockton, California where many of the Original "Manongs" Filipino Immigrants settled in, signs such as "Positively No Filipinos Allowed" were posted. Yes, much like your Colored Discrimination Signs, only more direct to the point.

And in those times, people pretty much kept themselves within their own race. Well I guess in a way they (or we) still do. So if there is racial tension, suspicion and uncooperation now, that would be double or triple that in those days.

But guess what?

There was a time in the 1960s when people from Mexico and other Hispanics and the people from the Philippines joined hands and effected a change in their working conditions and in their lives that has almost been forgotten or has become relatively unknown by the present generation, except of course to students of history and the original farmworkers' families and decendents.

And this particular time and the decades before, Mexicans, Hispanics, Filipinos, Asians and those immigrants belonging to many other backgrounds of today must study and never forget.

Now, since the late 2000, a group of talented and well-meaning individuals started creating a documentary film about this era--focusing in the life of the forgotten hero, Larry Itliong.

And of course in order to do finish this, they needed the necessary finances. To date, the group has raised over US$ 90 thousand and even though the production costs aren't that exobirant, they still need about double that amount.

Here, you can watch a trailer for this period documentary, the title of which is "The Delano Manongs" – The Forgotten Heroes of the UFW:

One of "The Delano Manongs" Trailers

Why hasn't anybody heard of Larry Itliong, the UFW's Second-In-Command during the Most Powerful Era in Farm Labor Organizing?

I am hoping this project will help with that.

But as I have said, the group creating this still needs a substantial amount to finish the film and to have it screened in Film Festivals, broadcasted in public television and to produced DVDs so that we the public of all races (especially of immigrants) can learn what it was like during that time.

I have taken this portion from the film’s website: delanomanongs regarding their aim of raising the much needed funds, still estimated to be $230 thousand.

What will it take to complete the film?

Delano Manongs needs to complete the editing and other post-production costs to get it ready for PBS broadcast.

Where does that money go?

The money is going towards the post-production costs, editing, doing color correction, audio and in particular paying licensing fees to use the archival motion picture footage, photographs, songs, and audio for film festival screenings, PBS broadcast and DVD use.

What money has been raised so far?

Delano Manongs has raised $90,000 in grants from the Council for the Humanities, Center for Asian American Media, Independent Television Services and Pacific Pioneer Fund. Those funds were used for the development and filming of the documentary. To complete the film and get it done for film festival screenings and PBS broadcast, we need your help!

As you can see, there is still a long ways to go and you can help by visiting their page and send in your donation

I understand that when you do, your name will be included in the film’s ending credits (for generations to see) and your donation will be tax-deductible.

Andy Imutan, Dolores Huerta, Larry Itliong and Senator Robert Kennedy @ Delano California 1960s
Andy Imutan, Dolores Huerta, Larry Itliong and Senator Robert Kennedy @ Delano California 1960s

Follow the group who is making "The Delano Manongs" at Facebook:

Also follow the FANHS:

What is FANHS? It is the Filipino American National Historical Society

Founded in 1982, the FANHS documents and promotes Filipino American history through its archives, conferences, books, programs, films, art and more.

With 28 Chapters throughout the USA, FANHS has recognized October as Filipino American History Month.

For more information, please visit website:

Lastly help remember and reclaim Stockton California's Filipino American Heritage. For more details visit this website: Little Manila Foundation.

Violence At The 1960s Strikes

Now how is this different from the brutality against Rodney King and other minorities in the recent past? And how it is that it has been conveniently forgotten much less spoken of?

Mind you, these aren't illegal immigrants. These are mostly mild-mannered, literate, educated and/or skilled, can speak and write in English and one or two other languages, and they are middle-aged Filipino hardworking farm workers, who could have been made a living doing something else, but the opportunities laid out for them since the 1900s were mainly confined to toiling in the highly exploited farm lands and canneries.

And thus the start of the Delano Grape Strike on September 8, 1965 right in the fields of Delano, California.

And for some time (until Cesar Chavez and the National Farm Workers Association joined in), the 1,500 strong mostly Filipino Migrant Workers belonging to Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) took the brunt of this expected backlash from Farm Owners and their backers.

The Delano Strikes Police Brutality and Violence Against Filipino Strikers -- Unfortunately (or fortunately) this violence on the Filipinos was what spurned the Mexicans to join in and support their fellow farm workers
The Delano Strikes Police Brutality and Violence Against Filipino Strikers -- Unfortunately (or fortunately) this violence on the Filipinos was what spurned the Mexicans to join in and support their fellow farm workers

Related Articles:

What Happened When Mexicans and Filipinos Joined Together

Andy Imutan

My name is Andy Imutan and I am one of the original Filipino workers who went on strike in 1965. I am now only one of two living Filipino workers from that era as most of my brothers have passed away. The one thing that does remain is their legacy and their fight for a just cause.

The whole movement began in Coachella that same summer. That's when a group of Filipino workers went on strike demanding that their wages be increased from $1.10 an hour as well as better living conditions. Finally, after 10 days of picketing we finally accomplished what we had set out to do-we increased our wages by 30 cents an hour. The victory was more grandiose, not so much for the wage increase but for its significance at defeating the growers. We knew then that we could accomplish a lot more.

As I look back, I don't think we could have accomplished such victory in Coachella had it not been for the leadership of our brothers Ben Gines, Pete Manuel and Larry Itliong, who were all instrumental in that victory.

After a successful first strike we did it again, this time in Delano where wages were also starting out at $1.10 an hour. However, the struggle became a lot harder when Mexican workers started crossing our picketlines. There was no unity between the Mexicans and the Filipinos. The growers were very successful in dividing us and creating conflict between the two races. Although we tried to discourage and reason with the Mexicans that this was just hurting everyone, we weren't able to convince them.

So Larry Itliong and I decided to take action by seeing Cesar Chavez, the leader of the National Farm Workers Association. We met to come up with a plan that would be beneficial for everyone, including the Mexican workers. However, Chavez said his organization wasn't ready to go on a strike. It took several discussions and a lot of faith, but finally the Filipinos and Mexicans joined as one on September 16, to picket the Delano growers. On March 17, 1966 we set out on a march from Delano to Sacramento that initially only had 70 farm workers and volunteers. But by April 11, as we climbed the steps of the state Capitol, there were 10,000 supporters who had joined us in the cause.

A few months later our union, AWOC, and the NFWA joined as a single union. Out of this union the United Farm Workers was born. It was a very exciting time as we knew the potential when we joined together not as competitors but as true brothers joined in a very legitimate cause.

Yes Virginia, FILIPINOS Changed the World

Eliseo Art Silva (published with permission)

Cesar Chavez built upon the momentum that Larry Itliong sparked when he launched the Delano Grape strike. The only difference between Larry and Cesar was that Larry did not have the same advantage as Cesar, being cut off from a cultural revolution, due to the US colonial education. The US Civil rights movement had the Harlem Renaissance, the achievements of Luna, Hidalgo and Rizal laid the groundwork for the Philippine Revolution; Cesar Chavez was feeding directly from the murals of Diego Rivera, Siquieros and Orozco.

When Larry was marching for better wages and rights, he was doing just that-not realizing the impact of the movement. Cesar took advantage of this, and bargained to have the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Aztec pyramid with eagle as the UFW Logo and the Mexican Flags as part of the images they will carry in the march. AWOC's Al Green objected because he cautioned Larry that this is not a Mexican March but a United Farmworkers strike. It was Larry who allowed Cesar to bring all those images-not realizing the impact and power of those images; because under US colonial education our literacy is directed towards the USA as our de facto mother culture and not the Philippines; thus we are not united by culture-but made into individuals, a people detached from an articulated indigenous blueprint.

I am not giving credit for Larry in consciously helping the Chicano Movement- but Cesar built upon from the path that he paved. The only difference is that Cesar used it towards a larger agenda for his own benefit.   

Some people said that Filipinos did not change anything that they are not known throughout the world.

Who defines who?

Larry Itliong changed US labor history, he paved the path for which the Chicano Movement was launched.

There is likewise the Philippine Revolution which inspired Asian democracy movements led by Gandhi who acknowledged Rizal as a forerunner-thereby giving the US Civil rights movement its tactics. 1986 EDSA Revolution was the inspiration for subsequent non-violent demonstrations around the world including those that ended the communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe.

Yes Virginia, FILIPINOS changed the world.

One Hundred Years of Filipino Immigration To The USA

Filipinos have celebrated their Centennial, or their 100 years of Immigration To The United States of America in 2006. Although, we may be aware that not a few Filipinos have travelled the vast Pacific Ocean and have been to the Americas long before that particularly during the time of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade which started in the year 1565 and lasted for 250 years.

Now in the early 1900s, when Spain sold the Philippines to the United States, Filipinos have started to migrate to the US and work as cannery and farm workers in increasing numbers each year. Although those years also marked a generation of Filipinos who went to the United States to study in the best Universities all over the US of A and to bring back their acquired knowledge, training and experiences back to the Philippines to work in various Philippine Government Careers and to open various business ventures in the 7,100 islands that make up the Philippines.

Today, Filipinos still come to the United as immigrants mostly as dependents of Filipinos who have become permanent American Residents or American Citizens who came to America before them, and also to work and do business in the United States, mainly in the music, the medical, the military, the maritime and the technical fields.

Here is a video done by the group the Black- Eyed Peas, sung in Tagalog and the video was set during the early years (in 1936) of Filipino Immigration and ending in the year 2006.


Bebot -

Signs From The Early 1900s

INSET: One sign from unknown site. FOREGROUND: Sign on door says "POSITIVELY NO FILIPINOS ALLOWED"
INSET: One sign from unknown site. FOREGROUND: Sign on door says "POSITIVELY NO FILIPINOS ALLOWED"
18 year old, Jose Rizal. He died a martyr's death at the young age of 35.
18 year old, Jose Rizal. He died a martyr's death at the young age of 35.

Wisdom of Jose Rizal (1861-1896)

Jose Rizal, Filipino Nationalist, doctor, writer, and polymath (a renaissance man) whose works and martyred death made him the National Hero of the Philippines once said (in Tagalog) "Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan."

This literally translates word for word as "He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination."

Some of us know this full well and sadly many of us will learn this lesson the hard way.

Nat King Cole Sings "Dahil Sa Yo" (Because of You) During His Visit To Manila in 1961

Ako Ang Nagtanim, At Nagbayo At Nagsaing Subalit Nang Maluto Ay Iba Ang Kumain (I Did The Work and Somebody Else Took It)


Submit a Comment

  • J@ps profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago from Southern California

    Thanks HSchneider...

  • profile image

    Howard Schneider 

    4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

    Very interesting information which I never knew. The Delano Manongs made a very significant contribution. Great Hub, J@ps.

  • J@ps profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from Southern California

    Good to know Read-N-Learn. Thanks!

  • Read-N-Learn profile image

    Criado Law Group 

    5 years ago from Austin, Texas

    Filipinos shed blood all around the world to step up and to build reputation. Filipino suffered from racism from foreign soil and even on their mother land during the Japanese and Spanish era. Other races are threatened by the Filipino presence and it is imperative that this Asian race is reputable and distinct enough to raise such issues. This is a great Hub! I voted useful, interesting and awesome for this one.


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