For Immediate Release
September 7, 2015
Reference: Ian Jerome Conde, Deputy Secretary-General, Anakbayan New Jersey
Laura Emily Austria, Anakbayan New Jersey
Delano @ 50: Continue to Tell the History Erased from our Books
New Jersey — On the United States’s pseudo-”Labor Day,” Anakbayan New Jersey acknowledges that the workers’ fight against capitalism still continues. September 8 tomorrow will be 50 years of celebrating the farm workers movement that has been engraved in History. But long before the United Farm Workers (UFW) formed, there existed Filipino Americans that came together to combat the mistreatment of workers in California’s Central Valley. These valiant Filipino compatriots created the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) under the AFL-CIO merger. This was the beginning of the burgeoning Farm Workers Labor Movement. This led to the Non-Union Grape Boycott, which lasted from 1965-1970. Prior to the Delano Grape Strike, many Filipino farmworkers were already organizing and building collective power. Filipinos in America have had a long history of resistance. When Filipinos first settled in Hawaii, labor organizers like Pablo Manlapit waged strikes against their employers for better working conditions. These organizers have continued the legacy of the Filipinos that preceded themselves in the Philippines; the Delano Manongs are extensions of people like Andres Bonifacio, members of the Katipunan, and other Filipinos that have resisted domination and oppression.
As members of Anakbayan New Jersey, we connect the struggles of the past to the present day. Just like the workers today that are sent into the diaspora or trafficked due to the Labor Export Policy, the Delano Manongs are early examples of the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) phenomenon since Martial Law. Many Filipinos leave the Philippines every day for economic opportunity. Those of which were contracted to work in the fields of California and the canneries of Alaska. These migrant workers worked season to season. TODAY, the current government of the Philippines coins modern day OFWs today, as the “Bagong Bayanis” or “New Heroes.” Filipinos leave at an average of 6000 per day. We must ask ourselves why the Delano Manongs worked without contract protections and harsh working conditions and why our fellow kababayans need to find work outside of the Philippines. The Three Basic Problems of U.S. Imperialism, Feudalism, and Bureaucrat Capitalism are the root causes for why people like Larry Itliong, Philip Vera-Cruz, and Pete Velasco had to migrate to the Belly of the Beast, the United States of America.
Anakbayan New Jersey celebrates 50 years of Filipinos who have fought for social justice and have challenged the superstructure of capitalism. As a comprehensive mass organization of the National Democratic movement, we the youth are aligned and joined at the hip with the workers. In Jersey City, we have a workers organization, FIWOP (Filipino Immigrant Workers Organizing Project), spearheading the issues of wage theft, minimum wage, and human trafficking. As AWOC has gallantly confronted Schenley Industries and the DiGiorgio Corporation, they worked with the the Mexican-American farm workers to unite against the unfair treatment of farm workers in Delano. AWOC, led by Larry Itliong, worked side by side with César Chávez-led NFWA (National Farm Workers Association). AWOC & NFWA’s commitment to solidarity is a shining example of how we today shall be conducting in building the united front.
We honor the organizing done by our predecessors by continuing to tell the story that has been erased from our history books. We acknowledge the contribution of Filipinos in Delano to not just be “Filipino American” history but a contribution to U.S. history! To our fellow sibling organizations, members of the Anakbayan/League of Filipino Students chapters, and MIGRANTE International and National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) in the West Coast who attended BOLD STEP: A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike, we are with you in spirit. The legacy of the leaders of the Filipino Farm Workers such as Larry Itliong, Philip Vera-Cruz, Pete Velasco, and others remains today. As the youth, we must continue to follow their example. As the youth, we will one day be members of the working population and will always continue to fight the ills that plague the masses and the most oppressed in society.
WE MUST NEVER FORGET the contributions of the Delano Manongs! U.S. History textbooks remove our stories and replace it with bourgeois mainstream curriculum. While legislation exists to ensure the learning of the Filipino Farm Workers such as California’s Assembly Bill 123, we must not rest until it is institutionalized nationwide and carried in practice. As Anakbayan New Jersey, we will ensure the propagation of the Filipino Farm Workers in Delano as part of continuing the radical tradition of resistance against oppression. While Larry Itliong, Philip Vera-Cruz, Pete Velasco, and others are no longer with us, WE are them. NEW Larry Itliongs will emerge; NEW organizers will rise and will continue to arouse, organize, and mobilize for the new society youth will one day inherit.
CELEBRATE OUR ROOTS AND HISTORY
CONTINUE TO STAND UP FOR MIGRANTS AND WORKERS RIGHTS