The city of San Jose in California has officially handed its well deserved flowers to the Filipino labor heroes who helped in revolutionizing the history of America's labor movement.

    On Friday, Nov. 5, the San Jose Department of Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services together with the Filipino community and elected leaders of the city led the opening and dedication ceremony of the Delano Manongs Park. 

    The park was named as Delano Manongs last year to pay tribute to the Pinoy farmworkers who helped to launch a significant component in the page of the United States' record books, the Delano Grape Strike.

    Manong, an Ilocano term which means "elder brother", possesses a historical connotation in the U.S. This refers to the Filipino farmworkers who made gigantic contributions on the said movement from 1965 to 1970.

Delano Manongs | Image courtesy: ABS-CBN News

    In 1965, from the cast of main characters in the likes of Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz and Pete Velasco, they organized around 2,000 Filipino workers to let their voices be heard against table grape growers in Delano, California. The Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), which were mostly Filipinos, demanded for a better salary wage and working conditions.

    At that time, Filipino grape pickers were only handed a 90 cents an hour, which is estimated to be $2 or more in a daily payment while confined to live in harsh status. As immigrants, they were also denied to enjoy labor rights nor own a property, business, or be married.

    As such, the strike pushed AWOC to unite and form an alliance with Mexican Cezar Chávez’s National Farm Workers Association (NWFA) to forge America's first agricultural union, the United Farm Workers (UFW).

Cezar Chávez (left) and Larry Itliong (right) | Image courtesy: United Farm Workers

    By 1970, after five years of struggle, the Delano grape growers ultimately agreed to sign a contract with the UFW, signaling a wonderful time in the United States that paved the way for social justice and labor rights activism.

    “The city of San Jose values its Filipino-American community, and we’re blessed to be surrounded by such a loving community,” said Magdalena Carrasco, council member of San Jose.

    For Daniel Lazo, a San Jose resident and an official of Filipino-American non-profit group "Lead Filipino", his plea to honor the Delano Manongs came into fruition.

    Last 2020, he was the one responsible for submitting the "Delano Manongs" as one of the nominees for the park when the San Jose city council put out a call for naming options. Garnering 72 percent of the public support, the Delano Manongs park was officially established last year.

    According to Lazo, the naming not only serves as a historical reminder of the Delano Manongs' outstanding contributions to the U.S. soil, but also a safeguard and an advocacy to fight Asian hate and racism to their community.

    “Not only did I find the name fitting to recognize our Filipino American history but this was a time of a lot of Asian hate and racism especially to our senior community," Lazo said.

    The 5.6-acre Delano Manongs Park has a playground, with picnic tables, and flowering orchard trees that are perfect for family gathering and Filipinos who wish to feel the glorious pride of the labor heroes.

    The park is located at the corner of Gimelli Way in San Jose.

Delano Manongs Park under construction prior to its official opening | Image courtesy:

Interpretive signage viewable at Delano Manongs Park | Image courtesy: Lead Filipino 



Written by Andrei de Guzman

Andrei de Guzman is a digital marketing intern for the Winter Season of PS Media Enterprise. He is currently a fourth-year Communication Research student from Polytechnic University of the Philippines Sta. Mesa

Andrei de Guzman

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