Here’s the trailer from “The Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heroes of the UFW,” an hour-long documentary about the Filipino farmworkers who played an instrumental role in creating the United Farm Workers (UFW) union.
That important history is once again coming to light this week in connection with the release of Diego Luna’s biopic “Cesar Chávez: An American Hero,” which chronicles Chávez’s rise as one of the leading Chicano activists of the 20th century.
In a widely shared blog on the Huffington Post, poet and activist Bino A. Realuyo wrote about what he calls the “Filipino farmworkers erased by the Cesar Chávez movement.”
We immigrants mark our historical presence in America by the names of heroes who gave us a voice, an anodyne to invisibility in a country where documented history keeps some and discards others.
I didn’t know about you when I started organizing in the ’90s. I had role models, but no Filipino-Americans. In the community organizing world, no one ever mentioned Filipinos next to the apotheosized Cesar Chavez. No Larry Itliong. No Philip Vera Cruz. None of these Filipino men and their Agricultural Worker Organizing Committee that spearheaded the very strike that catapulted Cesar Chavez into American memory and left you in the shadows.
It’s important to remember that Chávez did try to build alliances with Filipino farmworkers, as he became the international face of the movement, even though some of those actions may seem ill advised in retrospect. In 1977, Chavez met with then-President Ferdinand Marcos, a move that ultimately led to the resignation of longtime Filipino labor leader Phillip Vera Cruz.