Legacies of Vera Cruz and Itliong in US labor


Itliong and the Manongs: The Contributions of Filipino Americans Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong in Shaping the US Labor Movement

Filipino Americans Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong were critical in shaping the US labor movement. Co-founding the United Farm Workers, they led the transformative Delano Grape Strike in 1965, championing farmworker rights, fair wages, and labor justice.

Modesto “Larry” Dulay Itliong 

Larry Itliong (October 25, 1913 – February 1977), a teenager from Pangasinan, also immigrated to America in search of a better life.

Appalled by the exploitation of migrant workers in the labor force, he fought against it by organizing labor unions with Vera Cruz and other Filipino leaders.

Itliong was a crucial figure in the Delano Grape Strike and contributed significantly to the West Coast labor movement. He supported organized labor movements and advocated for retirement rights even after resigning from the UFW.

Larry Itlion is illustrated by Andre Sibayan (left) from the book ‘Journey for Justice’ and the “huelga” drawing by Angelo Lopez.

Philip Villamin Vera Cruz

Philip Vera Cruz (December 25, 1904 – June 12, 1994), a Filipino immigrant from Ilocos Sur, came to the United States in 1926 to pursue education and support his family.

He co-founded the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) despite financial hardships. He led the Delano Grape Strike of 1965, establishing the United Farm Workers (UFW) and a boycott against non-union grapes.

Until his passing at 89, Vera Cruz was a passionate advocate for labor rights and social justice.

Honoring Itliong and Vera Cruz

Alvarado Middle School

In 2015, Alvarado Middle School in Union City, California, became the first school in the United States named after Filipino Americans Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong.

The school, situated on Alvarado Boulevard, was officially renamed the Itliong-Vera Cruz Middle School to honor the legacies of these two influential labor leaders.

Approximately 38% of students in the school’s surrounding area are of Filipino-American descent.

In conclusion, Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong were instrumental in achieving workers’ rights and promoting social justice for immigrants. Their tireless efforts continue to inspire and educate people, and their contributions to American society will always be remembered.

The controversy of Itliong-Vera Cruz Middle School

Despite the Itliong-Vera Cruz Naming Coalition (IVCNC) advocating for renaming Alvarado Middle School to Itliong-Vera Cruz Middle School since its passing in April 2013, the measure was not deliberated until the recent board meeting.

The IVCNC had been pushing for the change to honor Larry Itliong and Philip Vera-Cruz, essential Filipino-American leaders who were instrumental in organizing the United Farm Workers union in the 1960s.

The IVCMC School today

According to Public School Review, the Itliong-vera Cruz placed in the top 50% of all schools in California for overall test scores (math and reading). Most enrollees are 94% Asian, more significant than the California state average of 77%.

Filipino Americans have been in the US since the 16th century and are now the second-largest Asian-American group, comprising 19.7% of the population, with over 3.4 million people.

Macy Street Bridge to Itliong-Vera Cruz

The structure, formerly referred to as the Macy Street Bridge, was officially named the “Philip Vera Cruz Memorial Bridge” on Woodman on April 9, 2017.

The non-profit organization Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), which provides various services and programs, initiated renaming the bridge in Vera Cruz’s Honor.

 Itliong-Vera Cruz Memorial Bridge. California State Route 54.

The Larry Itliong Day

Carson became the first U.S. city to recognize October 25, Itliong’s birthday, as Larry Itliong Day. Four years later, former California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill requiring the governor to proclaim October 25 as Larry Itliong Day annually.

The “Delano Manongs”: The Delano Grape Strike was one of the successful labor movements for farm workers in the 1960s. It continues to inspire immigrants and people of color.


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