Itliong and the Manongs: The Contributions of Filipino Americans Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong in Shaping the US Labor Movement
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 key figure in the Delano Grape Strike and contributed greatly to the West Coast labor movement. He continued to support organized labor movements and advocate for retirement rights even after resigning from the UFW.
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.
Despite financial hardships, he co-founded the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). He led the Delano Grape Strike of 1965, which established the United Farm Workers (UFW) and a boycott against non-union grapes.
Until his passing at the age of 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 to be 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 the renaming of 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, who were important leaders in the Filipino-American community and 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). The majority of enrollees are 94% Asian, larger 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 a range of services and programs, initiated the idea to rename the bridge in Vera Cruz’s Honor.
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 into law a bill requiring the governor to proclaim October 25 as Larry Itliong Day annually.