The story of Larry Itlong is a wonderful example for Filipino American History Month, which intersections with Hispanic Heritage Month. 🙂 Like our cultures, the farmworker movement a story of Filipino and Mexican lives long intertwined and dependent on one another. There would be no Chavez without Larry Itlong. There would be no Itlong without Chavez. Iltong Filipino activist who initiated the protest and asked Chavez (and then Huerta) to collaborate. Due to the small Filipino participation in the movement and the large Latino population and growing political voice, the Filipino presence was little known until recently. Itlong and Chavez – primos by shared history. – strong voices for us all.
On a personal note – While at university, my father, a proud Mexican, trained under Cesar Chavez. He would go to the fields after class, to teach the migrant workers English. He brought his lessons to Philippines, where he briefly managed one of our family’s farms before teaching at Ateneo. He was proud to be married to a Filipina and embraced PH. When he died, I carried his ashes to rest in our Island. It was heartfelt to see many of the workers who had known him as a young man come to pay tribute. Years later, back in the U.S., I also met Latino field workers who had met him and recounted learning English from him. During his short life, my father was a professor and civil rights and immigration advocate, fighting for Latinos, African Americans, and Asians.
As we celebrate our Filipino American history, it is our hope to acknowledge not only our contributions to this imperfect but Beautiful county, and that we see the intrinsic value of unity in diversity.
Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago