Tribute to Our Manongs, The Filipino Farm Workers ( On the 50th Anniversary of the Delano Grape Fruit Strike)

JFAV UPDATES
September 27,2015

Tribute to Our Manongs, The Filipino Farm Workers
( On the 50th Anniversary of the Delano Grape Fruit Strike)

Americans wonder
how Filipino Farm Workers,
Survived and thrived in their land,
Where there are four seasons,
Some conveniently forget
They brought them here,
First in Hawaii
to be scabs and strikebreakers
To fellow Asians, Chinese,
Japanese and Koreans
And even Portuguese pineapple pickers,
But they were not the docile type,
They saw the revolution in their homeland,
They fought the Spanish conquerors
And then Americans in a bloody war
Of occupation and resistance
And they united them all,
All of the Asian workers and others
To the consternation of the bosses,
Blood by blood, stone by stone,
Hand by hand, bullets by bullets,
In the picket lines of Hawaii’s
Dirty plantations and factories
And where they earned the respect
By shedding blood for the workers.

They came to the mainland later,
By ships and when they came,
Derided as “fresh off the boats”
They landed in Seattle, In San Francisco,
Oakland, Monterey, Alaska and LA,
They build their towns called “Little Manila”,
In Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles
And after that, the bosses displayed
A sign that says;
“NO DOGS AND FILIPINOS ALLOWED.”
to break their spirits,
to keep them in their towns
and keep them as slaver wage earners.

But what sustained them and build their towns,
What spirit possessed them to be Filipinos?
As well as Americans to a land and people
That does not love?
Was it the hope that they will be recognized?
As a people and not as a commodity?
Is it the spirit of so-called “nationalism”?
Or is it just a simple sense of humanity?
That they are men and believed that
We are equal in the face of God and men?

They were like rice seedlings,
Seedlings that needs to be planted and grown,
And then to be transplanted,
to be rice stalks,
In another field and be harvested
As the harvest season comes.

They are like waves in the sea,
The sea that nurtured them and they looked up
When they fell the nostalgia of home,
As they look west
They know that beyond. The wide bay
Lies their homeland in the east

That is why the rice and the sea
Sustained the seven-fingered man
The farm worker leaders
We now know as Larry Itliong,
Who lost three of fingers
somewhere in Alaska, Seattle
or when at the merchant marine
during World War II,
Larry Itliong Who taught the workers
to unite them with different tongues,
about the unity clap:
So that farm workers who came Ilocos,
Katagalugan, Bisayas and Mindanao
Will understand each other,
That only in unity they can have strength,
And they can be understood by fellow Mexican
Workers
And even the capitalist bosses.

Yes, the sea and the rice sustained them
They who work in the farm
But cannot eat the asparagus, the apples,
The grapes and other plants and fruits
That they plant, harvests and grow
While they are only paid cents and a few dollars.

They who toiled under the sun,
In a back breaking labor,
Not allowed a few breaks,
Not allowed to marry White Women,
Who can only copulate if they pay
With their hard earned money,
Who were not allowed to worship in
White Churches and temples,
Who were discriminated
Shot at, spat at and bawled
By racist white gangs.

Yes, rice and the sea sustained them
And on 50th year of their strike
We remember them,
Our Manongs who lay
The ground work of who we are today,
The Filipino American Community.
And all we can say is, MABUHAY
And SI, SI PUEDE!
apg
September 6, 2015

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