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Watsonville is in the Heart: A Community Archive and Research Initiative

Browse Exhibits (4 total)

More than their Labor: Sites of Manong Labor and Leisure in the Pajaro Valley

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More than their Labor: Sites of Manong Leisure in the Pajaro Valley expands scholarship on the manong generation of Filipino migrants. In particular, this exhibition visualizes moments of rest and leisure to build an understanding of how manongs found a sense of belonging and home despite exclusionary policies and in-humane working conditions. By focusing on their everyday experiences, More than their Labor shows how manongs did not just work, but also created families, nourished friendships, practiced hobbies, and found joy. This exhibition asks: What did they do on their off time? Where did they go for pleasure? Who were their chosen families? Where did they hang out? By asking these questions, the exhibition offers a more nuanced and comprehensive picture of the manong experience.

This exhibition features photographs and objects from the Watsonville is the Heart research initiatve. More than their Labor features the objects of five families who participated in the WIITH project: the Alminianas, Irao-de los Reyes and Ibaos, Recios, DeOcampos, and Sulays. This exhibition was created as a part of the Center for Archival Research and Training fellowship and was made by UCSC PhD student, Christina Ayson Plank.

To see the exhibition visit this link.

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“Wherever I am I’ll remember you yet” : Nurturing Transnational Kinship through Photographs and Letters

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The eight objects in this exhibition come from the Bosque, DeOcampo, Millares, Florendo, and the Irao-de los Reyes and Ibao family collections. Notably, they include letters from the Florendo collection, many of which were written in Spanish. The exhibition also includes photographs.

The ways in which these photographs show wear and contain heartfelt inscriptions, as well as the manner by which the written correspondence expresses love and longing, indicate how much these families treasured such objects and the memories of their loved ones abroad.

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Dapper at Maganda: Dressing to Belong

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Suits and traditional Filipino dresses are the iconic looks of the mid-twentieth century in Filipino American history in Watsonville. Beyond their aesthetics, these costumes represent the wearers’ stories of migration and adaptation to their new lives in the United States. Dapper at Maganda: Dressing to Belong analyzes mid-twentieth-century Filipino American fashion as it intersects with notions of belonging, cultural knowledge, and gendered roles. 

Included in this exhibit are representations of women and men’s fashion displayed through both professional studio and amateur photographs. This exhibit features pieces from the Irao-de Los Reyes and Ibao, Alminiana, Bosque, Millares, and Sulay collections.

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WIITH Oral History Project

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The WIITH Oral History Project project aims to holistically document Filipino American experiences in the Pajaro Valley and greater Santa Cruz County from the early twentieth century to the present. Through oral history principles and methods, our primary objective is to enrich existing historical knowledge of the “manong” generation (Ilokano/Tagalog for "older brother"), the first wave of Filipino migrant farmworkers to arrive in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. The WIITH Oral History Project’s primary objective is to interrogate and expand standard scholarly narratives of the manong that often focus on their experiences of migration, labor, and racial discriminiation and violence during the 1920s and 1930s. We aim to do this in two ways.

First, we highlight the ways in which the manong are remembered by their descendants and community. This involves our narrators sharing family stories and childhood memories as well as discussing the gaps in their knowledge of the manong experiences due to intergenerational silences regarding topics such as racial violence, interethnic, community, and family divisions, and labor organizing tensions.

Second, we examine how the manong, the manang (an Ilokano/Tagalog word for “older sister” which we use to refer to both the Filipina and non-Filipina women who had relationships with the manong) and their descendants fostered community and formed kinship networks, engaged in various forms of labor and leisure activities, and navigated racial, socioeconomic, and gendered dynamics.