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

WIITH Oral History Project

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.