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Mar 17

Filipino Americans on the Central Coast

Tomato harvest farmworkers 1930. Photo courtesy of the Filipino American National Historical Society - California Central Coast Chapter.

Tomato harvest farmworkers 1930.

Vivian Krug of the South County Historical Society provided this information on their next exhibit. Photo courtesy of the Filipino American National Historical Society – California Central Coast Chapter.

“We traveled. I mean we moved from camp to camp. You start out the year, January … you’d find a place and it was usually an asparagus camp…. From asparagus season, we would migrate to Fairfield, to Suisin and there the men worker out in the orchards picking fruits while the women and even children as long as they could stand on their boxes, worked cutting fruits.” [Takaki 319, quoted from Fred Cordova]

From the “Luzones Indios” who landed at Morro Rock in 1587 to the most recent immigrants, Filipino Americans have left their mark on the Central Coast of California. These exhibits recollect the lives of Filipino Americans, men and women who transformed the agricultural communities of San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and Santa Barbara Counties.

The South County Historical Society opens its new 2010 exhibit season with “Filipino Americans, Early Years on the Central Coast” on March 20 at 2 PM at the IOOF Hall, 128 Bridge Street, Arroyo Grande.

Two exhibits will be featured. One exhibit covers the majority of the Filipinos who lived  in the region during the 1920s and early 1930s – mostly young, single men who worked  here part-time as migrant farm workers. These young men “followed the crops” to plant or harvest along the Central Coast as the need arose. The route they traveled extended from the Mexican border to Alaska.  Photos and maps will display the variety of crops involved and the daily lives of these young men while they lived in work camps in Monterey, Santa  Barbara and San Luis   Obispo Counties.

The second exhibit focuses on communities formed during this period by pioneering Filipino Americans in Pismo, Arroyo Grande, Grover, Nipomo, Guadalupe, and Santa Maria. This history is the story of human ingenuity in the face of hardship, of men and women whose individual struggles helped shape our region’s farming culture and heritage. The exhibit follows the transformation of these Filipino-American communities through the period immediately after World War II.

Both exhibits use extensive primary sources including oral histories, personal memoirs, public records, and rarely seen documents and photographs received from local residents, the Monterey County Historical Society, Guadalupe Cultural Arts and Education Center, the Filipino-American National Historical Society and the Bancroft Library. Exhibit directors, Craig Rock and Cal Poly Ethnic Studies Professor Grace Yeh, created the exhibits with the help of Cal Poly students and Cal Poly intern Doug Jenzen. The exhibit and oral history interviews of Filipino American pioneers will continue until Sunday, July 4, Independence Day for both the  and the . Other events connected to the Filipino exhibit will be announced soon.  The IOOF exhibit hall is open Fridays and Saturdays 1 PM to 5 PM. For more information call the South County Historical Society at 489-8282 or visit www.SouthCountyHistory.org

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