Philip Vera Cruz: A Personal History of Filipino Immigrants and the Farmworkers Movement (1992)

Philip Vera Cruz

Author(s): Craig Scharlin & Lilia V. Villanueva

Editor(s): Glenn Omatsu and Augusto Espiritu

Paperback: Out of Print.

ISBN-10: 0-9340-5216-6
Note: A later edition of this book was published by University of Washington Press and can be purchased via their website.

Product Details: 100 pages, 9.2 x 8.4 x 1 in; with photos, bibliography

Categories: Activism; Asian American; Asian American Studies; Autobiography/Biography/Memoir; Bibliography; Civil Rights; Education; History; Immigration and Migration; Labor, Business & Economy; Pilipino; Race Relations;

Co-published with UCLA Labor Center, Institute of Industrial Relations



Philip Vera Cruz, former vice-president of the United Farm Workers union, embodies the story of the manong generation - the first wave of Filipino immigrants who came to the United States in the early twentieth century to work in West Coast agricultural fields, canneries, hotels and restaurants. Born on Christmas day, 1904, in the Philippines, Vera Cruz came to the United States in 1926 and spent the next half-century laboring in America. In 1965, Vera Cruz was working with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, AFL - CIO, when Filipino farmworkers began a sit-down strike in the Coachella vineyards. The strike launched what was to become the United Farm Workers union, under the leadership of Cesar Chavez. Vera Cruz became the union’s highest-ranking Filipino officer. He left the union in 1977 because of political differences with the leadership. Prior to his death in 1994, Vera Cruz had lived in Bakersfield, and continued to dedicate his life to the causes of unionism and social justice.



"I've been observing and thinking about the union, the farmerworkers movement, and especially the role the Filipinos have played in it, and most of my observations you won’t find in the other books. You must realize that as an officer in the UFW, I represented a minority in the union, the Filipinos, and the Filipinos have been used and pulled back and forth by the UFW, the Teamsters, and the growers for many years. But I stayed with the UFW longer than any other Filipino leaders because I knew it was basically a good union and I knew that Cesar was doing many good things for the farmworkers. Whatever disillusionment or frustrations I might have felt I just had to put them aside for many years. But since I’ve resigned from the union, I am now able to sit back and reflect on what all my thoughts and experiences in the movement mean, not only for myself but also for my fellow Filipino old-timers as well."


"As I tell you my impressions of the farmworkers struggle, I want you to realize something else very important. You see, it’s my nature to analyze and criticize. But if I saw something against Cesar’s way of leading the union, I don’t say this to hurt Cesar but only to make a point."


"I learned about people, about struggling to improve your life along with your fellow workers. I learned new and important things about this country, above economics, about change, and about life. And I received these valuable lessons from my association with the farmworkers movement."


Table of Contents

  • Profits Enslave the World Philip V. Vera Cruz
  • Forewords
    • A Man of Principles Kent Wong
    • A Personal History with Multiple Voices Glenn Omatsu
  • Preface
    • Wen Manong "Yes Brother" Craig Scharlin and Lilia V. Villanueva
  • Chapter One: "Still good at sitting down"
  • Chapter Two: "A matter of survival"
  • Chapter Three: "The most important $2 in my life"
  • Chapter Four: "So close to the good stuff"
  • Chapter Five: "I sacrificed too much..."
  • Chapter Six: "A minority within a minority"
  • Chapter Seven: "The movement must go beyond its leaders"
  • Chapter Eight: "Pounding me with their anger"
  • Chapter Nine: "My continual struggle"
  • Notes
  • Epilogue
  • Filipino Labor History: A Selected Bibliography Augustor Espiritu



"One 'hears' his voice, knows that it is authentic, and gets a vivid impression of the narrator as a person. It is of special important not merely of the narrator as a person. It is of special importance not merely because there have been so few narratives of this kind, but also because Vera Cruz is thoughtful, reflects critically on his experience, is not tricked by appearances, has a sharp eye for social realities, and is neither bombastic nor egocentric. What he has to say about the union is of particular importance."

- Cary McWilliams, 1977


"Overall, Philip Vera Cruz is a valuable contribution to Asian American history, labor history, and the student of California agribusiness. More important, it ensures Vera Cruz's life and messages are not lost to future generations. One hopes that the publication of this work will encourage biographies of other remarkable but less well-known labor leaders, such as Chris Mensalvas, Larry Itliong, and Ernesto Mangaoang. But the value of this work lies not only in its portrayal of a disappearing past.

Its emphasis on self-respect, struggle, and interethnic unity leaves us with hope at a time of rising tensions and increasing poverty. As Vera Cruz says, "Our survival in this country as a minority depends on how well we learn from the past" (76). Through his words, we reaffirm our sense that the future can hold many possibilities. Lives like his are our example and inspiration, and form an important part of our collective past."

- Arleen de Vera


Related Center Press Publications:

Amerasia Journal 24:2 Essays into American Empire into the Philippines: Part I. Legacies, Heroes, and Identity (1998)
Amerasia Journal 24:3 Essays into American Empire into the Philippines: Part II. Culture, Community, and Capital (1998).
Baluyut, P., de la Cruz, E., & Reyes, R. (1998). Confrontations, Crossings, and Convergence: Photographs of the Philippines and the United States (1898-1998). Quinsaat, Jesse (1976). Letters in Exile: An Introductory Reader on the History of Pilipinos in America.
Robles, Al (1996). Rappin' With Ten Thousand Carabaos in the Dark: Poems by Al Robles.
Yoneda, Karl (1983). Ganbatte: Sixty-Year Struggle of a Kibei Worker.