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California Honors Filipino Farm Workers Labor Movement On 'Larry Itliong Day'

SACRAMENTO (CBSLA) — Larry Itliong, a Filipino farm worker who was instrumental in shaping the farm labor movement, has been honored with his own day in California.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation Saturday declaring the 25th of October – which is Filipino American History Month -- as "Larry Itliong Day" in California. Itliong was a leader in the Filipino-American community of "manongs" – a Tagalog term for elders who became integral to the farm labor movement.

Ceasar Chavez, Huelga March
Ceasar Chevez's Huelga Day March in San Francisco, 1966. (l/r) Julio Hernandez (UFW officer), Larry Itliong (UFW director), Ceasar Chavez (Photo by Gerald L French/Corbis via Getty Images)

"Today, on this 107th anniversary of his birth, we recognize the great contributions of Larry Itliong and the Manongs, whose hard-fought battles helped advance farmworkers' rights and social justice," the executive proclamation said.

Itliong was born in San Nicolas, Pangasinan in the Philippines in 1913, and left the island nation at the age of 15. While he worked in the fisheries and canneries of Alaska, Itliong helped found the Alaska Cannery Workers Union and later fought for a contract that would give workers an eight-hour workday with overtime.

After serving in World War II, Itliong settled in Stockton and became involved in organizing the asparagus strike of 1948, the first major agricultural strike after World War II. He founded the Filipino Farm Labor Union in Stockton, and with Philip Vera Cruz and other Manong leaders, helped create the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee.

"In redoubling our efforts to protect these workers, we honor an indelible legacy which continues to inspire the next generation of leaders across our state and nation," the proclamation said.

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