by Jomar Sevilla, ’14
Amid blooming orchards, we stare at the stone of Larry Itliong and are speechless. Itliong lies, appropriately unadorned, with his manongs (Filipino “brothers”) in a mass of humble graves in a town where he gave hope and created a legacy for Filipino immigrants. This spontaneous visit concludes our time in Delano, a little agricultural town in California’s Central Valley, with Roger, our guide and friend. We all say a few words, thanks here and there, we owe you, we remember you, we’ll continue your legacy. The warm beautiful afternoon in March contrasts with an inner turmoil within.
A few weeks earlier, in the course preparing us for this Alternative Spring Break trip*, we same participants, now walking across the graveyard with our heads down, were seated in a circle. The class discussion leads us back to the inevitable: do we consider ourselves activists? Around the table, there are some hesitant yes, some potentially, some kinda, some no because, some maybe in the future.
Throughout the ASB trip we met with Filipino community workers and activists. I have trouble understanding, much less embracing the label of Filipino activist. American capitalist, social, political, and cultural influence has transformed life in the Philippines. I understand the plea of many Filipinos there who struggle for national liberation, democracy, and even revolution. Where would the thirteen colonies be if they didn’t stand up to British imperialism? I understand that. But Filipino-American activists, I believe, are in more perilous circumstances. Continue reading