Welga Project Information
Project Mission Statement
The inclusion of Filipino contributions to American history has largely been non-existent and as a result is the lack of diverse historical material and documentation. The Welga! Project strives to correct this omission through digital archives, a video documentary, academic collaborations and community engagement.
The Welga Project was created after the passage of Assembly Bill 123 (Legislative Session 2013-2014). On 2013, Assemblymen Rob Bonta authored Assembly Bill 123, which sought the inclusion of Filipino American farmworker history in the K-12 California curriculum. After widespread support, Governor Brown signed AB123 into law on October 2, 2013.
In support of AB123, Dr. Robyn Rodriguez of the University of California, Davis established the Welga Project. The Welga Project is funded by two grants, the Community Stories Grant from California Humanities and the UC President's Grant from the University of California Humanities Institute.
What does "Welga" Mean?
"Welga" is the Tagalog word for strike, similar to the Spanish word "Huelga" that adorned the picket lines during the Delano Grape Strike. The project's namesake is meant to honor Filipino American strikers of the Delano Grape Strike and to pay homage to the farmworker movement.
Assembly Bill 123
Assembly Bill 123 was introduced by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, the first Filipino-American politician in California, representing California’s 18th district. Bonta authored AB123 out of personal and cultural motives, as he was raised by Filipino-American UFW members and grew up in the La Paz headquarters. Bonta believes that the accomplishments of Filipino-American labor activists need to be noticed. “The historical significance of vastly influential leaders, such as Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta are rightfully synonymous with California’s farm labor movement,” says Bonta, “What is missing from the story is that the Delano Grape Strike of 1965 was led by...first-generation Filipinos.” For Bonta, and all Filipino-Americans, AB123 is “an important part of our (Filipino American) history that hasn’t been told…[and] is about giving voices to those silent in history.” AB123 would require any teaching curriculum regarding Cesar Chavez to “include instruction on the contributions of Filipino Americans to the farm labor movement in California.” Veterans of the United Farm Workers, both Filipino and Mexican, publicly supported AB123. On May 24th, 2013, the Senate Education Committee heard the testimonies of Marc Grossman, Chavez’s longtime press secretary, and Lorraine Agtang, a former UFW organizer and manager of the Agbayani Village retirement home. On August 30, 2013, The Senate Appropriates Committee approved AB123. On October 2, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill, effectively chaptering AB123 into law. The chaptered version of the bill stipulates that “state criteria for selecting textbooks include information to guide the selection of textbooks that contain sections that highlight the life and contributions of Cesar Chavez, the history of the farm labor movement.”