Bacerra (Max) Oral History Interview


Bacerra (Max) Oral History Interview


Filipino American migrant agricultural laborers [lcsh]
Grape Strike, Calif., 1965-1970 [lcsh]
Labor union welfare funds [lcsh]
National Farm Workers Association [lcna]
Mexican American
Retirees [lcsh]
United Farm Workers [lcna]
United Farm Workers Organizing Committee [lcna]


Oral History interview with Max Baccera.


Welga! Filipino American Labor Archives


June 5, 2015


The Welga! Filipino American Labor Archives and the UC Davis Asian American Studies department holds intellectual control of the oral history interview, transcript and audio recordings. Usage is restricted for educational purposes only.




Daisy Montes Cabrera and Lucero Vera


Max Baccera


Interview with Mr. Max Bacerra
Welga Interview
Daisy Montes Cabrera and Lucero Vera
June 5, 2015
Phone Call Interview: 7:45 PM

 Max: Hello, is this Daisy?
 Interviewer: Hello Mr. Max Bacerra, are you ready for you interview?
 Max: You can call me Max. First of all, I am kind of surprised that your teacher would ask you to give me a call, but what is the base for this phone call so I can respond better to you? So the both of you are taking an Asian Pacific class?
 Interviewer: We are actually sociology majors and we are taking a Filipino American Experience class. And in this class, so far we have learned about the Filipino American Experience and about Delano, and the Filipino immigration to the United States, and all of that. We are actually doing this for our final, because we were supposed to go to Delano, but unfortunately, our professor could not book enough interviews there and so she sent us your contact information because she thought you were a good person for us to interview.
 Max: And your professor? I don’t know if I know your professor.
 Interviewer: Her name is Robyn Rodriguez.
 Max: I guess I just don’t know her personally. Both of you, what year are you at UC Davis?
 Interviewer: We are both second years.
 Max: Both of you, where you grew up, you grew up in San Jose?
 Interviewer: Yes, I grew up in San Jose and Lucero grew up in San Pablo.
 Max: Oh.
 Interviewer: Yeah, so we are both from the Bay Area.
 Max: There was a good friend of mine, her name was Madeline ______ (1:56) and she was a director there in San Pablo. And then another good friend of mine was the the assistant developer for San Jose. And they are good people to reach out to too. And that is good, at least I got some background.
 Interviewer: (chuckles) Oh that’s great!
 Max: So you studied and have a little bit of background on the Filipino American migration here?
 Interviewer: Yeah. Actually, one of the biggest class projects that we had this quarter was to be assigned to a city. For example, I was assigned to Pacifica and the goal of our group project was to try to get history or social science teachers to want to include the Filipino American Experience into their curriculum, and so our task was to find contacts. For us, we emailed a lot of people, trying to ask them to teach more about the Filipino history and the experience. As a class, we all agreed that it is something that is not really taught in class, and so we think it is really important to do that to share those experiences and get those experiences out there.
 Max: That’s good. A lot of that history. A lot history is told by father. They call them Manongs and in our culture that is a sign, like the Spanish Manongs, they were the first wave of Filipinos who came around the early 1900’s around the 1930’s. My dad came here back in 1923. So that’s a lot of their stories around Delano, Salinas, parts of Castroville, Watsonville, and Washington State. They came here looking for, to look for education, a better way of life. And as you probably read, they did not have that opportunity. Either you worked in the shipyards or you just worked in agriculture. My dad, as a young man, he went to pick apples up there in Washington. But primarily, he was picking broccoli, cauliflower in the Salinas, Castroville area. And then grapes in the Delano area. But they went as far south as the _____ Valley (5:42). Because they had grapes over there too. And it was a hard life. My dad was telling me that the ratio of men to women was like 120 to like 1.
 Interviewer: Oh wow.
 Max: Yeah. And then the thing is that in California, it was against the law for them to marry anyone that was of Mexican descent. And so that was true for a long time. And at east in California, that it was upheld that they couldn’t vote, they couldn’t intermarry, they couldn’t own property and so it was really tough for them in a way. There was a law that overturned the right for Filipinos to own land and was overturned in the 1950’s. So that wasn’t that long ago.
 Interviewer: Wow, that really isn’t.
 Max: Yeah it was hard. And there was a similar program called the Braceros program.
 Interviewer: Yes, I’ve heard about that one.
 Max: Yeah. And so, they used... Filipinos actually, Chinese came over to help build the railroads in the 1800’s and so the Japanese came, and all the ships that would bring people over were filled up with people of Chinese descent and Japanese descent. And they would hop that ship and just have a new way of life. And Filipinos had a lot to figure out during that first wave. Some of them were dropped off in Hawaii. Both of them came to California in the United States, and some of them to San Francisco. And well, that was the story. After World War II, the Philippines were on the same side as the United States and they beat Germany and Japan, and they were reprieved. They told them, you can go home to your country. But, for many of them, this [United States] was their country already and then he went back home, and my great uncle, my mom’s uncle, my grandmother on my mom’s side, or my mother’s mother which would be my grandmother, she had a brother who did the same thing. He came from their province, my mom and dad are from the same province in the Philippines.
 Interviewer: Excuse me, what province is that?
 Max: ______ it is in the Northern. My mother is from a town called Alaminos, and but what is interesting is that now that you mention Pacifica, my grandfather, even though he is my great uncle, we still call him my Lolo. My Lolo Eli, that is his Americanized name, he told my dad to go visit my neighbor because she was a good gal and she was working in the city of Manila as a hairdresser and she was from our province. My dad courted her, and courted her for almost a year and he asked her to marry him and asked her “Will you go back to the United States with me?” And later on he would petition her for citizenship. And so, that was back in ’52 and by ’54 by mom and dad had came over. The first place they went to in California was, well they did not want to go to Washington state because my dad had already worked here for 20, 30 years working in the Salinas area, the Delano area, and the Coachella Valley (12:20). And what happened was that they really liked the Salinas, Delano area. My mom told the story that she first ended up there, and it’s pretty warm there (~13). And it is pretty cold and foggy in the Philippines compared to the Salinas area. And I mean, where else would they go then? They decided to go towards Delano. And she went there mainly through a lot of people that spoke her same dialect, Ilocano. And so then, we landed, well they ended up in Delano in ’54. My brother was born in ’56.
 Interviewer: Oh okay. Where were you born actually?
 Max: In Delano. Delano, California. So was my brother, he was born in 1956. I was born in 1958. By that time, my dad was 52 and my mom was 42. And that is when there were really harsh conditions, and people were working for the major farmers in the area. And so then that was when Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz and people would ask them to be there, and to me they were just my uncles.
 Interviewer: Wow.
 Max: They lived like maybe about 10 blocks from each other.
 Interview: That is so interesting because I read the book about Philip Vera Cruz and I am just astonished that they were like your uncles to you.
 Max: Yeah. Did you read that book by Sid Valledor?
 Interview: Yeah [actually wrong author, read book by Craig Scharlin and Lilia Villanueva]
 Max: Okay. There is actually a picture there of my dad’s side, it was his great uncle, which is Candy Bacerra. He is in that book and, he came in from the Philippines just like my uncles did. He was a bit older, he was my dad’s uncle, okay? And his story was that he came in separately from the Philippines and landed there in San Francisco. And he was taken there to Idaho. And he met this farmer, and met his daughter and he liked one of them and they were really strict here in California. He went to, they got married. Basically, my Lolo Candy they went to Orange County and they lived there in the Anaheim area. But he was a school teacher back in the Philippines, but he came here pretty educated. He was a teacher so he went to high school and went to college and all of that. But he went to Anaheim, and then he started to be a carpenter. And the funny story is that my Sid Valledor and he was trying to get the story when I was there. And everyone looked up and they introduced me. And I remember him say “Hey, you have a great Uncle!”
And I said “Yeah!”
And to this day, I still carry my grandfather’s and great uncles’ social security cards and medical cards. And well yeah, that’s me. And so what happened was they had 5 kids and they had a divorce maybe around the early 1960’s, so my Lolo Candy and I mentioned Anaheim because he went to Disneyland. He worked and was a carpenter. Anyway, they divorced and he lived in Delano and he was in Delano when he worked here and he was living with us. And in the middle of all the strike, he was one of the main workers who worked on 40 Acres up there. He came here was a school teacher in the Philippines and became a work laborer, farm worker over here when he came to the United States and he ended up being a carpenter for the roof and the building of Agbayani Village.
 Interviewer: Oh okay! I’ve heard and learned about Agbayani Village.
 Max: But my dad, he raised us here but we were in Dover Street in Delano. From my Uncle Larry’s house, we were probably, I don’t know, maybe 4 blocks. So he lived in 19th Place in Delano. And we were on Dover and 19th, that was our address. But anyways, our family and a lot of the other Filipino families were a pretty close community.
 Interviewer: I see. I actually I have a question for you. I have the understanding that you worked at a high school, is that correct?
 Max: I did work in a high school. I was involved. I mean, Mom, Dad were always involved in the community and they always taught us to be proud of our culture and our heritage but they also told us to be involved. They told us to always be close to our roots and be close to the community. I remember sometimes we would watch Kennedy on TV and all the speeches and my dad would say, “You see President Kennedy? You can do that too!”
And I would say “Yeah, Dad?”
But, I ended up having a license to do government. So, I was involved in our local associations club and I became the President of our high school, and that was maybe 2, 3 years. And then I would start our local Filipino high school club, the United Filipino Organization, the UFO. And then, the next year I was President of the Junior class, and then Vice President during Senior year. And so that was in 1976. The next year, I went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I got my degree in City and Regional Planning and my Bachelors in Science. And well education is important. That is why, well I don’t know who the two of you are but, I really feel strongly that education is something that they can’t take away from you. And the Manongs, they brought up wanting that education and they paved the path for us, including you. They fought for their rights and action programs, and, there were minorities in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. There weren’t many Filipinos there. But again, education is not something they can take from you. When I graduated, I asked my mom, because well they would give me like $50 every three weeks or something like that, and by that time, in the ‘70’s they didn’t have the best health care back then. And I asked my mom, well it’s graduation time and a lot of them were able to go to my graduation ceremony to watch me. And I came back to see my dad, and he wanted me to take him to the doctors and there was a trip I had planned with one of my best friends who was also Filipino from Delano and I got him to go to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. And so I told my dad that well I wanted to go travel, and he said that I needed to take him to his doctor. And I said okay. I told my friend, “We’re going to have to do this later.”
But anyways, I took my dad in and he had a bladder/prostate problem and so he was taking medicine and the doctor said, “Take your dad to the Emergency Room right now, he’s having a heart attack.”
And I did, and he stayed in ICU for maybe 3 days, and the day he was supposed to go back to the regular ward, they told us he died, that he had passed away. And after I graduated, my dad, well one of the Manongs, had passed and that is what he wanted to see, to see me graduate from Cal Poly. And I think about that and I try my best for him and for everybody else to do the best I can and do what I do and Mom passed away from cancer 5 years after.
 Interviewer: I am so sorry.
 Max: Yeah. She was able to see me get married. She only had two kids. It was my brother and myself. And I remember that there were a lot of Filipinos in a similar situation as us. I remember when we would go to concerts or to school awards they would ask us, “Oh is that your grandpa?”
And I would say, “No, that’s my dad.”
And but, I was proud of it, that he was my dad.
 Interviewer: Yeah of course. That is something to be proud of.
 Max: Yeah. And, I don’t know if what I do but I started working in Delano as the Senior Planner for the city. I love my major and I still do. So I opened up an event planning and government services firm called Max P. Bacerra and Associates. I also worked on large development projects in Southern California and in the Sacramento Area. And over the years, I have done this for about 35 years. About 5 years ago, I started to do land development.
 Interviewer: Oh okay.
 Max: Yeah. So I am now a _____ developer (31:02). I do smaller projects here in this area but I am a land developer but I have been involved in so many different land projects and different subprojects. I think what I do is something important because how many Manongs and Filipinos wanted the same opportunities that I had. I just try my best and I was telling, I had never met Sid Valledor and he was trying to say the stories of the farmers and the farm workers and the Manongs and how hard it was. I still stay close in Delano, still here in Delano, but my reach is pretty far. But some of these older farm workers are still active, they’re alive, but active still. A lot of the farmers are on probation, but a lot of them started working in the city being on planning committees and being involved in economic development. And someone came up to me, and he is maybe 90 years old and he is someone they were striking against. He said, “I’m really proud of what you’ve done to help Delano growing, and thank you for your commitment and your hard work.”
And so, I can’t get angry but I wish they would’ve given them the respect to the Manongs way back when. But to hear him say that it lightens my load right now because had they given us the chance to all work together, to achieve more. But, I don’t want you to ever forget, both of you here, those who came in and made it easier for you to be able to go to school and to be able to go to McDonalds, to go to Taco Bell. I really rep those guys and I rep those guys because we could never go there. We were always eating at home and Mom cooked and Dad picked from the vegetable garden and we got our McDonald’s restaurant back in 1973. We got back home and well we didn’t have anything else in town but that was pretty cool. And I was going to high school, but compared to the Bay Area, you’ve probably seen all of that. In every block there would be something, but we had nothing. And that was the way it was, we didn’t have much to shop in the area so we would go to Bakersfield. And in that time, we couldn’t travel and so there was…. Hm, I’m trying to figure it out. I remember working, I would work in the field and we were in the fields since I was 8. And at 11 I would have my own paycheck working in the fields and I remember you had to change your clippers afterwards and I went up to my dad and said “Dad, you work every day and make 50 cents an hour.”
And at the end of the week you would work 6 days, and make $40 for the week. And back then, that was a lot. But now you get the salary including the benefits, and now it is a lot more. But that would not be possible if they did not do what they did, and fought for what they fought for, things wouldn’t be how they are. So it is important that we give back and we did okay. We always gave back to the community and to community organizations, different foundations, especially to the Delano High School kids. And now we have three high schools here in Delano, Delano High School, Cesar Chavez High School, and Robert F. Kennedy High School, and the United Filipino Organization, and well we are really proud of it. We were able to maintain our cultural identity and the heritage. We were able to participate in the statewide Festival ______(39:14)_ for 41 years. And so we helped in those celebrations, in the services, and cultural praises. And in Delano we are always reminded and we are always told the new generations to remember the struggles and the sacrifices of the Manongs. And we see at those events that throughout all of those dreams have passed on. And their wives, my dad, would have been 119. He was born in 1906. Or is that 109?
 Interviewer: Yeah. I think that is 109.
 Max: Yeah, then 109. And my mom would have been 99, yeah. So even the Manongs (chuckles), their wives were 20 years age difference between the Manongs and the young wives they brought over. They are all passing too. Yeah, so, they are kind of leaving that culture. Filipinos were very proud and they didn’t want to talk about the bad things. They didn’t want to put the negative sides on what happened. They always stressed to always look forward and to do your best. To find something you enjoy and be really good at because there was a lot of blood and sweat to give us the opportunity to go to school and be a mechanic, or to be a salesman, or whatever. There is a lot of pride without bringing up the past, but when you bring up the past, like working in the fields and the old Manongs that would have to select varieties, the farmers would _______ (42:13). But when you would ask them, like, “Uncle, was it really like this?”
 And they would just bow their head and be like, “Yeah.”
 And we were all boys, so I had to make the change, to do better than we did. And they would tell me, you are starting. And we were already in the ‘60’s and there was a lot of pressure. Even in Delano, even for us. And things started to change a little but, we were able to make a change and specifically now, to Filipino Americans and people of Filipino descent. We are on city council, on (45:03).
 And in the elementary school board, high school project, community college, college district and they’re Filipino too.
 Hopefully we’ve the Manongs proud but being in those fields, with them and seeing all of them being talked down to, all the time.
 At first we didn’t have any restrooms and we didn’t have any breaks. Nothing to protect the workers so but you there is uh more accommodations the time rates, theres those port potties.
 It’s really come a long way but I still remember what it was like back then.
 It was kind of odd because we went to high school with all the farmers kids
 They’d say we’ll pick you up, we would get rides and would say oh you’re talking about my dad and they would say oh no you’re talking about my dad.
 Delano, until recently, still maintained a 32-34% unemployment rate
 Interviewer: Is that currently or before?
 Max: Until probably about five years ago, so 1 of 3 people you could count on. Either in unemployment or without a job. We’re down to about 15% now.
 Interviewer: Oh okay that’s good.
 Max: Now we have a lot of jobs here. In this area we have a _____ center a lot of distribution, a Wal-Mart distribution center, have the Halos for oranges, so that’s here in Delano.
 So we have two state prisons here. Say what you want about state prisons but still it provides, each prison provides about fifty thousand jobs.
 So its around 24/7. And so that’s basically, some of those jobs in to the area so the ___ from almonds and pistachios here, and blueberries and the almonds is a lot more animation here but there are still a lot of jobs.
 We just got our first Wal-Mart about two years ago.
 Interviewer: I actually heard about that, one of my peers lives in Delano and he was talking about how you all just got a Wal-Mart
 Max: Yeah and we got one Starbucks here. Let’s see, you go on the 99 from Bakersfield, to Delano and it’s about 30 miles from Delano going North on the 99 to _______ there’s another Starbucks. So in 60 miles and only one Starbucks. We’re enthusiastic and so thrilled to have that. We only have one Panda here.
 Delano has such a rich history but all that ___ jumped over Delano. We’re so proud of it, a new Ross, just for us and a Big 5 and we have the 2 state prisons but we really don’t have a lot of national ____. _____
 00:51They’re kind of staying away from Delano for a lot of years, for many years they didn’t want Delano to grow. Us Farmers just want to make sure that they had a work force, a ready work force that they can depend on to help them Harvest the grapes and prepare ___ theres Churning and then theres tipping, Theres certain things that you do that you just wait for that so August to November and that’s just when the grapes are being produced. In between, outside of the little three, four months, the work is to prunes or pine vines, that the vines are getting grown, that they’ll be grown on the wires. So at the end when they get flu of bloom they come out with those parts hanging down. Its like off and anyways that was hard, they were picketing for higher wages and better conditions. It’s hard to make it through but somehow ___ they made it through.
 Theres a lot more chances but at_____
 00:54 my brother has his degree in English and he became a schoolteacher. For many years we were in the Delano area but now he started another career
 Interviewer: Yeah that’s good
 Max: So you see he’s Barbecuing. He does careering and cooks better than I do. He’s barbecuing. Also makes ____ and rice and serves __ salads, but anyways I have stayed here in the area and have continued to be helpful for the Delano community setting up boards and I sit on county boards, I chair ___ Delano Housing Authority
 Interviewer: Oh okay
 Max: And we try our best to provide affordable housing for our current county residents we need our ___ requirements but we help out seniors, foster care, the homeless. I’m thankful that even though Filipinos weren’t able to have or own housing up to the 1950s, we’re able to understand what it’s like to be farmworkers and to be poor so I think that __ it helps me become a better leader and a board member
 Interviewer: Yeah That’s good
 Max: In communities that I’m focusing a lot of my land development activities are small areas like _____, McFarland, Wasco. As small as even Delano. They were all and they still are primarily farm working __ but __ a new AutoZone and it makes people really happy, a dollar general, which is a discount store. It’s good. Other than that, these communities for years have had to drive from ___ into Delano. Or to go from Wasco to either River__ Delano or really go into a big city which is Bakersfield.
 What’s its’ like to work in the sun or even very cold. You’re thankful that you don't have to do that. We have realtors and they get insurance ____ Basically we would wake and we would be sleeping in the back of the car and we would find our parents, find in which row they were working on and hang around with them all day until it was time to go home
 00:59 And then when we had to go to school, seven years old, all of us were Filipino and Hispanic kids. Lock the doors, go to school. Walk, for us, others had to walk even further but for us it was about six blocks. You’re just walking to school and along the way you pick up your other friends and ___ all the way to elementary school. Cross the big street. ____ we would throw a rock and by the back door and then you would come home. Water the garden, fold the clothes that were on the clothesline. We had no dryers back then. It was okay, it was okay. Changed a lot but, that’s fine.
 We didn’t have a lot of the programs, the social programs that now I was involved with No food stamps and no things like that, __ housing. We just didn’t have it. There was a pride that we didn’t want to just ____ families in that condition. You had to suck it up, do your best. I realize that there were a lot of families, ours was no different, and they had their personal problems. But they had to deal with apart from being poor but for the most part, I liked my childhood, my parents they made me feel happy and at the same time always encouraged me to do my best. Around the corner very empty __ you had that feeling that all the ___ are your uncles. You earn that respect. One of my best friends, __, his dad was a barber, was very supportive of the United Farm Workers and uncle Larry would every time he’d get a haircut, in a one car garage, ______, Larry would tell him, this is why we need to get it right, we need to get our rights.
 For me Uncle Eri? or uncle Larry were just out there and my great uncle was a driver. He would say we’re going to go to the Bay Area and we’re going to Safeway to Picket. We used to go visit him in a smaller town ___ was eighty miles north, __ was eight miles to the east. He had his house there. And then he’d also go on the grounds of 40 acres. Have you heard of 40 acres?
 Interviewer: No where is that at?
 Max: Well in Delano, this land was donated to the United Farm Workers and that’s where the farmworkers headquarters, well the cite is still there. how much land the ___ donated to the United Farm Workers?
 Interviewer: No (chuckles)
 Max: 40 acres (both laugh)
 Interviewer: That was a trick question
 Max: Yeah so they built a medical cline out there, gas station, UFW headquarters, little villages in 40 acres. We have all the 40 acres now the United Farm Workers headquarters are another piece of the land probably about 50 miles away but it is bigger. The __ town called Tieen?. All of the acres, its more than 40 acres, they named the whole land where the United Farm Workers, they names it ___and that’s where Cesar was buried. I still Dolores Huerta, with her kids
 Interviewer: Wow
 Max: Yeah so yeah they are really good friends from high school. Emilio, Dolores’ son ___ but yeah. We all kind of grew up with each other so to me, in the __ there was Mexican ___ of course there was Emilio and Chavez’ family ___ built the church for Our Lady of Guadalupe. So, to us it’s a way of life we haven’t forgotten it and there’s a trend there especially from the Manongs that each of us, we were there, we took care up until they died, ___ I was in Hospitals they said, we wither have rooms in our house or my mom says your uncle George wants to see you go pick him up. And then I’ll wash him and your turn to wash clothes. These old men didn’t have anybody. Right, and so anyways the story behind ___ don’t live my life, we sacrificed our lives to this and even have a better life. Study hard and do your best. Do your best kind of like don’t cause trouble just show them that you can do it. I get to travel and I give them ___ respect. I work with the East Coast, the ___, but I never forget where I come from. As much as I always __ with my colleagues, I am always humbled that I want to go over board and forget that there was a lot of sacrifice, I don’t want to say my grandfather’s I feel like it was many many years ago, but it was my dad. That was my dad ___ working in the yard after his garden. A lot of values and he looked older backed then but it wasn’t my grandfather, it was my dad. And it was just one generation that came from the Philippines.
 01:11 I was and still and first generation born, I was born 1958 first generation born here but I had the honor of being here growing up in Delano and being part of the whole history
 Max: Have I bored you enough yet?
 Interviewer: Oh no we’re really interested, Last year I actually took a Chicana/o Studies class and It was actually based in Delano too. I got the opportunity to interview somebody that was actually doing projects in Delano, and I am Mexican-American myself so I thought that it was really interesting too
 Max: who’d you get to interview?
 Interviewer: I forget his name, I interviewed him with a partner but he was part of the artwork and I know that he later moved on to Sac State and he was a professor there but I can’t recall his name.
 Max: Well I’ll invite both of you to Delano there’s the lady her name ___ who as a teenager was __ some folks took their her family so yeah she’s there she lives by __ the school board here. These are great stories while they are still alive to interview them but the meanings, they’re not around anymore but we have Tilten? hall there. We were able to name this __ the Doctor ____. Our national hero, Filipino, the city council they allowed us to name the bridges. The bridge of _____. Its divides the East side.
 There is a lot of history. I know that there is a lot of history in the urban areas but yeah if you would like to see 40 acres, the retirement home that they built for Manongs. Have you seen the Delano Manongs?
 Interviewer: We watched part of it in class
 Max: Yes well one of the old men was my uncle and __ I buried them. I would see my Lolo up there at ___ village. They would also be down and tell me their stories. That’s a good, about half an hour to sit down and just watch it. it would be worth it, and it’s real. It was historian and they wanted ____ with the __ and the Mexican-American and they are able to for the United Farm Workers. To bring something bigger. Like Larry, the vice president and of course the president. Over time they became the other vice president and also uncle Pete. But it’s a good story if you want to go see what it’s like with the strikes and that’s just how it was. And __the farmworkers you go to. everyone went to the same high school. Delano high, it’s what we teach them. To be mean or to be tasteful but I had a lot of fun. Farmer friends they were all going to the same school playing sports and joining clubs together. Taking classes together and would just go on about farmers vs. farm workers. They would start talking, oh you’re talking about my dad, or you’re talking my dad. You’re dad is wrong, That’s when we would have walkouts in high school but I would really encourage the both of you to watch the movie
 Interviewer: Yeah I’ve watched the Cesar Chavez Movie and in our class we were talking about the things that were misrepresented in the movie. Our professor was talking about how a Filipino person talked about how they were really misrepresented in the movie from how it actually happened and I think that it’s something that is really interesting too.
 Max: When they did the Cesar Chavez movie, it was really portrayed ___. the Filipinos were the ones who really started the strike and they asked Cesar Chavez to join them. The farmer would play off, saying you guys have to cross the picket line for five cents more. no better recognitions and when they got tired they were realizing, we’re just being taken advantage of, we’re going to stop. and the next day they would go to the Filipinos and say, “we’ll pay you five cents more” and then they played each other, they played one against the other. If they would’ve worked together they would’ve gotten better conditions and better wages a lot sooner. But that’s not how it was. I find it very interesting that the Filipinos really weren’t given that respect. We were there and I guess they made a _____ a couple years ago, ___ village for the contributions of the Filipinos and then the Child’s foundation of the United Farm Workers said we owe a __ gratitude to our Filipino brothers because without them we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we’ve been able to achieve. We need to recognize who they were. Some says it was a little too late but still it happened in the past but that they acknowledge it now, I appreciate it, it still means something just like I was telling the farmers now. Thank you for all your contributions to help out Delano
 01:22 It still means something. If it’s something that makes my mom but especially my dad feel a little bit better.
 Interviewer: Yes of course
 Max: then that’s good. To the both of you, if you want to go to Delano, A lot of it is still in our city halls, in our schools. They have a school named after Cesar Chavez and they have one named after Robert Kennedy, he came here during the grape strike, he ___ and the ___ in the hall is still there. Delano has gone through a lot of history
 San Pablo, I don’t know real history of it but there’s a casino there, but San Jose a lot of history ___ in that area there was crops that were _ in that area but right now you see all around you and you see (Delano), you still see 100 times more crops than you see housing, industrial and commercial development. Any ways that’s something that I hope that as sociology majors you study this and not just read it but its important that you visit the area and kind of think and imagine what it was like. Besides reading it, if you have a chance, before something happens to the ___ hall or like you said interviewed people who were part of the great strike and the community. __ still alive. It keeps you grounded. And, 20 years from now you play it back and you have these other people, Filipinos and Hispanics who worked hard and sacrificed so that your kids could have a better life but at least you’ll recall those oral interviews.
 Interviewer: Thank you so much for this interview, I think it is very important to keep this history alive and make sure everybody knows about it. As I said in my class, there’s not a lot of books written about Filipino history or about the Filipino experience so it’s important to keep it going and be able to understand it.
 01:26 The wives of those Manongs before they came here. They can tell the stories a lot better than I can. Their kids, they can say a lot. I see some of them, I’m still very good friends with some of their kids or I go visit them at their resting home, they can’t live alone in their homes anymore, their kids are all grown up now and they all moved away. Only some of them come back to Delano, I don’t know any of the wives of them that are less than 80. Their time is limited. The professions to keep it alive would be you guys, you guys since _ can rely on your oral interviews. And again instead of hearing about some of us that you read, to really talk to them and get a real grasp of what went on. They’re just people, they’re friends, I can talk to them, its not a special thing. I can talk to them it’s not a special thing, I’ll call them and come talk to them. Theres some that have been in city council fir twelve years and they’re ____ people. and they’d come up to Delano ___ from East LA and San Luis Obispo, we’d have a weekend celebration. Uncle Phillip would be eating at the picnic table and he’d be eating _____. People ask, "can you tell us where Phillip Vera Cruz is?" and we’d say "yeah okay he’s in that table." "That’s Phillip Vera Cruz?" “Yeah.”
 01:30 And they’d ask can you introduce us to him and I’d say well yeah I’m kind of busy right now but would just say “Phillip” and he’d __ loved to talk to all of you and tell all his stories so all could know. And they’d say “wow, you’re a legend” __ Phillip was very well educated. HE was very well read. ___ My great uncle - candi?, He had a lot of books in his room, that’s what they did. They had great vocabulary they read books well and they were deep, but not too deep that you wouldn’t understand it. That to me was the era to be around. I am very grateful to be around it. I work for a congressman, up north and many years younger than me but he works for a congressman up north at ___ and he said to me “ I wish I lived in your era, it would’ve been so cool. It looks like a lot of fun memories to remember to be a part of” Remember we were poor, but I think he grew up in Hercules but he went down to East LA and they were poor so __ wish they could back to __ And ___ our ancestries weren’t all that big.
 Back in ’73 we got our first Taco Bell, maybe in ’85 got a KFC and our Wal-Mart just came in. Its a different way of life but it kind of keeps you grounded. Some say I’ll never come back. Some want to raise their kids in a better environment but this is a much better environment than raising a kid in a bigger city.
 I don’t know if I really answered your questions?
 Interviewer: Oh no no we actually had questions set up but we didnt even ask them because you hit all of them. We really want to thank you for taking time out of your day and I actually became really passionate about this, honestly I was just taking this for the class but after learning more about Filipinos and their experience I got really passionate about it. I really enjoyed listening to you talk about your experience and talking about your family. Thank you for opening up so much to us.
 Max: I don’t get to talk too much about it. My wife and the __ background but she is from the Oceano __ area. Also farm labor and they came 1909 so she worked with Phillip too but she has a medical ____ so we’ve been married 31 years I met her at Cal Poly, and we have 36 grandchildren. I want to tell the story because it is still a farm worker background. There’s the Mexican and the Filipinos, anyone who worked really hard. Their story hasn’t been told. ___ In the Bay Area the strawberries, the tomatoes, the roses, I think of how we’re here. You guys have got to come down to to see __ the roses, the rose gardens and the sun, the grapes get shade, they call it under the vine, and they can go there and cool down a little. __ in a different city. I am always reminded that I have deadlines and have commitments, contractors waiting for me and reports to do and I think about how tough my job is and __ you make me suffer so much and I’m on my phone, on my cell phone, in my air-conditioned car and I look over while driving over Wasco and I see those guys with no shade at all and100 degrees
 Interviewer: Yes hard conditions.
 Max: They’re trying to fill up those roses. And I go okay never mind. You can’t feel __ (too bad) because you get to Bakersfield, to your air conditioned office and these guys, day in and they out. They start the day before you and finish the day after you, and so you really can’t complain. Just say Thank you, Mom and Dad for not letting me give up.
 01:39

Social Bookmarking

Date Added
August 11, 2015
Welga Farmworker Oral History Collections
Item Type
Oral History
“Bacerra (Max) Oral History Interview,” Welga Project Digital Archive and Repository, accessed May 28, 2017,