Philip Vera Cruz Oral History


Philip Vera Cruz Oral History


Oral History Transcript for interview with Philip Vera Cruz




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Oral History




"VALLEDOR: When did you first hear about the strike? Let’s put it
that way: when did you first hear that they were on strike
here on Delano?
VERA CRUZ: I was working here, somewhere here.
VALLEDOR: Here in Richgrove?
VALLEDOR: Oh yeah, right out here right? Just a couple blocks from the
house there. A few blocks from the house?
VERA CRUZ: A little bit farther.
VALLEDOR: What happened? How did you find out about it?
VERA CRUZ: They were circulating some guardian papers.
VALLEDOR: In the daytime?
VERA CRUZ: No, before that. And I thought it was like the other people, you know, unions
before. You want to support the union, you want to be included in the union,
anything like that. So when I saw it, the other guy [inaudible] and I got a friend--
VALLEDOR: Who was circulating this?
VERA CRUZ: They were probably from town.
VALLEDOR: You don’t know the name.
VERA CRUZ: No, but Pete Manuel came there one time.
VALLEDOR: Oh yeah? He was a union organizer.
VERA CRUZ: Yeah, he was a union organizer. And I never saw that, you know, Larry.
VALLEDOR: When was this now? 19--
VALLEDOR: ’65. Was it in September? August? They were circulating it right? Were there
anybody on strike then?
VERA CRUZ: No, nobody, but there were guys striking in, you know, Coachella before.
VALLEDOR: Okay, when you first heard there was a strike, was that at daytime? Where were you
when you first heard the news there was--
VERA CRUZ: Oh, well, it happened this way: the first day that they struck, we didn’t know. I
mean, we were working, you see.
VALLEDOR: And you were working with who at that time?
VERA CRUZ: With a few guys.
VALLEDOR: What company?
VERA CRUZ: Jack Radovich
VALLEDOR: Oh, Radovich. Were you a foreman at the time?
VALLEDOR: Not at that time.
VERA CRUZ: I quit from mid September. I didn’t like something there. Then I was thinking about
putting a business of my own.
VALLEDOR: But anyway, that day, you heard about it, you were at the field right? Working at the
field. And then how was the message? Who gave the message? How did you get it?
VERA CRUZ: No, it happened this way: we signed this things in the beginning you know? They
brought it up. I think some of us [inaudible] then they left them over there and they
say, “You sign them”. And the guys were afraid to sign it.
VALLEDOR: That was in the afternoon.
VERA CRUZ: No, that was another day. I’m just trying to start from the beginning. And then we
got a friend, his name was Ted Tugano.
VERA CRUZ: Tugano. He’s kind of a mestizo guy. He’s married now. He wrote me a letter, but I
have not answered him. So, Ted, I show him this. And we look at it and Ted is also a
pro-union. So I said, “The hell with it, I will sign it.” And I signed it--
VALLEDOR: To sign it: to join the union or to go on strike?
VERA CRUZ: “To sign it”, I said.
VALLEDOR: To go on strike?
VERA CRUZ: Well, either way, to be a member. There’s not “Sign here”. It was just blank, but
they said it’s about a union. And I don’t know if they’re bringing me in for a strike or
what because, you see, the thing is he complains; he has no direction. So I said, “What
the hell, the union is alright”, but the other guys would like to sign it. So Ted said, “Well
that’s good.” We sign it, so I sign it. He put his name after me. Then the other guys: some
of the other guys still wanted to sign it too, the other guys didn’t want to sign it, you see.
Then later on, one day, one Monday, there’s this one guy, Emilio (Dasio). He no come to
work. Monday, he went to town. Then he come back on Tuesday and we asked him,
“Where did you go?” Then he said, “Remember those things that you signed before?
That’s the strike.” And I said, “It did not say anything.” So he went on the strike in one
day, but in the 2 nd day, because we did not go with him, so we come back to work. Then I
talk to the other guys. I talk the [inaudible] Danny. I know Danny is not [inaudible] but
he got some kind of respect for me. So I said, “Why don’t you talk to the [inaudible] over
there. You can have two cuts; a big cut and a small cut. I want to work for him.” So he
said, “Yeah, I’ll talk to him.” Said, “Okay, I want to know what he says when we go back
to work.” So he said, “Okay.” He talk to him and he said he didn’t want to be responsible,
the other guy. So some of them also were kind of bothered, but they were working. So the
3 rd day, didn’t go to work and looked for the agent. We got there, I was looking for the
office, there was no office. There was no office, you see. I went to the Filipino Hall, there
was nobody there. Then I went to the Cuckoo Inn, in town, because I went to pay my
dues there one time.
VALLEDOR: At the Cuckoo Inn. Is that where the headquarters was?
VERA CRUZ: They was all over.
VALLEDOR: Whoever was working there.
VERA CRUZ: Pete Manuel. The first dues that I paid was, I gave it to, you see, I was watering the
trees around my house there and Ben Gines’ cousins house is also next to my house. So
when I was watering there, he saw me and then we started talking. Then he told me about
the union and then he said [inaudible] “He’s there, my cousins the organizer, one of the
organizers here”. That’s Ben Gines. That was with Larry from the [inaudible].
VALLEDOR: I see. That day, you went to the Cuckoo Inn right?
VERA CRUZ: Yeah, then at the Cuckoo Inn there was none. Then I went back to the Filipino hall
and I was talking to some people when I come in, who was in a hurry because they got a
party. They were preparing for a party also. Then I found out somebody told me there
was a meeting for the union. And I said, ‘Where? Over here? In the community hall?” So
I stayed. I didn’t come home, I stayed. And I went to eat at the restaurant then I went
back there. Then I really found out there was a meeting. Then I saw Ben Gines. I don’t
know if I saw Larry Itliong there. Andy Imutan was not there yet. Pete Manuel was there.
(Marcelino) Tamsi was there. [inaudible] That night, it was Ben Gines conducting the
meeting. Then I get home, in the morning I went back. Then I kept going back, every
morning until today. Six years.
VALLEDOR: What did they talk about the first night? The first night you went to the community
hall, Ben Gines was [inaudible]
VERA CRUZ: Ben was trying to boost the morale of the people. Then he was saying we went on
strike in Coachella and we got the wage, but we didn’t get any contract. And now
that we’re here in Delano, they don’t want to give us the same wage, but if we got
the contract then they cannot put it down. He was telling people, of course I know about
contracts, you know. Then the people got the idea: the contract. So until the growers sign
the contract, we don’t want to quit striking. See, that’s what happens. Then later on,
Larry, talked in the meeting. and he said the other organization also wanted to strike. That
was after one week, about eight days.
VALLEDOR: What other organization?
VERA CRUZ: Cesar’s
VALLEDOR: Cesar Chavez
VERA CRUZ: That was the National Farm Workers Association.
VALLEDOR: Where were they located?
VERA CRUZ: By Albany. Where there were many grapes. We used to have those meetings there.
We got two places.
VALLEDOR: Let’s go back here. That night you were at that meeting and Ben Gines is trying to
boost morale. And that was what, September 8?
VERA CRUZ: No, because I went there the 3 rd day.
VALLEDOR: Of the strike already? So that was about September 11.
VERA CRUZ: Yeah, and then the next day Ben Gines prepared the signs, picket signs. But I don’t
remember when Larry-- because Larry wasn’t joining them, it was Benny.
VALLEDOR: I’m gonna get your stream of thought. Now, so you came back and came back until
now right? Six years you came back. I think at this time we’re going to go on a

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Date Added
March 12, 2018
Welga! Project files
Item Type
Oral History
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“Philip Vera Cruz Oral History,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed May 27, 2022,