Oral History Interview with Tim, Nina & Ben Fenkell
FILIPINO AMERICAN EXPERIENCES ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Oral History Interview
BEN, TIM, NINA & FENKELL
July 24, 2018
By Katrina Asuncion
Welga! Filipino American Labor Archives
[July 24, 2018]
[Begin Audio File]
ASUNCION: When and where were you born?
NINA: I was born in April 16, 1950 and Mercy Hospital in Sacramento.
TIM: I was born in November 15, 1951 in the Miners Hospital in Nevada City, California.
BENJAMIN [Nina and Tim’s son]: I was born in November 30, 1976 at UC Davis, here in Sacramento.
ASUNCION: What are your experiences of martial law [KDP focused] and what did you think of it when it was declared?
NINA: Well, I first experienced dealing with martial law in 1976. That’s why I attended a meeting in San Francisco with the KDP [Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino] and they were launching the coalition against the Marcos’ dictatorship. I had heard about it and I really didn't understand it. They actually had a conference on it, then I understood a little more.
I think what people questioned me about was, as a Filipino American, why would you care? I felt that it didn't matter where I was born. I felt that people were being wronged, and there were atrocities that Marcos, all his administrations, and cohorts in the Philippines were conducting.
ASUNCION: Did you feel a personal tie to people in the Philippines as a Filipino American at the time?
NINA: I knew I had families out there, but I didn’t know where exactly. We haven’t had contact all through my lifetime as I was growing up. I just assumed it was going to affect them. But most of the effect was around, I think Manila, all that area, and some of the countryside too.
I believed in human rights and so I was always supporting human right issues and so this was amazing to me that I could do this for my homeland. I think I was one of a few people that were Filipino American that cared about supporting that. And then I found out that in my support of that was the fact that the communist party was also fighting against the Marcos’ dictatorship, and that had made me a little bit weary but then I thought, “well, we’re fighting against the same thing and we want the people to be free and to stop the killings.” And so I wholehearted joined the KDP and the organizations.
ASUNCION: Can you provide some examples of martial law activism that you were involved with with the KDP?
NINA: Well, the KDP had a goal in each chapter and actually the KDP had a goal in the U.S. One was to provide support for the anti-Marcos struggle, and also to develop and open up a progressive movement in the Fil[ipino] American communities to also figure some kind of support, and then to educate us and to eventually impact the politics and the politicians in the U.S. And so, I was very proud to be a part of this. And because it was very well organized, and we had the organization had to developed a campaigns and strategies and we learned a lot of skills dealing with public relations, how to organize your community, not scare them, not be too left, and to get people to understand a broader picture and see as a human rights struggle too.
[5:22 – 8:57]
ASUNCION: Where were your parents born?
NINA: My dad was born near Sbuna [sp?] in the Philippines. And my mom was born here in the United States, in Sacramento, and then Delta. She wasn’t born in a hospital, she was born in a fieldcamp. And she was raised with two sisters and a brother here.
And my grandparents came from the Philippines, worked in Hawaii, and then came over here back in their early 1900s.
ASUNCION: Can you describe your upbringings and where you grew up?
NINA: My dad was a field contractor where he would get men to work and he would make a contract with farmers to pick their crops or actually plant tomatoes, the whole route, and through harvesting. He would go and get men and create a crew and I was growing in Isleton in the backside of town and mainstreet. And part of the house we had two story and the upper part of the house was where the men stayed. So it was like a camp house up there. My mom was just raising myself and my sister when we were living there. And then we moved to another camphouse later to [inaudible] and we had three more children there [laughs]. And that continued to produce that kind of work.
And then we moved to Galt, brought a three acre ranch, had a one bedroom house and where the ranch we raised chickens, and pigs, and everything for our consumption. And some of the pigs we had for sell. We worked in the fields, and sometimes mom did too. But once he [dad] had his crew, mom would be the cook. And we would take the food out to the fields at lunch and then bring them back. And then sometimes when mom and dad worked together with each other, he wasn’t always contracting with farmers, but when he wasn't they were just worked picking grapes or whatever else.
And I would stay--my sister and I--my older one, Becky and I would stay with the little kids in the car all day, taking care of babies. I was probably eight when we were sit in the car [inaudible] all day. Mom would make sure we had supplies for the kids to eat. And then like the Mexican kids, we just learned how to cope, being second hand mothers as little kids. How far did you want me to go like growing up? [chuckle]
ASUNCION: Up until right before college.
[8:57 – 15:33]
NINA: So, when we moved to Galt and at the ranch, I was six and so I was starting first grade and it was a shock because the school was all white. There was only my family, and a young Mexican boy that was brown, and we were treated very badly. We weren’t allowed to play on any of the playground equipment. They wouldn't let us play with anybody. And I spend a lot of my recess time in the bathroom just doing what else to do.
I was six, my elder sister was seven, and my two siblings were in the same school, in Gulf Vera Site [sp?/inaudible] school and we all had a hard time, and Betherfield [sp?] was in kindergarden at that time. I know when I was in second grade, every other day, I would be called to the office and told, “you need to go outside and get your brother, and get him to come back to the class,” he had such a hard time when he was in recess. He wouldn’t go in. He be crying out at the fence and hang on by the fence, and we had no extra car. There were no cell phones, and it was very hard because I'm just a little kid trying to figure how to get my brother back to school.
Anyway, we struggled and that was how life for five years. And all through those five years, we were treated terribly much like the blacks in the south. And when we get off the bus--we had to catch the bus in the morning at seven, get to school, and the kids would be lined up, and they would called my sister and I “niggers, nigger, nigger, nigger” you just heard it and it was like I got it everyday [cries].
We made it through and I was lucky in my fourth grade when I was nine. This was this treacher. She’s an older woman, Mrs. Franklin, and I’ll never forget her. And I was a good student. She told me, “no matter what these kids do to you, you study hard, this won’t last forever. And just do your best and be the best,” and so I decided, “okay, even if I have to be told everyday to stand in line to get in the classroom, the kids would say,” “wipe my shoes, dust my shoes off,” and I was like, “no, I wouldn't do it.” It was really awful. The things they kept calling me. There were some poor white children there too that I knew had a hard time. And so I made them my friends.
And [clears throat] so, I had then decided that, I don't have to feel bad that I am not white as long as I do my best, do [inaudible] my parents need me to do, and eventually get out of here. And so by the time I was eleven, I was begging mom and dad, “pleaseeee it's so hard. Can we go back to Isleton, where we knew kids and it was different?”
So we moved from Galt. It wasn't easy. When we stayed at Galt there. While we were there, probably when I was nine, dad got a job with a grape farmer. And so we got a crew but he didn't have a camp house, so he fixed up our chicken house which was probably like maybe 10x12 [ten by twelve] building and moved us out of the house and we lived in there. One room house, no toilet, no bathroom, and we just had beds in there. We put our clothes in boxes and dad made us an outhouse. And there was a little pump house, not too far from our house. We took a bath in. This bucket was like a finger and this water would just be one stream and so we had to share it taking a bath and taking care of the little kids. And mom would go to the house and that she would use that for cooking and then we would eat back in our room. And we lived there for two years. I think I know it was difficult but we, I think we were just so loved and we knew how much mom and dad were trying to work for us, and we were not hateful even if the kids at school would take my lunch, take my lunch money. Sometimes I couldn’t eat because you don’t have any money, you don't eat. And it was a little hard and then, but anyway--dad finally--we had to move because the water in the well was getting so low that we weren’t able to get much water for the fields there and the ancrage to raise the animals and irrigate it, and so we moved back to Isleton and stayed with my grandmothers [inaudible]. I was probably eleven by that time and we had a brother that was born in 1960.
[15:33 – 20:55]
NINA: One, Michael, and by that time there was Becky, Maxi, me, Phil, Ben [laughs], Kathy, and Marshal, and then my brother, which was number eight, Michael, and he was born in January. My mom was working in the canary and my dad was still working out in the fields. So my sister Rebecca and I had stay home every other day and watched the baby, while mom worked.
And then so each of us could go to school. And then for some reason, it was [inaudible] birthday and the next year January 1962, it was March, he died March 28. He got sick and we were trying to tell mom, he’s feverish … [inaudible] so they took him to the doctor to Lodi [sp?/inaudible] the doctor said he will be alright. And then he started not retained the food we fed him. And so we took him to the doctor again so she said, “go to the county hospital in Sacramento,” and that was where UC Davis became--it used to be a county hospital and they took him there one night and never came back. And it was so hard not to see him again and so, the hospital said he died of meningitis. So we got [inaudible] for a week and nobody could go to school and we’re all trying to figure out how to deal with this. And found out he died of pneumonia and he should of been able to be help, and they misdiagnosed him, so we lost him. It really affected me and mom, I mean because we were the caregivers and Becky too. And so I was just praying to God that someday if I ever have children, “will you help me out ‘cause I don't want this to happen to me” [tears]
But anyway, mom had begged my dad, “let’s not go out in the camps anymore. Let’s stop and let’s just find a house.” So, they brought a [inaudible] cottage down the street from my grandmother’s on G Street. It was at the end of the road, right next to the railroad. And we had, they brought it for I think they’re only [inaudible] $1,500. There were two lots. But it was just like a living room, and two bedrooms, and some kind of little room that they probably would have made it a kitchen or something. But there was nothing in it, no bathroom, no sink, nothing. We were going to move there and dad had one more place to go to.
He worked in Lo Dai [sp?], and so we went with him to camp and he was just working with grapes and he had a crew there. So we had to walk just go about half of a mile. It was an interesting school. Only seventy kids. There was a couple of Mexican kids, and mostly white. It was very interesting to have three grades in one room and just two teachers in a whole school. So everybody played with each other. It was just very amazing. [inaudible] We stayed there probably about three months and then the grape season was done and we moved back to Isleton.
We moved to my grandmother’s house first. And then I think my dad didn't get along with them and we ended up moving to the house they brought, which it was a shack and had a [inaudible] tiles on the outside but it was a house and so we [were] able to have a room with a bed, a spring bed. It was probably like maybe a queen sized bed. Five of us would sleep in there, sideways. We each tried to tell mom to give us a blanket but we had to share it. Each person have to have a blanket for two people. Mom and dad slept with the little kids and he built an outhouse outside and he build a little shed where we would--I don't know how, I think he had to walk in the house, a gas walk, and so we were able to make hot water and put a tub out in the shed and...
[20:55 – 24:52]
NINA: I don’t know, have you ever heard of kabut [sp?/inaudible]? Okay. That’s what we used to take a bath. We had to--I was number two so I had to take two kids, and my elder sister took two kids. And we washed them, make sure everybody got cleaned up. And then at night, when we had to go to the bathroom, we had this bathroom degrade [chuckles]. So everybody had to go before bed. We were laughing all the time. The only element heating we had was kerosene heater. I don’t know if you’ve seen that. And that’s what we had. We had to heat our clothes to make a little bit of hot water and dry our clothes too after the wash [inaudible]. We wash everything by hand. There was no machine. We started to staying there when I was eleven, I remember that.
In the meantime, my father was still raising animals. He rented a little bit of land and people whoever had a piece of land and we raised pigs and chickens and killed them. I learned when I was about nine, how to kill a pig, how to dress it, take out all the guts and stuff, and how we cleaned it. So we did that a couple of times a year, we shared with our aunts, uncles, my grandparents.
We killed chickens, we saved the blood, make new [inaudible], and all that stuff. And we had to wash my hand until I was probably about maybe thirteen I think we got one of those washing machine that--a ring washer machine and then when I was about thirteen, dad decided, “we need to make a bigger house.” So, he decided to look at these housing projects in Lodi, which was maybe twenty-one miles away after work. I would go there once in a while and watched how they make frames, wall frames, roof frames, foundations, and everything. And then he, me, my elder sister, and my eldest brother tore down two farm houses by hand, saved all the woods, saved all the nails, and we built a three bedroom length room, an extra room for our parents, middle room with a bathroom finally, and a shower and a kitchen. And I think we did that in about two years. That was so amazing. We passed all the inspections. The window were a little crooked, but the inspector showed us how to straighten them out and pass an inspection. That was a major accomplished I think in my life. It was so fabulous. And to know that, we knew how to do things that other kids never know. We didn't have a lawn mower or anything so we had to use shovels and hose to keep the grass down and then always had gardens and everything. We continually all my life living, killed pigs and chickens, and we even raised the chickens in the backyard.
[24:52 – 30:04]
NINA: So, high school was a little bit difficult because in Isleton it very integrated with Chineses, Filipinos, Whites and it didn't matter. We played and Isleton was a small school. I think it was like maybe two hundred kids. But we had track, basketball, all kinds of sports for our school. When we went to Buena Vista, it was a little bit different. The boys were--most of us were minorities [inaudible] Filipinos and blacks and some Mexicans. And pretty much got discriminated against and didn’t get to play in the sports. And so, I don’t know how my brothers survived. I was struggling to be a college bound student and I thought maybe I wanted to be a nurse or teacher because my parents were encouraging that. My sister ended up doing that.
When we were in the eighth grade, that’s when the Kennedy administration decided to institute the three class system where there was going to be college bound, those who were going to be--I think they called it “journeymen” [inaudible] whatever they were that which probably would be the white collar worker and the service people. So when we went to high school, those were the kinds of classes that we were forced to take and I was supposing I’m going to take college bound classes because that’s what I was going to do and I assumed my peers and I were taking the same classes. And I find out, “how come I’m not in the same classes with these people?” And then my eldest sister finally told me, “you better check it out.” And I went to my counselor, Mr. Hammer. I’ll never remember him. Mr. hammerstrom said, “No, you’re not going to college. You’re going to take typing, [inaudible], and english, and science, and all this stuff. But you’re not going to college. How are you going to college?” I was totally shocked. I thought, “well how did these people go to college? I mean I don’t understand,” And so my sister told me about finding out that we were being railroaded into taking non college bound classes, and so she told me to, “rewrite your class schedule and find a teacher that you have to go to the teachers and have them okay it.” I had gone to my counselor and he wouldn’t okay it. So I talked to my gym teacher and she said, “it’s okay you just go to these other teachers and they have to sign off. Next year, you make sure you are taking the right classes you want,” and so I was able to begin that in my second semester of my freshman year. Then I was so happy that I could at least do that, being able to know I’m going to go until I found out the catalogs the college catalog showed all the classes and the majors that you can take and what classes were required and pre college classes that were required. And was a window to the world. I couldn’t believe what was offered there and you have to take the right classes. And so then from then on I started to feel more confident about myself getting out of there. I didn’t know how I was going to get scholarships or anything. Nobody talked to us about it. Until our junior year, everybody started signing up for those SAT tests, and you got to apply to a college you wanted to go to, and all that. And I found out about that and [clears throat] and so then I just decided I’m going to city college and I don’t know how I was going to pay for it because we had no money [laughs].
[30:04 – 37:20]
NINA: But, I found out after in the middle of my last semester there, there was the EOP program, which is the Education Opportunity Program that offered minority students an opportunity to go to college with scholarships and you work like a work study program with them and then you can also apply for grants and whatever kind of financial aid you can get. And so, I was able to make it through city college. I got grants and then when I went to Sac State, I was able to get grants also. So I didn’t have a lot to pay. But I had to work and so I became a counselor for students. I also helped do literacy programs so I can help people learn english, and I helped a Chinese lady hopefully of all people and some Hispanics kids.
And then, while I was at City College, I met Filipino students and I was totally surprised. They weren’t very welcoming. Because when they asked me if I can speak the language I was like, “noooo,” they asked where I was from and I said, “I was born here.” Then they were like, “you’re not Filipino enough.” And that blew me away because this is the first time I met Filipinos outside of my town. And I was very surprised. There were students from the community--Sacrament community that were in dance troops already. So they knew each other. And so I just thought, “well, I don’t know how to be Filipino. I just am me. I don’t know anything about me.” And so I met my friend, Dick through one of those students. And then we met some other men through the martial arts program that they were doing outside of college. And then we started to talking about, “We are non Filipino speaking students. Why don’t we just do something?” So we just decided since we were almost out of Sac City. Let’s plan something to get into State College.” So we started there and myself, Dick, [inaudible], we were all fil-ams that didn’t speak the language, and my sister, Rebecca. And we said, “You know what? Let’s get a Filipino history class, something started.” So we were realizing that there was the Black Student Union, there was a Chicano Movement, there was a Native American groups, and we’re like what about us? There’s nobody there. I couldn’t believe it. So we petitioned to build Filipino club and then we were going to be able to sponsor a class and so we were able to find a teacher. I can’t remember his last name. But his name is Benson, and he was in a fellowship program in the United States and he was our first teacher. He did Filipino studies but it was a different point of view. It was like the classic. I guess history of Filipinos. So, I thought there should have been a little bit more. But what can you do? This is what he taught. And then we were able to at least have that class for one year. And then we formed [inaudible], which was probably about maybe fifteen, twenty of us. The whole campus that we knew, there might be about probably thirty-five Filipinos students and so we were really excited.
For the second year, we found [inaudible] who was a Filipina teacher and she was teaching in the elementary school here in Sacramento to teach Tagalog. We’re like, “oh, we’re so excited!” Because at least we could have a taste of it and we would be recognize on campus. So what she really did for us, brings in the nuns and some friends and they taught us dancing. So we learned, I think about five different dances. And we danced at senior citizen centers, we danced at little fairs, festivals, some people’s weddings.
And then we got into guerrilla theater where we started to talked about the Manongs, how we were growing up in the fields, how difficult it was. Growing up here, the fairytale of making money and going straight back home with lots of money was not happening. So a lot of the men who had dreamed they could come here, and sent big money home, were finding that it wasn't true, especially they were only being paid ten cents an hour to do lettuce, or even picked grapes. When we picked tomatoes, it was twenty-five cents a box, a love box [sp?/inaudible]. So in a day, I remember when I was working with my family, our goals a hundred boxes a day. And there were four, five of us that were working: the kids, and my mom. My dad was contracted and we did that for years. So it was very difficult when you portray the reality. And so we started to meet other political Filipinos and that was when I met Vince Reyes.
[37:20 – 43:75]
NINA: So I think what was, I’m going to stop a second and give a background on what was happening on the world at the time. So at the time, there was a huge surge in the political left of the world. So there was China with Maoist groups that all representatives on campus group, there was Social Democrats who were on campus. They were sort of socialist but they were a little leftist. They didn’t always support others’ struggle. There was the eastwind [sp?] that was also Chinese. And then there was the KDP, which was Filipino groups. And so, Vince Reyes has met my sister. And so what they were trying to inject in the college life, was a leftist ideas about, “how do you make a skit, educational? And show the injustices of what’s going on that are monos [sp?] just to be embraced and praised that we had to recognize their struggle.” They were living in bad living conditions, there was racism out there that was like in Watensville [sp?] and other places where they were getting kills, and hung, just treated badly and so that was what we injected into the skit once we joined the KDP. Then we said, “we weren’t going to be long in Sac State. You’ll only to be there a couple of year, depending on when you started. So some of us are already two years by the time KDP came. And my sister Maxine ended up teaching Fil-Am studies there for I think for a year or two. And then we started transition there into the community because you can’t stay forever on the campus. So we started to look at our Filipinx communities and say, “where can we bring our work? Our, what we want to do. How are we going to educate them? What forms are we going to use?” Sowe started to learn juggle song from the KDP, and at the time I guessed the anti-martial law was already in place and we were just slow in Sacramento [laughs]. So this was the 70s, early 70s and so we started to meet some progressive folks who were at that time so proud of being able to put on the application for state service, a check box for Filipinos. That was big because before you were just nobody now you could say, “I am a Filipino.”And then I think that started also the beginning of the trend for affirmative action, came a little bit later. But as minorities started to really to push for themselves, through their little incremental things that started that movement and then we--once that started then we started to get progressive people in state services who were being able be a voice for us. And so we met [inaudible], Jerry P[inaudible], and quite a number maybe about ten or fifteen Fil-Ams, mostly Filipino Nationals would not join us. It was very interesting.
So what we didn’t know was that we were being called “reds” because of our leanings towards supporting the anti-Marcos work and we did not know until we looked later that our Filipino community was already entrenched with Marcos supporters. And that he had planned to bring his family out here and buy property and then they would really begin to--I don’t know how they were going to take over the community. But most of the organizations were supporters. So we had a very hard time trying to bring in justice work like when there were Filipino nurses in Maryland that were charged for murder of a gentleman in I think was a hospital or [inaudible] so we opened up petitions and we had educationals about that, and opened it up--also to the American community--the Sacramento political community--that we were actually here with a voice to talk about this and we started to get some supporters there from local councilman, like Dave Jones, and forget his name, and another gentlemen that became a mayor.
[43:35 – 48:35]
NINA: Deryll Steinberg. So in 1976, we had launched our first Filipino National day celebration. What our purpose was was to open up an event that would bring everybody together, didn’t matter what your politics were, but that we celebrate the independence of Philippines from Spain, celebrate the 1896, celebrate the contributions that Filipinos made to the U.S. through our agricultural work. There were nurses, teachers, lot of people, and filmmakers that nobody knew about, boxers, and then we introduced also the human rights issues in the Philippines.
And we were very very lucky that and Andy who was the mayor supported that. She actually came and did a speech for us. She didn’t have to say what she knew. She just had to say what she supported. She was proudly did that for a couple of years. We were just very excited. We started out with just probably maybe 300-400 people over Muly park [sp?/inaudible] and we called it Filipino National Day celebration or party fiesta. So we had tents, we had vendors, and we also brought in Asian lawyers, our black Grantland [sp?] Johnson with his representation of the county, and our county supervisors came, and we had created a little dance troops in the community called Akul [inaudible], and it was about two families. There were probably six little kids. And they grew up. Been to high school with being with us throughout all that times. And then next year, people started to enjoy it. [inaudible] clubs started coming, doctors and nurses came with their groups, and more vendors started to come. They realizing, “it’s okay, you can have fun here.” And then we found people who could showed us Filipino games and then we have martial arts groups, and singing, and dancing, and even my grandmother played her [inaudible] and got to be very joyous and expanded to [inaudible]. I think when we left there it was at least fifteen hundred people who were coming there every year. And then they closed the park, and created a marina [sp?] They closed off a lot of the accessibility for parking. So we moved it to Florence Creek down here. And, we started to get people who knew how to access actors, and Filipinos actors, Filipinos singers, and--so we had Dulfie [inaudible/sp?] out here one year. I can’t remember the other gentleman. But there were a couple of actors and singers, and so we started to get groups from around maybe 3000, 3 or 4000 and more vendors. We had probably maybe in the very beginning we have five and the next year ten and then we moved out here and we have more than twenty-five now. And then in 1990, at the same time, there were still some holdouts who were pro-Marcos that were trying to rival our celebration. So they started this food fair [inaudible] center and it was very little. They didn’t do anything but have some food [chuckles] and I think that was it and some Filipino dancing. We knew a lot of people supporting them. And so [inaudible] decided one year, “we really countering each other. Why don’t we just do the same thing and combine it?”
[48:35 – 53:45]
NINA: It was like I don’t know 1994 something like that where they finally decided to joined us and we made one big Filipino fiesta and that really brought a lot of more people. And then we started to expand where we had parades too. So, we met friends who had a car show groups, like old cars. And so the first year, we might have maybe five, the next year we have ten. We have Filipino motorcycle groups come. Filipino salesmen brought their new cars. And it starts to get vary. Everything started to grow as more people started to bring their own ideas and things and then we had issues with gangs, but we had it so well organized and I usually let up logistics. So we had to take care, work with the sheriff, make a plan, how to deal with parking, how to do with vendors, and where they were going to park and security, and internal watching for issues with people who wanted to cause a fight just to break up the event. And so we had almost all the organizations participating. So the lions clubs, the women’s clubs, and students from Sac State, and so we had--. Students from Sac State almost always want to do children game for years, so they did that, and that was fun. And then our main dream when we opened that up, opened the Filipino National Day organization [PNDA] was to create an organization that was self-sustaining, to keep the Filipino National Day--I mean the Party Fiesta alive after we left because we knew eventually we were going to get old and then needed everybody’s flavor and a commitment to make sure that it would always go on. And so until now, there’s this Sacramento Filipino Fiesta and I think there’s a webpage for it. And it’s a little bit not as activists when we were in there. But there are still people who are committed to making that happen and it is so wonderful. And that is part of our legacy, the KDP, and then the PNDA [Philippine National Day Association], and then in that time, we also felt there needed to be a dramatic arm to our work. So Sunny el 4k [sp?/inaudible] came from San Francisco and he graduated from UP. In 1978, he joined our candy [inaudible] and then eventually KDP. And we developed the Sinag-tala theatre and performing group. And this is I think their over thirtieth year that they’ve been alive and but now they’re under reorganization but it was marvelous. There were hundreds of people who used to go through there and become singers and dancers from kids to adult. And some of them are in broadway, velea [inaudible] played The King and The King and I for the last two years, and the touring group. Angela 4k [sp?] became a professor and she is teaching Hawaii in high school in theatre. There’s a lot of continuing local theatre. Theatre groups like like Gladys Acosta [sp?] and some other folks, but that was an amazing time and I think I am so proud of the KDP and I think whoever went with through the years that we did from me from 1976 to 1987, we learned to work with the media, we learned to work with local officials, senators, congressmen, Matsui [sp?] was with us forever, and the local county supervisors.
[53:45 – 58:27]
NINA: So they learned that we have, how do you say it, there’s a vibrant community that lives here. And there’s a lot of youth growing, taking part in politics, and community life, and we think through some of that just because through the organizing with the event they participated in or just talking with with us, that they learned and we learned about the world about us and want to be proud of and I am so proud of my son, Benjamin, who continues to work in the PNDA, and has helping to sustain that with Chris Manteo with his wonderful board. And they’re doing things like [inaudible] and continuing to impact kids and students and people like you who are also making histories for us. And so, for me, it was a time of learning that you’re an instrument and a catalyst for change, and that means also giving that to another person to move on with it, and the direction could be whatever way but it should always be with justice in your back and knowing what is right and to taken care of the people and always imparting, teaching people to know new methods of doing things and it’s okay to be free with your idea, learn how to share, be a community. And I think the biggest thing we end up feeling was when you step back and you look at your community after all those years, you created a village. That village is growing here, and there, popping up, and there’s people there, and that’s [inaudible] you look at later too. So there’s still many of us KDP activists who are still around and I think also in the past, even when we were doing Philippine anti-Marcos work [inaudible], we were also supporting the Palestinian struggle because they’re still struggling for their freedom and their right to their land. [inaudible] struggling sanctuary of people from El Salvador and Guatemala and we still support that. And for immigrants. And then fighting to get back its balance and understand what is good and have a voice and joining with all the people out in the streets because I think what happened to me when I was in Sac City was the first I got there, we were doing anti-work, and I wasn't working. I just got there as a student. But people were fighting for their right to keep their children home from the war, and fighting against the war, and women were fighting for their rights to have equality, to have jobs like men, and be treated equally. And students to have the voice and have rights say what they need on campus. And I had realized that I could watch this on t.v. or I can be in the streets with them, and I would be a part of that. And it was big deal to put myself out there in the street and be in the middle of the protests and realized that there’s people who there don’t like you and don’t want you there. But it’s up to you to fight what you believe.
[58:27 – 1:03:18]
NINA: Tim and I had a big rally down in the capital and we were asked to pick up this student speaker from Berkeley. And so we said, “okay. We got a little car. We’ll go.” And it ended being a Vietnamese.
TIM: North Vietnamese. He was here illegally and he was the keynote of this rally at the Capitol. There were thousands of people there. We thought we were going to get arrested. Because they would have [chuckles] arrested us if they known we were bringing him.
There were a lot of times though with KDP. It wasn’t all fun and games. There were times when--we knew that our phone was tap. You could hear clicking on the phone. Because back then there weren’t cell phones. And so it would be that. And they were meeting every week. And they would--in what KDP was doing was, they had people going back and forth to the Philippines. And they were interacting with cardinals [sp?] or cardinal [sp? and inaudible] sin who was high in the catholic church which was against the Marcos’ dictatorship. And again with the new people’s army and with the communist party because they were all fighting maybe not on the same plane but they were all fighting against Marcos. And so they would come over here and their people here that not necessarily supported those groups. But they couldn’t go against him because they are afraid their families would get killed. And so that’s who was … [inaudible].
But then I just remembered one night I was coming home and it was kind of a little bit late and there was a car was following me, and really following. I could tell. So I drove around the block from where we lived. And it followed me and I went all the way around the block and came back around, and it followed me again. And so I did my Ben [inaudible] … Ben was. And they were home so I didn’t go home. I went someplace else so that they wouldn’t come to my house. But other people experienced that too.
There was a lot of people here that were close to the Marcos family or part of that. There were like four big families in the Philippines that were Marcos [inaudible] and they had a lot of relatives here so people would...they would stand out. It was a real fight to get support because it wasn’t that they were supporting Marcos, they were supporting the cause of the people no matter where it was. It was scary. What was interesting about KDP is because I was not in KDP but I read everything that she brought home or I went to their meeting. It wasn’t about a bunch of people getting together. It was totally organized. They also did Historical studies to show what was going on. What happens with capitalism? What happens with communism? What happens with socialism? And what has happened in history? And I read those because it was so interesting and it pertains what’s happening with Trump in the U.S. today. I mean, this Michael Moore was just on today saying, “this could be the end of democracy as we see it,” then it happened in other nations, maybe smaller nations.
But they were very focused on when you work with the community, it wasn't just to have a party, it was to educate among being forming a group together to unite together. And it was exciting. Very very exciting but it was scary too. I remember she [Nina] went to a rally. They were rallying in San Francisco and they had already determined who would going to be arrested at the rally because that was the way that they were showing--that’s how they get out there. You have to do something really radical to educate the people because these people really care about what’s going on. And when Marcos fled the Philippines, there was--people were rejoicing but they knew it wasn’t over because the people that came in. There’s been nobody since Marcos has been a whole lot better. And now Duerte in there it has got backwards so it’s crazy. But no one knew how much they did that.
[1:03:18 – 1:08:07]
TIM: They had the firework convention. They did that for--gosh, years. It was every two years, I believe. And they were in LA, it was in Seattle, it was in Sacramento, Stockton, and they would come in and they would be totally organized and they usually had standing by in which was their cultural group. They would present a play that this lady I think [inaudible], she was like, she became very popular still until she just recently died of cancer. But she would do a play and it would be based on something in the Philippines. And so the first one was, [inaudible] which means the first. It was about the manong and that it had an original music. And it was staged. And then they did one on [inaudible] on the sugar cane cutters. They did one on the war bride which were the one who came over in the forties and the early fifties. And, I can't remember the other ones. But they did that as a message also to what was happening or why it happened and the political side of it. But regular people just thought it was entertainment. But then they were being educated so it was pretty exciting.
They would even train like I remember once I went on with them on trip to [inaudible] or to the Shakespearean festival, and we went there to see--we saw five plays in three days. There’s Shakespeare's and there’s other ones that are contemporary play or historical plays and before each one we learned politically what was happening in that time period that was reflected in that play. You don't get that anywhere. So they had really really good people. It’s just interesting that the church was so about and the big thing that impressed me is that the music you would hear from these people going to the Philippines was not what the news you heard on tv or anywhere. Because the U.S. was in such a relationship with the Philippines because they were using them. They only let the people here in the states know what they wanted them to know. But they didn’t tell them that we were taking their natural resources. They didn’t advertise that. Or we were doing sweatshops for their clothes. Or we were selling nuclear plants to them on earthquake faults [sp?] because it was easier to do it over there. Or we’re sitting pesticides that were outlawed here but we can get rid of them in Mexico and the Philippines. Things like that. So to receive the real news compared to what you saw was totally eye opening. And that was happening for the Philippines. What was happening for Vietnam, or what was happening for Cambodia, or in Guatemala, or El Salvador at the time? It was amazing.
NINA: Yeah. And then the most tragic thing that happened was the murders of Silvia and Jean [sp?] and so that really showed those tenacity of his family and the KDP for ten years fighting in supreme court and finally winning and that what really puts the Marcos off the ladder, and so people who are in KDP still do human rights issues, they still organize locally where they’re at. [inaudible] They’re still alive. But we don’t use KDP organization anymore. So, do you have any other questions?
ASUNCION: What KDP or PNDA meetings were like? Like day to day types of activities. You mentioned that there would be like those political and economic type of lessons. Is that usually how the meetings were structured?
[1:08:07 – 1:13:50]
TIM: They were actually conducted in the Bay Area. And so they would do that with other groups. I think the communist party would contribute to that. Or socialist group or whatever. Any left or progressive group would do that. They would be gone for 8-10 hours studying.
NINA: So, the KDP was couched its leadership and the communist party of the Philippines. And so a lot of the theoretical information and stuff came in through written documents and then we were given that maybe a month ahead of time before they developed any organizing plans around it so that we got a kind of a philosophical understanding of why we are doing this, and then what’s the goal? So the organization always is centralist so there was communist party, headquarters here in the U.S., and then they disseminated the information to the chapters. And then, in order to do that though, we usually had a meeting and it could be hours on the phone because we had no technical stuff. It was just the phone, and we talked. There was a way where we were able to get more conference call. Or we meet in 4-5 of us, there weren’t many of us in the chapter and we just listen on the phone and have discussion with the folks at headquarters and then just so we understood what we’re trying to do. And then in the process, you learned who in the community is you’re probably going to have to deal with opposing you. You have to look at your community and know who’s there? What is their goals? And what they be contentious about? And how do you get the folks you really want into your event and then how do you do that? We had to figure out how to talk, figure out, “do we have a table meeting? Or do we have mirenda [sp?/ inaudible]...and have a ”
TIM: … [inaudible] food.
NINA: First and then we have representatives from the Philippines come. We had lots of nuns and priests came and even ex-political prisoners. Once in a while we can get them to come. But so it was very deliberate. In the group, you have to decide, “okay can we do this?And then if we don’t think we can accomplish it as what their expectations are in headquarters. We have to tell them” say, “well we have to scale it down.” [inaudible] a little more invisible, but not scary. Or we had a couple of rallies, we would make coffins [inaudible], and walk up the capitol, and represent the dead in the Philippines and back. And so there was a lot of, dependence on each other, to do the work correctly and then if we saw that it wasn’t working we had to say, “look, hey, why aren’t we getting outreach? Who are you outreaching? Are you sure that’s the right people? Or where should we go? Should we go North Sac? South Sac? College? Some place?” we have to know all the information before we disseminated the plan. And then internally, also, we also had to sometimes you just personally don’t get along [chuckles]. And sometimes, some people are more overloving than others just because that’s their nature. And so we had to learn to talk about that too and then also gender issues, because sometimes the guys were like, “oh no, that’s not right. We got to do it this way. And it’s like, “well hey, doesn’t mean you’re right all the time.” And so we had that kind of stuff inside too. But the main thing was always to completely write out a plan. Completely. And then, figure out who's the best person to do each task.
[1:13:50 – 1:19:36]
ASUNCION: So is it more fluid? Or did y’all have board position roles? Or was it each time something would come up, you would assign roles?
NINA: Yeah, everytime. Every plan was different. Because it’s dependent on what we were doing.
BENJAMIN: In the chapter itself, did you have like, PNDA, you had traditional board? Executive board? And somebody ran the meeting. How did it work with KDP?
NINA: KDP had no board. We were just--
TIM: They had a thing where they called it the sphere [sp?] program.
NINA: Not a program. But--
TIM: Spheres. So everything was spheres. So you have the center was the core and then there was--first spheres [sp?/inaudible] which would be people like in the chapters and the second sphere would be people that were supported like me or that were kind of there. And the last sphere was the general. And that’s where...
NINA: The people who come to the event.
TIM: And even in their little events, big events, they talked about, “oh he’s was second sphere or he’s first sphere. Or...”
NINA: Because then you--what you realized is you look at the folks and say, “okay, in this organizing we’re going to make a committee for that event. So who’s going to be in the center?” Like it could be Ben instead of me this time. And it could be--so we had to break it down too: outreach, program, logistics, and security. Logistics wasn’t security. But like that and then when we assigned people. And then we say, “okay. Now, here’s our community. Where can they fit in here so that they become a part of the event?” It’s the ones that you want to bring close to your organization, and maybe eventually they’ll join you. Then you bring them in into the work like buddy up everybody in like logistic. Maybe, “I need three people. And maybe an outreach, we need four.” Because there’s so much more in the community. And then, every week we meet--or else if we have to we would talk on the phone and say, “so how’s it going? Are we going to make it?” Are we going to get the number of people that we want?” We have a timeline also so that we know if we’re behind or not. And then the event, we have to figure out, “okay. Let’s see what happens.” It was just like--if you have one or two people that are saying, “wow, what can I do for you guys? with you?” That’s such a joy because now you have a supporter. And like for us when we were beginning to develop the PNDA, and pretty much everybody in the community was pro-Marcos. There were some people that were sort of in the middle, behind [inaudible]. So Raul was one of the ones that--he was a dancer and a singer and he said, “Well, I’d like to be in program. What do you think?” And we’re like, “Sure, who do you think you could bring?” So, he’d bring people in pretty soon. [inaudible]. It was just like that. And pretty soon they just felt they enjoyed it, and their friends enjoyed it. People weren't freaked out because of the politics in it. So, like Raul [inaudible] became staunch supporter, and a worker, and he was always was in program.
TIM: Organization like was never obvious because it was meant to be that--there was a goal for this event. But, no one knew that--there wasn’t like people would be offended if they thought they were being planned on, manipulated. And it wasn't like that. That people decided to say, “hey they’re okay. They’re doing good stuff.” And nobody else was doing that. Even in their conventions, I remember one time. I didn't realize there were others politically, well there was one group in Sacramento that was, didn’t like KDP, but was progressive. We were at the far [inaudible] convention I think in LA, and they knew they were coming. So they had it all planned. They had security plan and everything so that if they jumped up and tried to say stuff and they’re--they just neutralize it. No, no hurt. No. But they already were planning for that, which was amazing. It was really amazing, and it was no--there weren’t. It wasn’t positive as far as what was their goals was to do. But they got a lot of flack, a lot of flack. I mean from people that really supported Marcos even till this day there’s still a lot of people that support Marcos. You can understand why, but I mean, not that you could agree with it. But look at how many people support Duterte. Look at how many people … Kim Jong-un, or including our current president, and like that, but no. I don’t know if the other groups worked like that.
[1:19:36 – 1:25:01]
NINA: Don’t know. So we had once a month KDP meetings in the chapter, and then because we also were doing PNDA and meeting for that, and that because other people that were involved in that organization. That as KDP, it was like this--so we had KDP as an umbrella, then we have PNDA, and then we had Sinag-tala, and sometimes other projects. So mainly, when we were meeting as KDP we’d talked to the folks that were leading these area and we have to access what’s going on, “what are we doing now? How are we going to make this effective?” And then we did have some issues of some how do people create leadership? And there were some people who didn’t want to give up leadership. And they just wanted people to work for them. And that was not our goals. Our goal was create a leadership and empower people because you're not going to be here forever, but we had big issues and that’s…
BENJAMIN: Was there a liaison from your chapter to [inaudible]? Did each chapter have a liaison?
NINA: It would be usually whoever was the lead of the KDP chapter.
BENJAMIN: So there was no lead?
NINA: Yeah. So, depending on who was. So like Maxi was initially in it and then she left and went to headquarter. And then there was Cynthia and then Sorcery [sp/inaudible]. And so also, what the headquarters would do was sent a rep to talk with us and see how we are doing, and it was good. It was just amazing.
ASUNCION: No, it’s incredible [inaudible] organized that way. Is [inaudible] someone that. I was involved with like students leaderships on campus. And we have seven Fil-Am orgs but they’re all different interests and then there's one big umbrella org and that was the org that I was part of a board of and part of the executive board. But we could never ever all agree or get along with each other well enough to make big things like that happen. It’s really inspiring that you could get that many people behind the same cause and get them all to work together because I know how difficult that can be even with just meetings and events planning.
BENJAMIN: Can you talk an aspect of how militant it was in a way? Because you were given orders versus like [inaudible] like you were told to go pick up or you were told to move to a next city. That kind of thing, right?
NINA: Well, that was in the--that was anti-war, that was not KDP.
BENJAMIN: For KDP, they didn’t tell you had to move to another city to work on [inaudible]?
TIM: Well some people like Maxi or Vince, some people that were single. But anybody that had family, no or had deep ties where they were.
BENJAMIN: It was important to know is that it was that kind of seriousness.
NINA: Well, the real specialness of Sacramento was that all of us were married and had children. And we were involved. Our lives were not just KDP. I was working at the zoo. I had two kids. I was doing the anti-Marcos work. And then Tim was in theater and he was working. So it was like, “you have to figure out how to manage your life [sp?/inaudible],” so my poor children when we had meetings and I know they were going to be 2-3 hours long, we bring our sleeping bags, bring [inaudible] and they were with the other kids. There was never a questions of us being asked to go anywhere. And, I don’t think--I know we had some discussion about sometimes we were asked to be at a higher level of our organization. And I can’t do it. There was too much at our lives. So, sometimes I used to tell Maxi sometimes she was our liaison. I tell Maxi, “you guys have all not too much all the time in the world,” because they got to work too. But that’s all you think about. We don’t have that. We had soccer, we had whatever the kids had to do, and a lot of stuff. So amazing amazing that we did what we did and not having cell phones.
[1:25:01 – 1:30:16]
NINA: Every poster we made by hand...what else? All the program, things we had to do we made by hand. We learned so much. But a part of it was, we were already talented people. It’s a matter of how you harness that and make it work. And I think that we were so successful that we even got people like Philip Vera Cruz, Larry Itliong to our Fiestas, and we were so lucky and you know where they stayed? At my sister’s apartment with Marlene. We served them adobo and regular food that we had and they were so happy. The humility of these people, the activists like that were just, “they’re just like us.” There’s no ego at all. You just have a role to play to keep people educated and understanding all the time. Even stories--you can tell when you’re talking to little kids, “Grandpa did this and all this stuff.” And that’s, I don’t know, the whole philosophy of learning to plan. That was the biggest thing. Because even when we finished that, Maxi and I did a lot of things together, and we were like, “you know we realized? You can do anything with a plan.” If you don’t have a plan you’re not going to know if you’re going to finish. Because if you have a plan you know who you’re going to work with, who you’re not going to work with, how you’re going to make it work, and you have a vision of what the end is going to be. And so that I think that was the beauty of what, the gift that KDP gave us. Even after KDP was done and the anti-Marcos work was done. We were still working with the rest of the community because they loved us. Because we can help them do all of their works [laughs]. It was so amazing and they weren’t afraid of us. We were our friends and they lived for us.
So it’s just--we’re so quiet about it here. I feel like the only people that know about KDP is that it’s in the Bay Area because they’re still alive and they do events. And we don’t, we barely...
TIM: What do they do now? [inaudible] said anything for a long time.
BENJAMIN: They do a lot of work. They’ve been doing a lot of poll counting with Duterte and the elections on the Philippines. They sent delegations. They wrote a book. Those kinds of things. They do a lot of reunions. They love each other.
TIM: And funerals.
BENJAMIN: And funerals.
TIM: A lot of them died.
BENJAMIN: But they keep each other up to date on a lot of the politics.
TIM: What’s interesting about the whole thing is, these are people, not anybody is getting paid. So there’s no incentive. They’re not working there to make a dollar. The only thing that’s driving you is the love of the work, the love of the people. That's the only thing there is for to get rewarded and it’s still evident here in Sacramento even though most of those people are old and not out now. But it’s--you can see where that came from. It’s hard with Filipinos because I noticed with Filipinas is like I was saying about the restaurants. Even from different where you’re from, where they’re from, in the Philippines, they don’t respect each other. And then there’s a joke we always laugh about that we have a friend that is Ilocano. And we always say, “Are you Ilocano or are you Filipino?” So that’s just a joke that everybody says. it's true because they don’t mix that well.
Look at the Vietnamese, and the Hmong, and the Cambodian communities. They get together and their events are big. And their support for each other big. The Filipino is ... and it’s because a lot of Filipinos came what they called a “brain drain” and they were all professionals. So that’s a different set of people. And then you have the ones that are been brought here that where they petitioned by their families. So that’s another set of people. So it’s really hard. It’s a big community here but you never see … the only thing that--the biggest is the Fiesta, right?
[1:30:16 – 1:35:20]
TIM: It’s gotten bigger but it’s really not … [inaudible] and then when they took--now you can’t have food there that doesn’t go through the health department and all that used to be. People are sitting there selling pots of adobo, lumpia, they just made, and yeah now I think it is harder.
NINA: But we’re still really really still proud of the community that keeps up with the fiesta and then the folks doing the PNDA stuff.
ASUNCION: When did PNDA transitioned into non-profit organizations and what type of program are you doing right now?
BENJAMIN: So they got their non-profits status in their early 90s, I believed. But they existed way before that, obviously. So they got their 501(c)(3). And but they weren’t doing a lot at that time. It was a kind of a big transition point where some of the old [inducible] have moved on but then there wasn’t any new programing happening. Only in the early 2000s I think, the only program that PNDA has sustained since the beginning is their scholarship program. It’s the longest program they have. Then they also have Sinag-tala that was part of it, and the Fiesta was one [inaudible] point and LEAD conference. So the youth conference started in the mid- to late- 90s. And that was set up a provide a forum to empower youth, have those discussions about generations kind of the constant discussion of parents wanting their--you kids to become nurses and doctors, and kids dealing with life being a Filipino American, and all of those kinds of things. And also bringing in professionals to talk to them about what they can do and empower them that way, and have those kind of discussions. Over the years, they brought in a lot of people like [inaudible], and the gentleman you mentioned, the county guy, the African American guy, Grantland Johnson came in as a speaker. Don [sp?/ inaudible] has been a presenter a couple times over the years. So we’re bringing in people from all different aspects. And each year, they pick a theme and they bring in speakers based on that. But there’s always the basis of empowerment and getting them ready for--‘cause the students that are coming in to the conference are entering high school or just leaving high school for college so we want to give them some kinds of skills as well. We then also bring in counselors that are college-aged. So they have this built-in mentorship part of the conference. And so kinds of gives the college kids experiences in working with youth and then creating this kind of buddy system that hopefully continues on after the conference. So that’s one of the project.
Opia [sp?/ inaudible] is the outstanding Filipino youth award. That’s a scholarship program that was set up years ago by Cynthia and Josie Carmas [sp?/ inaudible] who were both--at least I think Cynthia was a board member. I don’t know if Josie [sp?] was at the time. But just ongoing scholarship and initially it was one pot of money that was put in and then the interest was used to be distributed. But now it’s changed to different families and organizations who put in money for scholarships each year. So we have [inaudible] puts in money for scholarship. The Pascal [sp?] families does. We just had [inaudible] family that did a scholarship, and I am hoping our families will do one maybe in a next few year in honor some of our family members.
TIM: We started a long time ago and then that was when the years when they’re having trouble. And We didn't get notified the next year and the next year, so we forgot about it.
BENJAMIN: So that’s one thing and we distributed up--I think the biggest scholarship we gave away this year was $3,000 to one person. It’s done through an essay and then a panel interview. So we have high school students and then we have college students going into college. Usually panel board members and community members. They asked them questions like, “What does it mean to be Filipino?” “What is--,” things like that, and talk about their experiences working in the community. ‘Cause we want to make sure that they giving back as well. So that’s what been going on.
[1:35:20 – 1:40:57]
BENJAMIN: Sinag-tala, there’s some history there. It continues on but it’s broken off from PNDA a number of years ago. So, they’re doing their own things. They have their own 501(c)(3) status.
We just started a new one [program] last year called Filipino Fork [sp?/inaudible], which is our major fundraiser but it’s also to capitalize on the farmed work movement, and also the big Filipino food movement that’s happening, especially in the Bay Area. It’s a really big thing. It’s been written about on the news and news magazine and stuff. So we want to bring that here. So we are highlighting chefs and restaurants in those in Sacramento regions that have either Filipino influences or Filipino chefs, and they coming in and talk about what they did, what influences them. We also eventually wanted to turn it into project where we talked about how food has changed by people’s families come to the U.S. over time and how their experiences affected how they cooked their food. I always--so when we developed this project, I brought up my family where the food that my grandparents cooked, you really can’t find it anywhere else because they were kind of isolated from the rest of the community, and they used whatever they had. So the base idea of the food is Filipino but it’s really their own recipe. And that’s really because of the experience of the experience. So...
But the overall idea of PNDA is really empowering the community and really focused on youth and how we can mentor them and empower them to and support what they’re doing instead of telling them how to do it.
So, a lot of the high schools in the area have created [inaudible] club. So how can we support that and how can we help to add education to that? And maybe bring them in together and we can work all together, instead of having these little groups everywhere. We can really unify that kind of thing. It’s a young board so which is really unique amongst the organizations. I’m forty-two and I'm the oldest board member, which is really different than most organizations in the community. So most of them are have had people in their seventies running them and things like that. It brings a lot of questions for PNDA’s future and how we work with the community, and how we can fosters these other organizations moving forward, and help developed new leaders with them too. Because right now a lot of them don’t have that. They moved on or passed on, and things like that. So we want to help create those leaders or at least try to foster them into that leadership. It’s a quick version.
ASUNCION: Can I ask what’s your board position is for PNDA?
BENJAMIN: I’m a secretary. I’m a secretary and then the chair for the youth awards, the scholarship program, and then I’m co-chair for the Filipino Fork program.
ASUNCION: That’s really cool. The Filipino Fork program sounds really interesting. Recently, there’s been an Ube festival and a lot of more publicity...
BENJAMIN: Yeah, on weekends, or once a month I think, in San Francisco, there’s an event called “Undiscovered SF,” where they highlights different themes but there’s always this underlying [sp?/ inaudible] themes of Filipino food and they really highlight the Filipino food trucks that have been happening. So that’s happening tomorrow, actually. But our last month it was, celebrating on [inaudible]’s passing, and some of the youth program that they support. This month they’re bringing in artists from the Philippines. So alternative bands and all kinds of things. So it’s really a cool event and that’s what we’re trying to capitalize on.
ASUNCION: Well, those were all the questions that I had for you all. I really appreciate the conversation that we got to have. I really learned so much. I honestly didn’t know too much about PNDA, or well, I learned about the KDP through from some of my classes. But hearing about the day-to-day activities and how things were actually run is very different, and just really interesting.
BENJAMIN: I did want to add. This is something that I discussed with my parents and other folks too is that there’s definitely a conversation about learning about KDP and everything about KDP because I feel it’s just a lost part of the history, but also the effect it had on the kids of KDP, and ‘cause there’s a whole generation of us who went to rallies, and who went to protests, and we helped colored banners. And we were in the motor--[inaudible] waving. But we had no idea why we were waving and things like that. So, for future discussion, especially for the Bulosan center, that might be something they want to look into. And how it affected the kids of the movement and also what kind of work we went into as well.
[1:40:57 – 1:43:22]
ASUNCION: That’s a great perspective to add because I think that Professor Rodriguez has been focused on hearing your story. But that’s a whole other side that’s also extremely relevant and really important to history and creating that narrative.
BENJAMIN: ‘Cause not only are their work. There’s a narrow generation, but the kids are even smaller number. And the ones at least were old enough to understand what was going on.
NINA: Yeah because some of them are already in political stuff, theater, political theatre, like Rob Bonta.
TIM: Rob Bonta, he was at that one we did on Fair Oaks boulevard, wasn’t he? There…?
BENJAMIN: I don’t [inaudible] remember yelling at people around the corner.
TIM: There was only [inaudible] and Cynthia, and [inaudible] I don’t know if Jacob [inaudible] and then I think two of Cynthia’s kids were there. And [inaudible] … And all of these little kids, “Marcos...-” with the signs in the biggest intersection going into Fair Oaks. It was funny.
NINA: They were good. They even went into the...sorry...christmas event, which we used to do all the time, the Sinag-tala show. Before the Sinag-tala, I think. Anyways, they used to be part of the crew and singing and these kids would actually perform and now Wendy is doing a--she got her PhD and she was learning about how the history of the [inaudible] and politicizing that too. It was very cool.
- Date Added
- November 20, 2018
- Filipino American Experiences Oral History Project
- Item Type
- Oral History
- Ang Katipunan, KDP, Philippine National Day Association, Sacramento [Calif.], Union of Democratic Filipinos
- “Oral History Interview with Tim, Nina & Ben Fenkell
,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed October 20, 2020, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/471.