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Syndic Literary Journal

Photo Essay: California Farmworker – Cheerful Manong


Photo by Gilbert Ortiz (c. 1974).

(“Manong” is a Filipino word of respect for an older man).

More than 50 years of farmworker servitude have not undermined this manong’s cheerful and dignified demeanor. Recruited as a young man from the Philippines in the 1920s to provide cheap labor for California’s agribusiness, this Delano manong has worked and lived his entire life in servitude. Without labor rights, not permitted to marry or to own property, he lived with fellow farmworker manongs in farm labor camps and rural shacks and eked out a living by following the cultivation and harvests of California crops, especially table grapes and asparagus.

Now, the close of his life marks the end of one of the most shameful chapters of human exploitation in our country’s history.



Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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