San Jose names new park in honor of Filipino farmworkers
Delano Manongs Park, currently under construction, sits behind a chain-link fence. Photo by Lloyd Alaban.

The thousands of Filipinos who have lived and worked in San Jose for generations will get a park named after their ancestors—the first such park in the city.

A soon-to-be-completed park in East San Jose on Gimelli Way will be named after a Filipino-American group following a unanimous City Council vote Tuesday. The approved name, Delano Manongs Park, honors Filipino farmworkers who worked alongside labor activist Cesar Chavez to orchestrate the Delano grape strike from 1965-70 in California’s Central Valley.

Filipino activists state the honor is a long time coming, considering San Jose’s sizable Filipino community—5.5% of the city’s population and 13.6% of the population in the park’s ZIP code, according to a city presentation.

“(Filipino labor organizer) Larry Itliong said, ‘The day we stop burning with love, our people will die of the cold,'” said Daniel Lazo of San Jose-based LEAD Filipino. Lazo submitted the name Delano Manongs Park in January after learning the city was soliciting names for the new park. “I hope today that the mayor and council will lead with love.”

The park’s name was initially approved by the San Jose Planning Commission in February by a unanimous vote.

Location of the future Delano Manongs Park. Photo courtesy City of San Jose.

The merger of the predominantly Filipino Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee and Chavez’s National Farm Workers Association led to the formation of the United Farm Workers of America labor union, known for popularizing commonplace labor activism tactics such as boycotts, hunger strikes and blue-collar unionization. The Delano grape strike ended in 1970 after companies caved in response to a consumer-led boycott of nonunion grapes. The Filipino farmworkers earned the nickname “manongs,” which means “elder brothers” in the Ilocano language.

“When you put a name on a building, on a facility, on a park, on a street, it acknowledges the community’s history, but it also acknowledges that we’re providing a safe space for healing, for remembrance and to memorialize their contributions,” said Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, whose district contains the park.

Carrasco praised the community’s public efforts to name the park.

The half-acre park broke ground last September and is expected to be completed this summer. It will include a children’s playground, a gathering place, open green space and signage. In February, the Planning Commission also asked if a Filipino history-related monument could be built at the site.

“The naming of this park is more than just a name,” said resident Daisy Barocio. “It’s a step forward to recognize and honor the work and contributions of all our Filipino brothers and sisters.”

Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

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