Thanks to California Assemblymember Rob Bonta, a historic Filipino figure finally got the recognition he deserves. In California, we celebrate Larry Itliong Day on October 25 every year. So what do we know about Larry Itliong, besides that he’s an important historical figure and he’s Filipino?
October 25 is Larry Itliong’s birthday
Yes, Larry Itliong Day is on his birthday. It is his day, indeed. He’s also a Scorpio — we’d get along really well.
Larry was one of the “manongs”
“Manong” means “older brother.” And that’s what they are: big brothers and role models. The manongs, as a collective, were the first major wave of Filipinos to the United States. They worked for low wages as dishwashers, busboys, domestic workers, factory workers in canneries, and farmworkers to provide for their families financially.
He was known as the “seven fingers”
Sounds like a Filipino Game of Thrones Character. “Seven Fingers!” He lost three fingers in an accident working hard canning fish in Alaska.
Larry knew Japanese, Cantonese, Spanish, and multiple Filipino dialects
He also taught himself legal terminologies and concepts, which helped him slay as an activist.
The Delano Grape Strike was initiated by Larry Itliong, not Cesar Chavez
While both Larry Itliong and Cesar Chavez did great work for the labor movement, it was a revolution led and started by Larry Itliong. YES, a Filipino led the movement that granted the rights of many. Learn more about the Delano Grape strike here. For years, Cesar Chavez eclipsed the heart and soul of the 1965 revolution. It’s time to give credit where it is due.
Larry Itliong is from Stockton, California
Hardly anyone knows this, but Larry Itliong reps the 209!
He has a son, Johnny Itliong, who is just as fierce
“He didn’t do it himself, but he initiated it all…How did Cesar Chavez become the founder of a union he was asked to join? That’s on him for creating the fallacy, doesn’t mean he didn’t do any good. Just a matter of setting the record straight.” — Johnny Itliong
Honor Larry Itliong today. California may now have a Larry Itliong Day, but we need to shine the light he didn’t get for many years. Post about him on social media, mention him to your friends, let your coworkers know that Larry Itliong Day exists, and strike up that conversation.
For those of you in Northern California, Assemblymember Rob Bonta is hosting a celebration at The Greenlining Institute 360 Center tonight. Join me!
Happy Birthday, Larry Itliong!
Conrad is Kubo’s Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer. Follow Conrad on Twitter @conradc.