Who Is Larry Itliong? Publisher Hopes To Shine Light On Filipinos’ Role In California History

STOCKTON (CBS13) — The untold stories of the Filipino men and women who helped define American history are the subject of a series of books aimed at teaching people about the contributions made in forming the United Farm Workers Association.

The writers behind the books are Filipino Americans and two of them grew up in Stockton. The illustrator is a California artist who has created art and designs for Disney.

Over the last year, Gayle Romasanta of Stockton has been working on a special project that highlights the history and culture of Filipino Americans.

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“Filipino Americans are the largest Asian-American group in the state of California, and the fact that we are not really mentioned in any textbook needs to change,” she said.

Romasanta recently started Bridge + Delta Publishing, which focuses on books where Filipino-Americans are at the center of every story. Her first project telling the story of farm labor leader, Larry Itliong.

“There are a lot of books about Cesar Chavez, and a lot of books about Dolores Huerta, but there are no books about Larry Itliong,” said Romasanta.

He played a vital role in forming the United Farm Workers of America and organizing the Delano Grape Strike that began in 1965 and lasted five years.

“They are part of the Filipino American community who have changed U.S. history,” she said.

In 2013, Assembly Bill 123 was passed, requiring state curriculum to include the contributions of Filipino-Americans to the farm labor movement in California. Publishers hope to get their books inside classrooms.

“I think this is just about inclusion,” said Dillon Delvo, executive director of the Little Manila.

A small percentage of money raised from books sales will benefit the Filipino American National Historical Society and educational programs at the Little Manila Foundation in Stockton.

“We think it’s important for all people to know about their histories which at the end is really about learning about themselves,” he said.

“Journey For Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong” is set to be released in early 2018.

More from Carlos Correa
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