Untold Story of Filipino American and UFW Labor Leader Larry Itliong Goes National

“Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong” Book Tour Kick-off & Delano Pilgrimage

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Delano, CA, January 23, 2019 - Bridge and Delta Publishing in partnership with the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and PapaLoDown Agency takes “Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong,” on a 15-city national book tour, starting with Delano, California, on February 8, 2019. This is the first nonfiction illustrated children’s book about Filipino American history, and the first book ever written about Larry Itliong. The children’s book written by the late historian Dawn Bohulano Mabalon, Ph.D. with Gayle Romasanta and illustrated by Andre Sibayan tells the story of forgotten United Farm Workers (UFW) cofounder, Larry Itliong, his migration to the United States and his lifelong fight for a farmworkers union. Delano is the first stop of the national book tour with events planned in Seattle, WA; Wapato, WA; New York; Washington DC; Virginia Beach, VA; Honolulu, HI; Anchorage, AK; Southfield, MI; Milwaukee, WI; Chicago, IL; San Diego, CA; Houston, TX; Stockton, CA; SF Bay Area; with more cities to be announced.

“Journey for Justice is a significant children’s book about a legendary pioneer in the farmworkers movement. This was the last book that FANHS National Scholar and Trustee Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon, wrote before she passed away suddenly on August 10, 2018. FANHS is committed to carry on Dawn’s legacy so that people of all ages can learn more about Filipina/o American history. FANHS supports this book and strongly encourages everyone, especially Filipino Americans, to read it and discuss it with their children, community, and educators,” shares Emily P. Lawsin, FANHS National Vice President.

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Currently, Filipino Americans are the largest Asian American group in 10 of the 13 western states, the second largest Asian American population in the nation, and is the oldest Asian population in the nation, with hardly any mention of their contributions to U.S. history in school textbooks. This book will be the first out of a planned series of four books about Filipino American historical figures for students of all ages, from 10 and up. A free teacher’s guide created by Pin@y Educational Partnerships will be launched with a demonstration at the three-day event.   

Bridge and Delta Publisher and Owner Gayle Romasanta and the Filipino American community celebrate and aim to further Dr. Mabalon’s work to spread Filipino American history, especially “Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong,” Dr. Mabalon’s last book. Romasanta says, “She made history accessible and was a revered community activist. She not only was a scholar, but her work touched the Filipino American community on a national scale. She not only saved the remaining Filipino neighborhood Little Manila buildings in her hometown of Stockton and named the area ‘Historic Little Manila,’ she traveled the country speaking and connecting with the community and spreading her wealth of knowledge about American history, Filipino American food history, and more. She was the leading Filipino American historian before her untimely passing.”

To celebrate these milestones and to honor Larry Itliong’s death anniversary (Feb. 8) and Dr. Dawn Mabalon's six-month death anniversary (Feb. 10),  and to kick off the Journey for Justice FANHS national book tour, a three-day event with a historical tour of Delano, panel discussions, children’s readings, Q & A with the co-author and illustrator, dinner, performances, a dedication mass for Larry Itliong and Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon, and closing reception will be held from Friday, February 8 through Sunday, February 10. The historic Filipino Community Hall (“Filipino Hall”) in Delano, where the historical vote to go on strike occurred on September 7, 1965 (1469 Glenwood Street, Delano, CA 93215) will host most of the programming (check bridgedelta.com for event details).

While the book celebrates Larry Itliong and history of the Delano Grape Strike, it also highlights Dr. Dawn Mabalon’s life work as the cofounder of Little Manila Rising (formerly the Little Manila Foundation), Filipino American National Historical Society scholar and trustee, a San Francisco State University professor, and author of multiple books including “Little Manila Is In the Heart: The Making of the Filipina/o American Community in Stockton, California” (Duke University Press, 2013).

All events are free to the public. Co-sponsors for the Delano event include: Filipino Community Delano, Delano Union School District, Delano Joint Union High School District, Bakersfield College Little Manila Rising, UC Davis Carlos Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, Pin@y Educational Partnerships. For additional information visit www.bridgedelta.com


About Larry Itliong:
The story of Itliong is a crucial one and missing in California textbooks and public memory. Itliong co-founded the UFW with Cesar Chavez on August 22, 1966, and since his death in 1977, has largely gone unnoticed. Itliong immigrated to the United States in 1929 when he was 15, and immediately began working throughout the United States as a farm laborer and in the Salmon canneries of Alaska. He would later begin to organize Filipino American laborers and ultimately became a union organizer for the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). When he led Filipinos in the Great Delano Grape Strike, he contacted Cesar Chavez and asked for the Mexican farm workers to join the strike with them. On September 16, Cesar Chavez and the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) joined the Filipinos in the Great Delano Grape strike. In 1966, AWOC and NFWA merged to become the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFW). The Great Delano Grape Strike lasted for five years and thrust Chavez in the limelight, while little has been known about his cofounder Larry Itliong. The farm worker movement became one of the greatest social justice and economic movements in California and the United States.

About Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon:
Dawn Bohulano Mabalon, PhD, is a third-generation Pinay (Filipina American) born and raised in Stockton, California, and the descendant of farmworkers and teachers. She received a BA in history and an MA in Asian American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and a doctorate degree in American history from Stanford University. Before her untimely passing on August 10, 2018, she was a professor in the department of history at San Francisco State University, a co-founder of Little Manila Rising in Stockton and a board member and National Scholar of the Filipino American National Historical Society. She is the author of several articles, essays, poems, and books, including “Little Manila Is in the Heart: The Making of the Filipino American Community in Stockton, California” (Duke University Press, 2013) and the first book about Larry Itliong, “Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong” (Bridge and Delta Publishing, 2018).

About Gayle Romasanta:
Gayle Romasanta received her Bachelor of Arts, Creative Writing, from San Francisco State University and received a scholarship to attend the Master of Fine Arts Writing program, at California College of the Arts. Since then, her work as a writer and editor has been published in newspapers, magazines, books, online, and featured on radio and television programs on KQED, KPFA, ABS-CBN, WB, NBC and FOX news affiliates. Gayle’s work in theater, film and music has been featured in events and venues such as the Houston Asian American Music Festival, San Francisco Asian American Jazz Festival,  and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. She is a former artistic director of Bindlestiff Studio, the only Filipino American theater in the United States. She also co-founded California College of the Arts literary arts journal, “Eleven Eleven,” and her first children’s book, “Beautiful Eyes” (Meritage Press 2012, Bridge and Delta Publishing 2018 ) is part of the curriculum for the San Francisco Unified School District. She also co-composed the music for the first Google Philippines campaign commercial in 2014. Currently, she is the founder and owner of Bridge and Delta Publishing, producing the first-ever series of its kind: eight books on Filipino American history for 4th-9th grade students, their teachers and families. The first book, Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong, co-written with the late and great Dr. Dawn Mabalon, was launched on October 27, 2018.

About Andre Sibayan:
Andre Sibayan is an illustrator and designer, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work has been featured in major national and international magazines, retail brands, kids apparel, and various food, beverage, and hospitality branding projects. Growing up on comics, anime, and Saturday morning cartoons has given him an affinity for creating art for the young and the young at heart.

About Bridge and Delta Publishing:
Bridge and Delta was founded on the spirit of "home" and immigrant journeys that are absolutely American at their core. This independent publishing house publishes Filipino American stories for families and communities to understand their past, present and future; so that their immigration story gives them a better understanding of who they are and where they are headed individually and as a community. A percentage of profits from each book sold goes to nonprofit community organizations supporting ethnic studies and teaching Filipino American history in the K-14 public school system.

About Filipino American National Historical Society:
Founded in 1982, the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) documents and promotes Filipino American history through its archives, conferences, books, programs, films, art and more. With 33 Chapters throughout the USA, FANHS has recognized October as Filipino American History Month for decades.

About PapaLoDown Agency:
The PapaLoDown Agency is a boutique public relations company specializing in people of color & women of color led businesses and organizations. Through publicity and brand awareness the PapaLoDown team amplifies the unique stories behind each project; that in turn will create buzz, increase conversion rates, and build lasting relationships in the communities our clients serve. The company’s well rounded background in retail/fashion, music, art, entertainment, education, and youth empowerment provides clients with over 20 years of experience, and a diverse network of resources. The company was founded by Paloma B. Concordia in 2009, and is located in the San Francisco, Bay Area.