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Filipino history digital archive is unveiled at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION-TV) -- The Watsonville is in the Heart Digital Archive, regarding the lives of the Manong generation, had it's public launch at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.

The Manong generation refers to the first wave of Filipino immigrants that came to America during the 1920s and 1930s.

Many of which were recruited to become farm workers in places such as the Pajaro Valley.

"It's often an invisible history, the Filipinos who came in the 1920's struggled quite a bit and had to suffer a lot of issues with racism," said Steve McKay, UCSC Faculty Co-Organizer for the "Watsonville is in the Heart" research initiative.

Including an event in the 1930's known as the Anti-Filipino Race Riots in Watsonville, which involved the violent assaults on Filipino farm workers by the local residents that were opposed to immigration.

"Filipinos have been in Watsonville since that time, but today there isn't a single historical marker that Filipinos have played a role in Watsonville," said McKay.

This digital archive was just the beginning of the many stories that have become available to the public, taking a look at the lives of the Manong outside of their farm working life.

The archive showed the Manongs and their descendants through their memories of migration, labor, and the construction of their own community.

It also featured treasured family items such as photos, family heirlooms, hand written letters, and news paper clippings.

A major aspect of the archive includes oral histories from the descendants of the Manong.

“We really wanted to highlight the ways, the resilience, and the depth of the community and how they created the community that kind of denied them in the broader society," said McKay. "They did that around their families."

The Manong generation helped broaden the idea that you can find a sense of family within your community.

McKay said the the archive helps promote the importance of family and acts as preservation for the history of the families involved.

This was a joint creation between The Tobera Project and UCSC "Watsonville is in the Heart" research initiative.

Although the archive is still in its early stages of development, the launch shared how to view it online.

The launch included a presentation of the digital archive, a "Talk Story" panel, and pop-up exhibitions all curated by the THI Undergraduate Fellows.

"We hope the launch will get people who haven't participated, who might want to, share their stories and share their family archives," said McKay. "We are planning to make this part of the curriculum for the Pajaro Valley School District, and we're planning a large exhibit in 2024 at the museum."

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Joronica Vinluan

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