The term "manongs" refers to the first generation of Filipino migrant laborers who worked in the United States, primarily in the agriculture industry, during the early 20th century. The term originally meant "elder brother" in the Ilocano language, but it became a term of respect for Filipino workers.
The history of the manongs in the US can be traced back to 1906 when the US government annexed the Philippines as a territory. Many Filipinos were recruited to work in the agricultural fields in Hawaii, California, and other western states. They were often referred to as "sakadas" or contract laborers, and many of them worked in the sugar cane and pineapple plantations.
The manongs faced significant discrimination and racism in the United States, both from white Americans and other immigrant groups. They were often subjected to unfair labor practices, low wages, and poor working conditions. They were also prohibited from owning land, marrying outside their race, and even from socializing with white people in many cases.
Despite these challenges, the manongs played a crucial role in the growth of the agriculture industry in the United States. They worked hard and were known for their agricultural skills and knowledge. They formed tight-knit communities and helped each other out in times of need.
Manongs introduced a range of farming practices and techniques to American agriculture, including crop rotation, which helped to increase yields and improve soil quality. They also brought with them a deep knowledge of tropical crops such as bananas and pineapples, which they applied to farming in California, Hawaii, and other states.
Manongs were skilled in growing a wide variety of crops, including asparagus, lettuce, strawberries, and grapes.In addition to their farming expertise, manongs played an important role in shaping the labor movement in the United States. They were among the first to organize farmworkers into unions, fighting for better wages, working conditions, and legal protections.
Although most of the manongs ended up destitute and in poor health, their manongs' efforts helped pave the way for the modern labor movement and inspired generations of workers to stand up for their rights. Overall, manongs made significant contributions to farming in the United States through their knowledge, skills, and dedication to their work.
Their legacy continues to inspire and inform farming practices in the USA today. They have become a symbol of hard work and sacrifice whose stories should be honored.
To learn more watch this PBS Documentary about the DELANO MANONGS.
A film By Ryan Moore
When We Danced is a short film by Ryan Moore that tells the story of a Filipino manong who left his homeland in search of a better life in America.
As he grapples with his own unfulfilled dreams, he discovers a newfound purpose in teaching his grandson how to dance, leading to a transformative journey of love, loss, and self-discovery.
When We Danced premieres at the 23rd annual Beverly Hills Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theater.
Be one of the first to watch it free and receive early digital access by subscribing now.