Farmworker Icon Highlight: Philip Vera Cruz
There is something to be said about wanting to create a better life for your family. When another aspiration and drive comes out of that initial goal, however, it is amazing where that other passion can take you.
Philip migrated to the United States from the Philippines in 1926, being a part of the “Manong” generation like his counterpart Larry Itliong. He wanted to pursue an education to be able to financially provide for his family back home. 1 When Philip had issues paying for school, he turned to any job he could find, which included farm work.
After settling in California in the 1950’s, Philip co-founded the Agricultural Worker Organization Committee in 1959. He would soon join forces with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta in the Delano Grape Strike in 1965. The two organizations would then combine and create United Farm Workers. 1
In 1977, Philip parted ways with United Farm Workers. Soon after, he would form the Farm Workers Credit Union as well as create Agbayani Village, a retirement community for older farmworkers. At the same time, Philip was very active in social justice and farmworker, as well as Asian-American issues. 2 This would continue into his later years as well.
Philip would earn the Ninoy M. Aquino Award in 1987, an award he was given by then-President Corazon Aquino. 3 Just five years later, Philip would also receive honors at the AFL-CIO’s Asia Pacific American Labor Committee’s founding convention. Both distinctions would be in honor of his lifetime work in farmworker activism. He would soon pass in 1994, at the age of 89 years old.
A life where you only fight for others seems to be a life saved for special individuals. Well, Philip Vera Cruz was one of those individuals, and his legacy will continue to live on in that pristine light.
1 Ner, Mikee. “Philip Vera Cruz Biography.” Bayani Art, https://www.bayaniart.com/philip-vera-cruz-biography/
2 Institute for Public Relations. “Pioneer Philip Vera Cruz (1904-1994).” Institute for Public Relations, 6 May, 2021, https://instituteforpr.org/pioneer-philip-vera-cruz-1904-1994/
3 Times staff and wire reporters. “Philip Vera Cruz; Helped Chavez Found the UFW.” Los Angeles Times, 18 Jun. 1994, https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-06-18-mn-5441-story.html