Documentary | 2007 | 26 mins | DVD | Closed Captioning
Producer/Director: Marissa Aroy
Executive Producer: J. Greenberg
Narrator: Dean Devlin
Grade Levels: Middle school and up
Known as “The City of Gold,” Stockton became a major hub for Filipino immigrants coming to the U.S at the turn of the 20th century. By the 1930s, this lively area had the largest population of Filipinos outside of the Philippines. Many worked as farm laborers traveling up and down the west coast harvesting fruit and vegetables in California, Oregon, and Washington and then working in the canneries in Alaska during the winter. But Stockton was where Filipinos could always return home.
With their newly found income — during the nation’s birth of the consumer culture — Filipino men sought out the American dream priding themselves on flashy tailored suits and new cars, and an active social calendar at local dance clubs. This was the heyday of Little Manila.
Yet the exuberance Filipinos felt in their new homeland did not help them become accepted into the mainstream American culture. Racial tensions and fierce competition for jobs during the depression culminated in clashes between whites and Filipinos all over the west coast. In addition, the U.S. government imposed the Tydings-McDuffie Act and the Repatriation Act, severely limiting the immigration and residency of Filipinos. Amidst the anti-Filipino sentiments, Filipinos were still able to organize farm labor unions and became a force to reckon with during labor strikes. Later, in one of the great labor movements in American history, these leaders played a pivotal role by collaborating with Cesar Chavez to create the United Farm Workers.
The Second World War was a turning point as men volunteered in mass to fight Japan. They formed the 1st and 2nd Filipino infantry regiments and were part of a mass naturalization ceremony taking the oath as American citizens. This was an important change for now they had the right to buy land and vote. After the war, the Filipino community once again flourished as new families discovered a sense of belonging that didn’t before exist.
As time passed, the community began to move away. City officials have cleared away ethnic neighborhoods to make way for redevelopment. The final segment of this documentary examines the last few remnants of the community and efforts to save Little Manila’s last standing buildings now deemed as historical landmarks.
This DVD includes Producer’s Comments.
Narrated by Dean Devlin.
Produced by KVIE Public Television for its ViewFinder series, underwritten by Allied Insurance and SAFE Credit Union. This program was underwritten by Financial Center Credit Union.