OP-ED: Why the New Name Should be Itliong-Vera Cruz Middle School Dear Readers: On March 5, 2013, at 7:30pm

, there will be a public hearing at the Educational Services Center for the New Haven Unified School District located at 34200 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City, CA. The subject of the hearing will be the changing of the name of Alvarado Middle School, a decision made by the Board of Education at a meeting in January. The Filipino American Community, with one voice but represented by many different organizations, strongly suggests that the new name be changed to Itliong-Vera Cruz (IVC) Middle School, after two heroic farm worker leaders whose efforts provided the impetus for the birth of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) with Cesar Chavez as president. On September 8, 1965, approximately 1500 Filipinos --- and only Filipinos --started the strike against the grape growers in Delano, California, which was to give birth to the UFW. The strike was soon joined by Chicano laborers. Collectively, the Filipino and Chicano workers created one of the most important strikes in labor union history. Over the past decade or longer, the name “Vera Cruz” has been considered during the naming process of at least two other district sites. I was on the naming committee when the name, Conley-Caraballo, got the nod for the alternative school. I submitted to the committee the biographies and the importance of Itliong’s and Vera Cruz’s work and achievements, especially in the labor movement's history of this country, but it fell to deaf ears. No one had heard of the two Filipino union leaders. The argument at that time showed a fallacy in reasoning. Argumentum ad Ignorantiam. "Because I don't know, I am ignorant of it, it is not a part of my history or experience, it must not be true or important." Today, the same reasons seem to keep coming up. "We don't know. The parents don't know, the community doesn't know, the union (of all people! doesn't know about these two historic and legendary union leaders), and the school district doesn't know about these two. Well, whose fault is it that we don't know? Who were Conley-Caraballo, anyway? And did anyone in the community or elsewhere, know before the naming who they were? Probably not, but now they do. And this is what must happen here: We must know, all of us, not just Filipinos, but everyone in Union City, whose roots are in farming, who Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz were. Teachers and others not told? This is the fourth time in over 10 years that we've been submitting these names! Hello.

On March 19, at the Educational Services Center for the New Haven Unified School District located at 34200 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City, the five-member School Board will vote on the names suggested by the public. If approved, IVC will be the first public school building named after Filipino Americans in national history. The people of New Haven community, not only the Filipino American community, should be commended for this monumental achievement and for leading the way toward genuine education. If some folks are doubting not so much the process but the persons named (and their substance thereof), they do not have to look far. If they are doubting or are ignorant of Larry Itliong’s and Philip Vera Cruz's characters and impact, as well as their leadership skills, let them start with technological information that you can get sitting right here now, where you are. Go to this site: http://www.delanomanongs.com/ (password: manongs) and see a short trailer on a documentary being made on this history. I said one does not have to look far because it is written all over the record books of Logan High School ever since (and they say even before that) I taught there in the early 90s that the student body’s officers year after year are 90% Filipino Americans, and 90% of those 90% are girls! Our women are strong. And they did not obtain their leadership skills in a vacuum. They got it from the spirit of their ancestors such as Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz. Union City was a farming community, an orchard town, historically and traditionally rooted in agriculture. The impact of Itliong’s and Vera Cruz's labor struggles and achievements go beyond the Filipino community. Whatever impact the UFW brings, so also goes the footprints of Larry and Philip. This naming shows more accurately the ethnic diversity of the New Haven Community and the presence of Filipino Americans in the District, whose forbearers were national heroes and whose contributions were under-represented in institutions. We are not an isolated minority in an isolated ethnicity. We are part of a larger multi-ethnic movement (see legislations of Rob Bonta and Leland Yee) to teach all students the Filipinos' part in the farm workers' struggle, a movement to bring this consciousness to all U.S. institutions. One positive sign of a mature community is to recognize the contributions of its diverse population. This actually is a very U.S. concept: E Pluribu Unum. “Out of many, One.” This means not just the recognition and acceptance of other cultures and ethnicities, but the welcome and collaboration as well, in all public welfare decisions. Cesar Chavez was a great man whose leadership and charisma became the voice of the UFW. The highlighting of the Filipinos' part in the forming of the UFW is not to take anything away from Cesar Chavez and the Chicanos’ part in that struggle. Neither does the naming of this school. I just want folks to also know the Filipinos' part in that history. It has been hidden. I do not see it as one against the other but as once again

brothers and sisters in the struggle, in our long standing 500 year shared history, of Mexicans and Filipinos. Ignorance can no longer be the excuse. We, as a community, can educate each other. We are part of an educational institution. Should we not be in the business of educating? If the public is ignorant of history, should not the public school remedy that, instead of being responsible for, or propagating such ignorance? By: Oscar Peñaranda Educator/Author penaranda.oscar@gmail.com ### About the Writer: Oscar Penaranda is an educator, community leader, premier writer and the recipient of the prestigious Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas Award. Always at the forefront of the movement for equity in education, Penaranda established the Tagalog language program and Filipino Heritage Studies at James Logan High School in Union City. Now retired, Penaranda's pursuits include community activism, writing, and righting injustice wherever he sees it. This opinion editorial is distributed by NaFFAA Region 8 Media Group, “connecting media + community” at http://NaFFAAR8.com.

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