LEAD Filipino and FANHS Organize for Historic Naming of The Delano Manongs Park in San Jose

In a public process that started last year, founding LEAD Filipino organizer, Daniel Lazo saw an open call for the naming of a new park in the City of San Jose.

“I submitted “Delano Manongs” as the name for this new park near my childhood home because of my own personal connection to this significant part in our Filipino American history. I first learned about the manongs during my time in high school at the Filipino Youth Coalition in a small community space at Welch Park, where we learned about our history every week. When I was in college in 2015, I visited Delano for the 50th anniversary celebration of the grape strike. There, I met Marissa Aroy, a filmmaker who made the award-winning PBS documentary “Delano Manongs.” The name for this park is of inspiration from this documentary, giving appreciation to Filipino American farmworkers, such as Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz and Pete Velsaco. This endearment does not only give appreciation to the Filipino American farmworkers who sparked the international five-year boycott on grapes, but also the Mexican and Latinx farmworkers, such as Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. I see them all as my manongs and manangs who shaped who I am today as a Filipino American from San José.” – Daniel Lazo

The “turnkey” park was to be part of a new mixed-use development on North Capitol Avenue, a busy thoroughfare, in the Eastside of San Jose, in Council District 5. For those of us familiar with City of San Jose demographic and socioeconomic breakdowns, Council District 5 has large populations of Asian and Latinx working class communities and often has to advocate for increased social services, resources, and investment in an overlooked region of the nation’s 10th largest city. San Jose’s Council District 5 also has a sizeable FilAm population.

We also know of the rich history shared between Filipinx and Chicano communities in the context of California’s Labor History, which is a message of unity and solidarity that we reinforce and educate our members on in our programs. For these reasons and much more, we found our deep symbolic purpose in the naming of a new park to honor the legacy of the Manongs.

Upon seeing this open call for park name submissions, Daniel submitted the option “The Delano Manongs” without giving much thought to its traction or the survey’s outcome.

As it turns out, “The Delano Manongs” caught the attention of hundreds of community members. “The Delano Manongs” was the top vote-getter in the first survey. We would later find out that the votes were close, so the City of San Jose determined to distribute a second public opinion survey. The second survey’s results were clear: “The Delano Manongs” was the top vote-getter once more.

These results were taken to the San Jose Parks and Recreation Commission on February 3, 2021, to which LEAD Filipino proudly stood with the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) Santa Clara Valley to advocate for the naming of The Delano Manongs Park in the City of San Jose and organized speakers to provide personal stories and reasons for the importance of a park naming. Following our testimonies and letters of support, the Commission voted unanimously in support of the naming, with an amendment to leave room for the installation of an art piece at The Delano Manongs Park.

Over two months later, the critical vote came to the Mayor and San Jose City Council.

On Tuesday, in 10-0 vote, the San Jose Mayor and City Council unanimously voted to approve the historic naming of a new park in the City of San Jose to “The Delano Manongs Park.”

This historic naming marks the first park to be named in honor of FilAm history in the City of San Jose.

To announce the naming of The Delano Manongs Park, District 5 Councilmember, Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco and the City of San Jose hosted a press conference, which two of our Board Members, Dr. Jen Briscoe and Alexandria Chu, attended on our behalf and delivered remarks.

LEAD Filipino Board Members, Dr. Jen Briscoe and Alexandria Chu, join Manong Ben, Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, and Camille Llanes-Fontanilla of SOMOS Mayfair at the April 13th press conference on the historic naming of The Delano Manongs Park.

While we have the Tony Jacinto Saguig – Northside Community Center – and Filipino Community Center both in Japantown, the naming of The Delano Manongs Park in San Jose is the first park to be named to observe the contributions of FilAms to the Valley.

The message and legacy of the Manongs is one that influences LEAD Filipino’s programs, teachings, and mission. We teach our students and members about the courage, bravery and resistance of how the Manongs persisted and fought for worker rights – including equitable wages, livable work conditions, and time off.

As our founder, Gel Cortez stated “The naming of The Delano Manongs Park is a tribute not only to their generation, it speaks to and serves our generation. The naming of The Delano Manongs Park is not only for the FilAm community, it’s for communities across the region and nation that fight for more and fight for just causes like protecting our most vulnerable.”

Thank you to everyone that called in, submitted letters, and spoke at the Parks and Recreation Commission and Tuesday’s City of San Jose Council Meeting. Your voices and presence were heard and felt from our neighborhoods to our global diaspora. We couldn’t have done this without the outpouring of support and involvement in our civic process.

We will host an official launch of the park in the summer of 2021. Please be sure to get in touch with us to remain connected to those critical updates.

The Delano Manongs Park sits at the corner of Gimelli Way and North Capitol Avenue in Eastside San Jose.


Additional News Coverage of The Delano Manongs Park:

Read LEAD Filipino’s official support letter to the City of San Jose here.

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