The first wave of Filipino immigrants came by the thousands to the West coast during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The majority were forced the alternative offered the newcomer cheap agriculture labor in this they proved to be superb. They were courted by the farmer because of their reliability and work ethic, feared by other ethnic labor groups, subjected to social intolerance and racist laws, they persisted in their pursuit for acceptance.
The Filipinos who followed the crops endured the hardships of stoop labor and made any sacrifices. If they married and had families, many would settle in small rented houses in town or stay in farm labor camps.
Many chose to settle in the surrounding central coastal communities around Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, Oceano, Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Guadalupe. Guadalupe with its ethnic stores and Filipino businesses was the central place to gather for various community projects and functions.
Now, most of the “Manong and Manang” generation are now largely deceased. Sadly, following behind are their children, the present day “Manongs and Manangs” who are now in their 60’s and 70’s, and whose families now comprise communities of third and fourth generation of Filipino Americans.
Today, these descendents are educators, doctors, nurses, engineers, office managers, business owners, government employees, politicians, law officers, mayors, etc.
We will never truly know the pain, sadness, and joys that the Filipino pioneers experienced in coming to this country. They paved the way for those today who benefit from the equal opportunities in the workplace and professional careers they are able to pursue.
The story of the pioneer Filipinos is one of courage and perseverance. The pioneers that remain are old men and many have found the security they pursued so arduously. There is bitterness still in their pioneering years. They want the new generation to understand “what it was like then” and to better appreciate the opportunities of today.