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Bakersfield Californian: Retirement village recalls its Filipino American farmworker roots

Forty Acres Some 400 people gathered Saturday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a retirement village in California’s Central Valley to house Filipino farmworkers.

The last Filipino farmworker lived in the Paulo Agbayani Retirement Village in 1997, but their legacy is still remembered today, reports the Bakersfield Californian.

The home in Delano is named after Agbayani who died of a heart attack on the picket lines.

It was the 1965 strike which lead to the merger between the Filipino Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee and the Hispanic National Farm Workers Association.

The two groups joined together to form Cesar Chavez’ United Farm Workers.

It was a merger that almost didn’t happen due to discrimination.

“Cesar talked about it in Peter Matthiessen’s 1969 book ‘Sal Si Puedes: Cesar Chavez and the New American Revolution,’ ” UFW President Arturo S. Rodriguez said. “Cesar related how early in the strike, a few Latino union members wanted to have a vote on whether to join the Filipinos. In other words, they wanted to take a vote to discriminate. Cesar said he replied ‘Over my dead body.’ ”

Even the very existence of the retirement village met some resistance.

“When they were trying to get the plans for the Village, down there in Bakersfield, the county would not approve the plans for the Village,” UFW leader Delores Huerta told the crowd. “So they actually had to do a sit-in in the offices of the Planning Commission to get the permits to do the Agbayani Village.”

The Village sits on Forty Acres and the original headquarters of the United Farm Workers (pictured).

You can find out more about the legacy of this retirement Village and the Filipino farmworkers it honors in the clip below from KBAK.


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