Talk of the Bay from KSQD
Talk of the Bay from KSQD
New Archive Celebrates Filipino Heritage

Photo credit: Dioscoro Respino Recio Sr. on Main Street, c.1930, photograph, Collection of Dioscoro “Roy” Recio Jr.

The community-led Tobera Project and partners at UC Santa Cruz will unveil the Watsonville is in the Heart Digital Archive on Saturday, April 9th, from 7-9 p.m., at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. In this interview, I speak with Tobera Project founder, Roy Recio, Jr. about his family’s story and how he came to champion the history of Manong farmworkers in Watsonville.

The archive, which has been under development for the past year, features oral history recordings, original documents, photos, and family artifacts dating all the way back to the “Manong generation”, the first wave of Filipino immigrants who arrived in the 1920s and 1930s. The stories of these early immigrants had largely been missing from the local historical record. Manong were often exploited as low-wage farm laborers and endured violence—like the 1930 Anti-Filipino Watsonville Race Riots—but the new archive shows how they maintained their culture, built community, and made Pajaro Valley their home.

The archive is still in its early stages and will continue to grow, but the launch event will share how to view it online, and pop-up exhibits and interactive kiosks will help guests explore its current content. There will also be a panel discussion with three community members—Juanita Sulay Wilson, Eva Alminiana Monroe, and Antoinette DeOcampo Lechtenberg—who are key contributors to the oral history records. The discussion will highlight the role that women have played as cultural carriers in the local Filipino community, as they passed down language, customs, and more to their children across generations.

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