There was ill-feelings towards Filipino new arrivals. Earlier before my dad arrived in California there was the Immigration Act of 1924 which limited the migration of Chinese and Japanese workers that white workers blamed for undermining their wages. That didn't affect the Filipino workers since the Philippines was still a commonwealth territory of the United States. Filipinos accepted the work that white workers refused to do. Hostility towards Filipinos by whites began to intensify.


Welcome to California

In 1933 my father boarded a ship sailing from Hawaii to California. From reading the roster it seems that many other Filipinos did the same. I'm wondering if the talk about Philippine independence had any bearing on leaving for the mainland, remember Hawaii wasn't a state yet and probably the fear of being deported back to the Philippines were on the minds of many Filipinos.

I continued to trace my dad’s footsteps and I found addresses from Census studies and public records that followed his migration to central California. I found addresses in southern California as far as Fresno, Orosi and Imperial Valley, then in central California in French Camp, Stockton and Delano. Obviously he was following the California harvest looking for work on the farms.

At the time my dad was working in the asparagus fields the United States was in the process of conceding independence to the Philippines. With Philippines independence that means Filipinos citizenship will become alien status and subject to the same immigration laws as the Chinese and Japanese before them.
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Dad's Asparagus Knife

Besides that large cane cutter hanging in the tool shed from Hawaii there was another tool he used in the backyard for gardening, it was an asparagus knife. In the home garden he used it for digging weeds out and creating holes to plant seeds but the stories I researched behind that asparagus knife opened up a whole new world of love-hate, despair, taxi dance halls, riots, and even murder. I never had the chance to talk to him about this, because he passed away when I was young, but the tools in the backyard shed and public records were good resources in tracing his footsteps. I also asked my mom as much as she could remember and the rest I researched on my own.

Filipino Asparagus Workers

From what my mom told me, my dad went from farm to farm searching for work in central California and the asparagus farms had plenty of work for the Filipino workers. A variety of immigrants harvested asparagus through the years, Chinese, Japanese, and Mexicans but Filipinos provided most of the skilled labor when the asparagus crop was booming.

In San Joaquin county around 70% of the labor force was Filipino. In 1930, more than 350 asparagus camps with about seven thousand harvest workers scattered around the San Joaquin Delta. The picture above are Filipino asparagus workers, you can see the asparagus knives in their hands.

Side Note: Asparagus Shoyu-Mayo

My favorite way to eat asparagus is with Shoyu (soy sauce) mixed with mayonnaise. No matter how you cook the asparagus, boiled or grilled, it always tastes great with a Shoyu-Mayonnaise mix. Also good with artichokes and as a salad dressing.