Philip Vera Cruz

The Cardinal honors Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

Philip Vera Cruz

Eric Sanchez, Staff Writer

Philip Vera Cruz was a Filipino American who advocated for labor rights and led several social justice initiatives for agricultural workers. He was born on December 25, 1904 and passed away June 12,1994. After immigrating to America from the Philippines, he picked grapes and lettuce. Like many farm workers, he has faced rough working conditions, working for long hours. With these conditions, it motivated Cruz to found the Agriculture Worker Organization Committee(AWOC) and become a leader in farm workers rights.

He would later lead strikes to increase workers pay, and the strikes and boycotting won the support of the National Farm workers of America and they merged to form the United Farm Workers (UFW). As the long time second Vice President, he worked to improve the working conditions of migrant workers. Philip formed the Farm Workers Credit Union and created Agbayani village, which is a retirement community for older farm workers. Not only has he been active in the agriculture community but with the Asian Americans right movement throughout his career. Cruz and other activists like Cesar Chavez came along to help the migrating people. He helped unite Filipino and Mexican Laborers, which turned the union into a major force in the American Labor movement. Cruz once stated “I took it as a duty to fight for the unions.”

Philip Vera Cruz was a great leader, organizer, and activist whose efforts alongside many others have benefited the migrant workers. He believed that the movement must go beyond its leaders even though he didn’t agree with Chavez with every decision, he was able to focus more on the movement and push aside his differences.