Watsonville is In the Heart

The “Watsonville is in the Heart” exhibit is a collection of artifacts and photographs of Filipino immigrant families of the manong generation in the Pajaro Valley. 

The exhibit was curated by Dioscoro Recio, Jr., founder of The Tobera Project, with major contributions from Eva Monroe, Juanita Sulay Wilson, and other Filipino families whose parents and grandparents settled in the Pajaro Valley in the 1920s. 

“Watsonville is in the Heart” came to the Watsonville Public Library in February of 2020. We intended on displaying the exhibit through March, culminating on March 28, 2020 with a screening of A Dollar a Day, Ten Cents a Dance, a documentary on Filipino migrant labor in the early decades of the twentieth century to California’s agricultural fields. Unfortunately, like everything in 2020, our plan was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to statewide and national lockdowns, which forced the library to close to the public, the exhibit drew many visitors from Santa Cruz County and beyond. 

With so much interest in the history of Filipino immigrants in the Pajaro Valley, the Watsonville is in the Heart Virtual Exhibit grew out of a desire to share this collection with a wider audience, to further document and preserve the experiences and contributions of the manong generation of Filipino immigrants to the Pajaro Valley, and to enhance the oral history archive being presently developed by faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates of UC Santa Cruz.

The virtual exhibit has been made possible with support from the following partners: The Tobera Project, The Humanities Institute, Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County, the Ow Family Foundation, the Filipino Community Center of Watsonville, California Humanities, the UCSC Committee on Research New Faculty Research Grant, the UCSC Arts Research Institute, and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.

Special thanks to Dioscoro Recio, Jr., Eva Monroe, Juanita Sulay Wilson, Kathleen Cruz Gutierrez, Steve McKay, Meleia Simon-Reynolds, Christina Ayson Plank, Wyatt Young, Toby Baylon, Nicholas Nasser, Olivia Sawi, and Amanda Gamban.