Watsonville is in the Heart


Watsonville is in the Heart (WIITH) is a community-driven public history initiative to preserve and uplift stories of Filipino migration and labor in the city of Watsonville and greater Pajaro Valley. Presently, the WIITH team is creating a new archive documenting the plight, struggles, vitality, and resilience of the manong generation of Filipino migrants who first settled in the Pajaro Valley in the early twentieth century. The archive features manong experiences and those of their families through oral history accounts, photos, personal records, and material culture objects. 

The initiative will include the launch of an interactive digital platform featuring the archive, the creation of a California K-12 curriculum component responsive to Ethnic Studies guidelines, and the mounting of a culminating art exhibit that brings together the WIITH archive and the Bay Area and Central Coast artist communities.

View the Watsonville is in the Heart Digital Archive here:

The project is spearheaded by Dioscoro Recio, Jr. (The Tobera Project) in partnership with UC Santa Cruz faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students: 

This project has received support from The Humanities Institute, the 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, and the UCSC Arts Research Institute.

Recent News

UCSC news – National Endowment for the Humanities honors Watsonville Is In The Heart with a prestigious $75,000 project grant April 2023

UCSC news – Watsonville Filipino history digital archive now available for public viewing April 2022

UCSC news – Meleia Simon-Reynolds: Documenting the local Filipino-American experience March 2022

City on a Hill Press – Watsonville is in the Heart: Honoring the Manong Generation in California’s Central Coast 

KSBW 8 news video – UC Santa Cruz debuts digital archive of the first Filipinos in Watsonville news – California museum launches digital archive on Filipino pioneers

The Pajaronian news – Watsonville in the Heart to launch digital archive

KION news video – Filipino history digital archive is unveiled at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

KSQD community radio – New Archive Celebrates Filipino Heritage

Good Times event information – Things To Do in Santa Cruz and Good Work: Digital Restoration

UCSC news – Watsonville Filipino History Archive Set To Launch At April 9th Public Event

UCSC news – Preserving the legacy of Watsonville’s first Filipino immigrants

KSBW 8 news video – Project CommUNITY special: AAPI Heritage on the Central Coast

Cal Humanities – “Watsonville Is in the Heart” Sharing & Archiving the History of Migrant Filipino



2nd Annual Filipino American History Month Festival – Tobera Project October 2023

Tobera Project Talk Story: 1930 Anti-Filipino Watsonville Race Riots January 2023

Watsonville is in the Heart: Digital Archive Launch & Community Talk Story
April 9th, 2022, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Online Screening: Talk Story II: Dollar a Day, Ten Cents a Dance
January 30th, 2022, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Watsonville is in the Heart: Oral History Project Panel
June 17th, 2021, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm


  • Photos (clockwise from top left): 1) “Ted’s Barber Shop” (c. 1969); Ted Alminiana clips the hair of one-year-old Alvin Tabios. Ted’s Barber Shop was next door to the Philippine Gardens restaurant in downtown Watsonville. 2) Dioscoro R. Recio, a descendant of the local Manong Generation, stands on Main Street in Watsonville, c. 1930. Photo courtesy of The Tobera Project and Dioscoro “Roy” Recio. 3) Photo courtesy of Eva Monroe. 4) A group of workers pick green beans at the Rosser-Lazo ranch on San Miguel Canyon Road in Watsonville. They are filling an order for a large agricultural business under the guise of “share-cropping.” Photo by Johnny Rosser, c. 1950s.  5) Manong Leon DeOcampo holds his niece, Veronica DeOcampo (b.1958), in 1959 at the Rosser-Lazo Ranch on San Miguel Canyon Road in Aromas. They are pictured in front of a sugar pea field. Photo courtesy of Johnny Rosser.