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.

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

  • Co-PI’s:  Kathleen Cruz Gutierrez, Assistant Professor of History; Steve McKay, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Labor Studies
  • Doctoral Candidate Researchers:  Christina Ayson Plank (HAVC), Meleia Simon-Reynolds (History), Wyatt Young (History)
  • Undergraduate Researchers:  Toby Baylon (Psychology), Nicholas Nasser (History)
  • Community Research Assistants:  Olivia Sawi, Amanda Gamban 
  • Organizational Partners:  Watsonville Public Library, Asian Cultural Experience

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

Recent News

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


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.