Oral Histories

Interview of Alfred Mendoza

Filipino American activist. Co-founder and director of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA).
Making Waves: Filipino-American Activists in Los Angeles during the 1970s
Asian American History
Biographical Note:
Filipino American activist. Co-founder and director of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA).
Singson, Precious
Mendoza, Alfred
Persons Present:
Mendoza and Singson.
Place Conducted:
Sessions one to four: Mendoza’s home in Brea, California; Session five: the Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) office in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Precious Grace Singson; Ph.D. candidate at UCLA’s Department of History. She has done extensive studies on Asian-American and Filipino-American history. Her research focuses on Filipino-American activists in the West Coast and her dissertation touches upon their history during the 1970s to the 1980s.Precious Singson prepared for the interview by reviewing secondary sources that relate to Filipino-Americans in Los Angeles and Asian American activists along the West Coast. To list a few, she looked at Linda Maram’s Creating Masculinity in Los Angeles Little Manila: Working-Class Filipinos and Popular Culture, 1920’s-1950’s; Estella Habal’s San Francisco's International Hotel: Mobilizing the Filipino American Community in the Anti-Eviction Movement, and Fred Ho , Carolyn Antonio, Diane Fujino, and Steve’s Yip’s Legacy to Liberation: Politics and Culture of Revolutionary Asian Pacific America. Because of the dearth of studies on the anti-martial law movement, she also examined some primary sources on this subject. Mainly, she reviewed some articles from the Ang Kalayaan/Ang Katipunan newspaper published in the 1970s.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Mendoza was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and make corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
6 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
These interviews document the lives and contributions of Filipino-American activists in Los Angeles in the Filipino-American identity movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. This project was generously supported by Arcadia funds.
Growing up during the Great Depression—discrepancy on father’s date of birth—father’s immigration to the United States—migratory labor—old man standing up to racial discriminaton—mother’s background—parents’ meeting—marriage despite anti-miscegenation laws—family’s move to Los Angeles—Filipino social network before war—describing the lack of Filipino families in Los Angeles—move to Salinas for restaurant job—moving back to Los Angeles to establish restaurant—establishing his friendship with Augustine Cruz—lower class living—other interracial family Filipinos and interracial youth—Balitaan paper and his experience as mixed race—how he saw the division of new migrant and older Filipinos families—Caballeros de Dimas Alang (CDA) headquarters in today’s Little Tokyo—CDA convention—social and economic functions of CDA—Jose Rizal as hero—father’s teachings—growing up biracial—early education—significance of Bataan movie to Filipinos—his encounters with Filipino transnational immigration to and from Hawaii—effects of WWII on economic and social experience—CDA network for Filipinos—stories from mother’s family—his view of new arrivals’ attitude and distance from American born Filipino Americans—his view about division between American born and new wave of immigrants—working in the fields during summer—his opinion about how language may be divisive—his father’s impact.
Work with father’s restaurant in Salinas—his observations of Filipino soldier and farmworker customers—Filipino attitudes toward World War II—his uncle’s racial experience as an officer of war—his family’s experience with racial hostility—Belmont High School demographics—his perspective of his biraciality and sense of Filipino identity—lack of organization for youth recreation—Belmont High experience/mentor—his malignant tumor—Korean War draft—formation of Filipino identity while in school—Philippine Women’s Club—Filipino Civic League and their attempt to join Filipino American Community in Los Angeles (FACLA)—Filipino Civic League representative parliamentarian for FACLA—FACLA’s resistance to Filipino Civic League—mestizos in Filipino Civic League—attempting to fix Filipino community meeting house—waning of Filipino Civic League—Filipino Youth Activities (FYA) visit and their impact—deciding to go back to college—introduction to Roy Morales—community yellow power and UCLA student connections—Oriental Service Center--entering UCLA—lack of study about Filipinos—his advocacy to include other ethnic communities in Asian Pacific summer youth program—conceiving and planning Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA)—why SIPA became successful—Filipinos overshadowed by Cesar Chavez—Barkada band.
Mendoza’s relationship with Roy Morales—Filipino Civic League as a mestizo group—Roy Morales’ role in developing a momentum—how networks helped the organizing—how the Demonstration Project for Asian Americans (DPAA) began—recruitment to lead various agencies in 1971—defunding of DPAA—function of DPAA—Los Angeles DPAA’s attempt to develop demographic data—how employment in LA County helped the community—what came out of the DPAA—George Nishinaka’s role in expanding social work in Los Angeles—youth gangs—SIPA’s role in servicing Filipino youth—function of Asian American Community Mental Health Training Center—Neighborhood Youth Corp Summer Program—how SIPA became an agency—strain between leaders of FACLA and SIPA leaders—Filipino leadership training—tension between Filipinos born in the US versus Philippine-born immigrants—attitude of activists towards Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz.
Mendoza’s participation in the Far West Convention—his involvement with the UCLA Far West Convention—his observations of the division surrounding anti-Marcos movement—his own views of the Marcos dictatorship—issues addressed by Filipino Educator’s Association—first meeting with Helen Brown—formation of the Filipino Education Commission—his work to include Filipino in racial categories in education survey—his belief that it was significant to demarcate Filipinos from Asian Americans—Filipino youth gangs—his advocacy for including Filipino history in curriculum—his advocacy for bilingual education—appointment to City Human Relations Commission under Tom Bradley’s administration—controversy surrounding his appointment—his ability to move from one agency to another because of his interrelated positions—hearings about the arrests of Filipino seniors—early efforts for Filipino political participation—forming networks in the community—effects of Filipino political caucus—difficulties in finding leadership for SIPA—retaining his position at Asian American Employees Association of LA County—why he resigned from City Human Relations Commission—his position at California Board of Protection and Advocacy Incorporated—managing the various positions he held—connecting with Bob Santos—significance of social networking.
SIPA and the development of Pilipino youth services—difficulty in finding funding and volunteers for SIPA—activists who came out of early SIPA conferences—SIPA as youth-oriented agency—why he believes SIPA continued as an institution—comparing SIPA with FACLA as an organization—how politics affected SIPA and its community organizing—struggling to include Asian Americans in the census—San Francisco’s parallel struggle—his belief in the significance of activists’ work in the past—why they established Balitaan—working with Helen Brown to change racial and ethnic survey in school board—his contribution to including Filipino as a category—establishing Asian Pacific Planning Council as forum for issues—planning and opening the Refugee Service Center—his responsibilities while in the center—difficulties and problems faced while helping refugees in adjusting to the US—his contribution to changing the perspective on “bilingual”—Pilipino American Network and Advocacy as a forum for the community—campaign to elect Jerry Brown—why he thinks Filipinos became more politically involved in the 1980s—his belief that Filipinos are becoming part of the mainstream—his evaluation of the results of activism in the 1970s—comparing activism in the 1970s and today’s community organizing—his own sense to fight injustice during the 1970s.