Do we still need heroes?
We were supposed to have, in 2020, the second coming of the “Roaring Twenties.” Roar it did as our lives went on a 180-degree spin of stops, slowdowns and its twin sisters of cynicism and fear.
Indeed, it is with real people that we know, who lived real lives, and succeeding despite the adversity and difficulty of their time, that we can be inspired to rise from our own situation. They are the real heroes of our time. The men and women who did not succumb, but fought back and won! This is the inspiration that heroes give, reminding us that we can succeed no matter what circumstance or difficulty we may face.
This is the legacy of Larry Itliong, Filipino American Hero, who helped shape the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s, that reverberated internationally. He inspired Filipino farm workers to take action, despite enormous difficulty, against systemic maltreatment. His leadership convinced Cesar Chavez and the Mexicans to unite instead of competing. This was exemplified in the victory of the Delano, California Grape Strike that Larry Itliong started in 1965.
Last October 25, 2021, the Filipino American Voice United, FAVU, launched the annual Larry Itliong Leadership Award, LILA, at the Celebrity Centre, Hollywood, California. Three contemporary leaders were recognized on how they exemplify the greatness of the Filipino-American Spirit: Wilfredo “Jing” Espiritu (posthumously); Noel S.V. Omega; Trinity Foliente.
It was an evening of celebration. The month of October commemorates the Philippine History Month in the United States. October 25 celebrates the birthdate of Larry Itliong and October 18 reminds us when two Filipinos first landed in Morro Bay, California, in 1587. This started the 400+ years of Filipino presence and contribution in the United States.
With the launching of the Larry Itliong Leadership Award in the United States, there is a growing awareness for Larry Itliong to be fully recognized as a Filipino-American Hero by the United States Congress and also by the Philippine Congress. Specifically, it is now timely for Larry Itliong to be recognized as the pioneering Philippine National Hero of OFWs, Overseas Filipino Workers.
Jorge “Jerry” Perez de Tagle, PhD, lives in the US and the Philippines. He is an author, a change management practitioner and a thought leader in the private and public sector. He taught at Syracuse University, New York and has his PhD in Social Change, Honoris Causa, and Candidacy in Organization Development. [email protected]