Filipinos in Watsonville – at the Watsonville Public Library

FANHS Monterey Bay includes the Filipinos in both Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. Recently, our fearless leader, Jess Tabasa, set up an exhibit about Filipinos and the Watsonville area at the Watsonville Public Library and I (Jean Vengua) took a few photos. I experienced a bit of nostalgia, as I recalled hanging out in Auntie Rosita Tabasa’s Philippine Gardens Cafe, while my mom attended Filipino Community or Caballeros de Dimas-Alang meetings. The cook at the Philippine Gardens made the best hamburgers ever; I still hold up any hamburger I eat to the Philippine Garden’s standard. Auntie Rosing also taught the local Filipino kids Philippine folk dancing, and brought in an instructor especially for that purpose.
I remember seeing the guys gambling in the back room of the cafe.

Jess Tabasa’s exhibit dovetails nicely into the larger Library exhibit on labor in the Watsonville area. More on that at the end of this set.

Tabasa’s presentation discusses the struggles, family life, and community building of Filipinos living in the Watsonville area.


The Watsonville Public Library’s labor exhibit is presented around a large “island” section (somehow that seems really appropriate!) of the second floor.

There is a prominent corner section on Filipino workers, showing books (Carlos Bulosan’s America is in the Heart, of course), labor posters, and excerpts from literature about the workers.

The exhibit walls are beautifully painted with images from the 1930s of workers in the artichoke fields.

It seems to be a permanent exhibit, so do come by and visit. The Watsonville Public Library is a gem in the local public library system.