1979: Venicia Guiala

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Venicia Guiala was born in Batac, Ilocos Norte, Philippines on August 20, 1913.  She received a college degree and taught English, Tagalog and Home Economics in barrio schools.  In 1947, she met Ruperto Guiala, who had returned home from working in the pineapple fields on Lanaʻi, and they married.  She left her teaching job in 1949 to join her husband on Lanaʻi. He was transferred to Dole Company’s Wahiawa plantation in 1952, and four years later, she began working in the fields as a seasonal employee.  During the 1968 pineapple strike, she became president of the Dole Whitmore ILWU Women’s Auxiliary, an organization of women field workers.  Its purpose was to lend aid to picketing workers.

WN: In 1968, the year of the 61-day strike, you helped organized the Dole-Whitmore ILWU Women's Auxiliary. Can you tell me something about that?

VG: The men needed help from the women. So they suggested that the women should have a group also, for the picket line. The chairman of the union wanted us to have a meeting.  He just said, "Everybody go to the club house and we have a meeting." When we went there, he told us the purpose, it was to elect one chairman so that we have this women's group. When my name was nominated, I refused but they said, "You cannot. That's when I was elected.

WN: What was the actual function of the organization?

VG: We have to picket also. We have to divide the groups into seven groups, because there are seven days in a week. Some works on Monday, and the other group, another time; up to Sunday. We go to the picket line, we serve juice, we have to go and report to the headquarters to clean the building, and when we get soup kitchen for, I think, one week, we have to go there and peel some potatoes,clean the vegetables that they cook.

WN: How many women were there in your organization?

VG: I don't remember already, but more than hundred.

WN: Did any women [workers] refuse to participate?

VG: Some women are tricky; they said they are sick. But we have to send the sergeant-at-arms to check, because they complain about their gas money to come. But that is the part of the job. "If you get gas money when you come to work, you don't have gas money when we are on strike." So they come.

WN:  What time did you wake up to go to work?

VG: Sometimes I get up at 3:30. Early in the morning, in order to prepare the lunch, the children to go to school, to bring them to the babysitter, to feed the pets.

WN: How important was your income that you got, to be part of the family budget?

VG: Oh, it's important. We had to pay the note of our house and rent. Plus the lights and the water, we pay. And my husband only get that much. Maybe we survive with his own pay, but I like to have a little bit saving for the future of the children, too. Because we like them go to school.