By Marisol Bo-oc | 01:25 PM February 01, 2023

The first recreation park in the United States named after a Filipino-American community organization, Bohol Circle Immigrant Park, has been inaugurated in Alameda, California on Jan. 21.

Philippine Consul General in San Francisco Neil Ferrer joined the historic opening of the waterfront park at Alameda Landing, which was also attended by U.S. House Representative Barbara Lee, California State Senator Nancy Skinner, Filipino American Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Benjamin Reyes II, Alameda City Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, and Filipino American Alameda City Vice Mayor Tony Daysog.

In his remarks, Consul General Ferrer commended the Bohol Circle Inc. (BCI) for leading the efforts in the waterfront park project. Consul General Ferrer said: “Today’s unveiling of the Bohol Circle Immigrant Park is a testament to the organization’s commitment to community-driven leadership and service, the perseverance and resilience of its members, and the spirit of pakikipagkapwa and bayanihan.”

The BCI spearheaded a campaign for the naming of Alameda’s new waterfront park after the organization, which led to the passage of a City Council Resolution in November 2022 that approved the name Bohol Circle Immigrant Park.

The BCI, a mutual aid organization formed by Boholano immigrants in 1936, is recognized by the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) as the oldest extant Filipino American organization in the U.S. The BCI established its main center in Alameda in 1965, after pooling money to buy land and build a physical space for Filipinos and Filipino Americans.

“We recognize the unfailing support of Bohol Circle officers and members, past and present, and the Filipino American Community in the Bay Area, who through the years, have provided encouragement and support for the project’s implementation. Certainly, we would not have come this far without the crucial support of the Alameda City Council and the assistance of the Parks and Commissions Committee,” Consul General Ferrer added.

The Philippine Consul General also paid tribute to all immigrants, “women and men, past and present, who have now become an essential part of the economic, social and cultural fabric of these United States,” and cited the contributions of Filipino Americans in U.S. history and society.

“As we celebrate the establishment of Bohol Circle Immigrant Park, let’s use this as an opportunity to celebrate the rich culture, history, and traditions that the Filipino community has brought to America, especially to our wonderfully diverse and vibrant East Bay, ” said Rep. Barabara Lee.

Consul General Ferrer said: “From the Filipino World War II veterans who gallantly fought in the tropical jungles of Bataan 80 years ago, whose heroism was immortalized through the conferment of America’s highest civilian award, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal; to the Filipino American farmworker movement led by people such as Larry Itliong and the Delano manongs, who used their voice to amplify the call for better and fairer labor conditions in California and the rest of the nation; and to the Filipino doctors, nurses, first responders, and economic frontliners who have shown grit and determination to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic: May their example and legacy serve as a guiding light for the community to remain united and resilient in the face of challenges in these unprecedented times.”

Consul General Ferrer gave a Certificate of Recognition on behalf of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco to BCI President Myrna Cajilog and Past President Robert Balandra. For their contributions in Alameda, the BCI also received similar commendations from U.S. House Representative Lee, California State Senator Skinner, California State Assemblymember Mia Bonta, and Alameda County Supervisor Lena Tam.

According to FANHS National Board Member and City College of San Francisco’s Philippine Studies Department Chair Dr. Lily Ann Villaraza, the Bohol Circle Immigrant Park in Alameda is the first park in the U.S. that was named after a Filipino American Community organization.

Other parks in the U.S. that were named after a Filipino or Filipino American are all located in the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest: the Jose Rizal Park in Seattle, Washington; the Victoria Manalo Draves Park in San Francisco; and the recently opened Delano Manongs Park in San Jose.

Located at 2901 Fifth Street off Mitchell Avenue, the Bohol Circle Immigrant Park connects Alameda’s San Francisco Bay Trail to Estuary Park and will serve the residents of Alameda Landing. The waterfront park, which directly faces Jack London Square in the neighboring city of Oakland, features amenities that include a playground, picnic area, walking trails, bicycle paths, and restrooms.

By Bohol Island News

Your reliable source of news and content in the island and the rest of Central Visayas and Mindanao.

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