First park named after Filipino American organization opens in Bay Area

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In a historic moment for the Filipino American community, Alameda, California, has officially opened the first park named after a Filipino American organization.

Hundreds of Filipino American community members and city officials gathered at the opening of Bohol Circle Immigrant Park in the Bay Area on Jan. 21, including Rep. Barbara Lee (D, CA-12), Alameda City Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Vice Mayor Tony Daysog, who is also Filipino American.

Speaking at the event, Lee praised Bohol Circle Inc. and the community for their contributions to the Bay Area and Alameda City.

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Let's take this opportunity to really celebrate the rich history and culture and traditions of the Filipino community, everything our Filipino community has brought to this country especially in the East Bay and the vibrant city of Alameda. Let’s take up this moment to recommit ourselves to fighting for an even more inclusive society like here in Alameda but we need this throughout the entire country and standing in unwavering solidarity with the Filipino community.

Philippine Consul General of San Francisco Neil Ferrer, who was also present at the event, recognized the efforts of Bohol Circle Inc. and the Filipino American community in the Bay Area who “have provided encouragement and support for the project’s implementation” through the years.

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,” Ferrer said.

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In a statement, Ashcraft said the Recreation Parks Commission unanimously voted for the park’s name.

More than 700 names were reportedly considered.

City College of San Francisco’s Philippine Studies Department Chair Dr. Lily Ann Villaraza, who is also a board member of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), said the recreational park was the first in the United States to be named after a Filipino American organization.

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While Bohol Circle Immigrant Park is the first recreational park named after an organization, other parks in the country have also been named after Filipinos and Filipino Americans, such as the Jose Rizal Park in Seattle and Delano Manongs Park in San Jose, California, to name a few.

Founded on Sept. 21, 1936, the organization was created to help Filipino immigrants obtain respectful burials in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Since then, Bohol Circle Inc., named after the Philippine province of Bohol, has evolved into an organization that serves as a financial safety net, like mutual aid, for Filipino immigrants in the area in case of emergencies, such as death.

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Founded by seven Filipinos, the organization relocated its home to Union Street in Alameda in 1965 after its members pooled money to buy land.

Bohol Circle Immigrant Park, which faces Jack London Square in Oakland City, California, will serve Alameda Landing residents with its amenities, such as bicycle paths, a picnic area, a playground and paved walking trails.