NAFCON Remembers the Life of Filipina American Professor and Community Activist Dawn Bohulano Mabalon

August 15, 2018

CONTACT: Aurora Victoria David, NAFCON Secretary General

NAFCON Remembers the Life of Filipina American Professor and Community Activist Dawn Bohulano Mabalon

On August 10, 2018, beloved Filipina American historian, professor, and community activist, Dawn Bohulano Mabalon, tragically passed away while vacationing with family in Hawaii. National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) wishes to extend its deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Dawn and joins in grieving the loss of a beloved figure in the Filipino American community. Many of NAFCON’s member organizations have worked with Dawn for many years on a myriad of issues concerning the Filipino community, such as cultural and historical preservation of Filipino American communities, defending Ethnic Studies in colleges and universities, and supporting the current “Stop the Killings in the Philippines” campaign. Individual members have had the privilege of knowing Dawn on a personal level, fondly remembering her as a wonderful colleague, loyal friend, and nurturing sister.

A professor at San Francisco State University, historian, and community activist, Dawn is best known for her groundbreaking research and publications on the history of Filipino American farmworkers, who migrated from the Philippines from the 1920s to the 1960s to work in the farmlands of California and the canneries in Washington and Alaska, with the largest Filipino farmworker community at one point being in her hometown of Stockton, California. As both historian and community activist, she helped found the Little Manila Foundation in Stockton to preserve her hometown’s historic legacy for generations to come. As a community-engaged professor, she has taught and mentored countless college students, many going on to become educators and community activists themselves to further document our people’s history and tackle the most pressing issues of today.

Terry Valen, President of NAFCON and longtime friend of Dawn since their college years at UCLA, recalls, “I lost an amazing friend, Ate Dawn, and the Filipino community lost a powerful force in the worldwide movement for social justice. She was a consummate historian with unparalleled passion and attention to detail who was not afraid to tell the unvarnished truth about the indignities, beauty, and struggles that Filipinos have experienced so that we all know what should never happen again, as much as the contours of what our future must become. She was an activist-scholar, connecting our history of struggle at the Delano Grape Strike’s 50th anniversary commemoration to the attacks on immigrant communities today as she stood with us this year at the SFO airport against torture by the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection. She brought us a few huge leaps forward to that world where we can be truly honest friends and family, liberated and just in our most interconnected relationships, and in deepest solidarity with all peoples, especially the most oppressed.”

Ryan Leano, NAFCON Southern California Regional Coordinator and longtime colleague and friend of Dawn, shares, “She helped nurture the educator and community activist I am today. She truly lived and breathed the importance of knowing our history as Filipinos to understand and address the problems we face today. Dawn always took care of everyone with her amazing food, wonderful sense of humor, honest criticism, and valuable wisdom. She treated everyone as family.”

Robyn Rodriguez, professor at UC Davis and NAFCON member, closely collaborated with Dawn on countless occasions, more recently with honoring the legacy of the Filipino farmworkers. She shared in a recent Facebook tribute post, “I cannot fathom a world without you, Dawn. I just CAN’T. And I don’t want to…I hope to continue the work you’ve started; to tend to the seeds you’ve planted (and there are so many!), it’s the least I can do to honor your life and ensure that your legacy continues…I’ll never forget how you’ve worked so tirelessly to help future generations of Filipinx scholars scale the ivory tower while at the same time maintained a realness that so many lose after they gain those letters after their name. My dearest, dearest Dawn, you will be so sorely missed but I assure you, you will never be forgotten. Rest in power, kumare.”

NAFCON joins the larger Filipino American community in grieving the loss of an invaluable pillar of our community, but also remembers and celebrates the life Dawn lived and her countless contributions of Filipino American culture, history, and community. Her legacy will live on in the countless lives she has impacted. Mabuhay, Dawn Bohulano Mabalon!

To support the family and friends of Dawn in the memorial expenses, donations can be made on the family’s gofundme page at

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