The CAAM family is heartbroken to hear that Professor Dawn Bohulano Mabalon passed away on August 10. She was a scholar, advocate and mentor to many. Dawn wrote the book, Little Manila is in the Heart, about the Filipino American community in Stockton, CA.
Dawn was a professor at San Francisco State University. She held the roles of being an academic, teacher and community-scholar.
CAAM had the privilege of working with Dawn and her collection of home movies as part of CAAM’s Memories to Light: Asian American Home Movies initiative.
“Dawn was a leader in the Asian American cultural community and a great friend to us,” CAAM Executive Director Stephen Gong said. “We are deeply saddened to hear about her untimely passing, and our hearts go out to her family, friends, and community whom she deeply impacted in positive ways.”
Dawn donated 12 reels of family home movies to the Memories to Light project. CAAM’s former Media Fund Manager, Davin Agatep, was one of her students at SF State. The film above is Executive Produced by Stephen Gong and produced by John C. Liau and Davin Agatep.
Jasmine Lee Ehrhardt wrote an article about Dawn’s home movies for CAAM’s website:
“Dawn’s knowledge of and connection to Filipino American history in Stockton made her a perfect participant in this project, and luckily, she had some home movies to contribute. The film, commissioned by CAAM and made by John Liau, talks about how Stockton was a hub for Filipino American labor activism, with many who worked in the farm fields. Folks like Carlos Bulosan and Larry Itliong came through Dawn’s grandfather’s Filipino restaurant in Stockton.”
Many shared memories and tributes to Dawn, who was 46, on social media this weekend, using the hashtag #DawnMabalonisIntheHeart.
A GoFundMe has been set up for her memorial.
(Long Caption Alert) I’ve been having a really hard time trying to find the words describe how I’ve been feeling. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon has played such a huge role in my growth as a womxn, pinay, educator and artist. My whole life, for as long as I’ve known her she always been Auntie Dawn. Before I moved to the bay for college I had no idea the impact she had on her community as an activist, scholar, historian and poet. I am incredibly lucky to have been in her presence, to have been loved, to have been nurtured and to have been taught by her, inside and outside of the classroom. — Funny story, one semester i finally had room in my schedule to take one of her classes. One day we were watching a movie during class and I was on my phone probably on Instagram lol. All of a sudden I get a text… it’s from my auntie Dawn lol. Granted she was only 10 ft away from me, I open the text and read it saying “aye get off your phone and watch the movie”. All of a sudden I look up, we make eye contact, I’m probably looking guilty AF hahah then we both start quietly laughing at each other while the whole class continues to watch the movie. But that’s the thing with my Auntie, she was an unstoppable force to be reckoned with but she never failed to bring so much joy to everyone around her. She loved to make people laugh. — Don’t get me started with her cooking, she made fall in love with food, appreciate each dish’s history, thank my ancestors for giving me the privilege to be where I’m at right now and gave me this hunger for knowledge that I never knew I had. Her love for food inspired my love of art tremendously. I’m in true disbelief and my heart feels so heavy knowing she is no longer a text away. I’m infuriated that she was taken way too early from us, she feels so unfinished. — But to honor of her memory and to continue her work in the ways I know how I made 3 pieces that came to me in a dream the night after hearing the news. I’m not done with the other 2 yet, so be patient lol. — I am so privileged to have known you and to be loved by you. I am a better person because of you and I’ll be missing you always, rest in power Auntie Dawn✊? #dawnmabalonisintheheart
R.I.P. // With deep sadness we share that Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon has passed away unexpectedly. Dr Dawn was one of the greatest leaders and contributors to the history of Filipinos in America. We cannot begin to express the condolences and sympathy FANHS Seattle has for this loss! She was a frequent visitor and friend to Seattle. She was a champion for #FilipinoAmerican issues nationally. #RIP @drmabalon #filam #pinay @fanhs_national #pinaypride #pinaypower #dawnmabalonisintheheart
Heartbroken ? to hear the news of the sudden passing of @drmabalon. This is a huge huge loss for the Filipino community, and Bay Area pinays. I only had the honor of meeting Dawn last year, but in that year she already inspired me, grounded me, and connected me to a deeper sense of #pinayism, sisterhood, and community. This constant reminder that life is fleeting, a gift, and something to treasure and hold close each and every day is one that I can't seem to shake. But I'm thankful for it. I see you sis. I saw you in last night's sunset. I feel you watching over us and protecting us. And we will continue your work to unite and uplift our community. Thank you for your love. See you in paradise. ?? #dawnmabalonisintheheart #todadit #powerpinays #pinayism
Rest in Power to Professora Ate Dr. Dawn Mabalon. It was such an honor to know her. She did incomparable and important work in the community through academia, poetry, and organizing. I will never forget when I first met her, the first thing she told me was, “I’ve been waiting for you.” Since then, she showed me nothing but love and support, often coming out to any event that I was a part of. 3 days ago, I thought I would be able to see her at AAPA’s banquet with @kevinnadal & @ejrdavidphd, so I set aside an “Island Womxn Rise” jacket that I had promised to give to her months ago; I even shouted her out in my first speech that I’ve ever written that night. Ate Dawn, our hearts are heavy and we will miss you, but we will celebrate you and do our best to continue your work. Thank you. My condolensces to her husband (“asawa” as she always lovingly referred to him), her family, friends, colleagues, & ate @pinayism. ? #thisiswhataprofessorlookslike @drmabalon