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Chin Family Collection

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The Chin Family in India 1968-70

In 1968, Thomas (Tom) Chin and his wife, Dorothy, and their four teenagers, Andrea, Michael, Kimberly and Douglas moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to southeast India. Tom, an engineer with Chevron in Richmond, California, went there as part of a joint American and Indian venture. His job was to help set up and run a chemical fertilizer plant, and to help train Indian nationals to eventually take over the operation themselves.

Dorothy documented their extended stay in India with her super 8 movie camera. She took movies of everyday life of the people in India; trips to vastly different areas of India, including Kashmir and Darjeeling; and school life of the Chin children at Kodaikanal, an American missionary boarding school in south India. The family members all felt that their one or two year experience of living in India helped them gain a larger world perspective and an appreciation for other cultures.

Home Movies

Bohulano Family Collection

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Bohulano Family Collection

“My family’s history is inextricably linked with the history of Filipinas/os in Stockton, California. My maternal grandfather, Delfin Paderes Bohulano, immigrated to San Francisco from Kalibo, Aklan Province, Philippines in 1929 and worked all over the West Coast. During World War II, he met and married my grandmother Concepcion Moreno in Palompon, Leyte, when he was fighting with the First Filipino Infantry Regiment, and where my Cebu City raised grandmother and her family were finding refuge on their ancestral land. After the war, my grandparents attended college in the Philippines in the GI Bill and had two children, Delfin Jr. and my mother Christine. My grandfather brought his young family back to California in 1952 and found work as a labor contractor in rural Tracy, 20 miles south of Stockton. Two daughters, Virginia and Adeline, were born in Tracy. My grandmother Concepcion worked in the fields, as the camp cook for my grandfather’s workers, in local canneries, and in 1962, was hired as the first Filipina American teacher for the Tracy Unified School District. My grandparents purchased a home in South Stockton in 1955, using the Veteran’s loan program. My family’s home movies, which date to the mid-1950s, record the many family gatherings my grandparents hosted in their South Stockton home as their extended family grew with increased postwar immigration and the baby boom and with marriages of my mother and her siblings, weekends visiting friends in San Diego, Salinas, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and important family events and parties. My grandparents were also very involved in the local Filipino American community, including the building of Stockton’s Filipino Center in the early 1970s. The movies in the 1960s and 1970s record community events, family gatherings, weddings, baby and wedding showers, trips to New York and Washington, D.C., and Atlantic city, my family’s emotional return visit to the Philippines in 1967, the funerals and family gatherings of my grandfather Delfin in 1976 and my grandmother’s brother the same year in the Philippines, and the births and childhoods (and dance recitals!) of the third generation in the 1970s.”

– Dawn Bohulano Mabalon

Links to Source Footage

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Conversation with Mark Decena, Writer and Director of “The War Inside.”

The War Inside is Decena’s intimate reflection on his early life, personally narrated to footage from his family’s home movie collection. It is a complex story about his parents’ painful separation, his Japanese mother’s strong will to raise three boys alone, and the negative feelings he had towards his Filipino half; a result of his parents’ divorce.

Originally commissioned as a live performance for the closing night of CAAMFest 2013, “The War Inside” marked the official public launch of the Memories to Light initiative and is the first of many commissioned works to come. It has only been performed one other time at the Asian Art Museum in August of 2013 for Memories to Light: Asian America Home Movies Night. If you missed it, you can see the official online version that Decena and his assistant editor at Kontent Films, Blake Everhart, put together just for the Memories to Light website.

Program Manager Davin Agatep, who also composed original music for The War Inside, recently had a conversation with Mark about the film and what it was like to make something so personal.

Davin: When Stephen [Gong] and I first met with you at the CAAM office, we told you it was just to discuss the Memories to Light trailer. At the end of the conversation, we brought up the idea of you doing a full length program at CAAMFest using the home movies. Considering the time frame, which by that point was very close to festival, what was your reaction?

Mark: I think I was a little bit hesitant because I didn’t know what I was going to do. Would it include all the home movies in the archive? I think that’s what you guys might have expected. But when I finally located my own personal home movies, I realized that we had a ton of footage that spanned a good amount of time and could tell a personal story that had been mulling around in my head for quite sometime. Even though I’m not really a fan of personal documentaries… this was a perfect excuse to do one.

Davin: How did you tell your parents ahead of time that you were going to do this? Did you have to ask for their permission?

Mark: I think I bamboozled them a little bit (laughter). I did ask their permission about putting the films into the archives…it can be a very touchy subject to have personal films put online for everyone to see but I explained the vision of the Memories to Light archive which is to share the Asian American experience and let people see other stories and in turn reflect on their own experiences of being Asian American. They were open to that. They had never seen the movies themselves…they were partially excited to just see the films. I didn’t necessarily tell them though what I was going to do with this project. In a way I wanted them to experience it at the event…the closing night film at CAAMFest.

Davin: Was it weird to have Blake [Everhart, assistant editor at Kontent], someone that you have a professional relationship with, look through your personal footage?

Mark: Yeah, what was even stranger was that… Blake edits – we have a small office and he edits out in the open, we don’t have an editing suite for him – so he was looking at the footage and in essence, everyone [in the Kontent office] was looking at me running around in my diapers.  Blake is an amazing talent, he was able to take all the footage and with the script, create a first cut that was pretty close to what we ended up screening.

Davin: What do you remember about the performance at CAAMFest 2013?

Mark: It was nerve-wracking! I knew that there weren’t going to be that many people I knew…I knew that my entire family was there: my brothers, my wife, my kids, both of my parents. Probably I was most nervous about my dad seeing the piece. It might cast some light on him that may not be flattering. I saw my dad after the film and he was a bit shaken up. He actually went into the hospital the next day, I don’t know if it was related or not. It may have stressed him out. One interesting thing is that we went to Japantown right afterwards and my mom who had never met his second wife, they actually came face-to-face in Japantown. They didn’t actually meet, but they saw each other. Small steps…

Davin: Would you do something like this again?

Mark: No! (laughter) You know… I don’t know. I’m definitely more of a behind the scenes, behind the camera kind of a person.

Davin: So a lot of this was really out of your comfort zone. You’re performing when you’re actually more of an introvert and talking about your personal life in front of your family and an entire audience!

Mark: Yeah what the hell was I thinking? (laughter) I guess I saw it as an opportunity to feed my compulsion to get out of my comfort zone.

Do you have a home movie for the Memories to Light project? Submit online here!

Watch: The War Inside