Family, friends, colleagues and mentees gathered in the Annex 1 building of SF State to honor the beautiful life of Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon. The celebration that took place on Oct. 6 highlighted the triumphs of the beloved professor who passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 10.
The lively event was accompanied by DJs, speakers, performances and home-cooked Filipino food that Bohulano adored so much. Organizations Bohulano helped establish were also participants of the event.
The theme of the event was to embrace and spotlight all the great memories that Bohulano had given to her friends and family members, as well as a remembrance of all the great accomplishments she delivered to the Filipino community.
“I think that Filipino-American history, as it is today, wouldn’t be what it is without her,” said her best friend Olivia Malabuyo Tablante as her eyes began to water. A “modern day Jesus” is what Malabuyo liked to call her best friend.
The late Bohulano worked hard when it came to her activism work towards the Filipino community. She was seen as a leader among her people, and the celebration of her life shed some light on all the incredible accomplishments she achieved in her lifetime.
One of her greatest achievements was the preservation of Little Manila, a historic landmark in the city of Stockton that Bohulano helped save.
“Dawn helped cofound our organization, Little Manila Rising, formally known as Little Manila Foundation. We wanted to make sure that a piece of Stockton was present here at her memorial,” said Elaine Barut, a volunteer with Little Manila Rising.
Her leadership roles in the organization made her a role model for younger girls who saw her as a mentor.
“She was inspiring, powerful Pinay to the youth. Especially the young girls in our program. She influenced me to do the work that I do with Little Manila Rising,” Barut said.
Amid the celebration, tears and subtle somberness filled the air. When Boholano’s family came on stage, emotions ran high. Standing on stage with “Dawn Mabalon is in the heart” projected in the back, and on their shirts, her family shared their fondest memories of the living prodigy Boholano was.
Her sister, niece, nephew, mom and husband all gave us insight on Boholanos’ life while on stage. Her husband read from her book “Little Manila is in the Heart,” that touched many of the people in attendance.
Riana Youngken, a member of the Pinoy Educational Partnership at SF State, paid her respects to the late Boholano at the event. “I personally have felt impacted by the work that she has done to preserve Filipino-American history,” she said.
From a classified genius to a lovable person, Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon will be missed dearly by those closest to her and even the ones who didn’t know her personally. Her legacy will continue to inspire the youth to give a voice to the voiceless.
“I think it is very necessary to see women like her because she just really broke the mold in many different ways of being a brown woman in her field. It’s important to see her face as a representative of Filipino-Americans,” Youngken said.