SF State is celebrating the influence and hard work of Filipina faculty in highlighting their own culture and history through literature.
The late SF State history professor Dr. Dawn Mabalon will always be remembered for her inspiring words and her movement towards Filipino culture.
Through her books and teaching, Mabalon created an atmosphere for acknowledgement on filipino studies.
Since her passing in August 2018, Mabalon’s book “Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong,” has gone on to inspire many with a 15-city book tour.
The book is the first nonfiction illustrated children’s book about Filipino history and has been recognized for its groundbreaking portrayal of Filipino migration.
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, assistant professor of sociology Dr. Valerie Francisco-Menchavez was joined by cinema studies professor Celine Shimizu and Asian American studies professor Allyson Cubales at an event titled “Book Salon for The Labor of Care: Filipina Migrants and Transnational Families.”
The event was held at the J. Paul Leonard Library and hosted by the sociology and sexual studies department. Guests gathered at 6 p.m. to remember Professor Mabalon’s spirit, literature and influence, and to celebrate Dr. Francisco-Menchavez’ newly published research, “The Labor of Care: Filipina Migrants and Transnational Families in the Digital Age.”
Dr. Francisco-Menchavez has been recognized previously for her advocacy work when she was awarded the 2015 Pacific Sociological Association’s Distinguished Contribution to Sociological Praxis Award and was named one of the top 10 scholars for the New England Resource Center for Higher Education.
The event, in memorial of Mabalon, began with a video of Mabalon speaking to a reporter about her graduation from UC Berkeley and how she became interested in Asian American studies. The video, only lasting for about five minutes, moved the audience and filled the room with the comfort of her words.
At the conclusion of the video, Dr. Francisco-Menchavez, Shimizu and Cubales spoke about how appreciative they were of Mabalon and how much she inspired them.
Shimizu displayed emotion at how much time and friendship she shared with Mabalon, going to UCLA with her.
“[Mabalon] sang with all the singers at the Filipino graduation, we were with her all the time, going to make a movie, and she even wrote me on Instagram saying ‘I’m so glad we get to do this together,’” Shimizu said.
At the event, Cubales also shared her memories of friendship with Mabalon. Cubales received her Ph.D. from UCLA and her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley. Cubales spoke about the friendship and compassion between her, Mabalon, and Shimizu.
At the event, Dr. Francisco-Menchavez spoke much about how she was introduced to her passion in Filipino studies, why she pursued this field, and how Mabalon influenced her.
“When I went to UCLA, I took ethnic studies, Filipino-American studies and Asian-American studies, and suddenly my childhood and my family and community was put into proper context and it made sense,” Mabalon said in the film clip showed at the event.
Dr. Francisco-Menchavez describes while Mabalon discovered much about her culture, Mabalon found that there was much missing.
“At the same time there was so much missing, I felt, from what I was learning at UCLA in Filipino American history and Filipino American studies,” Mabalon said in the clip. “There were so many stories that I felt weren’t being told.”
Dr. Francisco-Menchavez went on to compile some of these histories with focuses on topics like Filipino gender politics. She feels powerful in how she has aligned with other women in the Filipino culture and given them a voice to share their histories.
“I was so fortunate to learn and gather so many stories that hadn’t been told yet,” said Dr. Francisco-Menchavez.
The ceremony was filled with harmony and remembrance for Mabalon. Guests honored her and thanked her partner Jesus Gonzalez for being by her side with flowers and words.
“Thank you Professor Mabalon for your laughter, and compassion, and friendship. We will always miss you,” Shimizu concluded.