Community leaders are celebrating recent good news for a change, calling it a welcome recognition for Asian American contributions to the nation.
The good news: California has renamed a major highway after the late Filipino American civil rights advocate Alice Peña Bulos.
Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, just south of San Francisco, the Alice Peña Bulos Memorial Freeway covers 4 miles of State Road 35 and passes through Daly City.
Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) tweeted that he sponsored the resolution renaming the highway. His resolution noted that “Alice Peña Bulos served four decades empowering minorities and underrepresented groups of all ages from every background within her own community and throughout the world.”
Remarked Jon Melegrito, himself a leading civil rights advocate in the community: “I had the rare honor of meeting Alice Bulos and being inspired by her fiery spirit of community empowerment. This tribute to her proud legacy is the least America can do to recognize her valuable contributions and thank her for a remarkable service.”
Bulos made history as the first Filipino American appointed by a sitting U.S. president to a federal council, the Federal Council on Aging during the Clinton administration in 1993, according to an NBC report by Brahmjot Kaur. The Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area Coalition named her Woman Warrior of the Year in 1987.
The Daly City Council in San Francisco held a sign unveiling ceremony on July 16, declaring it was “in recognition of Alice Peña Bulos for her four decades of dedicated public service to residents of Daly City, throughout San Mateo County, and across the world.”
Assemblymember Ting tweeted about the unveiling ceremony: “Excited to see an #AAPI leader’s contributions celebrated. In 2020, I authored #ACR165, designating part of State Road 35/Skyline Blvd thru Daly City as the Alice Pena Bulos Memorial Fwy to honor a local Filipina American trailblazer. The signs are now up!”
The resolution, which passed in 2020, noted that “Alice Peña Bulos served four decades empowering minorities and underrepresented groups of all ages from every background within her own community and throughout the world.”
Bulos opened the door of her South San Francisco home to anyone seeking help and guidance, sharing her knowledge “about political empowerment, domestic violence, health care, and the United States residency application process, to name a few,” according to the NBC report. Bulos passed away in 2016 at age 86.
The NBC story reported that when Bulos passed away, then San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee paid tribute to her role in unifying Filipino Americans, realizing “how powerful the collective voice could be” in advocating for the community, through the grassroots movement and a voter registration drive. He called her the “godmother of Filipino American politics.”
Brendan Flores, Chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), expressed the nation’s debt of gratitude to Bulos, and thanked California for the recognition.
He said in an email: “We are grateful for incredibly dedicated activists, such as Alice Peña Bulos, who have paved the way in promoting civil rights for Filipino Americans, other Asian Americans, and women here in the United States.”
The NAFFAA leader said Bulos promoted Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), the Filipino American community, and other advocacy organizations. She was an activist who fought for the rights of minorities, Filipino World War II veterans, underrepresented groups, and women’s rights.
He added: “There is still much more history to make, but we are better off because of those who have set forth this journey for us. Congratulations to those who were integrally involved in the honor!”