New Vallejo mural pays tribute city’s Fil-Am history

By Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Oct. 29, 2014

VALLEJO, Calif. – A 60-foot-wide mural depicting the history of Filipinos in Vallejo was created by a renowned Filipino artist and the community.

Vallejo is also home to a rich history of Filipino-Americans since the beginning of the 1900s when a majority of Filipinos came to work at the naval shipyard on Mare Island.

Their work at the shipyard helped in the naval warfare in the Pacific during World War II.

Many of the images on the mural came from the book “Filipinos in Vallejo,” that was authored by Filipino-American National Historic Society National President Mel Orpilla.

“Many of the people who are depicted in this mural are from families that have been here for a long time, “said Orpilla. “So I think for them, it’s an acknowledgement that their fathers, grandfathers, grandparents, great-grandparents have had a significant impact in the culture and society here in Vallejo.”

Community members with and without artistic experience participated in the public painting sessions.

Eliseo Art Silva has created over 80 murals around the country, but this is his first mural in Northern California.

Silva designated the three specific themes in each of the three arches of the wall and it is all related to the historic impact Filipinos had in Vallejo.

“The first panel says, ‘manong’, and I separated it to ‘mano’, like respect,” said Silva. “And then the second one is ‘kabayanihan’, with the ‘ka’, is about heroism, so that’s World War II. And then the third one is ‘kapwa’. Kapwa is shared being, and it talks about the idea of two different generations converging in 1965, the professionals with the old timers who were here before, and they converged to the Delano Grape Strike.”

U.S. Representative Mike Thompson hopes the mural can inspire the Filipino youth, “to be able to look at this mural and to have a real clear understanding of what the past meant, but also what the future brings.”

The mural was only worked on for a total of four days and is 85 percent complete. Silva will complete the remainder of the mural and hopes this will be the first of many Filipino murals for Vallejo and the rest of the Bay Area.

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