Younger Fil-Ams tapped to preserve 79-yr-old Boholano group

ALAMEDA, Calif. – It was a night of laughter, dancing, and camaraderie among members of the Bohol Circle and their friends.

It was also a night to reinforce the serious mission to look for new members.

Formed in 1936, the Bohol Circle has served as a support system, education center, and social outlet for many Fil-Ams and their families in the bay area for over 75 years.

And they say that in order to continue serving the Filipino American community there needs to be new members, who do not have to be from Bohol, to learn about Filipino history and culture.

“Being in Bohol Circle, I grew up here. I learned how to sing it visayan. This is where I learned how to dance tinikling,” said Crystal Cajilog, the Bohol Circle secretary. “There’s not that many organic spaces where Filipino Americans can come and learn about their culture from the generation before them. Bohol Circle is one of those rare spaces that it can happen. The history and culture is so rich and it’s an amazing way for us to preserve our culture and to pass it on. Because spaces like this come few and far between and it’s going away.”

Gary Cagaanan, whose father was one of the founding members, says that as new generations of Fil-Ams are assimilating to American culture it is of utmost importance that they uphold their cultural identity through remembering those who came before them.

“I understand the differences between the issues that were of importance of the first generation to the issues of the youngsters who are now facing. I get there’s a difference but there are similarities,” said Cagaanan. “There is still struggle and milestones to be met in all the professions across the board and that’s why it’s important for them to reconnect and retouch with that history so it gives them inspiration to continue to do what they are doing.”

The Bohol Circle also continues to give back to the Philippines especially during the earthquake that happened in Bohol in 2013 the organization was able to raise over a thousand dollars to go towards relief efforts.

While helping their kababayans is of importance – self preservation, especially of their center, is still the goal.

“We’re trying to keep the organization sustainable,” said Cagaanan. “We’re trying to maintain the building. It’s been here since 1964. It’s old now and we’re trying to up keep.”

Other than the building’s renovation, members of the Bohol Circle plan to upgrade their youth program and continue to provide scholarships. They also hope to increase funding for senior members in need of medical assistance.

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