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California names highway after Alice Peña Bulos, the ‘godmother of Filipino American politics’

A 4-mile stretch of highway in the San Francisco Bay Area is now named after the late civil rights activist.
The Daly City Council held a sign unveiling ceremony on July 16, 2022, to rename a section of California State Route 35 in honor of Alice Pena Bulos.
The Daly City Council held a sign unveiling ceremony on Saturday to rename a section of California State Route 35 in honor of Alice Peña Bulos. City of Daly City

A California highway in the San Francisco Bay Area now bears the name of late Filipina civil rights activist Alice Peña Bulos, known as the “godmother of Filipino American politics.” 

Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who sponsored the resolution to rename a portion of State Route 35 in Bulos’ honor, shared the unveiling of the highway signs in Daly City, just south of San Francisco, on Saturday. The Alice Peña Bulos Memorial Freeway will cover approximately 4 miles, according to the resolution, which passed in 2020.

The Daly City government also announced the unveiling on Facebook.

“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,” the bill said. She “opened her South San Francisco home to anyone seeking counsel and assisted community members in gaining knowledge about political empowerment, domestic violence, health care, and the United States residency application process, to name a few.”

Bulos was born on March 31, 1930, in the Philippines, according to Ting. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social and behavioral science. She started her career as a sociology professor at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, where she eventually became the department’s chair before moving to California in 1972.

Bulos, credited as a prominent figure in the Filipino American community, advocated for the rights of Filipino World War II veterans and represented California at the Democratic National Convention five times.

She served on the Filipino American Caucus for the California Democratic Party, the National Filipino Women’s Network and the National Asian Pacific Democratic Council, the news release said. 

Bulos was named Woman Warrior of the Year by the Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area Coalition in 1987 and was inducted into the San Mateo County Women’s Hall of Fame in 1988.

She made history as the first Filipino American appointed by a sitting U.S. president to a federal council after joining the Federal Council on Aging during the Clinton administration in 1993. She was also a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in 1995. 

“She unified Filipino American politics, understanding how powerful the collective voice could be in advocating for the community,” then-San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement when Bulos died in 2016, at age 86. “She made raising that voice easier through the Filipino American Grassroots Movement, a voter registration drive to bring more Filipinos into the political process.” He called her the “Grand Dame of Filipino American Politics.”