Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Text from the Office of California Assemblyman Member Juan Arambula

Throughout the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, Southeast Asians were courageous allies of the U.S. in the struggle against the spread of communism. For example, many Hmong, Lao, and Mien people were actively recruited and trained by the Central Intelligence Agency to take up arms against the communist regime in support of the United States’ national security objectives in what is known as the "Secret Army" in Laos.

Throughout the course of the Vietnam War and its aftermath, thousands of Southeast Asian men, women, and children from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos died while supporting the United States’ effort to contain the spread of communism.

In 1975, after the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, many Southeast Asians, such as the Hmong, Mien, Lao, Cambodian and Vietnamese, faced life-threatening hardship and oppression, forcing them to leave their homes as refugees.

Southeast Asian communities are now spread around the world, including the U.S. where the Hmong, Lao, and Mien have significant communities in California; the largest concentration of Vietnamese are in California and Texas; and large numbers of Cambodian refugees reside in California and Massachusetts.

Southeast Asians should be recognized for their valuable contributions to the cultural, civic, and economic well-being of California. Students need to be taught about the sacrifices groups have made to ensure the security and prosperity of the U.S.

Current law classifies instruction in social sciences to include the role and contributions of men, women and ethnic groups to the development of California and the United States. Instruction also emphasizes on portraying the role of these groups in current society.

AB 78 (Reyes, Chapter 44, Statutes of 2003) encouraged instruction on the ‘‘Secret War’’ in Laos and the role of Southeast Asians in that war. AB 2064 would go further and require the State Board of Education to adopt textbooks and instructional materials to comply with AB 78.

CA has benefited immensely from the cultural richness and patriotism of the Southeast Asian community, including contributions from a growing group of economic, political, and civic leaders.

AB 2064 would require the State Board of Education and the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission to adopt textbooks and instructional materials to include instruction on the Vietnam War.

Specifically, this bill requires textbooks and instruction materials to include the "Secret War" in Laos, the role of Southeast Asians in that war, and the refugee/immigrant/new American experience as a result of the war. This curriculum would be adopted in the next submission cycle.

The curriculum framework development and adoption of instructional materials was last made in 2005. The framework evaluation criteria cycle will begin in 2009 with the next adoption cycle in 2011.

Center for Language Minority Education and Research
Central California Forum on Refugee Affairs
CSU, Sacramento Division of Social Work
Fresno Center for New Americans
Fresno City Councilmember Blong Xiong
Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea
Fresno Unified School District
Hmong National Development, Inc.
Kings Canyon Unified School District
Lao Iu Mien Culture Association
Lao Veterans of America Institute
Law Offices of Paul C. Lo
National Association for the Education and Advancement of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans
Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance
Sacramento Lao Family Community
San Jose City Councilmember, Madison Nguyen
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Stone Soup Fresno
86 Individuals

None on file

California Assembly Bill 2064: Vietnam War Curriculum

For those of us who have been frustrated by the lack of Vietnamese American voices in Vietnam War textbooks and school curriculum, this is an excellent opportunity to get our stories told in California schools. In the next several months the California Board of Education is working to update the History-Social Science Framework for California public schools. Bill AB2064 was introduced by California Assemblyman Arambula (co-authored by Senator Lou Correa of Los Angeles) requiring ""the State Board of Education (SBE) and the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (the Curriculum Commission) to ensure that the history/social science framework, evaluation criteria, and instruction materials include the 'Secret War' in Laos, the role of Southeast Asians in the war, and the refugee/immigrant/new American experience."

As of yesterday, Assembly Bill 2064: Vietnam War Curriculum passed the Assembly Floor 59-14. Now AB 2064 is off to the Senate.

For more information about the bill go to:
Type in bill number AB2064 and click search.
Or contact Assembly member Juan Arambula office:
2550 Mariposa Mall, Room 5031
Fresno, CA 93721
Phone: (559) 445-5532
Fax: (559) 445-6006
Mariana Corona at (916) 319-2131 or Sarah Reyes in the district office at (559) 445-5532.

In next week or so, there are several public focus group meetings for the History-Social Science Framework in different cities. I encourage you to attend these meetings. Here are the schedule and places.

* May 30, 2008: Santa Clara County Office of Education

* June 5, 2008: Los Angeles County Office of Education

* June 6, 2008: San Diego County Office of Education

Please go here for more information about the focus groups and curriculum frameworks:

I created an online group for our campaign to get our stories told in schools.
Please join this group by sending an email to to stay inform, post comments, network and exchange ideas. There are also information you can download about the bill and California Board of Education's curriculum framework.

EDUCATORS!!! Please apply for a Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) position. The CFCC plays a very significant role in the framework adoption process. They bring a voice from an area of expertise while providing input into the initial writing of the draft framework. Join the online group to download the application or send me an email at If you are not in the education field please pass it on to those who would qualify.

Sincerely thank you.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Denver, Colorado

Termed as the Napa Valley of Beer, this quaint and eco-friendly town hosted my visit for three days as I and Bolinao 52 attended the NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers) Doing Your Doc Workshop. Performed as a case study for the participants, B52 was observed by approximately 20 people at the Rocky Mountain PBS. Some of the workshop attendees came from out of state. Most engaged in a documentary project of their own, while some came to get an exposure to the trade.

The main draw was Fernanda Rossi, the self-proclaimed Documentary Doctor. A story consultant on story structure and fund-raising trailers, Fernanda assisted filmmakers when they got stuck. She held workshops, panels and consultations regularly throughout the country. She also wrote books and columns for magazines. (

I took the opportunity to tour Denver on a beautiful Saturday. Haven't been to this city before, I decided to do a tour starting from the Cherry Creek area to downtown on foot. That was about 10 miles. Denver is a city built for bicyclists and outdoor enthusiasts, there were bike trials and city parks all over. Ahh, and the architectures around the city. Magnificient!! Unlike LA where public arts, graffiti and slums are assembled in clumps, Denver carries a blend of an old European town and a modern cosmopolitan. Well, why don't I just put up some photos and let you be a judge yourself.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Comments from Audience

Anh Duc men,
Cam on anh that nhieu da lam phim BOLINAO 52 va chieu tat Cal campus toi hom qua. Toi rat thich phim cua anh. Day la vet thuong lon cua dan toc Viet Nam noi chung va cua nhung thuyen nhan noi rieng ma chua co ai noi len bang nhung phuong tien truyen thong dai chung trong ca mot thoi gian dai vua qua tu sau 1975. Phan vi co the doi voi nhieu nguoi vet thuong nay van con mang mu va ruom mau; phan vi nhieu nan nhan cua minh chua duoc giup do de chua lanh, co tinh chuyen nghiep hon. Co le minh chua co du nhung chuyen vien tam ly co the hieu van hoa, tieng noi va cam nghiem duoc nhung kinh nghiem ma thuyen nhan da di qua nen rat kho de giup thuyen nhan vuot qua nhung kinh nghiem dau thuong nay. Phim cua anh phan nao da noi cho dai chung, hay co the giup cho cac chuyen vien tam ly My hieu phan nao ve kinh nghiem thuyen nhan. Dong thoi toi tin chac la phim nay co the giup nhieu nguoi voi di nhung dau kho va chua lanh chinh ho, nhung kinh nghiem hai hung ma ho da trai qua ma ho danh chon giau bay lau nay.
Mot lan nua cam on anh va tan duong anh vi tam hon cao quy cua anh muon chia se nhung tai nang anh co cho mot viec lam rat huu ich nay.
Chuc anh thanh cong trong phim ke tiep.
Binh an,
Pham Duc Hanh

Dear Duc,
Thank you very much for making BOLINAO 52 and the last night screening at Cal [UC Berkeley]. I appreciate your film. This topic represents a large wound for the Vietnamese in general and more specifically to the Vietnamese boat people refugee experiences that have not been spoken through the public broadcast system during a long awaiting period since 1975. Partly, because these wounds are still fresh, partly because they haven’t been helped to heal properly. Perhaps we don’t have enough professionals who can understand the culture, language communication; and at the same time share the experience as boat people to help the refugees through this painful healing process. Your film mostly has spoken to the general public and to the American psyche in particular to help them understand about the Vietnamese boat people experience. At the same time, I believe this film would help many people with the same wound that have not fully nursed through the difficult time they endured who chose to remain silent for many years. One more time, I would like to thank and congratulate you on using your spirit and talent to share this valuable story to the public.
Wishing you much success on your future endeavor.


Your film was beautifully done. Although it was based on a tragedy, the viewer is left feeling a sense of hope that some good still prevailed and some justice was accomplished in spite of it all. Other documentaries on the same subject left me feeling very bad, but yours was more uplifting. What a strange twist of fate that the poor, starving refugee boy grew up to be a strong, solid American Marine! We never know what life has in store for us, do we?

Kieu Lien

I happened to turn on the tv today and was able to catch part of the documentary, I thought it was really well made.
The authentic pictures and videos, the views from both a refugee and a marine~~
It's very touching even though it's hard to listen to this kind of story. My parents were boat people, and my mom used to tell us stories of how "life" was on the boat, but I think I was too young to really grasp the gravity of the situation.


I watched Bolinao 52 last week, it was an incredibly interesting and moving documentary. No one ever told me their stories about leaving Vietnam so I never had a chance to know how hard it could be. Thank you and congratulations for making that part of Vietnam's history known to others.