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05/27/23 CHCP AAPI Heritage Month Celebration

May 28, 2023 5:30 PM | Elyse Wong (Administrator)

By Gerrye Wong, CHCP Co-Founder and Trustee

Under a beautiful California sunny day, CHCP welcomed visitors to an afternoon of cultural dances, singing, entertainment, tours and exhibits at History Park San Jose to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Amidst booming drum beats, the program started with the Rising Phoenix Dragon Team rallying the audience to follow it in a parade to first stop and bless the Japanese Friendship Garden, march on to the Viet Museum, and return In a flurry of intricate movements to the front of the Chinese American Historical Museum (CAHM). There it entered CAHM with wild fanfare to bless the site, greet the museum’s Lion Head exhibit with ferocious fervor, and then return to the outdoor front stage to whirl around the audience outside to the delight of the children in attendance. In true Chinese tradition, a red lai see (money-filled envelope) was placed in the dragon’s mouth in thankfulness for its visit. CHCP Director Mike Mak, CHCP President Dave Yick and CHCP Co-Founder Gerrye Wong opened the program, welcoming all and stressing the importance of acknowledging and showcasing the many Asian cultures which now inhabit our Santa Clara County.

San Jose City Councilman Bien Doan, who represents District 7 where our museum is located, also encouraged the audience to think about the future of our Asian American community, and stressed we must all work together to proudly share the many aspects of our culture and history that is being shown today by CHCP. The amiable and friendly young Councilman Doan cited that since this is the first time an AAPI festival event has happened here, he in his council capacity hopes to bring city support in the future for an even bigger event during next year’s AAPI Heritage Month.

Rising Phoenix Dragon at Japanese Friendship Garden Rising Phoenix Dragon greets Lion Head Exhibit inside CAHM Rising Phoenix Dragon Team outside CAHM

Rising Phoenix Dragon visits Viet Museum Memorial Rising Phoenix Dragon, CHCP Members, and SJ Councilman Doan

As people streamed in and out of the Chinese and Vietnamese museums, ongoing entertainment was enjoyed by the audience outside. The Silver Creek High School Polynesian Dance Club members put on a thrilling Hawaiian dance routine, followed by the Northeastern Art Troupe lovely ladies, clad in the traditional Vietnamese ao dai dress, who performed a Vietnamese dance. The beautiful ladies of the Silver Creek High School Filipino Club performed in front of the museum next.

Silver Creek High School Polynesian Dance Club Northeastern Art Troupe Dancers Silver Creek High School Filipino Club Dancers

The concluding act was the Golden Turtle Lion Dance Association performing in the open air setting with swift and harrowing moves on platforms and each others' shoulders. The intricacies of Chinese Lion Dancing takes many hours of practice by the young members of this troupe, and this Golden Turtle troupe performance thrilled the audience at the festival. It was heartwarming to hear from so many that they knew nothing of Chinese American contributions to the making of the Transcontinental railroad and contributions during WWII, until coming to our museum. These topics were shown in banners lining the walls in our second story area, on loan from the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA) in San Francisco. Also shown that day was a CHSA virtual exhibit titled "Towards Equality: California’s Chinese American Women."

Golden Turtle Lion Dancers Towards Equality: Chinese American Women Virtual Exhibit CHSA Transcontinental Railroad Worker Exhibit

Historic Altar on 2nd floor of CAHMCHCP Board members Edith Gong, Debbie Gong-Guy and Brenda Wong happily greeted over 200 visitors to the museum where people learned about the history of the first four Chinatowns that had been mysteriously burned down during the late 1800s. Although culprits were never found or prosecuted, the anti-Chinese hate violence was evident and a safer community called Heinlenville was eventually established with a wall encircling it for safety against intruders. Many of the original pieces from this Chinatown are displayed in the CAHM including the ornate gold leaf altar, which is considered the largest historic altar on display in a public venue in the United States. Thankfully CHCP had it restored for the opening of this museum in 1991 and has since been seen by thousands of school children on tours, many of which CHCP has funded when school money for tours was not available in low income schools.

Thank you to CHCP for carrying on the mission to bring Asian American culture through music, dance, and dragon and lion performances at this event. New members are always welcome to join this fine group of dedicated CHCP volunteers, so contact the organization if you believe in its mission and would like to help further its cause with future events.  If you missed attending this AAPI celebration, hopefully the photos will encourage you to join in the next CHCP upcoming event.  Hope to see you there.

Museum Address:

History Park
635 Phelan Avenue
San Jose, CA 95112

In Ng Shing Gung Building

Mailing Address:

PO Box 5366
San Jose, CA 95150-5366

Email: info@chcp.org

Chinese Historical & Cultural Project

CHCP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to providing an environment that is free from discrimination due to race, color, religion, creed, national origin, ancestry, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or age.

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