Skyline College/North San Mateo County Oral History Archives, Skyline College Library
Student project for LSCI 110 – Digital Oral Research Project, Skyline College

  Actionists Returning Vallejo to Their Roots: Mel and Belle Orpilla

Click here to read to read the research essay, “Return from the Dark side”, by Stefanie Nuez Beran

Click on the links below to hear audio segments from an October 30th  2005 interview
Stefanie Nuez Beran with Mel and Bell Orpilla.



Mel and Belle Orpilla


Table of Contents:

1. Belle’s Past

2. Mel’s Past

3. Mel and Belle Together

4. PYC Vallejo and working with Young People

5. Mel and Bell’s Views

6. History, Colonial Mentality, and Education

7. Filipino Culture: Then and Now

8. Community and Politics

9. We had Fun



Belle’s Past

This section is about Belle and her expirences growing up in a traditional Filipino family.

Were you born in America?
(47 KB)

How did you view Filipinos while you were growing up? (82 KB)

Did your parents have a specific career they wanted you to go to? (398 KB)




Belle is presenting a congratulatory certificate to Pastor Jalapit
of the United Christ Church OF Vallejo. (UCCV)


Back to Table of Contents



Mel’s Past

Mel is the third generation born and raised in Vallejo. His expirence growing up is the polar opposite of Belle’s expirence.  A lot of what he talks about is drawn from his teen years.


Have you ever been faced with discrimination? (459 KB)

How was it like growing up? (182 KB)

NO CLUBS! What did you do to try to fit in? (186 KB)
What was the grant you wrote for Vallejo and what is it about?
(404 KB)
Why did you publish this grant?  (392 KB)

How was it like being a teen dad? (203 KB)

What made you change? (186 KB)

How did you get into Sac State?  (295 KB)

How did your parents feel about college?   (360 KB)

Back to Table of Contents




Mel and Belle Together

Getting together, falling in love and you know the rest.

          How did you two meet?  (287 KB)

          Mel: “I had to decolonize her from her parents.” (298 KB)

            Their role models (418 KB)

            What do they get out of community work (275 KB)



Mel and Belle’s Wedding 1994

Mel’s Sons starting Left:

Tony and Jake



Back to Table of Contents



PYC Vallejo and working with Young People

          This is the Beginings of a Youth Oganization that Mel and Bell started. This section will talk about PYC Vallejo, the young people envolved and issues that can effect the young people.


How did you start PYC and what is it?
 (193 KB) 

How did parents react to PYC? (247 KB)

How does PYC impact the families of the participants? (112 KB)

What makes Project 68 different from other prevention programs? (404 KB)            Sociometrics Project #68 Documents

Are all activist adults? (109 KB)

Mel: “That’s what youth empowerment is.” (125 KB)

How do you get leaders out of PYC? (166 KB)

Belle: “One of the most common struggles…”  (174 KB)

What are your hopes for the future of PYC participants?  (126 KB)

Do you see some participants out side of programs? (155 KB)

Has any participant made an impact on you?  (162 KB)

Are you two going to continue with PYC?  (51 KB)


PYC students using teamwork

to build a pyramid.

PYClinic August 2004




PYC Vallejo’s Home Page


Back to Table of Contents



Mel and Belle’s Views

This is their aphorisoms, take on life and t-shirts?

Defining themselves
(250 KB)

A Couple “On A Mission” (92 KB)

Believing in Yourself (66 KB)

Mentors (85 KB)

Rediscovering Filipino Heritage (193 KB)

Abercrombie & Fitch Shirts   (223 KB)

The Infamous Abercrombie Shirts



Back to Table of Contents


History, Colonial Mentality, and Education


Does not knowing the past affect a persons future? (159 KB)
How can we past on the Filipino American History?
(125 KB)

Do some Filipinos fall under certain character behavior? (233 KB)

Can these Mentalities be dangerous?  (276 KB)

How was your experience with “Elite” Filipinos?  (181 KB)

Do other ethnicities have a colonial mentality? (131 KB)

How deep is colonial mentality? (134 KB)

Is there a cure to colonial mentality? (71 KB)

How do you feel when a Filipino person doesn’t  know about Filipino American History? (155 KB)

Do you think Filipino American History will be included in history books? (442 KB)



(The Forbiden Book page 64)




Back to Table of Contents





Filipino Culture: Then and Now

Belle: “Did you see his tattoo?”
(448 KB)

Have you had conversation with random people about your tattoo? (173 KB)

Do other people see tattoos as art? (96 KB)

When did you get your tattoo? (91 KB)

Do you think the tradition of the debut has been warped like in Ms. Lolan’s story?  (178 KB)          
          Page 10 Of Translating New Brown By Ms. Lolan Buhain Sevilla

I feel so sheltered after hearing your story (337 KB)

Does culture have an effect on someone’s behavior? (71 KB)




The arm on the left has his name in Alibata to Centipede legs.

The arm on the right is the Cordiella Mountian symbol to theBulul.

The Center is Mel with a front view of his tattoos.


Mel’s Tattoo Tribe



Back to Table of Contents



Community and Politics

Do you two feel awkward when seem to be the only Filipinos in a room of people?
 (319 KB)

Belle: “We’re not only in the Filipino circles…” (98 KB)

Do you feel like you need to do more? (94 KB)

Do you see yourselves as an impact to the community? (298 KB)

Belle you’re a field representative, do you know if there are bills involving Filipino Americans? (496 KB)

Belle, why do you think Vallejo is unique? (179 KB)

Mel, you titled a chapter of your book “The Model Filipino Community” why? (404 KB)

Is there a difference to Filipino families in San Francisco and Vallejo? (287 KB)


Mel’s Book



Back to Table of Contents



We Had Fun

I Know that Wooden Fork and Spoon
(31 KB)

Belle: “That’s Old Me!” (51 KB)

Where did her never worn clothes go? (21 KB)

Who doesn’t talk to their family pet? (27 KB)

The Wonders of TEVO Hello Desperate Housewives and Amazing Rice? (203 KB)

Belle: “Put that in your report!” (104KB)






Back to Table of Contents





Image sources:

Bahug Background:

Congratulatory Cirtificate:

Orpilla Family pictures:

PYC Pyramid:

Abercrombie Shirts:



*These audio files may be played with Windows Media Player or Real Player.
To download a free copy of Windows Media Player, click here.
To download a free copy of Real Player, click here

last revised: 12-20-05
by Eric Brenner, Skyline College, San Bruno, CA
These materials may be used for educational purposes if you inform and credit the author and cite the source as: North San Mateo County Oral History Archives, Skyline College Library. All commercial rights are reserved. To contact the coordinator, or send comments or suggestions, email: Eric Brenner at