Resident Helps Piedmont Gardens Celebrate Filipino American History Month

Subscribe for Updates

Vangie 2 PG.jpgEvangeline “Vangie” Buell, 84, is a resident at Piedmont Gardens in Oakland, California. Nearly 100 years ago, Buell’s parents came to the United States from the Philippines.

She and her sister grew up on the outskirts of Chinatown around 18th and Adeline streets. At 20 years old, Buell became very interested in advocating for the Filipino American community, as she wanted to share her Filipino culture with fellow Americans. Fast forward 39 years, Buell became the national president of the Filipino American National History Society (FANHS), East Bay chapter. Today, she continues to educate the nation on Filipino American culture in many different ways.

In 2015, the National FANHS, along with Buell, were instrumental in having Congress declare October as Filipino American History Month nationwide. That same year, Buell and FANHS were honored at the White House for their commitment to preserve and educate their fellow American citizens about Filipinos living in the U.S. Buell continues to serve on FAHNS and finds time to promote Filipino American culture at the local level, including with her fellow Piedmont Gardens neighbors.

To help Piedmont Gardens celebrate Filipino American History Month, Buell assisted in creating a special dinner focused on Filipino dishes. In October, residents enjoyed a plethora of Filipino dishes, including pancit, caldereta and lumpia. As a member of Piedmont’s dining committee, Buell has been instrumental in having Piedmont’s dining service regularly offer Filipino dishes.

Besides sharing her Filipino culture, Buell also enjoys celebrating her American heritage, which she has been doing for years through music. She began pursuing her passion for music in the 1950’s when she was first introduced to folk music by her late husband, Ralph Vilas. During the height of the Vietnam War, Buell performed concerts protesting the draft and America’s involvement in the war. For Buell, folk music is a tool for promoting peace and social justice, as well as helping to foster a progressive nation through hardship and trouble.

Her most memorable moment during her 25-year music career came in 1965 when Buell directed and performed a concert sponsored by Berkeley Consumers Co-op with 20 talented guitar students and her daughter Nikki, who was 10 at the time. More than 3,000 people attended the event that was emceed by Lou Gottlieb of the Limeliters.

Buell continues to pursue her music career by performing at Piedmont Gardens and helping to influence and teach people the power of American folk music. In 2014, she started her own music group at Piedmont Gardens—the PG Hootenanny’s Folk Music Group. She serves as the group’s music director and is joined by 12 other Piedmont residents who perform special shows for residents four times a year. The group’s next performance, “We are Family,” will take place in December featuring the group performing with their children.

“It’s important that we teach our youth where we come from and where we’ve been,” Buell says. “This is the only way to foster understanding for one another and take the first steps toward achieving world peace.”

Share This Article


Contact Us

We’d love to hear from you. Here’s how.

Contact Us


Meet our team and learn more about our community.

About Us