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New Digital Video Collection Documents Plight of Vietnamese Boat People

b52The Department of Special Collections & Archives' Southeast Asian Archive has acquired original digital video footage and transcripts for Duc Nguyen's film Bolinao 52, a moving and remarkable story of a group of Vietnamese refugees, or "boat people," who escaped Vietnam by sea in small, often unsafe boats after the fall of Saigon in 1975.

Bolinao 52 tells the story of the 110 refugees who boarded a crowded boat one night in May 1988. Soon after leaving Vietnam, the boat's engine died. They were ignored by over 20 passing ships. Nineteen days later, the USS Dubuque stopped, but the ship's captain refused to pick up the dying refugees. Facing death, they resorted to cannibalism. After an unimaginable 37 days at sea, only 52 people survived. Finally, humble fishermen rescued and brought them to a town called Bolinao, Philippines.

Seventeen years later, a survivor, Tung Trinh, came forward with her side of the Bolinao 52 story. Duc Nguyen's film weaves together the narratives of Tung Trinh, her son Lam Phan, USS Dubuque witness William E. Cloonan, and fisherman and rescuer Carlos Cagusaan. Director and producer Duc Nguyen is a documentary filmmaker and former Vietnamese refugee who was himself rescued as a child in 1980 from the South China Sea.

The entire collection of original video footage and transcripts are available online at UCISpace @ the Libraries. Additional information about the film may be found at http://www.bolinao52.com/.

The Southeast Asian Archive of the University of California, Irvine Libraries has as its sole focus the documentation of the refugees and immigrants from the former Indochina - Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam - who have resettled in the United States since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

For more about the Southeast Asian Archive, please visit http://seaa.lib.uci.edu/. For more information, please contact Michelle Light, Head of Special Collections, Archives, and Digital Scholarship (x47193 or michelle.light@uci.edu).


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