The exhibit is now open to the public (complimentary/no charge), weekdays – Mondays through Fridays, 9:00am to 5:00pm at the Kalayaan Hall at the Philippine Consulate at 447 Sutter Street in San Francisco and will run through November 11, 2016.
Tuesday, October 18 was the official grand opening of the “Tiempo Russo Tubabao Island” exhibit, dedicated to the 65th year commemorating the arrival of the last ships from the White Russian refugee camp on the Philippine Island of Tubabao to the United States. This marked the end of the long-awaited 2 year stay on the island awaiting permanent residency for the near 6000 refugees. The first three ships in 1949 took a large portion of the refugees to Australia, and other countries, such as South America. The last three ships, thanks to the prayers of Saint Archbishop John of Shanghai & San Francisco, and the support of Senator William F. Knowland to change the Displaced Person’s Act, the remainder of the refugees were able to come to America. Only a handful remained, 27 of the patients with TB, who were later received by France.
This exhibit was organized by the Congress of Russian Americans and dedicated to St.John of Shanghai & San Francisco, Colonel Gregory K. Bologoff, who persevered and wrote letters to governments of hundreds of countries to have all the White Russians saved from capture, torture and death at the hands of the Chinese communists in 1949, and to President Elpidio Quirino, president of the newly-formed Philippine republic, who allowed all 6000 to have temporary refuge, until a permanent country could be found and to the thousands of Russians who preserved the Russian language, culture, and spiritual heritage at a time of crisis, uncertainty and adversity.
At the exhibit opening, Consul General of the Russian Federation, Sergey Petrov and Consul General of the Philippines, Henry Bensurto cut the ribbon to open the exhibit. Natalie Sabelnik, CRA President thanked the sponsors of the event, and the many organizations and people that shared their photos, documents, material, many of them never-before-seen, for the exhibit. Special guests included Bishop Theodosy of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROCOR), grandson of President, Elpidio Quirino, namesake, Elpidio Quirino II, members of the Bologoff family, Bonnie Bologoff, wife of Kyrill G. Bologoff (son of G.K. Bologoff) and Bologoff’s grandchildren, Cheryl Bologoff Holmes and Gregory K. Bologoff (also namesake of his grandfather) and his wife, Valerie. Also, attending the opening reception was Irene Cerelli, granddaughter of Alexander Karamzin, the famed artist (one of his paintings was used for the exhibit invitation flyers), who not only had a large collection of paintings of life in Tubabao, but also painted the icons of the iconostasis of the cathedral in Tubabao (the icons are now at the Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco). The Philippine Consulate will be hosting another reception for the former Tubabao camp residents on October 24.
Come and see their life in the camp in photos, documents, material depicting their story of departure from China, arrival in the Philippines, building the camp, the everyday struggles, standing in lines daily for water or food, their cultural, social and spiritual life, the numerous documents to be filled out before they could get clearance and visas for departure and the US military sea transportation services that brought them to the US.
The exhibit is prepared and presented by the Congress of Russian Americans with the support of the Philippine & Russian Consulates
and sponsored in part by St.John’s Volunteers-Brookside Skilled Nursing Hospital, Russian American Women’s League, Russian Center SF,
Karen Varnhagen/Morgan Stanley, All Cossacks Union SF and Russian Connections/Always Travel
Special thanks to the Museum of Russian Culture SF for their extensive photo collection, to the President Elpidio Quirino Foundation, to the Russian Historical Society in Australia,
and to the many former Tubabao residents that sent their treasured collections of photos, documents and material!