Cynthia Arnaldo Bonta

Cynthia was born in College, Los Banos, Laguna on October 9, 1937 to Marcelo Arnaldo and Rosalia Rodriguez. Father was with the faculty of UP College of Agriculture, having graduated from the same. Mother met Marcelo as a high school teacher having studied at Philippine Normal College. Cynthia lived through WWII as a child.  She attended Maquiling Elementary School in College, Los Banos; then Silliman University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental where her father was invited to join the Department of Business Administration, mother taught College level Spanish, and oldest sister taught Biology and Tagalog in Silliman High School.  Cynthia graduated from the University of the Philippines, Diliman with a BS in Zoology in 1958.

Cynthia was the only delegate from the Philippines to the American Friends Service Committee International Work Camp and Seminar in Tokyo and Kobe, Japan in 1958 organized as an effort to reconcile the younger generations of South East Asian youth with Japanese youth after the war.  Served as National Youth Director for the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. But before that, conducted the youth projects for the Philippine Federation of Christian Churches as the Interim Youth Director.  Also served as the Office Manager for the Youth Secretary of the East Asian Christian Conference while she traveled extensively.  Was a youth member of the Organizing Committee of the Asian Christian Youth Conference in 1965 held in Silliman University.

Was an Ecumenical Scholar of the World Council of Churches in 1965 receiving a Masters Degree in Religious Education in 1968 at Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley. While in seminary, was active in the civil rights, anti-Vietnam War, and farmworker movements. Much influenced by Liberation Theology at this time. Married Warren Henry Bonta in 1967 in Berkeley. California. Warren was born at a hospital in Oxnard, California, but went home to Moorpark, California in Ventura County. His parents are Robert Stallard Bonta and Elizabeth Curd. Together, Warren and Cynthia had three children, Lisa Ligaya born 1969; Robert Andres born 1971, and Jonathan Marcelo born 1973.  Currently divorced and single.

Short Term Missionaries with husband, (3-years) in the Philippines with the United Methodist Church Global Ministries (1969 – 1971). Served with the National Farmworker Ministry assigned to the LA Boycott and UFW headquarters in La Paz (1972 – 1975).

Researcher/Writer in various multicultural curriculum development projects for various school districts in the Bay Area during the 70’s (1975 – 1977): Multicultural Curriculum Team in the Oakland Public Schools; Curriculum Writer for the TAFT/ESAA Project for the SFUSD; Curriculum Writer for the Asian American Multicultural/Bilingual Curriculum for the Berkeley Unified School District. Multicultural Resource Person for the Cordova-Folsom Unified School District and Sacramento City Unified School District (1977-1979).

Was an activist in the Bay Area with the Union of Democratic Filipinos (Katipunan ng mga Demokratikong Pilipino) during the late 70’s in support of democracy and independence in the Philippines during the Marcos Dictatorship and civil rights issues faced by the Filipino American immigrant community in the US; belonged to the Education Task Force which reviewed and analyzed secondary social studies text books for treatment of Philippines and Filipinos and went before the State Board of Education to recommend that certain social studies textbooks be dropped from the social studies matrix; organized the Filipino People’s Far West Convention in Sacramento in 1979.

Relocated to Sacramento in 1977 and entered state service in 1979 as an Office Assistant with the Department of Motor Vehicles, then the Department of Social Services. After 2 years, became a Civil Rights Coordinator as a Staff Services Analyst handling discrimination complaints and labor grievances from employees for the Department of Health Services.  After another 2 years, worked for the Program Control Office of the Division of Operations and Maintenance in the Department of Water Resources doing budgeting, accounting and administered million dollar projects for major replacement and renovations of the State Water Project which includes the California Aqueduct, as an Associate Governmental Program Analyst. Retired from state service after a few months past 23 years of service in December 2002.

Co-founded the Outstanding Filipino Youth Awards Program (OFYA) in 1990 in Sacramento. Was recognized by the late Joe Serna, Mayor of the City of Sacramento for this work as an unsung hero contributing to the building of the multicultural community of Sacramento. Co-founded a growing College Fund that has been awarding scholarships since 1999.  OFYA became a project of the Philippine National Day Association (PNDA) which was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1994. Because of showcasing youth achievements in the local community newspaper, received a “Gawad Pasasalamat Award from Philippine Fiesta Newspaper and Five D’s Arts. Co-Founded another of PNDA’s project, Filipino American Youth Leadership Conference in 1996. Was recognized for this work with an Outstanding Woman of Color Award by CSUS Multicultural Center (1996). Co-Founded PNDA’s third project, LahiArts in 2005.

Member of Executive Committee, as Secretary (2001 to 2004), then 2nd Vice Chairman & Parliamentarian (2005 & 2006) for CAPITAL (Council of Asian Pacific Islanders Together for Advocacy and Leadership), currently, Officer at Large since 2010 . Was Co-Chair, Census 2000 API Cultural Day, April 2000. Co-founded the Asian Pacific Islander American Political Association of Greater Sacramento in 2001 as Interim First Vice President and now a Lifetime Member. Appointed Chair for Sacramento County’s National Federation of Filipino American Associations for a year in 2001.

Named KVIE Local Hero during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May 2004). Finisher (Walked-3 hours, 29 minutes) and Fundraiser, September 2004, Maui Inaugural Half Marathon for Manilatown Heritage Foundation and International Hotel. Presented with a Community Legislative Hero Award by the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus Institute (June 2005) for commitment to the betterment of the Asian Pacific Islander community, most particularly, the preservation of the California Veterans Cash Benefit Program (AB 1978-Cedillo). Most recent award was given by the Filipino Women’s Network, San Francisco as one of 100 Most Influential Filipina American Women in the U.S. in the category of Builder and Emerging Leader, August/September 2012.

Served on other Boards: California Multicultural Park Foundation, CSUS Multicultural Center, CSUS Advisory Council on Human Relations. Currently serving on Board of Directors, Philippine National Day Association; CAPITAL Executive Board; American Center of Philippine Arts in the East Bay; Community Advisory Board of California State University-Sacramento’s Full Circle Project; and Alameda Sister City Association.

On retiring, relocated to Alameda to be close to grandchildren. Her three children:  Lisa Ligaya married to Aron Sumii (Japanese-Ukranian-American) with two children: Malaya Ann and Jaxon Cruz; Robert Andres Bonta (Assemblymember Rob Bonta) married to Mialisa Tania Villafane (Puerto Rican Black American) with three children: Reina Gabriela, Iliana Isabela; and Andres Zenon; Marcelo Jonathan married to Micia Dacosta with two daughters, Kyra Mikayla and Stella Rosalia who live in Portland, Oregon. 

Since relocating to Alameda, coordinated the First Annual Filipino American History Month Celebration on October 1, 2011, inspired by son, Rob’s campaign for the Alameda City Council; the First Annual Philippine Independence Day Celebration in 2013. Makes weekly trips to Sacramento for PNDA, CAPITAL, Filipino Women’s Club, and other Filipino community efforts during peak months and monthly at off-peak months.

View Cynthia's Maternal Family Tree