Last summer, LEAD Filipino coordinated three small group “Community Exposure Tours” with our students, organizers, and volunteers to not only develop our friendships, but to provide dimension and depth to our shared understanding of the industries, sectors, and most importantly – histories and experiences – of Filipino/a American communities in our local neighborhoods throughout the region.
For these reasons, last summer, we toured and met with leaders from Google, Pie Ranch, and SoMa Pilipinas. We toured Google to better understand their work around diversity; we toured Pie Ranch after learning about our Delano Manongs; and we visited SoMa Pilipinas to touch back into the legacies of the I-Hotel, vibrant Filpino/a businesses, and the movement around revamping the Cultural District.
Recognizing the popularity and value of these educational exposure tours, we brought this initiative back for this summer, 2017. Throughout this summer, LEAD Filipino has partnered up with other grassroots organizations to offer 3 different Community Exposure Tours from July to August.
This past Saturday, on July 29th, almost 20 of our students, families, and organizers traveled up to San Francisco, where we toured the SoMa Pilipinas Cultural District. Our 90-minute walking tour was led by Sandy Panopio of the Bayanihan Community Center.
Notable stops along our SoMa Pilipinas Tour included:
- Archipelago Bookstore
- The Lipi ni Lapu Lapu Mural
- Tutubi Park
- The Victoria Manalo Draves Park
- Bessie Carmichael Elementary School: Filipino Education Center
- Bayanihan Community Center
- Bill Sorro Community Apartments
Following the SoMa Tour, we trekked through SF and made our way to Kearney and Jackson Streets to the I-Hotel, a metaphor and symbol for Filipino/a resistance against displacement in the face of urban renewal and development back in the late-1970s.
We met with Filipino Writer and Poet, Tony Robles, and in light of the 40th Anniversary of the I-Hotel Protests, each created poems “on the fly” where we expressed what the I-Hotel signified to us.
To wrap our 8-hour day, we met Desi Danganan, the Founder of Kultivate Labs, and an SF-based incubator for Filipino/a owned and operated small businesses. He shared of Kultivate Labs’ role in increasing the economic competitiveness, attractiveness, and activity of empowering small businesses in/around SoMa Pilipinas.
SoMa Pilipinas is the first Cultural District to gain California – or statewide – recognition. Recognition, on this scale, is the byproduct of community collaboration and ownership. We’re so proud of the work being done to bring visibility and presence to our Filipino/a community in the Bay Area.
Maraming salamat to everyone that joined our crew last Saturday — we hope you enjoyed your time!