Banners celebrate Filipino culture in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO - Banners are up in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood celebrating Filipino culture. The banners help mark Filipino American History Month, which is this month.
Three hundred banners were installed to highlight the diversity of the community and to celebrate their strength amid the pandemic and spike in Asian hate crimes.
In San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, if you look up, you see banners with the faces of every day Filipino Americans. It’s part of a new campaign from the cultural association Soma Pilipinas.
"It’s really a declaration that we are here," said Raquel Redondiez, Soma Pilipinas director. "We’ve been here for a long time and we live here."
The banners are located in SOMA because in 2016 the city and then the state a year later formally recognized the area as San Francisco’s Filipino Cultural Heritage District. Many cultural institutions are here. It is a known gathering spot for Filipinos today.
"A lot of times people see the South of Market as a thoroughfare to the freeway, as a place to visit but actually we’ve been living here for over 120 years," said Redondiaz. "We faced a lot of displacement but still we continue to make home here."
Twelve different panels feature 40 living community heroes including local artists, seniors and small business owners who persevered during the pandemic.
"We have a lot of healthcare workers, frontline workers, small businesses that were hit hard and families that lost their jobs," said Redondiaz.
On top of that, it’s in SOMA, where a lot of the anti-Asian assaults have occurred leaving many seniors feeling unsafe and vulnerable.
"As a community it's really important for us to come together," said Redondiez. "These banners are aimed to raise the visibility of our community."
"All the other banners in the city are promotions," said Carolyn Sideco of San Francisco. "What we are doing is promoting people."
Sideco was born in the Philippines and immigrated to San Francisco at a young age. She’s featured in a banner along with her 11-year-old son and sister.
"When we were asked to sign up and do this photo shoot, I was really humbled and proud," said Sideco.
The banners are up as cultural art celebrations are taking place throughout the month in SOMA. On Sunday, there was a comedy show featuring Filipino comedians. Artist Kimberley Arteche is also in a banner.
"Regardless of whether we have a commercial corridor like Chinatown or Japantown, our community is thriving and we will continue to thrive," said Arteche.
The banners are funded by cultural district grants from the city. They won’t be going down anytime soon. The hope is to have the banners up for the next three years.
If you’d like more information about SOMA Pilipinas, visit www.somapilipinas.org
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.