Yesterday, I attended an open house held by the Filipino Cultural Center on 814 Mission Street in San Francisco. Located in the heart of San Francisco’s SOMA district which was once a Filipino neighborhood and has since been taken over by the steel and glass of gentrification, the Cultural Center stands to become an emblem of the FilAms staying power in the smelly but affluent city of San Francisco.
It is an impressive space. A grand white staircase winds steeply to a mezzanine foyer that expands into 9000 square feet of San Francisco’s Bulletin Building, owned by Westfield. It shares the same block as the Westfield mall–in my opinion, the best mall in the Bay Area. Across the street, try the tasty Vietnamese food at Green Papaya. At the Westfield Mall, try M.Y. China. Congratulations and Happy Birthday to Dr. Richard Kempis on the success of the event and beauty of the venue.
If you missed this open house on Monday, do not despair. You can expect to hear about more events at the Filipino Cultural Center.
In fact, On October 4, the Philippine American Press Club will hold its Plaridel Awards there. The annual ceremony presents awards to FilAm journalists in several categories. Tickets have not yet gone on sale but check your inboxes. Or check back here for more details when they are available. Moreover, if you are a blogger or youtuber or Instagram-er, come join the Philippine American Press Club and fraternize with like-minded individuals.
Another notable event, the Philippine Development Foundation is hosting a Gatsby Ball at the Palace Hotel (2 Montgomery Street in San Francisco) on November 3rd. Tickets can be purchased by clicking on this link http://www.phildev.org/gatsbyball/
The Philippine Development Foundation is focused on eradicating poverty in the Philippines by funding education, including scholarships, and supporting entrepreneurship. Tickets to the Gatsby Ball are $300.
The district known as SOMA (South of Market) that has undergone overwhelming gentrification over the last three decades used to be heavily occupied by Filipinos, many of them renters. The area has been designated San Francisco’s Filipino Cultural Heritage District. The Filipino Cultural Center places the Filipino culture in a visible location at the heart of a bustling neighborhood that includes SFMOMA, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Museum of the African Diaspora.
The gentrification of SOMA is double edged for our community. Those who have been unfortunately displaced will always have a historical foothold in one of the choices neighborhoods in San Francisco (in my opinion). While some have been displaced, it is clear that the Filipino community has risen along with the good fortunes of the area. Many of our activities still occur within those few blocks. At least in part, SOMA is still ours.