A little wobbly after a few mimosas, brunch and solid heart-to-heart, we walked down Valencia Street aimlessly. That's when the Clarion Alley caught my eye: the entire thing curated with beautiful murals. I've passed it once of twice before, but it was the first time we took a closer look.
Of course, I easily gravitated toward the desert-inspired piece as all things inspired by the outdoors. Anjuli is both filipina and indian, so this was an ode to her roots, and little did I know I'd find my own too.
We peered back at the opposite wall, and that's when we found this curated right next to the desert-inspired mural.
The word "bahay" (meaning home in tagalog) caught my attention, and I took a photo with it knowing it had to do with my culture. It wasn't until I got home, when I deeply interpreted what the mural reflected.
Filipino History in San Francisco and the Mural
In the SOMA district, the International hotel was a place where filipino immigrants settled in San Francisco during the 1920's. Most of which, were bachelors and this included my grandfather, Santos "Pete" De Pedro. It was located in a community of affordable housing units called Manilatown. In the 1970's, the International Hotel was one of the last buildings to be demolished in the area due to Urban Renewal and bringing BART into the city as white collar jobs made their way into the Financial District. The filipino community did not go down without a fight, but the building did get demolished. (read the history here)
It is a story of resilience, and reflects a comparable struggle of gentrification we still feel today. I give you context not as a history lesson, but to bring light to how we can learn from this. How many different communities have left their footprints in the roots of the ever-changing city, even if their buildings no longer stand? We need to learn from these stories to help us know how to survive and overcome the struggles we may face.
San Francisco is a city of change; constantly growing and redeveloping. Week to week, we see the city unfold into something new. It was a reminder that we are not the first generation or community to feel uprooted from our homes here in the San Francisco. We build from what we know, and what we are taught from the stories that come before us.
THE ROOT OF THE LESSON (YEAH, PUN INTENDED)
Although you may not be looking for it, this city always has something to teach you. When you open yourself to explore every turn of the city, every nook, you'll be surprised what you can discover. You may learn a little more about yourself, and your roots in the most unexpected places.