President Franklin D. Roosevelt said these words in 1943: "We have faith that future generations will know here, in the middle of the twentieth century, there came a time when men of good will found a way to unite, and produce, and fight to destroy the forces of ignorance, and intolerance, and slavery, and war.” Fast forward to the year 2017 and what President Roosevelt said 74 years ago is still relevant.
We again witness ignorance and intolerance manifested by rising anti-immigrant sentiments and attacks in the U.S. The rise of bashing incidents, violence, and hate crimes against immigrants and people of color have been fanned by conservative and nativist rhetoric that depicts immigrants as a “baggage to American society” rather than the realistic picture of hard working people who contribute their talents and labor to make America a better country.
The Filipino community in America is not immune to the anti-immigrant trend.
The fact that Filipinos have settled in North America long before Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states, and even before the Philippines was granted independence by the United States, does not exempt our community from the immigrant bashing that is happening around. We need to continue educating mainstream America about who we are and the contributions that we have made as a people in American society.
Education is an important component but reality check tells us that there is not much written about our history and culture as a people in the U.S. Even in cities and places where there are many Filipinos, historical materials and studies about Filipinos are not always available and accessible in libraries, resource centers, schools and institutions of higher learning.
There are many immigrant stories that need to be told, many photos and multi-media materials that need to be gathered, stored, and shared so we can tell our own story about our community. There should be no more waiting. With the immigrant bashing going on around, the time to do this is now.
With the advancement of information and communication technology and the extensive use of internet and social media in our daily lives, we can now expect that our own narratives and Filipino heritage can be easily and properly documented. It is also much easier now to store information for future generations.
There are many activities and developments in connection with this undertaking to promote and preserve Filipino heritage in the U.S. particularly in San Francisco.
First was the recognition and adoption of the city’s South of Market area as the Filipino Cultural Heritage District (SoMa Pilipinas) on April 12, 2016. Last year, a number of our community members also shared their stories through the StoryCorps and the Center of Asian American Media.
This year the Filipino community in partnership and cooperation with the San Francisco Public Library came up with the project “Kodakan Photo Day: Shades of San Francisco: A Search for Visual Filipino History of San Francisco.”
“Shades of San Francisco” is embracing the mission to collect and copy photographs from the family albums and private collections of current and former San Francisco residents. These photos will then be exhibited and added to the San Francisco History Center’s photo archives to create a permanent record of the daily lives of San Franciscans as well as the historical, political, and cultural contributions of the many neighborhoods and ethnic communities that make up the City and County of San Francisco.
Shades of San Francisco (Kodakan) will take place for the Filipino community on May 13, 2017 from 10am to 4pm at the San Francisco Main Public Library (100 Larkin Street in San Francisco).
We should support this noble cause. On photo day, please bring copies of your photos from your photo albums, loose photographs, and digital photos, including old materials and literatures about Filipinos and the Filipino community in San Francisco so the library will have more archival collections about us and our contributions as a people to the San Francisco community as a whole.
Let us continue to promote and preserve Filipino social and cultural heritage in America.
Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.