SAN FRANCISCO, CA –– Over the past four months, 18-year-old Ramon Bonifacio would spend his Saturdays visualizing, sketching, stenciling, priming, and painting at the Bayanihan Community Center, at the corner of Mission and Sixth Streets. The recent high school graduate is among a group of artist-activists, educators, and community members dedicated to the creation of a mural that depicts and pays homage to eight Filipinx-American community leaders and SOMA heroes, each with special significance and/or outstanding contributions to SOMA’s Filipino community: Major Demetrio M. Cariño, Al Robles, Dr. Dawn Bohulano-Mabalon, Dr. Mario Borja, Bullet X Marasigan, Carlos Villa, Victoria Manalo Draves, and Bill Sorro.
On Saturday, July 13 the Filipino-American Development Foundation (FADF), South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN), along with members of the community, volunteers and the family of these eight outstanding community members are set to celebrate the completion of the “Heroes in our Windows” mural at the Bayanihan Community Center 1010 Mission Street. From 6-8pm participants will unveil the mural, discuss the s/heroes, enjoy food, and commend the hard work of the volunteers responsible for its creation.
The Bayanihan Community Center is a Filipino community center located in the South of Market (SOMA), a neighborhood which has been home to generations of Filipino immigrants since the early 1900s. In 2016, the South of Market gained recognition as a Filipino Cultural Heritage District, to be known as SOMA Pilipinas. The Bayanihan Community Center, located in the heart of SOMA, might have been easy to walk by without notice in the past, but now this mural is an important reminder and inspiration to the community of SOMA.
The mural artists, Mel Vera Cruz and England Hidalgo, have promoted the collective goal of achieving this project completely through volunteer community efforts. The heroes and sheroes were chosen collectively by the SOMA and Filipino community at large.
Each hero holds a dear place in the South of Market, and has all in his/her own ways fought for and shaped the Filipino community into SOMA Pilipinas with a lasting 100 year impact in San Francisco. The mural is to give overdue recognition and visibility for achievements including advancing veterans equity, immigrant rights, tenant & housing rights, social justice, and the lasting influence of artists and activists from the I-Hotel struggle. The mural hopes to create a beacon of inspiration, hope, empowerment, a sense of belonging and reminder of collective power in a neighborhood that has undergone rapid changes since the turn of the century.