SAN FRANCISCO — SF Mayor Ed Lee recently released his budget, which includes a $150,000 earmark for the Filipino Cultural Heritage District, called SOMA Pilipinas.
The district is located in the South of Market neighborhood, which is historically home to many Filipinos, despite the recent influx of technology companies and expensive housing developments.
“We’ve established one in the Mission. We obviously have Chinatown, Japantown. I think it’s appropriate to say our Filipino community also deserves to have a cultural district that we support,” said Mayor Lee. “It’ll find a way to attract businesses, tourism visitors, and also just an appreciation of Filipino culture.”
The most recent improvement to the SOMA is the $150,000 batting cage at the Victoria Manalo Draves Park, which many of the local youth baseball teams can enjoy.
The batting cage project — which was funded by San Francisco’s recreation and park open space fund — is the first of new additions to the park.
Next is the installation of new lights throughout the park.
“We want to give people more opportunities to use the park and by lighting it up we get an extra 3, 4 hours a day,” said Phil Ginsburg. “And it’s not just the ball field, but the entire park, so people can feel safe and come here in the evenings and enjoy it.”
The park’s namesake, Victoria Manalo Draves, was a San Francisco native and the first Filipina-American Olympic gold medalist.
Her kababayans are trying to get her into the Bay Area sports Hall of Fame.
Despite being qualified, her advocates says they found it difficult to appeal to the sports writers who are responsible for admissions into the Hall of Fame.
“If we’re able to get Draves included in the Bay Area sports Hall of Fame she will joining the ranks of Joe Dimaggio, Willie Mays, all the world renowned athletes and hopefully that will give her the national recognition that she graciously deserve,” said Rudy Asercion.
Among the future plans for SOMA Pilipinas is the concept of night markets, which will showcase Filipino artists and vendors that will specialize in music, fashion, food, technology, and various other categories.