by Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN News
SAN FRANCISCO — With the help of House minority leader, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, the William Penn Mott Jr. Presidio Visitor Center is now open.
The visitor center will serve as a hub of information to help the countless number of tourists and Bay Area residents enjoy the many features of the new national park.
“The Presidio is a 1,500 acre gem in the middle of San Francisco,” said Sgt. Nathan Hale, Golden Gate National Recreation Area. “Its transition from a military post to a park, a world-class destination, but it never had a world-class visitor center until now.”
Congresswoman Pelosi — who has been instrumental in the Presidio trust, which helps in the restoration of the park — says the opening of the visitor center is also a historic symbol of San Francisco, celebrating the diversity of all who come through the Bay Area.
“When those immigrants come here, I wish some people would understand, once they come here with their hope, their determination, their commitment to making the future better for their families… they are honoring the vision of our founders,” said Pelosi. “That every generation would make the future better for the next generation.”
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s first Filipino-American member of the board of trustees, Odette Keeley, reminds us that the Presidio served as a training ground for American troops during the US-Philippine war.
“Filipino-American history and culture are so deeply intertwined so deeply in the Presidio,” said Keely. “As I mentioned, the US-Philippine war of 1898-1915 has been showcased here in the forbidden cartoons in the exhibit called War and Dissent.”
Keeley adds that Fil-Ams should remember the past, in order to build a stronger future.
“We do have to play a role as voices of the immigrant population that is now under attack, and the national parks can actually play a role in this national healing in solidarity, coming together, making sure there’s a place for family, community, values, and inclusion and that all our voices are represented,” she said.
The Presidio center offers exhibits in multiple languages, with plans to offer Tagalog in the near future.