New mural at the Bayanihan Community Center in San Francisco honors local Fil-Am heroes

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. — Tuesday marked the official opening of the “Heroes in Our Windows” mural at the Bayanihan Community Center in downtown San Francisco.

The mural outside of the building features portraits of eight key Filipino American organizers, artists, educators, historians, and residents.

“These are just some of the many unsung heroes and sheroes that’s in our community and we’re really excited to be able to really uplift their names really not forget about them,” said Angelica Cabande, at SOMCAN.

Among the portrayed heroes:

Major Demetrio Carino, a Filipino WWII veteran was one of those who, in 1998, started the Veterans Equity Center — which fought for the rights, recognition, and welfare of veterans.

Poet and activist Al Robles — whose work and leadership was instrumental in the political fight to protect elderly immigrant residents from eviction at the international hotel in the late 60s through the 70s.

A dedicated teacher of ethnic studies, Dr. Dawn Mabalon was also a historian — whose work serves as a major reference tool for the historical narrative if the migration of Filipinos in the U.S.

Doctor Mario Borja — a family physician who help erect the Bayanihan House and Bayanihan Community Center — also founded the Filipino American Development Foundation and the Filipino American Business and Professional Association.

Bullet Marasigan — a social worker and mentor to so many current community leaders — worked for several Filipino non-profits and also helped found the veterans equity center.

Artist and educator Carlos Villa convened the first Filipino arts exposition, which lead to the development of the Pistahan festival and parade.

Victoria Manalo Draves was the first woman, first Asian American, to win gold medals for diving in the 1948 London Summer Olympics.

Bill Sorro was a fierce housing advocate who helped to spark the housing movement in San Francisco throughout the second half of the 20th century.

The mural was conceptualized by lead artists Mel Vera Cruz and England Hidalgo.

However, it was local youth who were given the task to create the mural.

Every Saturday for about four and a half months — the youth would immortalize these kababayans — learning about their work and according to them, feeling a sense of pride in their task.

“We are also learning from this experience. We’re also learning history. We’re also learning the struggles. We’re also learning about the power of the community,” said Ramon Bonifacio.

“It’s just nice to see heroes from our community that people not know be up there,” said Kaitlyn Evangelista, “and it’s a chance to bring awareness to them.”

“Heroes in Our Windows” is the newest edition of Filipino murals in San Francisco.

Others can be found at the Bessie Carmichael Middle School, San Francisco State University, the Salesforce transit center — the rooftop of Mestiza, and at the San Lorenzo Ruiz Center.

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