Remembering Filipino American San Francisco housing activist Al Robles

SAN FRANCISCO — The life and legacy of Filipino-American activist Al Robles and poet from San Francisco is celebrated through a series of performances from friends, family, and new generations of poets.

In the celebration of what would be his 90th birthday and the tenth year since his passing — family and friends of Robles gathered to commemorate his legacy.

Located in the Fillmore neighborhood — where Robles was born and raised — a diverse collection of poets read his work as well as their own.

Robles was one of the activists who came to the aid of Filipino and other Asian elders who were forcefully evicted from the International Hotel in 1977.

According to his family, the spirit of Robles lives on — as Filipinos today continue to fight gentrification in San Francisco.

The legacy of Robles also included international solidarity — where he spoke of finding common ground with other minorities.

“One of the things he said was “sometimes my heart is black and sometimes my heart is brown. And sometimes my heart is black and brown at the same time,” said Robles’ nephew, Tony. “So not just being stuck in your own community but also being open to other communities and seeing the brotherhood in the struggle.”

According to his family, Robles would be proud that his work is still celebrated today — and that it has inspired others.

“He always said always talk to the elders. They will soon be your ancestors. Never forget the struggle where people come from. We all came from something. We all have a story to share. Never be scared to talk your story.”    

Tony will be leaving next week for the Philippines as part of the “Al Robles Express” — which is a type of exposure trip to connect Al Robles’ work with the motherland.

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