by Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN News
SAN FRANCISCO — The South of Market District, or the SOMA, has been traditionally home to many kababayans in the San Francisco Bay Area.
However, due to the rising costs of rent, many Filipinos are finding themselves pushed out of the city.
Despite the gentrification — back in April of this year — the San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution to establish a Filipino cultural heritage district in the SOMA.
With this resolution, the Fil-Am community looks to empower their cultural district through technology.
“The reason why people are getting displaced is because of economic inequality throughout our system. By teaching filipinos the ways of technology; that’s how we’re going to fighting displacement, by creating new wealth in our community,” said Desi Danganan of the SOMA Pilipinas Working Group.
Danganan has teamed up with fellow kababayan Chris Peralta, who is the CEO and founder of Manila Valley, an accelerator program for Filipino startups, to ensure the growth of SOMA Pilipinas.
“Every business is affected by technology, so being able to educate about the latest things, and then being able to adopt technology to improve not only in our day-to-day lives but businesses and the community in general,” Peralta says.
SOMA Pilipinas will make up an area bound by 2nd street to the east, 11th street to the west, Market Street to the north, and Brannan to the south — which puts them in the heart of the san francisco technology neighborhood.
These Filipinos say they are focused on not only making SOMA Pilipinas something their community can be proud of, but also a place to showcase the legacy of Filipino culture in San Francisco.
“I think we need to create an identity that’s different,” says Peralta. “So you go to all the other towns; it’s all about the culinary experience. Why don’t we highlight the technology, or the culture, or the creativity? Or maybe bring it all together? What about creating a habitat?”
“The biggest thing that we’re lacking is an entrepreneurial community,” said Danganan. “So we’re reaching out to technology, food and beverage, to retail, and all kinds of creative industries to come to SOMA Pilipinas to build a cultural district and this is one step toward going to that.”
Danganan and Peralta are calling on all Filipino entrepreneurs to contribute, and plans to update their success online at somapilipinas.org.