Wednesday, September 25, 2002
When I was a young college student, I took a course in Filipino American Studies at the City College of San Francisco. I learned about the International Hotel struggle of the 1970s, the struggle for affordable housing in the city of San Francisco. This struggle still continues today, here in the Bay and elsewhere.
For those of you not familiar with the International Hotel, it was a residential hotel on Kearny St. that anchored San Francisco’s Manilatown for many years. The manong fieldworkers of the 1920s, 1930s, and so on lived there, even into their old age. However, in the 70s, with the growth of San Francisco’s Financial District and other urban developments, the International Hotel was bought and slated for destruction. The filipino and chinese residents of the hotel, as well as a wide range of student activists, fought the destruction and eviction orders for many years, in the name of affordable housing and social justice. Unfortunately, the manongs were forcibly removed and the hotel was demolished, leaving a open scar on the block where the I-hotel existed (the developer never could build anything on that contested land).
Some time after I learned about the I-Hotel, I heard that there were plans to make a new affordable housing building on the site. One day when I visited my mom and dad at their business (a design/consulting electrical engineering firm), I came across some blueprints. They were the architectural and electrical schematics for the new I-Hotel Senior Housing, school, and community center that would someday occupy the open wound of Kearny St. I never really knew my dad’s dedication and love toward the community until I saw those plans that day.
My father worked hard and played hard. He also loved to help others, not for fame or recognition, but because he liked doing it, and because he knew it needed to be done. I’ll always remember that, Dad.
We miss you still.