Thursday, November 01, 2007

Filipino Mural

I do believe the location of my current temp work is in a Filipino neighborhood. Across the street from the building is a huge mural. Upon closer inspection, I found this notation:

Here's more details on the mural, which I got from another blogsite:

The naming of streets can be seen as merely symbolic, and even benign attempts at cultural and political activism. But the naming and dedication of these streets in 1979 also asserted a community’s presence, and a city’s official acknowledgment of this presence: Take a walk down 4th Street from Market, past the massive edifices of the Sony Metreon, and Moscone West Convention Center. Hang a left on Folsom Street, and your first right on Mabini Street. Intersecting Mabini is Bonifacio Street. If you turn right here, you will see Tandang Sora Street, but hang a left instead, and you will find, on the corner of Bonifacio and Lapu Lapu Streets, the Office of Community Development funded mural, Ang Lipi ni Lapu Lapu (the descendents of Lapu Lapu), painted by Johanna Poethig, with Vic Clemente and Presco Tabios, in 1984. The building on which this mural is painted is 50 Rizal Street, the San Lorenzo Ruiz Center, which was named after a Pilipino saint, and which houses primarily low income Pilipino seniors. This center, originally called the Dimasalang House, named after the fraternity of Pilipino workers formed in the 1920’s, the Caballero de Dimasalang, was built in 1978.

What’s represented in the mural: at the top, a legendary female warrior figure, perhaps the Princess Urduja of the northern province Pangasinan. She is astride the Banaue Rice Terraces, above a Philippine eagle, from whose left wing sprouts the Philippine Islands, painted a vivid green. The bayani (heroes) of the Philippine Revolution: Dr. Jose Rizal, known as the Philippines’ National Hero. Apolinario Mabini, the intellectual and revolutionary. Katipunan leader Andres Bonifacio, holding his bolo knife in the air in a war cry. Katipunera Melchiora Aquino, more commonly known as Tandang Sora, tending to those wounded in battle. And in the center of these figures: Senator Benigno Aquino, whose August 21, 1983 assassination fanned the fires of the 1986 People Power Revolution, in which the dictator Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown.

Farther down the mural are the Pin@y political and cultural heroes: Carlos Bulosan, whose well-revered novel America is in the Heart is required reading for all students of Asian American Studies in local colleges and universities. Victoria Manalo Draves, who grew up in South of Market, a U.S. Olympic diver and two-time gold medalist in the 1948 games. Francisco Guilledo, better known as Pancho Villa, the leader of the “Great Pinoy Boxing Era.” He was the World Flyweight Champion Boxer of 1924. Larry Itliong, founder of the Filipino Farm Labor Union in California. The masses: Pin@y medical professionals. Manangs and Manongs, the Pilipino migrants of the early twentieth century. U.S. Navy men. College graduates. Fishermen. Farm workers. Whole nuclear families, intact. The International Hotel, just outside SF Chinatown, which became a rallying cry of Pin@y activism after the San Francisco Police Department’s violent eviction of the building’s elderly tenants in 1977, and its subsequent demolition, just two years prior to the renaming of these streets.

At the mural’s bottom left corner, Datu Lapu Lapu, the legendary killer of Ferdinand Magellan. At the mural’s bottom right corner, the Manila Village, founded in 1565 by the “Manilamen” of the Spanish Galleon Trade between Mexico and the Philippines. These men who jumped ship and settled in Louisiana were the first Pilipinos in the Americas. To the left of the heroes and rice terraces are symbols of migration and settlement: Spanish galleons, and the Philippine eight-pointed star, which may represent the eight datus (tribal chieftains) whose bangkas (boatloads) of people are said to have populated the Philippine Islands. And THAT is history condensed on a single wall.