About Us

Mission, Vision and Values:

Logo, Manilatown Heritage Foundation

The mission of Manilatown Heritage Foundation is to promote social and economic justice for Filipinos in the United States by preserving our history, advocating for equal access, and advancing our arts and culture.

In solidarity with Filipino and other community service organizations, we envision an inspired and self-sustaining Manilatown Heritage Foundation that effectively and creatively enhances the Filipino community’s capacity to shape social, political and economic policies. Our community will be one that has equitable access to resources and opportunities, as well as pride in our culture, history and traditions.

We subscribe to democratic and liberating values as follows:

  • Bridging cultures and generations
  • Encouraging critical conversations within our community
  • Building community across generations by fostering cultural roots grounded in history and guided by love of community
  • Maintaining organizational integrity and respect

Manilatown’s Core Programs and Services: The Manilatown Heritage Foundation’s core program is to maintain the legacies of San Francisco’s historic Manilatown neighborhood and the 1977 International Hotel Eviction by maintaining the International Hotel Manilatown Center as both a memorial to these legacies and as a multipurpose community gathering space for creative expressions relevant to today’s community.

Manilatown Heritage Foundation Racial Equity Statement:

Manilatown Heritage Foundation (MHF) condemns the systematic racism, injustice, and inequality that continues to exist in our San Francisco community. Our region still struggles with deep racial disparities in justice, housing, healthcare, education and employment born in the past and harbored in the present. Even as we experience new ways to operate our institutions, we have not escaped legacies of inequality and violence. We must confront them, using our knowledge of the past to address the problems of today.

As an arts, culture and community history organization, we acknowledge the impact that racism has on African Americans and other communities of color. We endorse the words of Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch in expressing that “History is a guide to a better future and demonstrates that we can become a better society—but only if we collectively demand it from each other and from the institutions responsible for administering justice.”

Manilatown Heritage Foundation will:

  • Redouble our efforts to present projects and programs that preserve and interpret history that challenges assumptions, that uses evidence to trace continuities and mark changes, and that helps us to understand causation – especially in this core American story of racism and the struggle for justice. History organizations such as ours have a duty to address contemporary issues and can offer examples of historical resilience and creativity of people rising to meet challenges in the past.
  • Embrace our role as a provider of community space, in the form of the International Hotel Manilatown Center, where people can come together for conversations that can help overcome local and national division.
  • Continue to be diverse, inclusive and equitable as an organization so that we are more credible addressing these same issues in the community. The Manilatown Heritage Foundation  will only partner with individuals and organizations that align with our values on racial equity.  

Manilatown Heritage Foundation
Board of Directors and Staff:

Caroline Cabading, Board of Directors President & Executive Director
Desu Sorro, Board of Directors Treasurer
Carmen Choy, Board of Directors Member
Eleanore Fernandez, Board of Directors Member
Tony Robles, Board of Directors Member
Staff: Jibril Alvarez, Chet Canlas, Tony Remington, Marielle Concejo & Sheryl Fontanilla

About the International Hotel Manilatown Center:

The Manilatown Heritage Foundation’s core program is to maintain the legacies of San Francisco’s historic Manilatown neighborhood and the 1977 International Hotel Eviction by maintaining the International Hotel Manilatown Center as both a memorial to these legacies and as a multipurpose community gathering space for artistic, educational and creative expressions relevant to today’s community.

The International Hotel Manilatown Center is the historic site of the community struggle to save the International Hotel and prevent the eviction of its elderly residents from 1968-1977.  The block at Kearny and Washington Streets, adjacent to Chinatown and the current Hilton Hotel, became a focal point in the creation of the contemporary Asian American movement, especially for Filipino Americans and San Francisco’s housing justice movement.

Filipino American youth from San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley and artists and community activists found their ‘roots’ in the stories and lives of the ‘Manongs’ (respected immigrant elders). The anti-eviction/anti-displacement struggle became a key site for the formation of a distinct Filipino American and pan-Asian American consciousness.

Historians like Estella Habal, a student activist during the anti-eviction protests, frame the site’s history within the context of the broader left politics of the 1970s era, the urban housing movement and San Francisco city politics. ‘The I-Hotel also served as a social network and cultural center that allowed students, artists and community activists to develop their organizing and advocacy skills while also feeling a sense of home,’ she says.

Ultimately, despite mass resistance and solidarity from throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area, the residents were forcibly evicted on the night of August 4, 1977, and the buildings were razed. But the International Hotel Manilatown Center building, completed in 2005 with 104 units of senior housing above, now occupies the site and commemorates the residents and activists who fought for housing and justice for the elderly and self-determination for Filipino and Asian American communities.

Courtesy of Eric Mar
Assistant Professor at San Francisco State Univeristy
Former San Francisco City Supervisor
Former President of the San Francisco Board of Education