The Manilatown Heritage Foundation produces a variety of affordable family-friendly programming at the International Hotel Manilatown Center. As a multipurpose gallery that honors the I-Hotel Eviction and Historic Manilatown legacies we stand as  both a museum to these legacies and a community gathering space offering programming relevant to today’s community.

Club Mandalay
Kommunity Kultura
Manilatown MovieTime
Remember, Recover & Reclaim with Dr. Estella Habal

Club Mandalay
friday, june 25th at 6PM
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Manilatown Music’s Carlos Zialcita presents the Premiere of
Ullalim-Sugilanon“, an Original Filipino-American Jazz Suite

From the 1920s to the mid 1960s, the neighborhood of the International Hotel housed the first Filipino community or “village” in San Francisco. The neighborhood eventually became known as “Manilatown” but during its heyday when as many as 20,000 Filipinos lived there, Filipinos referred to it as “Filipino Town” or simply “Kearny Street.”

In addition to being a housing and economic center, Manilatown also provided a social network and cultural center. After WWII, Filipinos followed the migration patterns of other ethnic minorities who were drawn to the cities for greater economic opportunities. Filipinos were allowed to become citizens starting in 1943, many of them reuniting with the wives they had left behind, or married “war brides” they had met during their service in the Armed Forces. They were permitted to bring their families with them from the Philippines to become naturalized citizens in hopes of pursuing “The American Dream.”

MANILATOWN MUSIC honors the music and contributions made by our “musikeros” here in the United States. Host Carlos Zialcita will feature compositions and interpretations of songs popular with or created by Filipino Americans over the many generations, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tonight Carlos Zialcita will be presenting the Premiere performance of “Ullalim-Sugilanon“, a collaboration between the International Hotel Manilatown Center’s house jazz ensemble The Autonomous Region and its house traditional Philippine ensemble Kultura Kapwa. “Ullalim-Sugilanon” is an American Epic Poem that speaks through verse and song about one family’s American Filipino experience in San Francisco from 1904 through 1942. Crafted according to the poetic structure of the Philippine Kalinga Epic Poem, “di Ullalim”, the poem is accompanied by original jazz compositions inspired by Kalinga rhythmic motifs and melodies.

Please join us for an evening of history, community, verse and song.

“Ullalim-Sugilanon” is made possible by grants from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the California Arts Council.

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Kommunity Kultura
saturday, june 19th at 3pm

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Kommunity Kultura is back at the International Hotel Manilatown Center!

Please join Frank Holder as he introduces the basics of the T’Boli Smaagi ensemble

Saturday, June 19th at 3pm

“Kommunity Kultura” is our traditional Philippine music, movement and cultural education program taking place at San Francisco’s International Hotel Manilatown Center once a month on Saturday afternoons at 3pm. This program emphasizes hands-on instruction on the pre-colonial Philippine cultural traditions.

Our June 2021 Kommunity Kultura will be featuring Frank Holder as he introduces us to the basics of the T’Boli Smaagi music ensemble.

When you register ahead of time through EventBrite for this FREE June 19th program,
you will also receive a Thank  You gift from us:


This project has been made possible in part by grants from the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, in partnership with the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Grants for the Arts and The California Endowment.
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Manilatown Movie Time


Register for Manilatown MovieTime via

Please join the Manilatown Heritage Foundation for an Online Manilatown MovieTime Watch Party of CONCERTO (2008) followed by a Panel Discussion and Community Discussion with film director Paul Alexander Morales. Upon registration on EventBrite you will receive a link to watch the film at your convenience from Friday 12:01am until Sunday 11:59pm (PDT) and another link to join the Panel Discussion on Zoom at 7:30pm.

NOTE: The Panel Discussion on Zoom is only shown LIVE at that time and will not be available to watch afterwards.

“Concerto” (2008) Directed by Paul Alexander Morales and is about a special piano concert during the last part of World War II held in the forest outside Davao City in Mindanao. Prior to the War in the Pacific, Davao was home to thousands of Japanese civilians who were living peacefully with the locals. Therefore, when the war broke out, friendships are torn, allegiances are broken, and enemies are made. A displaced Filipino family, led by Military Commander Ricardo (Nonoy Froilan) and his wife Julia (Sharmaine Buencamino), become acquainted with a group of Japanese officers, also camped nearby. They had evacuated their house in the city and are now staying in the farm of their relative. Their son Joselito (Jay Aquitania), who happens to know how to speak Nihonggo and becomes the interpreter and link with the neighboring Japanese. Their daughters Niña (Meryll Soriano), an aspiring concert pianist and the musically gifted Maria (Yna Asistio), who is able to play by ear, are both repulsed as well as intrigued by the officers. Maria also showed some kindness towards the Japanese and even had a slight romance with one of the soldiers. But, the other sibling, Niña and their father Ricardo are hesitant to show the same empathy.

In the film, family values are questioned as the family treads the thin line between hostility and friendship with the occupying Japanese. Based on true stories from the director’s own family history, “Concerto” celebrates a family whose reverence for life, expressed through their love of music and friendship, can survive even war, and shows how beauty and compassion does grown in even the harshest of conditions.

“Concerto” offers a little tribute on music produced in those times. Maria plays piano and sings a Visayan song entitled “Rosas Pandan”, which is written by the famous Domingo Lopez. The other song played in the film, “Nasaan Ka Irog” is written by the National Artist Nicanor Abelardo and gives a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality. One evening, Joselito sings a famous Japanese patriotic song “Aikoku Koshinkyoku” by Morikawa Sachio, and the Japanese soldiers join him with much enthusiasm and even cry “Banzai” afterwards. Classical compositions of Chopin and Beethoven was also played. Despite political and social barriers, the language of music is universal as it breaks walls.

The story of “Concerto” was based on the diary of Lt. Col. Anastacio Campo. “Diary of the War: Memoirs of WWII” is interpreted by the director’s own mother Virginia Yap Morales. The film questions the kindness within us as human sufferings, crisis, and wars might change our outlook in life, even making monsters of us. Ricardo’s family and the Japanese reveal both a golden heart and compassion, even love and affection through Maria. Ricardo’s determination to show composure to the people who tortured and beat him is remarkable. “Concerto” humanizes us by showing both sides of the war, and offers a very sensitive rendition of a Filipino-Japanese relationship during this time of aggression.

There are very few action sequences in this war film. “Concerto” looks beyond the visceral effects of the war and concentrates on its repercussions on a family that tries to weather through. What “Concerto” lacks in body count, bullets and explosions, is replaced with human complications arising out of the circumstance of war. Film director Paul Morales paints these wartime complications with impressive subtlety, and doesn’t neglect the need for a strong emotional pull to resonate with his audience. The film deals primarily with the fragile threads that are tested and strained by the cruel mechanics of war. Thus, Morales’ characters, from the family forced into exile from their beloved home to the Japanese invaders, are distinctly all victims of history’s relentless movement.



  • Zambales, Philippines
  • Rizal, Philippines

Produced by

  • Dr. Emmanuel Barias … producer
  • Coke Bolipata … co-producer
  • Laz’andre Cawagas … producer
  • Viking Logarta … consulting producer
  • Maria Virginia Yap Morales … producer
  • Paul Alexander Morales … producer
  • Susan Morales-Barias … producer
  • Claudine Najera … executive producer
  • Erwin Navarro … executive producer
  • Dr. Enrique Ostrea Jr. … co-producer
  • Auraeus Solito … co-producer Auraeus Solito
  • Mitzo Gutana Triska … co-producer
  • Felicitas Yap … co-producer
  • Music by … Jed Balasamo
  • Cinematography by … Regiben O. Romana



  • Bamboo Camera Award from Kidlat Tahimik
  • Best Adapted Screenplay – Paul Alexander Morales / 6th Golden Screen Awards
  • Best Production Design – Gerry Torres/ 6th Golden Screen Awards
  • Best Sound for a Digital Feature – Ronald de Asis and Jethro Joaquin / Star Awards for Movies
  • Finalist, Cinemalaya 2008

Festivals and Special Screenings

  • Cinemalaya, Philippine Independent Film Festival (July 2008)
  • Opening Film , 4th Mindanao Film Festival (Davao City – Dec 2008)
  • Official selection- Politics on Film (Washington, D.C., USA – May 2009)
  • Chicago Filipino American Film Festival (Chicago, USA – Nov 2009)
  • The 2nd Annual Filipino Film Festival (Hawaii, USA – March 2010)
  • Sineng Pambansa – Zamboangga Film Festival (Zamboanga City – Feb 2011)
  • NCCA’s Ani Ng Sining Film Festival (CCP – Feb 2011)
  • Pacific Rim Film Festival (San Diego, California USA – Oct 2011)
  • Nominations
  • 6th Golden Screen Awards:
  • Best Picture, Best Actor (Jay Aquitania), Best Score, Best Editing,
  • Best Breakthrough Performance (Yna Asistio), Best Cinematography, Best Sound
  • Star Awards for Movies
  • Best Breakthrough Performance (Yna Asistio)
  • Urian Awards:
  • Best Score (Jed Balsamo)
  • Film Academy of the Philippines LUNA Awards:
  • Best Screenplay, Best Production Design

Trailers on YouTube:




The Manilatown Heritage Foundation is proud to present Manilatown MovieTime, a series of specially programmed Filipino film screenings and community discussions. Hosted by Carlos Zialcita, Manilatown MovieTime is designed to showcase Philippine and Filipino-American related movies, filmmakers, actors and crews, infusing their art and insight into our vibrant, diverse community through film. Each Manilatown MovieTime screening will feature the following:

  • A panel discussion led by writer, poet, actor and Ethnic Studies Professor Oscar Peñaranda
  • A presentation on the importance of Filipino Films in the Filipino-American Community
  • Meet & Greets with Actors, Directors, Cinematographers, and Filipino movie enthusiasts.

Register for Manilatown MovieTime via

REMEMBER, RECOVEr, RECLAIM with dr. estella habaL
saturday, april 24th 1pm
“hidden treasures:
the jewels within the filipino american center”

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Please join us for our fifth discussion in the Remember, Recover, Reclaim series, hosted by Dr. Estella Habal. This series remembers our Filipino-American community members who labored, organized, worshipped, danced, lived and died in San Francisco’s Manilatown neighborhood and beyond. This program recovers these stories to reclaim our heritage.
Our April 24th program welcomes Filipino American Center Librarian Abraham Ignacio, past San Francisco Public Library Commissioner Ernest Llorente and City Archivist Susan Goldstein, who will lead us into the little known riches found in unexpected corners of the San Francisco Public Library! Whom might you want them to help you find? Generations of Filipino Americans, family histories and poetry perhaps?
We look forward to having you join us for this FREE Family-Friendly program.
Please register via

Estella Habal, PhD. Dr Habal is an Original Defender of the International Hotel, a San Jose State University Professor Emerita, and author of the definitive book on the International Hotel Eviction, San Francisco’s International Hotel: Mobilizing the Filipino American Community in the Anti-Eviction Movement.

AbeAbraham (Abe) Ignacio, Jr. is the librarian for the Filipino American Center at the San Francisco Public Library. He received his Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) in 2014 from San Jose State University. Abe completed his B.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. With Enrique de la Cruz, Jorge Emmanuel and Helen Toribio, he co-authored The Forbidden Book: The Philippine American War in Political Cartoons. He is a member of the East Bay chapter of the Filipino American Historical Society.

ErnieErnest Llorente is a native San Franciscan whose parents immigrated to San Francisco after World War II. He graduated with an undergraduate degree in History from UC Berkeley and obtained his Juris Doctor Degree from UC Davis. He served as a Trial Attorney for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office for 22 years then continued his service to San Francisco as a Civil Litigation Prosecutor for the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office for ten years. While serving as a government attorney he also served the City as Chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections.

Ernest Llorente was one of the seven Founding Members of the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC) and served as the FBANC’s second President. He is pleased to say that the FBANC was able to support and mentor new Filipino attorneys including Bill Tamayo, the current Managing Attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for the Western Region.

After Willie Brown Jr. was elected Mayor of San Francisco, he appointed Mr. Llorente to the San Francisco Public Library Commission, where he later served as its President. Ernest Llorente considers himself fortunate to have contributed to the development of the Affinity Centers in the new San Francisco Main Library.

susanSusan Goldstein has served as the City Archivist of San Francisco for over 25 years, documenting the city’s official and unofficial history at the San Francisco History Center at the San Francisco Public Library. The History Center collects and preserves the archives of the City and County of San Francisco, as well as maintains a local history collection, an extensive photograph collection, and a public reading room. Goldstein also spearheads a number of digital projects for SFPL, including the “Shades of San Francisco” project, setting up photo collecting days in different San Francisco neighborhoods in order to add more images of ethnic diversity and representation to the library archives. Previously, Goldstein worked as the Archivist to Senator Alan Cranston for three years and at the Labor Archives and Research Center at San Francisco State University. Goldstein received her B.A. in American Studies from Brown University, an MLIS from UC Berkeley and her MA in History from UC Santa Barbara.

For more information about the Remember, Recover, Reclaim series or the Manilatown Heritage Foundation please contact us at:

Book Festival Artwork by Ella Romero