A Filipino American history kiosk on S King Street and 6th Avenue S. shows the contributions of Filipinos in the city and Chinatown International District. Flowers were laid there beside an image of Uncle Bob Santos on August 29, 2016, who had passed away a few days earlier. • Photo by Travis Quezon

The Filipino Town Coalition will hold a strategy meeting on Thursday, June 14 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Hing Hay Coworks to discuss goals and new concerns. The coalition was formed in 2017 to push back against the erasure of Filipino American history in the Chinatown International District neighborhood.

In summer 2017, reference to “historic Manilatown” was removed from a City Council resolution that referenced Chinatown, Japantown and Little Saigon. The resolution identified ways the City could help the neighborhood thrive and preserve its cultural history, and was introduced in conjunction with the Council approving upzones (allowing taller construction) in the neighborhood. After push-back from the newly-formed Filipino Town Coalition, the City Council amended the resolution, as the Seattle Times reported, adding a reference to “historic Filipino Town.”

Devin Cabanilla, member of the Seattle chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society, co-wrote a letter to the City Council about the issue.

Now in 2018, “new acts against Filipino projects, city activities, and obstruction of creating our historical landmarks is happening again,” Cabanilla wrote in a recent newsletter.

For example Cabanilla writes that in March, he was approached by a Seattle Police Department employee who said they’d been instructed to not mention “Filipino Town” in CID historical training curriculum with the SPD. And in May, a petition circulated among businesses along Maynard that opposed building a “Filipino Memorial Parklet” on Maynard Ave S between King and Weller streets, near the Carlos Bulosan Memorial and Eastern Cafe. The petition argued the parklet would get in the way of businesses, lion dances and would be bad Feng Shui.

The current strategic goals of the Filipino Town Coalition are as follows:

  1. Biased Anti-Filipino activities must stop, both institutionally and structurally in Seattle & the CID.
  2. Equity & diversity must be real in political & social practice, by promoting inclusion of Filipino Town history.
  3. All interference to the Filipino Memorial Parklet proposed for the CID must be reversed.
  4. Misinformation about Filipino American history, and the manipulation of community actors for the targeted detriment of that history must end.
  5. True reconciliation and understanding that is mutually beneficial for all historical communities of the CID must occur.

The meeting will be held at Hing Hay Coworks (409 B Maynard Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104):

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Cabanilla was approached by a Seattle Police officer. In fact, he was approached by a Seattle Police Department employee.

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