The International Hotel was a low-income residential hotel that became the most dramatic housing-rights battleground in San Francisco history. As a center for Filipino and Asian American activism in the 1970s, the building housed nearly 150 Filipino and Chinese seniors, three community groups, an art workshop, a radical bookstore and three Asian newspapers. The I-Hotel stood on the last remaining block of Manilatown, a once-thriving Filipino neighborhood that was gradually displaced by San Francisco’s expanding financial district.
The Fall and Rise
From 1968 to 1977, landlords of the hotel tried to evict the residents and build a parking lot. Resisting eviction for almost a decade, the tenants organized a mass-based, multiracial alliance which included students, unions and churches. During the final 3am eviction on August 4, 1977, over 3,000 people unsuccessfully defended the I-Hotel from hundreds of club-wielding riot police. The building was demolished in 1979, and it remained a vacant hole for over two decades. Thanks to a concerted effort by local neighborhood groups, the I-Hotel was rebuilt in 2005, providing 104 units of low-income senior housing and the International Hotel Manilatown Center to continue the legacy of Manilatown.
Proceeds from the sales of The I Hotel will go towards the Manilatown Heritage Foundation.www.manilatown.org
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Bayani Art X Manilatown Heritage Foundation
Art by Tata Ponsi
Bayani Art team produced this art project titled KASAYSAYAN. translated to “History.” in collaboration with Kristian Kabuay of Baybayin.com. Through this piece, Bayani Art wanted to emphasize the struggles, contributions and triumphs of the FilAm community. In the center of the mural is Gabriela Silang, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, LapuLapu and Sultan Kudarat. These courageous leaders played a key part of the Philippines history. We centered these heroes to not only recognize Filipino American history, but to also acknowledge our roots.
On the bottom left side of the mural stands the Filipino veterans fighting alongside the Americans during World War II. Right above that we can see the Manongs, students, community organizers, and activists who came together in solidarity to fight against the demolishment of the International Hotel in the 1960’s. The faces on top of the I-Hotel are the students who played a crucial part in this movement. On the left side of Jose Rizal stands LapuLapu, the man who led the Filipinos victorious in the 1521 Victory at Mactan.
Larry Itliong is displayed on the top right side of the mural, alongside Philip Vera Cruz and other Filipino and Mexican farmworkers. Bayani Art wants to acknowledge the contributions that Filipinos made during the farmworkers movement as it is often a forgotten and untold story. On the left of the farmworkers stands a Filipino boxer – which represents that attributions Filipinos have made in American sports. Located on the right of Andres Bonifacio is Sultan Kudarat, a man who successfully defended Mindanao during Spanish Colonization. Lastly, the Katipunan is also displayed in the lower half of the red section through the Cry of Caloocan and Katipunan blood pact.
We wanted this art mural to showcase that resiliency and kapwa lies in the blood of Filipinos. We hope that this piece encourages the people to not only learn about their history, but to also fight against injustices happening today. Mabuhay.
Art by Teogenes “Ponsi” Alfonso, Robin Aquilizan, Kristian Kabuay, Aaron Jurell Sarmiento and Joseph Aquilizan