Tag Archives: Kearny Street Workshop

10/12/17 Rohingya, Welga, and APAture

Tonight, we rebroadcast Salima Hamarani’s segment on the Rohingya refugee crisis and find inspiration in the arts.

Click here to download the audio

We visit Bindlestiff Studio to learn about Welgatheir latest production that weaves labor rights, educational rights, and family into a coming of age story set in SOMA Pilipinas.

Welga playwright Conrad Panganiban and labor activst Daz Lamparas.

And we talk with artists participating in Kearny Street Workshop’s annual showcase of Asian Pacific American artists, APAture. Interviews include Focus Artist Award recipient, Kristina Wong; visual artist Selena Ching; featured literary artist Vanessa Hua, author of Deceit and Other Possibilities; and featured book artist Innosanto Nagara, author of the popular children’s book, A is for Activist.

Books illustrated by APAture featured artist Innosanto Nagara.

Community Calendar

Welga continues through October 21 at Bindlestiff Studio.

Kearny Street Workshop is also participating in at Lit Crawl at Five and Diamond in San Francisco featuring alumni from their three month summer program for writers of color.

Also on Saturday, El Rio hosts a punk and hip hop benefit for Migrante SoMa/TL- San Francisco, a grassroots community organization that advocates and organizes Filipino migrants and workers in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

APAture programs continue this week with the Book Arts Showcase featuring Innosanto Nagara on Sunday, October 15 at Arc Gallery and Studios in San Francisco. And save the date for the Performing Arts showcase on Saturday, October 21 at the Asian Art Museum featuring Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.


11/19/15 KSW’s Interdisciplinary Writers Lab

Photo by Nye Lyn Tho

Photo by Nye Lyn Tho

Download the audio by clicking here.

Tonight we bring you powerful words from Kearny Street Workshop’s talented teachers and students of this year’s Interdisciplinary Writers Lab. IWL is a three month, multi-genre class for local writers, challenged to expand their practice by working in a variety of genres and formats. Tune in to hear the fruits of their labor.

A stellar lineup of instructors included: Chinaka Hodge (writing for performance), Nayomi Munaweera (fiction), Brynn Saito (poetry). The IWL 2015 cohort was made up of Celeste Chan, Vida Kuang, Daniel Riddle Rodriguez, Joshua Merchant, Janine Mogannam, Shelley Wong, Phuong Vuong, Helida Silva, Audrey Esquivel, Stephen Tsai, Tanea Lunsford, Irene Tu, Diego Basdeo, Hope Casareno, Paula Junn

Tonight’s show was edited by Justine Lee and produced by Nonogirl.

Community Calendar

A Place of Her Own, an exhibition that asks Asian American women, “if you had a place of your own, what would it be,” opens Thursday at SOMArts Cultural Center. Curated by Cynthia Tom, see the dreams of women brought to life through soul-inspiring sound sculpture, a forest of giant intuitive paintings, and an enormous landscape of hand-built chairs and ladders. The exhibition will be up until December 11.

Saturday at East Side Cultural Center, check out the next in the Spirit of Bandung Series: Black Liberation and Third World Solidarity, presented by Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Haiti Action Committee, Black Alliance for Just Immigration. With U.S. imperialism as a backdrop, the organizations will explore anti- Black violence and movements for resistance, liberation, and self-determination.

On Saturday at UC Berkeley’s Herbst Field Annex Room, check out the Conference on Third World`Multiracial Solidarity and Community Engagement from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. This conference, free and open to the public, will engage activists and scholars involved with the late 1960s Third World Liberation Front Strikes of San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley in issues and concerns facing younger generations.

Also on Saturday there’s the 8th Annual Bike Expo! Whether you are just starting to ride or have been cycling your whole life, the SF Bike Expo is the perfect venue to support those who share the same interest and passion for cycling with booths featuring vendors from fashion and apparel to backyard bicycle fabrications. It’s at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, with a free Bike Valet; $10 parking for cars.

10/8/15 SE Asians respond to the refugee crisis, and APAture!

MOAS rescues 105 migrants in Oct 2014. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi/MOAS

MOAS rescues 105 migrants in Oct 2014.
Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi/MOAS

Download the audio by clicking here.

Tonight, we kick off a two-part series on the Syrian refugee crisis. We explore it through the eyes of a SouthEast Asian refugee and filmmaker, Duc Nguyen. He has recently launched a hashtag and fundraising campaign (#ICAREBECAUSE) to raise awareness and much needed donations for life-saving charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station. We also hear from USF Professor Bill Ong Hing to get his take on the U.S.’s policy on refugees.

We also delve deep into this year’s multi-day, multidisciplinary, Asian Pacific American arts festival: Kearny Street Workshop’s APAture! We hear from one of the organizers, Dara Del Rosario, and from three of the featured artists, filmmaker Jethro Patalinghug, comic book illustrator Thi Bui, and Charito Soriano of the musical duo Astralogik to learn about the change that these artists hope their art will compel.

Plus we have a tribute to centenarian activist Grace Lee Boggs.

Community Calendar
On October 18, there will be a walk-a-thon to support MOAS and the Syrian Medical Society in Orange County’s Miles Square Park.

KSW’s APAture kicks off this weekend

This Friday, Kearny Street Workshop kicks off APAture, a multi-day festival featuring a lineup of some of the most exciting Asian and Pacific Islander artists in the San Francisco Bay Area today.

Download the audio by clicking here

APEX Contributor Robynn Takayama talked with KSW’s Program Manager Jason Bayani about what to catch during this two-week festival that features over 80 artists! The full schedule is available here.

11/21/2013 Typhoon Haiyan, KSW Artists Workshop, Makana

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On tonight’s show:

We’ll be hearing about Taskforce Haiyan, a local effort to support the 4 million people in the Philippines who were displaced by Typhoon Haiyan.

Taskforce Haiyan

Taskforce Haiyan

Then we’ll learn about Kearny Street Workshop’s artist reception in Oakland focusing on finding home where the heart is.

Photo from makanamusic.com

Photo from makanamusic.com

We’ll round out the hour with an interview with Hawaiian slack key guitar icon, Makana.  The guitarist, singer, and composer made headlines in 2011 when he played his protest song, “We Are the Many” at the APEC World Leaders’ Dinner.  Since then, he’s continued to evolve, creating Hawaiian music that speaks to the realities of our time.  His new album, Ripe, is out this week.

We also have a ticket give away for Balkan Beatbox.  Tara Dorabji hosts.

9/12/13 Arts in the House

Download the link by clicking here.

A memoir by journalist Alison Singh Gee

A memoir by journalist Alison Singh Gee

The arts are in the house tonight. First up we’ll be hear from organizers of Kearny Street Workshop’s APAture. Returning to the Bay Area in October, APAture features emerging Asian and Pacific American talent in a multidisciplinary arts festival.

We’ll talk with Alison Gee Singh about her memoir, Where the Peacocks Singfollowing her journey from LA to Taiwan to India in her search for home.

Community Calendar
Featured on last week’s show, tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. is the long-awaited Feast of Funny—Kearny Street Workshop’s stand-up comedy event! Hosted by Al S. Manolo and featuring small plates from nine diverse chefs, get your fill of laughs and good food for only $10, with all proceeds benefiting APAture 2013. https://www.facebook.com/events/157989431069396/

Join Active Leadership to Advance the Youth for music, poetry and live performance tomorrow night at Mama Art Café on Mission Street in San Francisco. This month’s In Progress! open mike focuses on immigration, welcoming song, rap, and poetry from the community. Come join in from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.on this feel-good event. https://www.facebook.com/events/167155456810031/

Also tomorrow night, crawl out of bed in your grown-up sleepwear for Hyphen magazine’s celebration of their 27th publication: The Sex Issue. From 8:30 – 1:30 a.m. at Fame on Broadway in San Francisco, enjoy a drag show, mingle-bingo, sexy cocktails, dancing, and more. Tickets are $20 athyphenmagazine.com.

Next Thursday night from 5:30 – 9:00 p.m. at the Bayview Opera House, APEXer Robynn Takayama, the SF Arts Commission, and KALW public radio reporters bring us “The Sights and Sounds of Bayview,” a night of free live radio storytelling. Featuring inspiring people in Bayview, stories range from native Raquel Miller, who transformed herself from street-fighting teen to Olympic hopeful to former gang members turned clergymen who helped young men leave violent street life. Blues performer Pat Wilder and the Serious Business kicks off the program in the wine and beer garden, with food for sale by Taste of Black Cuisine. Find out more at sfartscommission.org.

4/19/12 Battle of the Bay: Is Oakland Cooler Than SF?

[audio http://archives.kpfa.org/data/20120419-Thu1900.mp3]

This week’s episode is a Battle of the Bay. You may have seen the Bay Guardian’s cover story last week which asked, “Is Oakland cooler than SF?!” and said, “San Francisco is losing much of its diversity, cultural edge, and working class to the East Bay — can anything be done?”

To continue this dialogue, we talk with Michelle Reed who opened a small plant store called Roots in San Francisco’s Mission District.

We also bring into the studio, Saqib Keval with People’s Grocery, an organization whose mission is to  improve the health and economy of West Oakland through the local food system.

We talk with Kearny Street Workshop, a multi-disciplinary arts organization in San Francisco thatis holding a fundraiser called Dumpling Wars at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.

And we close out with a teaser for the documentary about the lead singer of San Francisco band, Journey. Mr. Arnel Pineda, from the Philippines!


  • Haven’t seen a good play lately? Tonight, immediately after our show, head straight to Bindlestiff Studio in SF. This show promises to astound. “Thunder above, deeps below” is an imaginative take on Shakespeare’s Pericles featuring three homeless young adults. It’s all about redemption, identity, gender and sexuality and the search for a better life. Tickets are $25 at the door. 185 Sixth @Howard in San Francisco’s South of Market District. The play runs through May 5.
  • Friday, April 20 in Oakland, suit up in your favorite digs and head to the Paramount Theater of the Arts for Notes from the Philippines featuring jazz and classical musicians Victor Noriega, Arthur Khu and David Riquero. Promises to be a really beautiful night of music with the best bay area jazz talent. 8pm on Friday, 2025 Broadway in Downtown Oakland.
  • And if you haven’t had your fill of music, this Saturday, April 21,  join us at East Side Arts Alliance to celebrate the arrival of the warm weather with a whole lot of music at “spring forward”. Spend the evening listening to experimental jazz ensemble Mutual Aid Project, hip hop/funk/rock collective Bandung 55, and Rachel Lastimosa of the soul/jazz/indie group Dirty Boots. That’s at 8pm this Saturday at East Side Arts Alliance.
  • Earlier in the show you got a sneak preview of the kind of excitement waiting for you at Kearny Street Workshop’s first ever Dumpling Wars. Seven teams of amateur chefs compete to create the best hand made dumplings which that’s right, you the audience, then get to eat. Food, competition and music? What better way to spend a Thursday night. The Dumpling Wars take place at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center on April 26th from 6 – 9 pm. Entry $25.
  • Finally, May 3 at the Castro Theater is the Closing Night of “Don’t Stop Believing: Everyman’s Journey” about Arnel Pineda’s rise to fame as the newest singer of Journey. 7pm at the Castro Theater. Get your tickets online through the San Francisco International Film Festival.

5/12/11 Nancy Hom, a leader in our community

Continuing with our Leaders in the Community Series for pledge drive, we feature Nancy Hom.

Nancy is an artist, writer, organizer, and arts administrator who has created numerous images for community events, political and social causes, and children’s books. After exploring silk screening and illustration, she is now a mixed-media artist and for the past two years has ventured into large-scale sculpture work.

The themes of her artwork – women, family, culture, protests, and celebrations – are universal. Her experience as an immigrant, mother, administrator, community activist, and spiritual seeker continues to provide the framework for her creative endeavors, which include writing as well as visual art.

For the pledge drive, Nancy has generously donated greeting cards made for the historic Asian American Dance Collective. These four-color silkscreen prints were hand-pulled by the artist and are the last remaining copies of this run. The card comes with an envelop and is wrapped in a plastic sleeve.

Her upcoming exhibitions include:
A Place of Her Own
May 5 – May 26
SOMArts Cultural Center
934 Brannan Street, SF
Closing Reception: May 26, 6-9 PM
Presented by AAWAA, Nancy exhibits a large-scale sculpture.

Asian Art Museum Free Day
Saturday, May 21, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
200 Larkin Street
The public is invited to co-create site specific artwork with Nancy Hom on the front steps.

ARTIST FROM THE HEART: Creativity, Celebration and Compassionate Action for Japan Disaster Relief
Saturday, May 21
5 p.m. Marketplace and food vendors open
7 p.m. Performances
Nihonmachi Terrace: 1615 Sutter Street, SSF
Donation sliding scale: $10- $100 (benefit for the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund)
Nancy will read along with Leon Sun, Bonnie Kwong and Tsering Wangmo for “Karma Intertwined: Words & Images of Aspiration by Tibetan and Chinese American Artists.”

2/17/11 KPFA 94.1 FM fund drive

Please show your support for Asian American content on the airwaves. Call in tonight  between 7 and 8 p.m. (during Apex Express) to 1-800-439-5732  or 510-848-5732 or visit online to make a donation; no donation is too small. Let KPFA and Pacifica know that you want Asian American programming to continue.

We are offering a CD of the multicultural jazz group, Kotolán for a donation of $45. But every little helps.

And our line-up for tonight includes a looksie at love and weddings through the lens of wedding photographers including photographers from Orange Photography and Chaz Cruz. We also check in with Ellen Oh with Kearny Street Workshop about their A Sensory Feast exhibition at SOMArts, which includes an installation with the National Bitter Melon Council. Co-Founder Hiroko Kikuchi explains her appreciation for this vegetable and how she thinks it can build community.

Music In A Movement: a prelude

By Gina Hotta

The cassette is on and the lights burn late into the evening hours on campus. Music is a constant backdrop to all the activity. Earth, Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, War. San Francisco’s Latin sounds of Santana and Malo are favorites as is Azteca’s “Love Not Then”. The song is written by Flip Nunez, a Filipino American pianist out of Stockton, California who plays in Azteca along with another Filipino keyboardist George Muribus. The East Bay’s own Tower of Power blasts out “You’re Still a Young Man” that gets the guys out on the dance floor every time. These are sounds that resonate well among Asian and Filipino students in the 1970’s. Many of who grew up only several blocks away from – and many times in – Latino and African American neighborhoods. In rooms designated for Asian and Filipino American student organizations at the University of California at Berkeley, activists meet, plan, and silk-screen posters for an up-coming dance – a benefit for the International Hotel.

On the wall is a poster of a Hotel tenant. Drawn with great care, the lines around the eyes of the Manong – a term of respect for Filipino elders – show dignity and warmth rather than the years of hard work in the fields and factories of America. In the background is the International Hotel, also known as the I-Hotel. Its ground floor also houses a hive of political and cultural activity with organizations like Kearny Street Workshop. Musicians from Kearny Street experiment with jazz and the musical expression of Asian America, artists generate posters that hang on the walls of the Asian American organizers. Many students are part of serve-the-people programs that operate out of the basement of the I-Hotel. Asian American Community Center and The Chinese Progressive Association serve as a bridge between campus and community. Student presence at the I-Hotel is strong.

Flyers churn out of the students’ old ditto machine, its blue ink smudging and blurring letters. Papers get stuck in it every few sheets. But it’s the meeting to determine the flyers’ content that takes the longest time. “Why support the International Hotel tenants?” was the one question that needs to be answered in a clear, concise way. And what, if any, slogans should appear on the silk-screened posters for the benefit dance? “Stop racism at home and abroad”, “Save the I-Hotel”, “Support the working class and its’ struggles”, are put out to the gathering. The talk twists and turns along. “We want simple slogans to bring in as many kinds of people as possible.” “Like immigrant youths who’re dropping out by the dozens from high school and drawn to the streets.” “Did you hear about another shooting in Chinatown the other night? Now the police are targeting the youths again.” “The war in Vietnam is a racist war. The reasons for shooting people over there is not too different from why our people get shot here.” The riff between these views and the forces they represent will grow and ebb with the tide of political differences. But there’s no dispute over the music; there’s no doubt about what power it has over people.

It’s still a long night ahead. The students slowly apply the paint and push it through the silk screen. First comes the black paint, then the red, then the yellow and so forth as each layer of builds upon the next until the form is clear and the outlines are filled in. Time is needed to dry the paint between each application of color. Each poster goes through the same pain-staking process. And each poster is hung-up to dry, finding a small space in an already cluttered room.

It’s the 1970s and sons and daughters of servants and service workers have stood up; have taken the first steps outside the doors of segregation and are breaking down others. It’s a time when the war in Vietnam brings Asian faces to the TV screen. Women weep in front of US soldiers holding guns pointed at them. The dead lay about the village and rice fields and their bodies are bloodied. But the screens also show Asian men and women holding their own against the strongest army in the world. Throughout Asia, the people are standing up.

Al Robles is a poet and knows about the power of the arts and the role it plays in the highly charged politics surrounding the I-Hotel. In his written works are the rhythms of village life in the Philippines, of village sons who came to toil in the fields and factories of America, some of whom now live in the Hotel. Robles now helps these residents and elders in the Filipino American community. Just up the street from the I-Hotel is North Beach, home to the Beat Generation, a scene that Robles knew well. Now there’s a new generation, one that has grown out of homes where English is a second language, where hope is a steady low-wage job, where even a small patch of apartment space in a poor neighborhood is better than where you came from. And all the sights and sounds that flow from this young generation must be elevated beyond these basics. That’s the trick of it all. And so Robles is a founder of Kearny Street Workshop, home to many of the artists and visionaries of a new generation of Asians in American. But Kearny Street Workshop is in the I-Hotel. And soon its fate will be decided along with the hotel tenants.

Dressed for the chill of a San Francisco evening, people are kept warm by their allies pressed around them. Evictions are eminent. Black, White, Latino, and Native American – the whole spectrum of the San Francisco Bay Area’s rich community mix comes out each time there’s a call to link arms and stand in front of the International Hotel. But it is the Asian American contingents that are the most prominent. It is the force of their collective history in America that’s alive night after night, keeping the fires burning for the crowd of supporters. “Makibaka Huwag Matakot”, “Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win”, “United Together, We’ll Never Be Defeated”, “No Evictions, We Won’t Move”. Their chants and calls for courage surge through the thousands lining Kearny Street on the edge of Chinatown in what was once a thriving Manilatown.

It maybe the last chance these mostly young Asian Americans have to give thanks to their elders. These men and women worked too hard in the fields and factories of America to be cast out into the streets. Not this time, and surely not without a fight. The International Hotel hasn’t seen half this much commotion since these elderly tenants – mostly Filipino men– were young. In those days, cafes and residential hotels provided comfort and affordable life-styles to Filipino workers who gathered in Manilatown. The fruit that needed to be picked and the produce that needed packing sweated away your strength in the agricultural valleys and fields running up and down the length of California, Oregon and Washington. The dime-a-dance women at clubs provided a little companionship. But marriage to white women was forbidden. That was the law in many states. Try and change it, and you could likely face a lynch mob. Back then US immigration laws prevented further immigration from the Philippines, as well as from India and Asia.

Many of the immigrant men had grown old alone, their last days in single residential occupancy hotels like the I-Hotel. But friends and, for a lucky few, some family members surround you. It was easy to go out, get some Filipino food or eat at the numerous restaurants across the street in Chinatown. You could spend time catching up with friends and talking about the latest concern – what might happen to you now that the hotel was to be sold. Rents were higher than ever as San Francisco implemented redevelopment plans to turn the city into a major American financial and tourist center. Supporters of the I-Hotel residents had put forth plans to retain the hotel for affordable housing and as a center of Filipino cultural activity. But after several years, negotiations with the hotel owner and the city finally broke down. In that same period, tenant supporters were developing plans to face the possibility of a forced eviction. Now it was time to put these plans into place.

On the UC Berkeley campus, there needs to be over 1000 people in Pauley Ballroom for the benefit to break even. And it’s the music – bottom line – that can make that happen. Money from the dance will help pay for repairs at the Hotel, help produce the anti-eviction rallies and pay for legal fees. The only question about the music comes down to budget and which band to hire. The group needs to be live, needs to be tight and needs to be one of the many Asian American groups that cover the soul and R’n’B sounds that can bring out a crowd to dance.

In the past, Hiroshima would be affordable. But it’s the first band to make a successful leap from the community of their origins onto the national music charts. And now their fee is too steep for the student run dances. But they’d be great. June Kuramoto’s koto has a central role in saxophonist Dan Kuramoto’s original compositions. Johnny Mori’s taiko drumbeat gives Hiroshima their drive. The group’s Japanese instrumentation hasn’t been buried away by the sting of the internment years when all things Japanese were suspect. Now these instruments are a pivot point for the band. They stand front and center. Hiroshima is a sound out of LA and the music of the third generation of Japanese in America, children of America’s concentration camps.

San Francisco Taiko Dojo is taking the stage. The group is a key part of any festival in Japantown. The powerful roll of their drums signifies grand beginnings and dramatic endings. Japanese folk drums only found a foothold in the 1970’s among Japanese Americans who were starved for the loud boisterous feel that taiko brings. The drums proudly proclaim themselves without fear, without self-consciousness – so unlike the feelings that many Japanese Americans had during the anti-Japanese hysteria after Pearl Harbor was bombed.

The internment of Japanese Americans during the war by the US government was the first large-scale eviction from San Francisco’s Japantown. The second mass eviction was being accomplished by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. Corporations working with the City of San Francisco planned to make Japantown, or Nihonmachi, a centerpiece for the city’s tourist industry. It dovetailed nicely with the concept of using the city’s historic Asian American neighborhoods as a tourist attraction and as a tie to Asian business interests abroad. Squeezing out the mainly working-class Asian American residents of these local communities was the only slight catch.

The old Victorian building on Sutter Street is home to Nobiru-kai, a Japanese immigrant self-help organization; two families; and an organization of young Asian American artists called JAM. It’s also home to Committee Against Nihonmachi Eviction or CANE. Now called Japanese Community Progressive Alliance, or JCPA, its members plan for a big outreach push during the up-coming Nihonmachi Street Festival. There’s also a good chance that decent money will be made by selling food. Preparations are made for a booth to raise funds to help the anti-eviction struggle. The many festivals in Japantown bring thousands of people into the community.

During the annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in Japantown, Seiichi Tanaka stands on the portable shrine high above the cheering crowd. The O-mikoshi is carried on shoulders of the shrine’s supporters during Japanese festivities. Here in San Francisco, Tanaka shouts encouragement to the shrine bearers who answer back. The chant continues along the whole parade route. It’s a sound and a feel much like the way celebrations happen in Japan. Seiichi Tanaka grew up hearing taiko in Japan. It was a sound he missed during his first years in the US. One day he would take on the mantel of Grand Master, a creator of an American style of playing taiko. Tanaka would become Sensei, or teacher, of San Francisco Taiko Dojo. Under his guidance many Japanese Americans would learn to play traditional drums, an art that was almost lost in the US.

But, participating in the Cherry Blossom Festival was always an up-for-discussion topic by members of JCPA. It was controversial to participate in a Festival funded by the very corporate forces that pushed so many original inhabitants out of Japantown. The discussion about whether to participate continued. There were so many other things to do. Evictions at the apartment up on Sutter Street could happen any day now. And, at the International Hotel, the situation was dire. Their I-Hotel allies might call for support at a moment’s notice.

At Berkeley, a member of the student Entertainment Committee makes a call and one of the local bands gets booked. The mostly Asian band members are from the San Francisco Chinatown area. Some of the musicians are UC students themselves like Carey Huang who majors in music. Most of the bands consist of drums, trumpet, saxophone, keyboard, guitar, bass and vocalists. It’s a lot of people to pay. But sometimes it’s simply for the love of playing that Carey and his band-mate Jeff Chan play a gig. After all, for Jeff, music was a way that saved him from the streets. In San Francisco Chinatown in the ‘70s there is a lot of temptation to make fast money – more money in a day than too many parents make in a week of ten to twelve hour-a-day jobs. As parents are out working, the children gather in playgrounds. Older youths hang in out in cafes and pools halls like the young people called the Lee Ways.

For youths like the Lee Ways there was always the strong pull of making easy money or following the hard grinding work road their immigrant parents were toiling on. But, there was a third way and it found inspirations across the Bay. In Oakland California, The Black Panthers had begun serve-the-people programs within the context of revolutionary change. Now, youths from Chinatown were going to college, becoming organizers and forming social justice organizations as well as social service programs.

A vital force at the I-Hotel is the anti-Marcos constituency. Their members are key I-Hotel organizers as well as advance democracy in the Philippines. One activist jokingly refers to the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco as “everyone’s favorite meeting place”. On a regular basis, protesters march against Marcos’ military dictatorship and martial law on the Consulate’s front doorsteps. And in the Philippines, martial law is especially harsh in the south.

Those were tough times, especially if you were Muslim remembers Danongan Kalanduyan who comes from the Southern Philippines. His family members are skilled musicians in the performance of the kulintang ensemble. Made up of pitched gongs, the kulintang ensemble is associated with pre-colonial Filipino culture and is still performed on the islands that make up the southern Philippines. For hundreds of years, attempts at colonization by Spain, Japan and the US had failed in the primarily Muslim and indigenous strongholds of the south. On islands like Mindanao the military under Marcos attempted to gain control over the rich resources. Resistance from the Muslim peoples
in the 1970s grew stronger. Armed conflict and human rights abuses erupted. Kalanduyan is of the Magindanao people who come from the island of Mindanao. It was during this time of strife that an opportunity opened up for Kalanduyan that he couldn’t ignore.

The invitation came from the University of Washington in Seattle to teach kulintang. Kalanduyan joined up with another kulintang master Dr. Usopay Cardar who was a teacher in the university’s music department. Here they found a welcome reception among sons and daughters of Filipino immigrants in the US. For young Filipino Americans, kulintang music gave them a tie to an ancient tradition, one that represents resistance to colonialism and the fight for self-determination.

It is August 4, 1977. On Kearny Street, young Asians dressed in army jackets and jeans, and folks of every color gather on the streets surrounding the I-Hotel. The “Red Alert” was sounding. From the organizing committees of the I-Hotel and from the residents themselves, word spreads that the eviction could be tonight. Once again, it is time to go to the hotel, link arms and await word from the leadership of the various constituent groups that form the core of the Hotel’s supporters.

The evening grows dark. Riders on horseback line up to face the chanting crowd. Rows and rows of men and women stand with arms linked together backed all the way up to the wall. It’s evening now. The TAC squad has set-up floodlights and the stage is set for what’s to come. Police in helmets flash into sharp relief when the lights hit them just right. The riders and their horses pace back and forth. The electrified crowd surges forward and back, roiling like waves before an approaching storm. Thousands stand, they will fight without weapons to protect the International Hotel. They face the riot police and prepare themselves for a long night.

Inside the International Hotel, Al Robles hears the crowd outside as he walks the halls going from room to room to check on the tenants. He knocks on the door of Manong Esoria and on the door of Manong Espiritu. Robles informs the men that things are going to be alright and that they might be going on a walk later if they have to leave their homes tonight. Knowing what awaits them, Robles feels like he’s floating, like the floor has been pulled from under him.

“Long Live the I-Hotel”, “Long-Live the I-Hotel”, “Just Like A Tree Standing By the Water, We Shall Not Be Moved”. On August 4, 1977 chants mix with the roar of shouts, sirens and bullhorns. Upstairs and inside the International Hotel, Al Robles knows that as a tenant supporter he must project an air of calm, of protection. He knows that the police may soon be fighting through the crowd outside. Once inside the hotel, they’ll find rows and rows of people linked arm-in-arm throughout the hallways, on stairways, in front of doors – human barricades to stop the police every step of the way. And once at the tenants’ doors, the hammers will come out swinging and smashing through wood.

Outside the hotel, the men and women know now that tonight is the night. Word travels fast through the crowd that the TAC squad is coming. “They’re getting out of the police vans.” “The police are getting into formation.” “They’re marching down, Broadway.” “Kearny Street is cordoned off, they’re letting no one through!” Word goes out that if anyone wants to leave the human barricade, now’s the time to do it. People could lose jobs, get beat down, face jail time. For some, arrest means deportation. But the vast majority of people decide to stay.

The horses and their riders move into the crowd. They push their way through. The riders swing down their batons. The frontline of the human barricade receives the full brunt of the battle, but the crowd heaves back against the attack. Again, police plow into them driving the full weight of the crowd onto the last row of people, pressing them up against the wall of the hotel. Police lights hover overhead. Horse and riders and police press forward looking like ghosts swimming on a sea of people drowning in the night.

Inside in the hotel, you can hear the chanting. You can hear the screams of men and women being pushed by the horses and hit by clubs. Inside the hotel, supporters and younger tenants stand together, arm-in-arm and know that the hour of resistance is reaching its height. You can hear the fire trucks pull up. Their ladders come up and out, arching over the heads of the crowd, aiming for the hotel’s rooftop. Inside the hotel, you can hear the blows of the hammers when they start coming through the roof, when they start knocking down the doors.

It is daybreak when it’s all over. Faces are drawn and tired. Inside ambulances sit the wounded with bloodied heads and faces. Supporters have escorted the tenants away to a safer place and temporary shelter. Constituent groups gather together and huddle in the street summing up the situation; some make plans to re-occupy the I-Hotel. But, in the end, the tenants are gone from the I-Hotel and the storefronts are blocked off and boarded up.

In Japantown, word comes down that police are gathering up on Sutter Street. When the “Red Alert” comes, it’s in the morning with little notice. Coming so soon after the International Hotel eviction, there’s little time to get the word out to assemble in front of the Sutter Street apartment. Members of Japanese Community Progressive Alliance and those who’ve gotten the Alert in time scramble to get ready. They run up the hill to gather in front of the building. As the handful of people block the front doorway, they face the TAC squad across the street. Lined up in formation with helmets and clubs, the police greatly outnumber the activists who stand in front of the apartment. More supporters come racing up the street to join the human barricade. But the police prevent them from doing so. The supporters start chanting and the police start crossing the street. The men and women, locked arm-in-arm are, grabbed, pulled and pushed until their links are broken. The police now have access to the front door and eviction of the tenants begins.

The activists continue their chants as police arrest a supporter. Mrs. Hanatani, a single, middle-aged tenant races away up the street. A scarf covers her head and a suitcase is in her hand. A tenant supporter goes with her trying to calm her fears. Frank, a Japanese American man younger than Mrs. Hanatani, is shaken but comes out and checks on his belongings that are being put on the street.

By now the crowd of supporters has grown. Many of them were present on eviction night at the International Hotel. Others are involved in similar struggles throughout the city and nation. One man stands in the front of the crowd. Bernard Punikaia is in San Francisco in the hopes of preventing another eviction. When the Red Alert sounds, he is staying with members of JCPA while on a speaking tour about Kalaupapa. It is one of several struggles breaking out in Hawaii supporting indigenous and local people in opposition to military and corporate interests.

The Chinese Progressive Association, now relocated not far from the Hotel, also hosts a Native Hawaiian. He talks about the island of Kaho’olawe and how it is being used for military bombing practice. He explains that there is urgency among indigenous people to preserve their lands and culture. Two Native Hawaiians went to live on Kaho’olawe to protest the bombing. The men have since disappeared. The island is barren and riddled with un-exploded bombs. These men put their lives on the line to protect a place sacred to Native Hawaiians.

Bernard Punikaia is a musician and writes Hawaiian songs. In the living room of his JCPA hosts he sits by himself and sings a song. Punikaia also has Hansen’s disease. More commonly known as leprosy, the fate of those with Hansen’s disease was once isolation and abandonment on the island of Molokai. But under the direction of Father Damien, Kalaupapa on Molokai became a place of comfort and humane treatment. Now, this care center and residence for patients is in trouble. Patients there are being threatened with evictions as the State of Hawaii makes plans to phase out Kalaupapat by 1999. But for Punkaia and other patients, Kalaupapa is home. And they will not leave.

In Japantown, the sunlight comes through large Victorian-style windows. Punikaia sits alone singing and playing on his harpsichord. One day he’ll write these simple lyrics: “Land of joy, land of pain, we are one.”

To remember the Manongs and to re-call the days of the I-Hotel, Chris Bautista plays a minor melody on his guitar. He’s putting music to the words of Philip Vera-Cruz, the Filipino farmworker and union organizer. “While still across the ocean, I heard of the USA. So thrilled by wild imagination, I left through Manila Bay….” Vera-Cruz’s poem will be remembered through song.

Late at night in Berkeley, students are up and planning another dance benefit. The music of Flip Nunez and Aztec reverberates throughout the night…”Just what is this strange new feeling? That possess me this way?….”

And the lights burn on.