Filipino business owners are pushing for the Filipino cultural district in San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood to be revitalized.
SoMa street: The SoMA street spanning 1.5 square miles was previously recognized as the city’s Filipino cultural heritage district in 2016. It honors more than a hundred years of Filipino history in San Francisco, dating back to the immigration of Filipinos to the city during the Philippine-American War from 1899 to 1902.
More than 11,000 Filipinos, or about 30% of the city’s Filipino population, reside in SoMa, according to 2020 U.S. Census Data.
No district markers: Despite the recognition, the neighborhood lacks permanent district markers that present the area as a historical district.
Filipino restaurants business owners who have been in the district for decades have expressed the need for the neighborhood’s revitalization, especially after struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Differentiating SoMa: In an interview with CBS News, former Daly City City councilmember Mike Guingona, who is actively involved in the Bay Area Filipino community, suggested adding banners or street signs to help differentiate the neighborhood.
“We have traditionally called this area home for the longest time,” Guingona said. “To have it officially designated and perhaps, even planned in a coordinated fashion that brings Filipino businesses and lifts up people in this neighborhood, I’m all for that.”
Community enhancement: The SOMA Pilipinas cultural association, which empowers and celebrates the city’s Filipinos, has shared plans for community enhancement and growth, including the establishments of a performing arts center, administrative center, SoMa gateway and a central park.
“The greater idea would be to have the synchronicity of all those businesses here and to have everybody want to come here, just like you don’t have to be Chinese to come to Chinatown, you wouldn’t have to be Filipino to enjoy the culture that is the Philippines,” Guingona told CBS News.