SOMA Pilipinas’ Sunday Streets Open for Business

Part of Folsom Street will be closed to cars and showcasing Filipino American food.

As part of the city’s popular Shared Spaces program, SOMA Pilipinas is hosting its weekly Sunday Streets through October, a regular pop-up that intends to support the local Filipino and South of Market community during Filipino American History Month.

A farmer’s market, local restaurants, and Bay Area retailers will be positioned through Folsom Street between Sixth and Eighth streets. These Sunday Streets are created in collaboration with local non-profits Livable City, Undiscovered SF, and Kultivate Labs.

Vendors include Uncle Tito, which will be serving Filipino food-inspired sliders, Ox & Tiger, a pop-up revolving around Japanese-Filipino fusion flavors, and Cat Club, a rock-and-roll dim-sum dance club. 

“Our community has been devastated by COVID-19,” Desi Danganan, the executive director of Kultivate Labs, said in a press release. “Businesses are closing, and people are losing jobs.”

These Sunday Streets build upon the earlier work Undiscovered SF and Kultivate Labs have been doing to keep Filipino Americans in SOMA. The community has had a long history in San Francisco. The city used to have a Manilatown, but after years of “urban renewal,” the neighborhood was largely decimated by the 1970s, and its Filipino residents were forced out. In 1977, riot police evicted the Filipino seniors of the International Hotel on Kearny Street. The I-Hotel was an SRO building home to low-income Asian American laborers, and its closing was the final blow to Manilatown.

While Manilatown was being decimated, the Filipino community in SOMA was also going through its own struggles with city development and gentrification. In recent years, local organizers fought to keep their neighborhood thriving amid multiple tech booms. In 2020, Filipino Americans have been trying to cope with the disproportionate effects the coronavirus has had on their community. Earlier this year, a Bay Area campaign called Filipinos Feed the Frontlines, spearheaded by Kultivate Labs, aimed to bring food to healthcare workers from Bay Area Filipino restaurants, knowing full well that 20 percent of registered nurses in California are Filipino.

While Sunday Streets happen in the physical spaces, Kultivate Labs will also be hosting Undiscovered X, virtual programming for Filipino Americans to come together virtually under the theme “Culture Connected.”

“Shelter-in-place has impacted the mental health of our community,” Danagan said. “At the same time SoMa has some of the densest housing, but the least amount of open space.”

At least temporarily, these Sunday Streets will be able to provide a little bit of relief to downtown residents while supporting the Filipino community at large.

Undiscovered SF’s Sunday Streets
Folsom St. between 6th and 8th blocks.
Sundays through October, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
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