‘The FilAm’ reaches milestone with ‘The FilAm San Francisco’

Vivian Fuentebella Sanchez, editor of The FilAm San Francisco

By Cristina DC Pastor

After a year and half of writing, blogging about the New York Tri-State, ‘The FilAm’ is proud to announce the addition of a partner publication, ‘The FilAm San Francisco,’ to feature the unique stories gathered from the thriving neighborhoods of California’s North Coast.

Unlike the billionaire owners of the NFL franchises, The FilAm remains a hand-to-mouth operation. The partnership with Bay Area native Vivian Fuentebella Sanchez is cut from the same cloth: Filipina professional who loves to write about the interesting people she’s met. Vivian is a business owner, a mother and wife, and a writer. Between raising two daughters and running two pioneer restaurants, she still finds a little time for personal pursuits and decides she’d like to open a digital magazine.

“I’ve always wanted to write, to talk about the Filipino Americans in San Francisco,” Viv tells me. “We’ve accomplished so much and it’s nice to talk about those accomplishments.”

She came across TheFilAm.net when she read my interview on her friend, Dindi Gallardo-Mills in May. That was the conversation starter. She sent an email asking if The FilAm has a similar publication exclusive to San Francisco Filipinos. It was an idea that did not even cross my mind at the time. But the thought hovered, and before long we were deep in talks about a possible partnership: a website with the same name and look and Viv maintaining complete creative control over content.

Viv comes from a prominent family associated with the food industry in the Philippines. She was 12 when her family decided to emigrate to the U.S. in the early 1980s. “My mom just wanted to try opening a restaurant in San Francsco,” she says.

At that time, there was a dearth of Filipino eateries, and the family’s chicken restaurant was warmly welcomed by the South San Francisco FilAms. That original site has since closed, and the two locations within El Camino Real and Milpitas’s large Filipino neighborhoods are very much in business.

All six Fuentebella children went to private Catholic schools. Laughs Viv, “Like all Filipino parents, my mom wanted all of us to go to Catholic school.” And so Viv spent elementary to high school at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, and college at the University of San Francisco and the Academy of Art College where she earned a degree in Advertising & Fine Arts

The “rebel” who did not want to be in family business would find herself embracing the torch after she got married and had her first child. Viv and two other siblings who sit on the board of the company are in charge. Viv and her husband Pio have two daughters – Sophia, 17, and Nina, 9. Pio works for the automotive industry in Oakland.

“Hindi tayo masyado napapansin,” she says, bemoaning how Filipinos have remained largely in the margins despite our growing immigration numbers and our invaluable contributions to American society.

Through The FilAm San Francisco, she would like others to know who we are as a people and what we have made of ourselves as Filipino Americans or as Americans-in-waiting.

Let’s welcome TheFilAmSanfrancisco.com.

One Comment

  1. m. matthews wrote:

    I would like to welcome The FilAm San Francisco edition. Good luck Ms. Sanchez with this online venture.

    I do remain

    Michael Matthews

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