Soon to rise at SOMA, a Filipino Cultural Center

The San Francisco Filipino Cultural Center (SFFCC) will soon open its doors in the downtown area, near the Yerba Buena Center arts community where SFFCC co-founder Don Marcos said a significant Filipino presence is lacking.

This Filipino sanctuary at 814 Mission Street will honor its long-time enclave of significant Filipino influence even as new developments gentrify the neighborhood. There are just a few finishing touches that need to be done, and this is where the founders are seeking everyone’s help through a fundraiser-dinner.

Filipinos have deep roots in the South of Market (SOMA) especially in the Yerba Buena area, where immigrants newly-arrived in San Francisco first settled and where a vibrant Filipino community once thrived. Following the 1977 evictions at the International Hotel in Manilatown, which served as a catalyst for nationwide tenant rights and affordable housing movements, a number of International Hotel residents settled in the South of Market.

The South of Market, much like Manilatown, was considered the heart of San Francisco’s Filipino community. Its face changed with the construction of the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, as the Filipino population declined but refused to leave entirely.

“A representation of the Filipino contribution of the Filipino arts and culture makes sense especially in light of all the development in the neighborhood,” said Marcos.

The SFFCC will occupy a multi-purpose space measuring 4,800 square feet. The project has engaged the architecture firm Fillon Solis Architects to create the space design; the design calls for a multi-use, multi-function facility that can accommodate different types of programs, as well as offices for administration and event planning.

“It can be an exhibit space one day, a small event space another day, a meeting place for community workshops, rehearsal space, small performances, official events and cultural entertainment,” Marcos said.

The space and seating will be easily reconfigurable, again catering to programming needs, which will include traditional performances, displays and cutting-edge presentations from Filipino American artists. The new space will also be adjacent to the Metreon’s Action Theatre, which will be made available to the center’s needs.

“This will be the place where innovative things happen,” Marcos said. “So we’re also focusing on current and future Filipino leaders in the arts and other fields. It will provide the space and forum not just for the Filipino community but also other communities and cultures of the Pacific,”

For more information about how the community can be involved, contact Don Marcos at

Photos courtesy of Don Marcos

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