Filipino Migration and Social Mobility
The proposed interpretive project is an audio/video installation to be located along the west wall of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community center. Currently, on this wall there are mounted architectural remains from the original I-Hotel building in addition to framed photographs and a plaque that has the names of former I-Hotel residents. The audience for this installation will be people who visit the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center. As such, people visit the center for different purposes either to volunteer, curate materials, participate in ongoing events, facilitate community meetings, and other activities that involve formal and informal meetings. This audio/video installation will give primacy to the human sense of vision and the human sense of hearing to convey information. Visuals will be displayed through an overhead projector and projected onto the wall. Audio will be played back through mountains speakers in the rafters overhead.
Figure — Tony Robles points describing the mounted installation in the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Center
Tony Robles describing the International Hotel brick installation inside the Manilatown Center.
The project is titled “Filipino Immigration and Social Mobility in the San Francisco Bay Area and the United States of America” and it is an audio/visual installation. This type of installation is commonly used in museum and interpretive center settings. Generally, the installation consists of a screen, an overhead visual projector, audio speakers and a playback device. The visual projector and the audio speakers are linked to a playback device–a DVD player or computer–and the digital file from the playback device is rendered visually to the screen and kinetically to the speakers.
The proposed playback time is 15-30 minutes and will consists of a synthesized story of Filipino immigration to North America, history of I-Hotel in San Francisco, interviews with former residents, interviews with the children of former residents, and maps that show the concentrations of Filipino people in the Bay Area and in the United States. This synthesized story will pool resources available to staff at the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center and will develop new resources through the production of visuals and interviews. First step in the development of this installation is an inventory of materials that have information about immigration and social mobility in the archives and an inventory of the skills and training available at hand from staff members and volunteers who work at Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center. This step identifies the equipment, materials and skills and training needed to complete the project. Furthermore, this step helps to develop a timetable for the completion of the project. Thereafter the project is split into phases. Phase one consists of digitization of archival materials (if needed) and procurement of audio/visual equipment and construction of installation. Phase two consists of research, design and rendering of infographics/maps that show how the Filipino population has changed in socioeconomic and residential status since the inception of I-Hotel. Phase three consists of interviews with former residents and their descendents. And Phase four consists of production of the proposed synthesized story–storyboarding, drafting, critiquing, and approval from the Manilatown Heritage Foundation board of directors.
A mockup of Manilatown Center brick installation. Images will be projected on bricks.
Short Term (5 years):
This project contributes to the sustainability of not only the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center, but also the sustainability of Filipino heritage in San Francisco. This proposal has to potential to pool resources that are available–archival materials held in trust by the Manilatown Heritage Foundation–with new equipment and skills to facilitate the creation of this installation. As such, it helps train staff and make materials accessible to visitors which overlaps with the themes of social justice activism, community organization and labor rights. The message conveyed through this installation presences Filipino history within San Francisco thus contributing to the sustainably of Filipino heritage more generally in the Bay Area.
Long-Term (25 years):
The changing demographics of the San Francisco Bay Area are changing rapidly. The International Hotel Manilatown Center is one of a handful of places that showcase social justice and equity within the rapidly gentrifying San Francisco urban landscape. Over the long-term then, the skills and training gathered and distributed with this installation works towards fashioning a longer vision for the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. The skills and training offered through the creation of the installation in terms of content and performance offer the chance to create new workflows for other aspects of the foundation. To continue the longevity of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, this installation acts as an incubator of skills and training that work from within to continue the sustainability of International Hotel.