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San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Mrs. Anita Lee hosted a Reception in honor of Filipino American History Month at the San Francisco City Hall on Friday, 28 October 2016, inviting various elected and appointed officials, leaders and members of the Filipino-American Community.

Mayor Lee welcomed the Filipino-American Community to City Hall, congratulating them on the passage of legislation establishing SOMA Pilipinas, which was approved and supported by both the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, as well as Mayor Lee himself.  He recalled with fondness his trip to the Philippines in 2014 and expressed his thanks to the Community for its contribution to the development of, and community-building in San Francisco.

Consul General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. thanked the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors for passing the legislation on SOMA Pilipinas, which carves out a cultural heritage district in the City of San Francisco that would recognize the contributions of Filipinos to the social fabric of the City and preserve and protect the Filipinos who call SOMA home.  He informed the Community that the Consulate’s support of SoMa Pilipinas is in line with the the Consulate’s thrusts to Spark* Connect* Empower* the Filipino-American Community. The new district is seen as a new platform that could further operationalize the Consulate’s thrusts, and encourage and promote Filipino identity, culture and heritage, and would move Filipino-Americans to engage with one another and with Filipinos in the Homeland.

With the theme “Celebrating SoMa Pilipinas”, Ms. Bernadette Borja-Sy, Filipino-American Community leader and Board Member of the Bayanihan Community Center, was the keynote speaker for the event.  Ms Borja-Sy paid tribute to important figures of the Community who passed away recently, including Alice Bulos, Grand Dame of Filipino-American Politics, and Msgr. Fred Bitanga, the first priest entrusted with the Filipino apostolate in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.  She updated the guests of plans for SOMA Pilipinas to provide creative space for artists; night markets and pop-ups that would feature Filipino food, handicrafts and products; and plans to develop a commercial corridor that would make SOMA a model for community development.

The Honorary Host Committee was composed of appointed and elected Filipino-American officials of San Francisco, including Board of Education Commissioner Hydra Mendoza; Entertainment Commissioner Dori Caminong; Asian Art Commissioner Carmen Colet; Graffiti Advisory Board Commissioner Rebecca Delgado Rottman; Board of Appeals Commission President Darryl Honda; Community Investment and Infrastructure Commission Vice Chair Marily Mondejar; Entertainment Commissioner Al Perez; Human Rights Commissioner Richard Pio Roda, and Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure Executive Director Tiffany Bohee. END