NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Filipino residents and community leaders say they are pleased that Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell will draft a new resolution in response to one that sparked backlash.
On July 31, council members unanimously approved an ordinance mandating affordable housing in the Chinatown International District (CID) neighborhood, as well as a companion resolution (Resolution 31754) promising to recognize the history of the International District (ID). However, the words “historic Manilatown” were removed from a sentence recognizing ethnic neighborhoods in the district — raising the ire of Filipinos in the ID.
Concerned Peoples for Filipino History in the Seattle CID wrote to the City Council: “It is a recurring issue that Filipinos are disregarded from historical reference, for our great local contributions, and our general civic inclusion. The Filipino American community has had a strong presence in the City, which includes but is not limited to: former council members, Dolores Sibonga and David Della, social advocate Cindy Domingo, and the late Uncle Bob Santos. … We seek to affirm our place as a valid, historical, and active ethnic community of Seattle.”
Devin Cabanilla, a historian and member of the Filipino American Historical Society, said his uncle mapped out Filipino businesses in the ID. “The sheer scale of Filipino activity within the district is undeniable and should be afforded the integrity of a name, whether it be Manila Town or Filipino Town or Brownville,” said Cabanilla. He went on to say, “As many Filipinos and Filipino Americans now recognize, we have always gotten the short end of a deal. … intentional or not, the habitual effort against Filipino history can be categorized as a systematic effect that has reduced our community into obscurity.”
“It is all about our roots, our history as Filipino Americans, and our rightful place in Seattle’s Chinatown International District,” said Frank Irigon. The community leader also acknowledged Harrell for his leadership, patience, and willingness to accommodate the concerns of the Filipino community.
“I know I’m not alone when expressing our gratitude for allowing us to speak and respectfully listening for the need to revisit the deletion of ‘historic Manilatown’ in that Resolution,” said Irigon.
Members of the public spoke at an Aug. 7 council meeting and urged council members to bring back the language recognizing Filipinos’ presence and history in the neighborhood.
Harrell’s office said he plans to draft a new resolution and introduce it for a council vote within the next few weeks.
Pio DeCano said, “Let me add my thanks to all the participants whose collective voices were presented to the city council members who listened with care to the Filipino American community concerns with respect to our historical, economic, cultural, and growth contributions to Seattle’s International District over the past 100 years.”
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