April 11, 1998: Headlines: COS - Mali: COS - Philippines: NW Asian Weekly: Mali RPCV Mae G. Monsanto writes about Filipino labor leader remembered in hotel mural

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mali: Peace Corps Mali : The Peace Corps in Mali: April 11, 1998: Headlines: COS - Mali: COS - Philippines: NW Asian Weekly: Mali RPCV Mae G. Monsanto writes about Filipino labor leader remembered in hotel mural

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Mali RPCV Mae G. Monsanto writes about Filipino labor leader remembered in hotel mural

Mali RPCV Mae G. Monsanto writes about Filipino labor leader remembered in hotel mural

Mali RPCV Mae G. Monsanto writes about Filipino labor leader remembered in hotel mural

Filipino labor leader to be remembered in hotel mural

by Mae Monsanto

NW Asian Weekly

The lobby of Seattle's historic Eastern Hotel in Seattle's International District will be the site of a sophisticated multi-media display that will honor the Northwest experiences and contributions of Filipino workers during this century.

Entitled the "Carlos Bulosan Memorial Exhibit," the display is set to open in December.

The hotel, which is under renovation until October, housed many Filipino laborers while they were en-route to various contract work assignments throughout the Northwest.

One of those tenants is said to have been Carlos Bulosan, a Filipino American cannery worker, agricultural laborer, union activist and writer who fought for the labor rights of minorities and documented the experiences and injustices of Filipino laborers along the West Coast.

Project-committee members believe that Bulosan's accomplishments make him worthy of commemoration.

"We want people to make sure they know who Carlos Bulosan was," explained Cynthia Mejia-Giudici, an educator for the Seattle School District and member of the project committee. "We want them to know why we are naming the mural after him and why he's important," she added.

Mejia-Giudici said that it is also important to remember the other Filipino laborers of that era.

"The mural will keep the memory of the manongs and manangs alive," said Mejia-Giudici. It "will respect and honor the reasons they came and why they worked so hard."

According to Mejia-Giudici, the number of manongs and manangs (terms used as signs of r espect for older men and older women, respectively) has fallen significantly during the last 20 years. The vast majority of these men and women have passed away before having an opportunity to share their oral histories.

Mejia-Giudici, a trustee of the Filipino American National Historical Society, said that she finds it sad and unfortunate that many elder Filipinos are dying without having their personal stories told.

She has worked hard to preserve the oral histories of the manongs and manangs by conducting interviews with the few remaining survivors of the era. She plans to add these histories to the display, which, in addition to the mural, will include old photos and television programs that further document the history and lives of Filipino laborers.

Aileen Balahadia, project manager for Community Action Partnership and a member of the project committee, said that a portion of the mural may be set aside for artistic projects by Filipino youth.

In efforts to select an artist, a special jury is accepting résumés, artwork samples and proposal ideas from local Filipino Americans. Painting of the mural is expected to start in May and finish by November.

Balahadia said that even though the response from artists has been slow, the Filipino community has expressed strong support for the project.

"The community is pretty excited about (the project)," Balahadia said. They "don't want these people to go on without leaving their history."

Balahadia admits that funding is the primary factor that will determine whether the project is seen through to completion. The InterIm Community Development Association and the Northwest Labor and Employment Law Office have provided some support for the project, but more is needed.

Balahadia said that members of the project committee have applied for a substantial grant that would provide enough funding to hire a part-time coordinator to lead the project and a local Filipino artist to paint the mural. If the grant is not awarded, the group will have to rely on donations and be forced to search for an artist who will paint the mural on a volunteer basis.

Cindy Domingo, co-chair of the project committee, expressed confidence that the mural project will get the support it needs.

"There are people around the International District that want to pay tribute to these Filipinos' (and Bulosan's) contributions," Domingo said.

"This (display) will be a magnet for people," she added. "For young people, (this will be) a link to their past and offer them an appreciation of their history."

Those interested in submitting mural ideas can call Eydie Detera at the Wing Luke Museum at (206) 623-5124, ext. 127. The deadline for entries is April 30.

Mae Monsanto is a Diversity News Lab student at the University of Washington.

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Story Source: NW Asian Weekly

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Mali; COS - Philippines



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