This year we brought Savor Filipino across the bay to Oakland, CA. Filipinos have called Oakland home since the 1920s. Filipinos then and now have a strong presence in the Oakland community as business owners, educators, artists, community leaders, etc. We invite and encourage you to learn about and support the Oakland community and your local communities so we can continue to make progress for our people including and beyond Filipino cuisine.
Oakland has been a home for the Philippine diaspora since the 1920s. Despite the climate of racism, xenophobia and economic hardship, these first Pin@y residents established a strong, determined and resilient community. Early immigrants were primarily Pinoy bachelors who lived in Oakland Chinatown and Jingletown with one another or as tenants of Filipino families. Most of the families who offered residency to the bachelors were families of African American husbands with Filipina wives. This early population of the diaspora was employed in low income occupations that spanned from vets, to farm workers, to service industry workers, to migrant workers. Today you will find Pin@ys born and raised in Oakland in the fields of education, medicine and health, visual/literary/performance arts, small business owners and the nonprofit industry.
Historically, churches and social halls were also an important part of Filipino community life. In the 1970s through the 1990s cultural events and social conscious artistic movements were also important to the Oakland Filipino experiences. And like all other ethnic groups in Oakland, social justice activism and organizing has always had a strong presence in the Filipino community whether is was labor organizing, civil rights activism, human rights work or organizing for the national liberation of the Philippines from the clutches of U.S. imperialism. The overwhelming discrimination against Pin@ys in housing, social life and employment not only fueled this passion for justice within the Filipino community here but also laid the ground for Filipino is Oakland to consistently and historically stand as allies and accomplices to the calls for justice from their Black, Latina and Native American neighbors whether it was "Asian Peril for Black Power" in the 1960s and 1970s, or solidarity with the Native American occupation of Alcatraz island in the early 19070s, or the anti-imperialist movement of the 1990s or today's Asians4Black Lives solidarity with Black Lives Matter. This deep solidarity between the Filipino community and other ethnic groups lead to the plethora of mixed race Filipino families. As the Filipino presence continued to grow in Oakland, Filipinos never established a neighborhood exclusive to the diaspora. Rather Filipino families spread and flourished into every neighborhood in Oakland. And as the families spread thorough out Oakland, so did Filipino-owned small businesses, including barber shops, cleaners gambling rooms, boxing rings, pool halls, electronics shops, insurance companies, photography studios and restaurants.
Of course Filipino food has had a loving place in Oakland's Filipino community. From the 1920s to present day, you will find nanays and aunties selling lumpia and other Filipino delicacies out of their homes. And then there is the long line of Filipino restaurants that emerged and served as social hubs not just for Filipinos but for their Black, Latino and Native American neighbors - Oakland is no stranger to the wide offerings of the Filipino palette. From the 1940s thru the 1960s Manila Cafe and Pool Hall, Eddies Restaurant, Economy Cafe and Love's Pagan Den were flourishing eateries that also served as socializing centers for Filipinos. in the 1980s and thru the 1990s Ghanaina-Philippino owned Mambo Mambo was a nightclub restaurant many frequented, and Manila Gardens was a Filipino buffet and ice cream parlor. Also in the late 1990s two Philippine owned catering businesses emerged - No Worries Catering (Filipino Vegan Food) and Something For Your Soul (Filipino and Filipino Fusion food). In the millennium, No Worries branched out into opening a restaurant and later a successful food truck business, while Something For Your Soul branched out into five directions: frozen Filipino food, Filipino food served in San Francisco and Oakland nightclubs (the owner was dubbed "The Lumpia Lady" by regular customers), a Nigerian-Filipino restaurant and lounge called IBOTA, the business partner of the legendary Ethiopian owned Oasis nightclub where an AfroFilipino restaurant was established, and a series of regular pop-up restaurants including the weekly Lumpia Shack and monthly pop ups including AfroPino, MexiPino and FilAm Breakfast. The most recent additions to the long lineage of FilAm eateries in 2013 in Oakland are Lucky 333 and Kainbigan.
Information courtesy of Anita De Asis "The Lumpia Lady"