In Los Angeles, Filipinos have a special relationship with the Little Tokyo neighborhood. In the 1920s and 1930s, Filipino immigrants formed a viable Little Manila district adjacent to the Japanese neighborhood. Little Tokyo was in many ways the heart of the Asian American Movement in Southern California during the 1960s and 1970s, prompting many Filipino American activists to work and live in the area. Today, many Filipino American leaders continue to head Asian American organizations headquartered in Little Tokyo, contributing to the cross-cultural coalition work established decades ago. LA might have Historic Filipinotown, but SoCal’s Filipino American community can be found in numerous places. Many Filipinos have built a vibrant center in Little Tokyo.
In this episode, Producer Mike takes us on a journey to Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo through the lens of its Filipino American community advocates. He speaks to Alison De La Cruz, Vice President of Programs at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, Kennedy Kabasares, artist and resident of Little Tokyo, and Francis Cullado, Executive Director of Visual Communications, the organization that produces the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Listen as they speak about the rich history of Filipinos in Little Tokyo, the importance of Asian American coalitions, and the legacy of the late Linda Mabalot, former Executive Director of Visual Communications and a pioneering Filipino American visual storyteller.
Pictured: Bill Watanabe, former Executive Director of the Little Tokyo Service Center and the late Linda Mabalot during the construction of the Union Center for the Arts, home to Visual Communications, LA Artcore, and East West Players.
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On a similar note, make sure to check out the 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival of which TFAL is a media sponsor. They got some great films lined up, particularly from Filipino and Filipino American filmmakers. You can check out the festival lineup here: https://vcmedia.org/festival.