Tuesday 23rd January 2018,

Community Issues

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Top Stories of 2017: Seattle Reverses Decision to Remove Manilatown from International District

posted by Tanvi Wattal

A 1995 photo of a Filipino youth group in Seattle (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

(Editor’s Note: AsAmNews begins its countdown of the top 5 stories of 2017. Story number 5 is the controversy over whether Manilatown should be included in Seattle’s International District)

City leaders in Seattle have quietly overturned a resolution removing historic Manilatown from the heart of the city’s Asian American community, the International District.

An uproar erupted in August when the Seattle City Council passed a resolution that intentionally omitted Manilatown.

Council president Bruce Harrell said the Filipino community was removed “based on what we thought was some feedback from the community.”

The amendment read “WHEREAS, the area known as Chinatown/International District (C/ID) includes the neighborhoods of Chinatown, Japantown, historic Manilatown, and Little Saigon.

RELATED: Filipino American Removed from Resolution about Seattle’s International District

Apparently no one on the council thought to ask Filipino American leaders nor did they bother to look at the history of Filipinos in Seattle.

Filipino Americans have a rich history attached to Seattle’s International District. The Seattle Times says, “Filipino Americans who for decades worked in Alaskan canneries during the summer lived in the neighborhood and had their union headquarters there.”

Filipino Americans believe that the resolution “disrespected the community’s long history in Seattle”.

After seeing the strong opposition from community members, the council decided to revisit the issue.

The committee kept to its promise and re-visited the resolution on September 5th, according to the Seattle Globalist. However, Manilatown leaders were not informed about this meeting and were disappointed in the city’s inadequate communication with its international districts.

The September 5th meeting reversed the omission of Manilatown in the resolution. Council President Harrell even went so far as to say that the omission was a mistake.

As of December 17th, the city even awarded the Filipino community center $11 million dollars to create better homes for senior citizens and a youth center, according to Views From the Edge. This will help reduce the number of people leaving Manilatown and preserve Filipino culture.

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One Comment

  1. Betty Lau says:

    RE: Top Stories of 2017: Seattle Reverses Decision to Remove Manilatown from International District: There was no intent on the part of the Seattle City Council to denigrate the long, rich Filipino history in Seattle’s Chinatown International District. The city has done much to recognize Filipino American contributions, from park and bridge naming to historical markers to art installations to building name and a still new city Office of Immigrant and Refugee services. Recognition continues with the $11 million in city funding allocated for the Filipino Community Village project on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and future waterfront development art. So to say the city disrespected the Filipino American community is untrue. So what happened? There was simply no primary evidence to support the existence of a Filipino Town, even by author Carlos Bulosan (who says he went to Chinatown to seek lodging in America is in the Heart, p. 99; 1939) or the local Filipino American histories (Pamana I, Pamana II) On another note, there is no such place as an International District. According to City Ordinance 119297, the official name of the district is Chinatown International District (1999). It was a compromise that includes Chinatown, Japantown and Little Saigon. The large Filipino American presence in the last century is undeniable and should be remembered and memorialized; but they lived in the hotels of Chinatown and Japantown and what is today Little Saigon. Historian and FANHS founder Fred Cordova wrote that Filipinos settled in the Chinatown area to First Hill in an article re-published in Pamana I.

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