Diaspora News

Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles turns into int’l street art destination

gintong kasaysayan mural
Gintong Kasaysayan Mural in historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles Photo © http://myhifi.tumblr.com

A FILIPINO rights advocacy group, Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), joined visual and literary artists, art patrons and other concerned community members of Los Angeles on Saturday (August 27) in promoting the Historic Filipinotown (HFT) as an “international street art destination” through a 30-minute “walking tour” of the neighborhood that showcases more than 100 murals on alleys, walls of buildings and parking lots.

PWC members Photo © Abner Galino
PWC members Photo © Abner Galino

The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles guided the walking tour for the visitors who were mostly young people.

The event was also supported by the non-profit organization Design East of La Brea (de Lab), Hidden Hi fi and Public Matters.

The creation of the murals, which have been enticing visitors to visit the Historic Filipinotown, started four years ago.

Since 2015, more than 80 artists from all over the world have come to LA’s Historic Filipinotown to transform the neighborhood’s alleys, buildings, and parking lots into the city’s most comprehensive outdoor art gallery,” says a post on the PWC’s site.

The project began in 2014 when Jason Ostro, owner of the Gabba Gallery, which is also located in the area, decided to act on the prevalence of graffiti and trash in the neighborhood.

He began by painting a mural in collaboration with street artist Andrea LaHue. Their mural of flowers had blossomed into a movement and was called the Gabba Alley Project.

Three of the alleys filled with murals are located near the Gabba Art Gallery in Historic Filipinotown. The fourth is in Echo Park which is referred as “animal alley” because the murals there depict animals.

Gabba Alley Project has been officially recognized by the City of Los Angeles.

The project has been featured in local and international media outlets that include: NBC Nightly News, CBS, the Guardian, Los Angeles Times, LAist and LA Weekly.

Myrna Ahsan of the PWC said, aside from promoting street arts, they were also there to conduct their customary neighborhood outreach efforts. The advocates distributed handbooks on the rights of domestic and immigrant workers.

The old but trusty Sarao jeep Photo © Abner Galino
The old but trusty Sarao jeep Photo ©
Abner Galino

Ahsan said PWC’s services are not limited to workers’ rights, explaining that they help people in almost all facets of community life that include: immigration legal services, assistance in application for driver’s license, CPR training for caregivers, assistance with phone and utility bills, food distribution, finding caregiver work through a cooperative, peer-lending program or “paluwagan” and leadership opportunities.

The 1944 vintage “blinged-out” Sarao Jeepney was also brought to the neighborhood to add color to the event.

Abner Galino
The author is a poet and a writer. He was a cultural worker before he became a reporter for Tinig ng Masa and Malaya Midday Edition during the Marcos regime. He later became a reporter of People's Tonight shortly after 1986 EDSA Revolution. He went on to become its Chief of Reporters, City Editor and News Editor. He retired after 15 years in the Journal Group of Publications. He now writes for Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post (USAP), weekly Filipino-American newspapers based in Los Angeles, California.

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