Discover the Filipino Night Market

Felicia Hyde & Briana Battle

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Faint aromas of sizzling sisig, adobo and sweet ube ice cream graced attendees noses as they entered Stevenson Street between 6th and 7th streets. Tables to the left and right showcased a mixture of modern and traditional Filipino clothing, art and jewelry. Smiles, laughter and warm embraces were found at every turn. Walking into Undiscovered SF, you can feel the community known as SoMa Pilipinas.               

Undiscovered SF is a night market held in the SoMa for the past three years with the goal of helping grow small businesses in the Filipino community. 

The event was held in the parking lot near the brightly colored “UNDSCVRD” pop-up basketball court, which opened last month. The area surrounding the main stage became crowded around the time that rapper Bettina Francisco’s set started.

Francisco first performed at Undiscovered when the event was just starting out. She moved to San Francisco from San Jose to go to school at University of San Francisco. She began working at West Bay, a community center in the SoMa, where she became involved in the neighborhood’s Filipino community.

According to Francisco, while the event is important, it could do a better job of educating people on the history of the community. She says that a lot of people go to the event without knowing the significance of the area.

“I just try to create a space of just love and feeling love and exchanging love with other people.” Francisco said about what she was most excited for.

Following Francisco’s set was a dance performance by the Westlake School of Performing Arts. The students performed a freeform dance routine to a poem about the struggles of being Filipino-American. They also performed a routine to a song by H.E.R., a black and Filipino singer from Vallejo.

Rocky G, an SF State alumnus, rapper and saxophonist performed next. After Rocky came DJ Umami, one of the DJs for the Golden State Warriors. Her set gathered a large crowd as well, as she played Bay Area hits such as Thizzle Dance by Mac Dre. Umami said her favorite part of the event is the food.

“Getting that elevated authentic Filipino food is probably my favorite part,” Umami said. “And then of course there’s like cool vendors and stuff but the food is what I’m excited the most about.”

Pia Barton, owner of Malaya Botanicals is part of Undiscovered’s seed program, which intends to help small businesses in the community grow. 

According to Barton, Undiscovered picks six small businesses in the community and gives them free marketing and accounting consultation for seven months.

Barton, an SF State alumna, sells CBD infused body care products. She said her favorite part of being a vendor at the event is people who have already purchased her products in the past coming and telling her how much the products are helping them.

Tilted Brim, a shop that sells men’s streetwear, was another vendor at the event. Owner Justin Bautista, also an SF State alumnus, said Undiscovered is important because it celebrates what’s going on in the community.

“I really like the diversity of everyone they’re able to attract, the energy, and the positivity of the whole experience.” Bautista said.

Tilted Brim has been a vendor at Undiscovered every year since the store opened three years ago.

Karen Posadas has been a vendor at Undiscovered for the past three years. Her business, Kare and Passion, sell handmade soaps, body scrubs, and bath bombs, as well as other body care products. 

According to Posadas, creating her own bath products started as a hobby that she loved doing, and she eventually decided to share that passion with others and began selling her products.

One of the event’s attendees, Christopher Chase, said he went because his girlfriend is Filipino and he wanted to know more about her culture. He said his favorite part was the food, and he ended up liking all of the new things he tried.

“Her family is always trying to introduce me to new foods and experiences,” Chase said. “At Undiscovered SF I thought it would be a good chance to see the Filipino culture for what it truly is.”

SF State student Renz Andales, one of the program’s volunteer teachers, was one of the students running the kid’s corner. Children could either color a story book or make clothing pin babaylans, which according to Andales, were women in the pre-colonial Philippines that acted as a healers and warriors.

Andales said the event is important because it provides a space for people to find a strong Filipino community in San Francisco.