Brandon Lee speaks at the Filipino Mural Celebration event at SF State on Saturday. Lee is a SF State alum, a community journalist and human rights advocate. (Rashik Adhikari / Golden Gate Xpress) (Rashik Adhikari)
Brandon Lee speaks at the Filipino Mural Celebration event at SF State on Saturday. Lee is a SF State alum, a community journalist and human rights advocate. (Rashik Adhikari / Golden Gate Xpress)

Rashik Adhikari

SF State Filipino Americans gather for annual mural celebration

Hundreds attended the four-hour event for a day of art, food and community at Malcolm X Plaza

April 24, 2022

SF State’s Filipino American community gathered for the 19th annual Filipino American Mural Celebration at SF State on Saturday. It was the first mural celebration since 2019 due to COVID-19. 

The four-hour celebration was held at the Malcolm X Plaza, where rows of small vendors lined the walkway leading to a large stage in the center of the courtyard. During the four-hour event, attendees enjoyed cultural performances, speakers, food, shopping and community fellowship.

Associated Students’ Richard Oakes Multicultural Center hosted the event in partnership with the League of Filipino Students, Pilipinx American Collegiate Endeavor, the Kappa Psi Epsilon sorority and the Chi Rho Omicron fraternity. 

The event was centered on a Filipino American Mural that was dedicated in 2003, which was a collaborative effort of over 200 students, faculty and community members. The project took over four years to complete and currently resides at the front of the SF State bookstore.

The mural diverges into four sections which represent solidarity, community, struggle in the Philippines and struggle in the United States. The words “We Stand on Their Shoulders” are written in both ancient Philippine script and English at the bottom of the mural to acknowledge the sacrifices and achievements their ancestors made. 

SF State’s Filipino American mural was the first of its kind at a California State University, and according to the history coordinator of PACE, Joseph Umali, it is crucial for the community to continue to recognize and celebrate the mural. 

“It’s one of two Filipino murals in the CSU system,” Umali said. “It’s very important that as a Filipino American community we’re able to recognize the significance of it on our campus.” 

The mural celebration boasted a lineup of performers and speakers including Nickel Rivera, Pyxie Castillo and activist Brandon Lee. 

Lee, an SF State alumnus, took the stage at Saturday’s event to discuss his activism efforts in the Philippines that led to his attempted assassination by the Philippine government. It left him paralyzed from the chest down. 

“There’s thousands of extrajudicial killings happening now under the current President Duterte regime,” Lee said. “There’s a lot we can do as students to help, whether that’s to go to the table and buy the supplies to help human rights defenders, or you can approach PACE and learn about the history, or you can approach LFS and organize.” 

In between performances, attendees browsed the vendor booths of 12 local Filipino American owned businesses. There were a variety of businesses at the event including clothing, jewelry and tote bags.

CSU East Bay student and owner of art by aja, Aja Zaldivar said she was excited to come work at an event centered around the Filipino community. She was invited by childhood friend and PACE executive coordinator, Micah Dayag. 

“She really made me love the culture of being Filipino,” Zaldivar said. “She brought me here today and said we’re doing a vendor for Filipino shops, Filipino vendors and that they just wanted to support small businesses. I think that’s really cool that she was able to bring us all together.” 

The mural celebration came to a close on Saturday evening and will be back next year for the 20th anniversary of the Filipino American mural at SF State.

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Photo of Sarah Bruno
Sarah Bruno, Copy Editor
Sarah Bruno (she/her) is the copy editor at Golden Gate Xpress. She is a senior at SF State and will be graduating in Spring 2023. She is a Print and Online Journalism major with a Literature in English minor. Sarah lives in San Francisco but is originally from the East Bay. In her free time, she loves to travel, try out new restaurants, hit up a museum or art exhibit, and drink a glass of wine while binging the latest tv show with her cat, Buffy.
Photo of Rashik Adhikari
Rashik Adhikari
Rashik Adhikari is a student at San Francisco State University majoring in photojournalism and minoring in Critical Social thought. Rashik is originally from Nepal and currently lives in Richmond, Eastbay. Rashik is graduating in the fall of this year and will pursue a career in documentary and filmmaking.

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