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  • Writer's pictureBayanihan Equity Center

In the Press: SF Chronicle

Bayanihan is the coming together of everyone to be able to achieve something,” said Luisa Antonio, the executive director of the Bayanihan Equity Center, inside the brightly colored building that originally served Filipino World War II veterans in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood.

About 330 of the center’s clients are elderly Filipinos served by a government- employed caregiver who is almost always Filipino, as well, to understand their language and culture, Antonio said. Now those elderly clients are sheltering in place, some in single-room-occupancy hotels.

The community center started conducting wellness checks via phone so clients wouldn’t fall through the cracks. The center, which formerly served 150 clients with a weekly food pantry, now helps 300. The center also reached out to other organizations including the Filipino Community Center, which started a new food delivery program.

On a recent busy Thursday — food delivery day — Antonio crouched on the floor organizing bags filled with sardines, rice, and kids’ snacks. The pandemic upended events at the center — no annual cultural festival, no birthday bingo, no in-person registering for the census — but the community is still supporting one another, she said.

Antonio pointed out that the first part of bayanihan is bayani, which also means hero.

“Frontline workers are heroes,” she said. “They are the army that is fighting this invisible enemy.”


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