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  • Writer's pictureKathy Chin Leong

Caroline Cabading: Filipina Culture Bearer

Heartfelt love for the Filipino community has kept Caroline Cabading on the advocacy path as a culture bearer since 2004. As a fourth-generation Filipina and San Franciscan, she represents her heritage through non-profit leadership, musicianship, and film-making. Cabading is board president and executive director of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation where her influence ensures that history of the once-thriving Filipino enclave will never be forgotten.

Her initial landmark success was developing the International Hotel Manilatown Center, a venue on the first floor of the International Hotel Senior Residences dedicated to Filipino cultural events. Nicknamed the I-Hotel, the infamous low-income apartment complex historically served as the epicenter of Manilatown where more than 150 elderly Filipino and Chinese men called home. And one of her biggest life achievements has been bringing back three original Filipino residents to the I-Hotel in 2019, nearly 42 years after their original eviction in 1977.

“It was an honor to be a part of completing the full circle stories of these original defenders,” she says. She has produced and directed a documentary “Coming Back to the I-Hotel” chronicling this historic event. And in her role as musician, she is creating a Filipino-American poem and musical suite that integrates jazz and pre-colonial Philippine music to tell the story of the Filipino San Francisco experience from 1904-2005.

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