San Francisco was awashed with month-long “Kalayaan” Day events throughout the city this June.  Spearheaded by the Philippine Consulate General, the 117th year of the Philippine declaration of Independence from Spain on June 12, 1898 was commemorated by a gala event at the San Francisco City Hall.  The Consular leadership clearly recognized the significance of this day as the public declaration of Filipino identity after years of colonization, by celebrating the Filipino identity in no other location than with the largest diaspora outside of the Philippines-in San Francisco, California.

Sustaining this continuity of ties between homeland and diaspora is essential to the Filipino psyche and their memories of history. Quietly, on Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in no less celebratory manner, the Philippine Folklife Museum Foundation, a non-profit organization that has single-handedly assembled the only permanent museum of Philippine history in San Francisco since November 22, 2006, launched its virtual version of the museum.

In his welcome remarks about the website launch, Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, noted the significance of having material representations of great moments of Philippine history for Filipinos to see and touch, or hear.  Indeed visitors to the Museum located in the Social Hall, 5th Floor of the Philippine Center Building at 447 Sutter Street, San Francisco will find reminders of these events – Dr. Jose Rizal’s lineage, Andres Bonifacio’s Katipunan, the carved wooden panels depicting historical events.

Other artifacts like the finely embroidered dress made of delicate piña fabric circa-1936, gifts from Mrs. Aurora Quezon, wife of the Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon to her friend Mrs. Ann Schinazi, provide evidence of quality Filipino craft work. Schools nearby has discovered these treasures but its uncommon location outside the city center’s location limit its popularity.  Website therefore, with its interactivity, searchable content and visually appealing layout, extends the limitation of space, onto a wider virtual world via the World Wide Web (WWW).

This much was what Lydia de la Cruz, the Director of Museum Operations and Development hoped for as she guided the audience to a tour of the unique, “something to talk about  and talk with” website.  She highlighted the 5 key points of the website:

  1. Clarity – with high resolution images.
  2. Functionality – content is dynamically driven for search engine placement.
  3. Informative – website’s educational highlights are a series of digital tours for those who cannot visit.
  4. Interactive – site’s dynamic features compliment the cutting-edge curatorial and research work undertaken at the Philippine Folklife Museum while also encouraging more prolonged engagement  from visitors both near and far. Share this story to Facebook, Twitter, etc,.
  5. Responsive – suitable for various screen dimensions from PC to laptop, from tablet to smartphone.

As Deputy Consul General Ascalon pointed out, their partnership with the Philippine Folklife Museum is in keeping with their mission to “connect these children and succeeding generations of Filipino-Americans to their heritage. View the website at

As is customary with events in the Museum, there was kundiman guitar music played by Dr. Michael Gonzalez, professor of Philippine Studies, City College of San Francisco, and tastefully prepared Filipino delicacies by Chef Lydia de la Cruz capped the event.  Together, the staff of the Philippine Consulate General, and the Philippine Folklife Museum Foundation has clearly reached a milestone.

Photos from the event (Photo credits: Rafael Consing Lumanlan):