Poet & Activist Al Robles 1930 - 2009 Memorials May 15 and May 17 in San Francisco

Posted by Suzanne Kai

Poet, writer and community advocate Al Robles passed away May 2, 2009 at the age of 79

He leaves behind a lifetime of work helping the poor, the elderly, his community, and a legacy that will be honored by generations to come.

Robles was involved in the International Hotel struggle in San Francisco in the 70's.

In 1977, the decade long fight would result in the eviction of many elderly, low-income Filipino Americans, dismantling the last enclave of San Francisco's historic Manilatown - a day of reckoning for Filipino-American civil rights history.

Robles, affectionately called Manong Al, never gave up helping his community. The I-Hotel was rebuilt in 2005 by the Manilatown Heritage Foundation.

Memorial Services to celebrate Al Robles Life and Journey are planned in San Francisco May 15 and May 17 - see article for details.

Poet, writer and community advocate Al Robles passed away May 2, 2009 at the age of 79.

He leaves behind a lifetime of work helping the poor, the elderly, and his community.

Robles was involved in the International Hotel struggle in San Francisco in the 70's, which would become a day of reckoning for Filipino-American civil rights history.

In 1977, the I-Hotel tenants, primarily elderly low-income Filipinos, lost their decade long struggle and were evicted.

With their eviction, the last enclave of San Francisco's historic Manilatown community and all of its rich cultural living-history was dismantled.

After twenty years of protest by the community at large, the I-Hotel was rebuilt in 2005 through the Manilatown Heritage Association.

Robles, a kind-hearted soul, affectionately called Manong Al, never gave up. He leaves behind a lifetime of work and a legacy that will be honored by generations to come.

- Suzanne Joe Kai

Note from the editor: I remember vividly covering the I-Hotel struggle when I was a young television news reporter just starting out for San Francisco's KRON-TV (when it was an NBC affiliate). The I-Hotel battle to keep the low-income elderly, and their closely knit community from being displaced from their homes was heart-wrenching. It is a tribute to community leaders such as Al Robles who kept the dream alive, by sharing the stories of his community, and the heart and soul of what was San Francisco's historic Manilatown.

I recommend viewing the documentary:

THE FALL OF I-HOTEL, a documentary narrated by the late Al Robles, and written, produced and directed by filmmaker Curtis Choy

http://www.chonkmoonhunter.com/The_Fall_of_the_I-Hotel.html

Read details below to attend the memorial events honoring Al Robles.

Memorial in Celebration of Al Robles Life and Journey:

SAN FRANCISCO-- (U.S. ASIAN WIRE)

Al Robles passed away on May 2, 2009 at the age of seventy-nine. He was born in San Francisco on February 16, 1930 to parents Remidio and Marquita (Escalderon) Robles. He is survived by his daughter Okashi Robles and siblings Virginia Yngojo, Shirley Scobie, Hansel Robles, Russell Robles, Ray Robles, Jimmy Robles, Anthony Robles, Drucilla Robles. In addition, Al is survived by many, many nieces and nephews.

Many would say that Al's voice and benevolence made a profound difference to the world, spanning well over forty years, amalgamating people of all cultures, communities and generations.

Al's essence as a community activist and advocate for the poor and senior citizen, preservationist and poet, writer and keeper of the talk-story continues.

"We still need to struggle with the fire burning in our hearts and in our poetry.
Struggle for change, for social change, for the poor, the homeless, the downtrodden, the invisible, for those that are silent..."

Please join a life celebration for Al Robles
Manong, Poet, Musician, Activist, Father, Son, Brother, Uncle, Friend

The Blessing, Ashes to Ashes
Friday, May 15, 2pm - 4pm
Neptune Society
1 Loraine Ct
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 221-0794
(415) 771-0717

A Family and Community Potlock Celebration featuring
Poetry Readings, Live Jazz, Musical Performances, Dance, Martial Arts

Sunday, May 17, 12pm - 5pm
SOMArts Cultural Center
934 Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 863-1414

People are welcome to bring a poem, sing a song, bring an instrument, share a dish, volunteer, speak a few words, or just listen and enjoy, just as Manong Al would have wanted.

Volunteers are welcome to help organize, setup/clean up, donate food, perform or perhaps just give a kind word or thought.

Manong Al's Spirit is now dancing among the Carabao.

For those interested please contact:

Kimberley Robles
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Iraya Robles
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tony Robles
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Related News on the Web:

Manilatown is in the Heart Travel with Al Robles, a documentary produced, directed and edited by Curtis Choy

THE FALL OF I-HOTEL A documentary narrated by the late Al Robles, and written, produced and directed by filmmaker Curtis Choy.

I-Hotel
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-Hotel

Manilatown Heritage Foundation
http://alrobles.manilatown.org/page-1/

Asian American Journalists Association
http://www.aaja.org/news/community/2009_05_03_01/

POOR Magazine
http://www.poormagazine.org/index.cfm?L1=news&story=2041

Hyphen
http://www.hyphenmagazine.com/blog/2009/05/rip-al-robles.html

Emil Guillermo
http://www.amok.com/?p=177

Filipina Veritas
http://filipinaveritas.blogspot.com/2009/05/flowers-for-one-cool-cat-uncle-al.html

Manzanar Committee
http://blog.manzanarcommittee.org/2009/05/03/community-activist-poet-educator-al-robles-passes-on-may-2/

Philippine American Writers and Artists
http://pawainc.blogspot.com/2009/05/al-robles-rip.html

Maganda Magazine
http://magandamagazine.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/rip-manong-al-robles/

Al Robles: The Carabao Trail (site maintained and updated by the Robles family)
http://www.manongalrobles.org/

RaceWire
http://www.racewire.org/archives/2009/05/manong_al_has_left_the_buildin.html

J-Town Arts
http://jtownarts.blogspot.com/2009/05/in-memory-of-al-robles.html

FilAm Arts
http://filamarts.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/rest-in-peace-community-activist-and-poet-al-robles/