This lesson plan introduces the students to history, community, and struggles of Little Manila in Stockton, California.

Lesson Plan Materials:

• Create Prompts for “Building Our Community” Exercise
Filipinos in Stockton - Images in America Series by Dawn Mabalon and Ricardo Reyes
Little Manila: Filipinos in California’s Heartland

thumb_Front_Cover.jpg thumb_VF_LM_DVD.png

These materials can be purchased at the Little Manila Foundation Store Website


Little Manila: Filipinos in California’s Heartland. (30 mins). Directed by Marissa Aroy for the KVIE Viewfinder Series. Available for $15 at and

Step 1
Have the students watch the documentary: Little Manila: Filipinos in California’s Heartland

Step 2
Have them write a letter to the someone in the Philippines in Carlos Bulosan’s voice about what happened to Little Manila in Stockton in the 1960s and 1970s, when redevelopment and the freeway destroyed the community.


“Building Our Community”: This activity requires the students to create their own community. Give them some toys and instruct them to create their ideal community with the toys. Then have them share the elements of their community with the rest of the class.

Step 1
Divide the students into five groups. If they are already in barangays, they should work together to build their ideal communities.

Step 2
Instruct them to come up with following:

Name for their community

Step 3
Next, pass out the toys. Have them build their communities wherever they are seated. Give them 20 minutes to finish the construction of the neighborhood.

Step 4
After their neighborhoods are complete, have the whole class take a tour of the communities. Have the students walk around the room to take a cursory look at the new constructed neighborhoods, and then have each group explain the vision of their neighborhood. This should take about 15 minutes.

Step 5
After the community tour, present a different scenario to each community. Pass out one of the five scenarios to each group:

1. You have just received a letter from the State Highway Commission. They have identified your house, block, and entire street for demolition to build a freeway. They will buy your home from you, but only for the lowest price. You can’t afford to buy another house. What is your response? How do you organize your community?

2. The owners of a residential hotel in your neighborhood want to turn it into a parking lot and evict all the residents—all of them poor and working-class people or elderly. They say that the hotel is already run down and a parking lot would be profitable. The hotel is a beautiful building, designed by one of the city’s leading architects, but it has gotten rundown and dilapidated. They argue that their plan is about progress for the community. You must convince your elected officials that the hotel should stand, and all the residents should be able to stay. What do you do?

3. A group of investors from the Filipina/o American community approaches you, saying they want to help you reinvigorate your neighborhood, which is full of historic buildings, organizations, and families, including elderly and poor people who cannot afford to move. They tell you that they want to bring a big Filipino corporate bakery, a Starbucks, a huge grocery store, and a large parking lot to your area. But in order to do this, they must demolish everything and throw everyone out. The city likes their idea, and so do other middle-class and more privileged Filipinas/os, who live in other areas and do not know the history of your neighborhood. What should you do? How do you organize your community?

4. A big discount retail store, like a Wal-Mart, wants to move into your neighborhood. There are some pros and cons to this. There might be more jobs in the area, and a cheap place to shop. But it would definitely put all the small Filipina/o shops and local mom-and-pop grocery stores, drugstores, and pharmacies out of business in your neighborhood. It would also bring traffic, pollution, and low-paying jobs, since the company will not allow their workers to form or join unions. What is your response? What should you do as a community?

5. Suddenly, your neighborhood is becoming the hippest and coolest neighborhood in the city because of its cheap rents, historic architecture, cultural diversity, and its location near downtown. But now, it is hard to find an apartment because the cost of rent is rising. Landlords are evicting old tenants and bringing in new ones who can pay double the rent. New condos and lofts are being built that no one in the neighborhood can afford to buy. The corner grocery store was turned into a café/gallery, the shoe repair and dry cleaning store has become an Internet company, and the new shopping mall and movie theater on the next block does not allow young Filipinas/os to hang out there unless they are shopping. The new gourmet grocery store sells food too expensive for your family to afford, and all of the new restaurants are too costly for your friends and family. What should you do? How do you react, and how should you organize your community?

Step 6
Give each group a piece of butcher paper and have them come up with the following:

Main Issue in the Scenario
Community Response
Steps to Addressing the Issue

Give them 10 minutes to come up with their answers.

Step 7
Have the students share their answers. They should designate one person to read the scenario that was given to them and three people to present what they wrote on their butcher paper.

Step 8
After they are all done presenting, conclude by connecting the students’ responses.

Step 9
Bring the students back to the Cultural Energizer by returning to the “Manilatown Talkshow.” Bring the panelists back and have them describe what they did when these same scenarios took place in their neighborhoods.

Ted Lapuz (Scenarios 1 and 3): We couldn't do much to fight the city council because we lacked political power and organization. Some old-timers felt that you could never fight city and state officials, and they just cried and moved on. I went to Little Manila to see what was happening to the Manongs in Little Manila and I was inspired to do something. Nine city blocks and two blocks of Little Manila were demolished for the freeway! With some strong allies, we fought for a Filipino Center to provide housing and a place for displaced businesses, and we obtained federal loans and grants. It opened in 1972! The Center was a success and is celebrating its 36th year. And now a new generation with the Little Manila Foundation is fighting demolitions, displacements, and honoring the history of the neighborhood. They fight city hall and developers to protect the last original buildings of Little Manila, and the culture and history of our neighborhood. Check out the historic banners in Little Manila!

Al Robles and Estella Habal (Scenario 2): We fought a protracted (ongoing) struggle against the owners of the International Hotel and the city to protect the residents and fight the evictions of the residents of the I-Hotel. We lost this battle, the residents were evicted and displaced, and the hotel was destroyed. A hole in the ground reminded everyone of that tragic night of August 4, 1977 when everyone was evicted. But we won in the end—we sparked a national movement for affordable housing and cultural preservation of Filipina/o American historic neighborhoods. In 2005, the new International Hotel and the Manilatown Center were built. It is a symbol of our historic presence in the neighborhood, the struggle of the I-Hotel. Most importantly, it is a place where we can all come home to Manilatown.

Royal Morales (Scenarios 1-5): All of these things happened in LA to varying degrees. We didn’t own land and we lacked political power, so our landmarks were destroyed and urban redevelopment took away much of what was historic. The new generation in LA went to the city council and designated the neighborhood as Historic Filipinotown. Organizations like SIPA, the Filipino American Library, the Filipino American Service Group (FASGI), and the Filipino Christian Church fight to protect the neighborhood and our history. We make sure we make political allies and community organizations to strengthen our political power. Look for the Historic Filipinotown sign off the 101 Freeway!

Bring on New Guests:

Community Activist from Hercules, CA (Scenario 4): We fought a big-box retail store and went to city hall and the national and local media to protest its desire to come into our community. We did research to show how harmful this store would be to our economy, city, and culture. We organized our entire community and won the battle to keep out the store! It was a historic battle that made national news.

Community Activist from the South of Market Community Action Network (Scenario 5): We created an organization that would fight for social justice and the rights of people who live in the South of Market neighborhood in San Francisco. The residents were becoming victims of gentrification that resulted from the dot-com boom in San Francisco. Poor, working-class, and immigrant residents of South of Market were being displaced in their own community! Now we fight developers and city policies that try to harm our neighborhood and our community, and we have won a lot of important victories.

Step 10
Following the talk show, you should return to the problems of the day.


Problems/Questions of the Day: There are visible Chinatowns, Japantowns, and other ethnic enclaves, but where are our Manilatowns? What happened to Little Manila in Stockton, the Manilatown in San Francisco, and Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles? These neighborhoods were vibrant and productive. How did they “disappear?” What did the Filipinos in these neighborhoods do to preserve their community? What strategies were used to organize or respond to officials who wanted to destroy their neighborhoods?

Assessment: How was it for you to build your community? What was it like when the scenario was about the destruction of your community?

Connection: How do you relate to the stories shared on the talkshow? Are there issues in your own community that are similar to those of the Manilatowns? What can we learn from the ways that the members of the Manilatown communities responded to the scenarios in their neighborhoods?


• Robles, Al. Rapping with 10,000 Carabaos in the Dark. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press, 1996.
• Dawn B. Mabalon, “We Were So Sorry to Lose El Dorado Street: Race and Redevelopment in Stockton’s Little Manila,” in Positively No Filipinos Allowed, ed. Gutierrez and Tiongson, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006.
• Estella Habal, San Francisco’s International Hotel: Mobilizing the Filipino Community in the Anti-Eviction Movement. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008.
• Please see the bibliography at the end of this section.