The Fall of the I-Hotel
produced and directed by Curtis Choy

It was the end of the Hippie Era in San Francisco. Years had passed since Bob Dylan first sang "The Times They Are A-changing." People were tired after the Watergate scandal and the resignation of Richard Nixon, and things had indeed changed. They had changed so much that 10,000 protestors in the most liberal city in America—San Francisco—could not protect 40 oldtimers (who were refusing to be evicted) from a Sheriff, policemen, and firemen who were, against their own good judgment and personal wishes, evicting the old men.

It was a strange, haunting, disgraceful and nearly unbelievable event. Through the devotion and artistry of Curtis Choy, producer and director of the film, however, we can believe what we see when we view his excellent documentary of "The Fall of the I-Hotel."

The International Hotel in the heart of Manilatown had been a haven for Filipinos who came to the United States to work in the 1930's and who had stayed in the hotel off and on—calling the place their home—for decades; some had lived there for fifty years. Then came the eviction notices, and these men—most, for the first time in their lives—said "No." No, they would not move. They had been denied so much in their long lives, including the right to marry American citizens, and they had accepted these injustices so many times in their lives, it is hard to think where the strength, the resolve, the disobedience came from.

The struggle of the Manongs in San Francisco from the time of their arrival to the time that they were finally evicted from the International Hotel is told with compassion, anger and beauty. The removal of Maniltatown and of a place for people to live in the cities of America as witnessed from 1968 to 1977 was prescient to the homelessness that has become a larger and larger reality every year, moving right into the 21st Century with record numbers of people on waiting lists for shelter. It was wrong and it is still wrong for a nation to ignore the plight of the old, the very young, and others among us who cannot fight for themselves. It is up to us to find a way to correct this wrong. Curtis Choy has made it possible for us to remember the Manongs and to respect their memory by understanding their experience in America. You can purchase a copy of the video at www.chonkmoonhunter.com.

The video documentary won First Prize at the Atlanta Film Festival and Best of Festival in the Big Muddy Film Festival.

The times didn't change enough then and they still haven't today.

Carlene Sobrino Bonnivier, poet and novelist, has written a play about the Manongs co-authored by Remé Grefalda, "Brown Man In White Sheets". It will see production in 2001.

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