Architect pitching a Filipino cultural district in Winnipeg
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — A young Filipino Canadian architect wants to set up a Filipino district in Winnipeg to promote Filipino art, food, culture and heritage and showcase the community’s impact on the city.
Joseph Orobia, founder and head of the local firm Architects at Play, is inspired by a similar cultural district in San Francisco.
“It could be anything from makers’ studios to music studios, artist gallery studios, even pop-up retail spaces. It could be a book store — it could be a whole number of things, really,” he told CBC News.
Orobia is seeking community feedback on his group’s proposal, which he would call the Mabuhay District.
“The more we pitch it to people, whether they’re really young or they’ve been here for decades, they see the value in it. And so, for us, it’s important to really engage them, and bring them in and let them have their say,” he said.
Orobia’s inspiration is Soma Pilipinas, also known as Filipinotown, in San Francisco. The city of San Francisco officially recognized Soma Pilipinas as a Filipino cultural heritage district in 2016 to protect community spaces and preserve culture and heritage. The state of California recognized the district the following year.
Soma Pilipinas includes a park, a community center, public art installations, heritage buildings and a performing arts venue dedicated to showcasing emerging Filipino American artists.
Elizabeth Cron, the marketing director for the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, is excited with the idea. She is with a local group called Kultivation Festival, celebrates the emergence of Filipino Canadians and is participating in envisioning the plan for the Mabuhay District.
Orobia hopes the city of Winnipeg will support the community effort and that his vision will become a reality within a decade.