Inspired by a Gold Medal Hero
The Manalo Movement continues to strive for their hero's rightful recognition
March 13, 2008 8:00 AM
It’s a warm, yet windy San Francisco afternoon—a typical day at SF State. Passersby clench warm coffee mugs and the pavement is now a racetrack, as students are frantically trying to make it to class on time.
There usually aren’t many barriers when students try to get from point A to point B—besides vendors selling obscure trinkets and religion advocates. But today, the nearly tardy students may not make class on time.
Today, there is something different.
A group of students hover around a large table and block the path. From afar, it seems like a group of friends just hanging out after school, but upon further inspection, it’s far from it. It’s the Manalo Movement, and they’re holding one of their first events of the semester, fundraising with raffle tickets and spreading the word about their cause.
For many people who stop to listen or donate money, this may seem like nothing big, but the organization has come a long way in the last three years.
The Manalo Movement, which became official in June 2006, is dedicated to Victoria Manalo Draves, a native San Franciscan and two-time gold medal swimmer in the 1948 Olympic Games in London, England. The organization informs the community of her life story and the perseverance that she went through because of her ethnicity—she's half Filipino and half Irish.
The main goal is to get her into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF) through petitions.
They started by holding meetings in a living room, cramped like sardines. Now they hold weekly meetings in Cesar Chavez room T-153. “Three years ago, we were holding meetings outside of class, making copies of brochures from our own pockets and asking each other to chip in five dollars,” says Andrea De Leon, the campaign chair and one of the co-founders of the Manalo Movement. “Most of the time, we held meetings at my house. We held open houses for people to learn more about the issue. At the time, we weren’t an
Three years ago, the organization (though in its fetal stages) consisted of only five members: Andrea and four classmates. They first learned about Victoria Manalo Draves through Professor Danilo Begonia, an Asian American Studies professor at SFSU. Professor Begonia informs the students in his Psyche and Behavior of Pilipinos (AAS 355) class about Draves every semester because he feels that it’s important for any community, not just Filipinos, to be aware of and acknowledge their own story.
Heroes and heroines reflect back to us, in larger-than-life scale, those idealized qualities that they represent of who we are as a people,” says Professor Begonia. “Also I think these heroes and heroines, when taken together, form a mosaic of our history and experiences of people."
De Leon says that after Professor Begonia told the class about Draves’ story, she started getting more curious about her history and reassessed what it meant to be a hero, especially in a time when most people idolize celebrities. Thus, the Manalo Movement started picking up momentum.
Draves became the first woman to win two gold medals in the Olympic games. She won one in springboard diving and the other in platform diving, as well as the national Tower Diving Championship from 1946 to 1948. She succeeded these remarkable feats, despite the amount of racism she faced for her Filipino descent, as she was kicked out of swimming pools and denied access to swimming clubs. Draves has been acknowledged for her athletic achievements in New Orleans and Los Angeles, but she’s having difficulty getting into BASHOF, which is based in San Francisco.
[Draves] can open doors to other ethnicities,” says De Leon. “Having her inducted will give her the justice she deserves and the honor she truly deserves."
An hour later, the raffle ends and the drawing is made. The lucky winner has wins a grand prize of lower court seats at a Golden State Warriors game. Alan Naguit, the finance chair of the Manalo Movement, has to make the call to the clueless student. After he tells her the news, her scream that can be heard over his cell phone, sums up her emotions.
That same excitement cannot be matched from what the members of the Manalo Movement felt last year. Last October, they officially got a park named after Draves in the South of Market Area, across from Bessie Carmichael Elementary, the area where Draves grew up as a child.
Two years ago, there was a City Hall issue as to what to name the park. After trying to contact people and get information, De Leon came across a community member who’s really involved with Filipino American issues. The Manalo Movement talked to one of the supervisors from the department of recreations and parks, and with the help of other Filipino American and Asian American community groups, the park was named after Draves.
Every Spring, the Manalo Movement creates a petition for Draves to hopefully get her inducted into the BASHOF by getting as many signatures as they can. They submit the petition to the BASHOF in the Fall, when local sports writers vote on who gets in.
The Manalo Movement also holds roughly three to four workshops every semester, both on and off campus, to inform the community of Draves’ life. This semester, the Manalo Movement plans to hold more coalition events with other organizations. They also plan to explore other forms of media, such as radio. Beyond the hard work, they go out to dinner, go to the movies, and hold friendships games in order to bond with one another.
"I feel like we’re so close to completing our campaign right now,” says Julian Ong, fundraising chair of the Manalo Movement. “I’m really shooting for this year. I just have a feeling that it’s going to be this year.
“From this point on is history in the making,” says Naguit. “Twenty years from now, who knows how big Manalo Movement will be. What inspires me is that in the future, I could say, ‘You know what, I was a part of it when we were fifteen members. We were small, we were having meetings in people’s houses.’”
Currently, there are seven officers, several general members, as well as many alumni who have been part of the organization in the past.
“Yes, they could’ve done an internship, they could be out in the working world, they could’ve joined another organization altogether, and all of those offer great opportunities for learning,” says Professor Begonia. “But this is especially valuable because it’s something that’s self-starting and coming from scratch.”
“It’s really amazing because this is my last semester at SF State,” says De Leon. “I really didn’t think that something that I started would keep going. I’m happy to see people be really excited about the whole
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