More than 5,000 people gathered for the first UNDISCOVERED SF Night Market on August 18th to celebrate Pilipin@ culture in the SOMA Pilipinas district of San Francisco. UNDISCOVERED SF is a monthly night market that highlights the Pilipin@ community’s contributions to music, visual arts, fashion, design, retail, food, technology, social activism, and health & wellness.
Kubo met with the UNDISCOVERED Executive Director, Desi Danganan, and Event Producer, Gina Mariko Rosales (also the Founder and Event Producer of Make it Mariko), to learn about the origin of the event series and their mission to raise the vibrations of our Pilipin@ community.
When did you start thinking about this vision for the SF Night Market?
DD: This vision started in high school. My high school was predominantly Pilipin@ and Latino, but I felt like our Pilipin@ tribe was lost. This was in the late 80’s and 90’s — Pilipin@s were joining gangs and I think it’s because we felt lost. We didn’t know what our culture was. Our parents were preoccupied with making a living and integrating in America, like dealing with colonial mindset/trauma. We had this lost generation. So, I started the Halo Halo Society at my high school to bring Pilipin@ youth together, which turned into a local movement with six high schools in the San Gabriel Valley.
GR: A year ago, on August 30, 2016 — I attended a SOMA Pilipinas meetup for entrepreneurs. I had just started my event business six months before. I heard Desi pitch the idea/vision for SOMA Pilipinas. I was excited by the potential, and I wanted to get involved in some way. We started by working on a grant to throw a launch party for SOMA Pilipinas, but Marco, a member of Desi’s team, had the idea for a night market because of how popular they are in Asia. This merged with the launch party idea, so we decided to make it the same thing and do it monthly.
Why do you think you were able to draw 5,000+ people to the first SF Night Market?
DD: We tapped into a psychological need to discover ourselves — if you look at Pilipin@ history, we’re sometimes considered the “sick man of Asia” — we’re known for corruption and we’re seen at the bottom of the barrel. We’ve always had that trauma, that chip on our shoulder. Now’s the time to step up. We’re no longer the sick man of Asia. We’re taking that big step forward.
What were you feeling the day of the SF Night Market?
GR: I was feeling super humbled. With a community event like this, you just gotta make it happen. When we opened the doors, venue operations came to me and asked, “So what are you gonna do about the giant line outside?” I finally went outside and said, “Oh sh*t!” There were hundreds of people of all ages. Our community came out so hard. We saw all generations…there were little babies, collegiate students, millennials, parents, lolos, and lolas. I even talked to people who came all the way from Stockton. I was surprised by how far our reach was.
What’s the plan moving forward now that you’ve held the first SF Night Market?
GR: We need to figure out how to get Pilipin@s to rally! How do we get people to fund this? Manongs are fighting for this moment, so let’s do something! We’re focused on getting more sponsors and finding big ticket companies. Next year we’ll look for a venue and space that’s more sustainable with lower overhead.
DD: The first Night Market was super successful. This proves that we’re moving in the right direction. We feel limitless. But we need to make it more efficient — for the audience that’s coming, we need to double the scale.
What does it mean to be a Pilipin@ entrepreneur? What does it mean to be an “Entrepinay?”
DD: I think there are Pilipin@s who traditionally frown upon the risk and the ventures that I commit to — that’s why there aren’t a lot of Pilipin@ entrepreneurs. With UNDISCOVERED SF, we’re raising the vibration. Pilipin@s know how to have fun, and we know how to raise the vibration. We create energy, so I figure out how to monetize it.
GR: A woman from LA coined the term “Entrepinay” — I had only started my event business a year ago, and I was scared. I just knew white men were starting businesses. What do I know about starting a business? My mentor told me, “You have to do this. Show younger Pinays that we’re here and that we’re powerful.”
What’s it like working in events?
GR: It’s a fast-paced lifestyle: things can change at anytime, but you don’t freak out. You ask yourself, “How are you going to solve it?” You predict what’s going to happen. It’s a lot of forward thinking stuff. I’m super into problem-solving. It’s also a ton of people management. Clients hire me because they want a second opinion. They need someone to make sense of their idea. For example, Desi is a dreamer. He comes up with crazy ideas and my job is to take that crazy idea and translate it. I figure out how to bring that dream closer to Earth.
What’s your advice to younger entrepreneurs?
DD: Everyone has potential, but to reach that potential, you need to take risks. You’ll jump off that cliff, you’ll fly, and you may flap your wings…but then you crash, and when you crash, you gotta get back up and take that leap of faith.
What do you think are some issues that our Pilipin@ generation needs to be invested in/paying attention to?
GR: Rallying our community more — our experience might be different from our parents’, so let’s embrace that. Let’s own the Pilipin@-American experience. I think UNDISCOVERED SF is doing that and showing it in a different way. Let’s step up and own that. I also want to see the Pilipin@ community rally hard around Black Lives Matter (BLM). We’re also brown people and we’re discriminated against, too. We need to play an active part in the BLM movement.
To learn more about how to get involved in UNDISCOVERED and the SF Night Market, contact Gina Mariko Rosales and Desi Danganan about the following roles:
- Merchandising/Retail Mastermind
- Exhibition Booth Designers
- UNDISCOVERED Ambassadors and Event Assistants
Mallory is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Kubo. Follow her on Twitter.