A bronze plaque in honor of Filipino-American Olympian diver Victoria Manalo Draves was recently unveiled at the eponymous Victoria Manalo Draves Park in South of Market — the first plaque in San Francisco that honors a Filipino woman.
Draves, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for the three-meter springboard and the 10-meter platform, holds the distinction of being the first Filipino woman and first Asian-American woman to win an Olympic medal.
In his remarks during the unveiling held October 10, Philippine Consul General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. recalled the struggles Draves went through growing up as a child of a mixed-marriage household.
According to him, Daves was born at a time when mixed marriages were frowned upon, and possessing a Filipino surname prevented one from accomplishing things they wanted to do.
"She wanted to excel and compete as an athlete, and did so by using her mother’s maiden name," Bensurto said.
He encouraged the community, especially the present generation of Filipino-Americans who are shaping their identities, to learn from Draves’ story.
In closing, Bensurto encouraged the Filipino-American community to include Draves in the narrative of the “shared history of the Philippines and America, a tale to be told to future generations of Filipino-Americans, she whose very name Victoria Manalo means a double victory.”
The event was spearheaded by the National Federation of Filipino American Associations’ Pacific Region (NAFFAA).
To recognize NAFFAA’s efforts in promoting the national interests of the Philippines and raising greater awareness and appreciation of the valuable contributions of Filipino-Americans to the progress and history of the US, the Consulate presented a certificate of recognition to Rudy Asercion, who represented the organization.
The event was attended by Assembly member of California David Chiu, General Manager of San Francisco Recreation and Park Department Phil Ginsberg; Chief Deputy Director, Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services Derick Brown; Police Captain Jerome de Filippo of the Southern Station, and leaders and members of the Filipino-American Community. —KBK, GMA News