I had the chance to interview Bill Sorro, and other Manilatown activists, about their struggle and the fight to rebuild the I-Hotel. I can still remember the enormous sense of history and power I felt after talking to these men. It seems almost like a dream now: I was barely into my 20s, Bush had been elected president but nothing of the war and disaster that was impending had yet arrived, rents were suddenly getting cheaper and I was having tea with my elders. The world seemed like a place where change was possible.
For years after that, I would see Bill Sorro at Asian American community events and he always greeted me with a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. Every time I saw him that sense of excitement, that sense that good people make the world a better place, was refreshed. And of course, in 2005, the I-Hotel Manilatown Center reopened as a community center and affordable housing for seniors. It was a true community victory.
Bill passed away on August 27th and will be sorely missed and warmly remembered in the San Francisco community. There will be ample opportunities to celebrate and remember Bill, like the gallery exhibition A Serving of Love: The Passion of Bill Sorro, featuring the interviews, photographs and other historical material from his life which opened earlier this month and will run through October 6 on display at the Maniltaown Heritage Foundation (868 Kearny Street, SF).