SAN FRANCISCO – AARP sponsored West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service’s effort to recognize Filipino American Victoria Manalo Draves, the first Asian American woman to win two Olympic gold medals for the United States in 1948, yesterday at the unveiling of a plaque commemorating her at the Victoria Manalo Draves Park on Folsom Street between 6th and 7th Streets in San Francisco’s South of Market area (see map here). In October 2006, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors named the park after Manalo Draves, yet she remains largely unknown.
“We are grateful for the generous support of our presenting sponsor AARP,” said Rudy Asercion, Executive Director of West Bay Pilipino Services. “With their help, we’re paying tribute to Victoria Manalo Draves and encouraging young Filipino Americans to reach for higher goals.”
“AARP is honored to support the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service in celebrating the contributions of United States Olympian and gold-medal winner Victoria Manalo Draves and recognizing her part in weaving the fabric of the Filipino American History in this country,” said Ahnileen Martinez, AARP California State Associate Director. “What a wonderful way to close out Filipino American History Month.”
Special guests at the plaque unveiling included San Francisco District Supervisor Jane Kim and Philippine Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon Ascalon. Supervisor Kim read the text of the plaque aloud after the unveiling:
Victoria Manalo Draves was the first Asian-American woman to win an Olympic medal when she earned two gold medals in the 3-meter springboard and the 10-meter platform diving competitions at the 1948 Olympics. Born in the South of Market area to an English mother and Filipino father, Ms. Manalo Draves attended the school adjacent to this site, which later became Bessie Carmichael Elementary School. Ms. Manalo Draves achieved her success despite facing discrimination early in her diving career. Her achievement continues to serve as an inspiration for all athletes interested in competition regardless of race, creed or national origin.
After the plaque dedication, students at the Bessie Carmichael Elementary School participated in sports and other family friendly activities to celebrate Filipino American History Month.