Clarito "Bing" Aradanas isn't content to direct his feet to the sunny side of just any street. The Filipino-American activist is irate that San Francisco is peppered with streets named after men who enthusiastically supported the wholesale slaughter of his relatives during the Philippine-American War -- and he's decided to go right to the top to do something about it.
Aradanas has repeatedly written to Mayor Gavin Newsom and his wife, Jennifer Siebel-Newsom -- who has spoken on behalf of next year's "Summer of Peace
" events in the city. Aradanas, a U.S. government anthropologist, thought the juxtaposition of a "Summer of Peace" and streets named for men who saw little wrong in wiping out hundreds of thousands of Filipinos as if they were human cockroaches was jarring, and noted so in his letters. After penning his fourth letter to the mayor, he went so far as to hand a paper copy to Hydra Mendoza, Newsom's education adviser, to personally deliver. His months of entreaties haven't resulted in so much as a form letter in return.
Aradanas notes that he thinks the forthcoming "Summer of Peace" is a
great concept, and is glad Seibel-Newsom is involved in it -- "but I
thought that, while she's at it, she might want to know that streets in
this city are named after people who participated in the attempted
genocide of the Filipino people."
Among the figures Aradanas does not consider street-worthy:
- General Arthur MacArthur (Douglas' father), who was the overall commander of a war rife with atrocities;
- General William Shafter, who uttered the "destroy this village in order to save it" statement of his day: "It may be necessary to kill half the Filipinos
in order that the remaining half of the population may be advanced to a
higher plane of life than their present semi-barbarous state affords."
"This is the 21st century," says the activist. "My ancestors would say it's about time their deaths get recognized."