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PRESS RELEASE: OCTOBER 2007 “Through My Father’s Eyes: The Filipino American Photographs of Ricardo Ocreto Alvarado (1914-1976)” to commemorate Filipino American history month

by Janet Alvarado
Sep 17, 2007

Media Contact: Steve Kech (415) 203-0137

The Alvarado Project Presents Photography Exhibition on Filipino American History at Hiram Johnson State Building

SAN FRANCISCO, California, August 21, 2007 — The transformation of the Filipino American community in the Bay Area from a close-knit group of bachelors to a society defined by family life is captured in the photographic exhibit “Through My Father’s Eyes: The Filipino American Photographs of Ricardo Ocreto Alvarado (1914-1976)” on display in the lobby of the Hiram Johnson State office building, during October to commemorate Filipino American history month. The exhibit, sponsored by State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), is free of charge. The Hiram Johnson State office building is located at 455 Golden Gate Avenue.

Ricardo Alvarado immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in 1928 as part of the early 20th-century wave of immigrants from that country known as the “Manong generation” (manong meaning “older brother” in the Ilocano language). Alvarado thought America would bring new opportunities, but he was given menial jobs. During World War II, he served in the Pacific with the U.S. Army’s First Filipino Regiment. When the war came to an end, he supported his passion for photography by working as a civilian cook for the Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco.

Alvarado began documenting postwar Filipino-American life in San Francisco and surrounding communities. For almost 20 years following the war, Alvarado witnessed a transformation among Filipino Americans – from a close-knit group of bachelors to a society defined by family life. Alvarado’s photographs capture day-to-day activities as well as the special celebratory moments. More than a hobby, photography was his passion. He canvassed the Bay Area’s city streets and rural back roads for subjects. His view camera gave him entrée into large social functions—weddings, funerals, baptisms, parties, and dances—as well as intimate family gatherings. He recorded street scenes, beauty pageants, cock fights, agricultural workers tending crops, and entrepreneurs on the job.Together, the photographs offer a poignant portrayal of the Filipino American community in San Francisco from the early 1940s to the late 1950s.

Following Alvarado’s death in 1976, his daughter, Janet, discovered his photographs. Janet Alvarado currently serves as the executive director of The Alvarado Project, which documents and preserves more than 3,000 of his images of post-World War II Filipino-American communities.

While Janet Alvarado was growing up, her father, Ricardo, told her stories about life in America before she was born. “They were colorful stories filled with vivid images of a vibrant community and a multicultural past,” Alvarado remembers. The exhibition from the Alvarado Project offers an opportunity to see this rich community through the eyes of Filipino-American photographer Ricardo Alvarado.

“The lives and experiences of early Filipinos in America need remembering. I am proud to be able to revisit the exhibition in my hometown and hope others visit the Great Hall at the Hiram Johnson State building in the City to see the exhibition before it is donated and joins the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.,” said Janet Alvarado.

“Through My Father’s Eyes” debuted at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History Behring Center, Washington, D.C., and has traveled to Philadelphia, New York, Honolulu and Los Angeles. “To have my father’s photographs displayed in its ‘hometown’ in a fitting public space provided by the State of California is a special acknowledgment of Filipinos and their early San Francisco life and culture celebrating the presence of Filipino Americans and their legacy in American society,” said Janet Alvarado.

For further information, call (415) 584-3300/ or visit: or