Echo Park’s “Hidden HiFi” is rich with cultural morsels (if you know where to look). You can even enjoy them from the backseat of a 1944 Jeepney salvaged from the Philippines.
All of the articles and photos from our special Immigration Issue are available in the October 2016 issue, on newsstands now.
STOP 1 — Unidad Park
Jeepney tours are offered once a month through the Pilipino Workers Center. You’ll climb aboard at PWC HQ and head straight for Unidad Park, a green space inspired by Filipino architecture: The winding walkway mimics a yo-yo (the toy was invented in the Philippines and used as a hunting weapon); an elevated semicircle in the center of the park is a replica of a dapay, or communal learning space. Unidad is also home to Eliseo Art Silva’s mural Filipino Americans: A Glorious History, A Golden Legacy, a 145-foot-long work that depicts 4,000 years of Filipino history, including the Delano Grape Strike of 1965 and 1920s boxer Pancho Villa.
STOP 2 — Filipino Christian Church
You’ll see three churches while cruising in the Jeepney but only one that has protected status from the City of Los Angeles. In 1998, Filipino Christian Church was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 651, the solitary preservation site with Filipino origins. Admire the stained-glass windows on the 1915 Craftsman building.
STOP 3 — Veterans Memorial
Five slabs of polished black granite stand in Lake Street Park, each etched with one letter of the word valor. Artist Cheri Gaulke’s Veterans Memorial, dedicated to the 250,000 Filipino and 7,000 Filipino Americans who fought for the United States during World War II, was unveiled in 2006. The back of each pillar tells the harrowing story of the troops’ experiences.
STOP 4 — Temple Seafood Market
Tour Temple Seafood Market, one of the few venues in HiFi that stocks Asian vegetables like taro and ube, traditional ice creams (try the cheese-flavored variety), and other Filipino staples (tripe, chicken feet, beef tongue, blood). The store is owned by the three sisters who operate Dollar Hits, a truck that hawks Filipino street food outside Temple Seafood every Thursday through Sunday.
STOP 5 — Tribal Café
Chase that cheese ice cream with a green smoothie from Tribal Café, which offers vegan and vegetarian alternatives to the meatier fare of the Philippines. Formerly the Traveler’s Café, the spot was a favorite hangout of Carlos Bulosan, a socialist Filipino writer who’s represented on the mural at Unidad Park.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Los Angeles magazine.