In 1970, Vietnam veteran Sabino Cabildo returned to Seattle to resume schooling at the University of Washington (UW). Earlier in his youth, Cabildo was introduced by his father to the elderly Filipino citizens in Chinatown and he quickly developed a kinship to the resident manongs upon his return from service in Vietnam. A number of the elderly had lived in cramped and run-down quarters in Chinatown and had sustained themselves through periodic work in Alaska and elsewhere. And they had few, if any, relatives to rely upon. Cabildo’s activist interest compelled him to call attention to the plight of elderly Filipinos living in decrepit facilities and dying in the bowels of Chinatown. He formed the International Drop-In Center (IDIC) at 6th & Maynard St. in the summer of 1971.
At the time, none of the agencies in the International District had any interest in helping elderly Filipinos in the area and IDIC quickly took the active role of focusing attention to the plight of aging Filipinos in Chinatown. Together with Norma Berona Asis, a counselor at the UW, Sabino and youthful volunteers actively staffed IDIC. He served as the IDIC founding director and welcomed elderly participation from folks like Chris Mensalvas, Magno Rudio, Frank Bolima, Sam Figueras, and others. At that time, the impending construction of Seattle’s original Dome Stadium, which was to be built very close to Chinatown, was to serve as the catalyst for activist intervention from young Asian youths that included Silme and Nemesio Domingo, Tessie Tampico, Vic Pineda, Cayan Topacio, Ally Alfonzo, Eddy Daba, Narsing Nazario, Al and Dick Sugiyama, Jamie Lee, Diane Wong, May Lee, Ruthanne Kurose, Kyle Kinoshita, Mayumi Tsutukawa and others. The fear that the creation of the Dome Stadium would ultimately spell the end of Chinatown and, thus, the living quarters for its elderly manongs, became the crying call for activist protests voicing concerns about the stadium’s potential impact on the living quarters of elderly residents.
Shortly thereafter, interest about the fate of the elderly Filipino citizens in Chinatown were picked up by concerned adult volunteers from the health and religious professions, from people such as Sister Heidi Parreno from the International District Health Center, Reverend Stan de Pano, pastor for the Beacon Hill Methodist Church and Fr. Manuel Ocana, pastor of the Immaculate Concepcion Church. It was, thus, activist interests over the plight of elderly Filipinos that sustained the momentum for IDIC objectives and defined its early beginnings. In August of 1974, IDIC was formally recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, charitable organization.
At the present home of IDIC on Beacon Hill in South Seattle, a broad range of services available to members and county residents include information and assistance, veterans’ advocacy and benefits assistance, health seminars, estate planning guide and referrals, subsidized housing advice, disability and social security benefits advocacy, and other concerns that seniors citizens encounter. To combat mild depression there is PEARLS (Program to Encourage Active, Rewarding Lives for Seniors), courtesy of the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department.
The IDIC is managed by an Executive Director who reports to a 15-member Board. With its current resources, the IDIC has a total of nine full and part-time staff. They work closely with community-based organizations like the Pacific Asian Empowerment Program (PAEP), Sound Generations, United Way of King County (UWKC), Food Lifeline, Filipino War Veterans of Washington (FWVW), Seattle Foundation, Asian Counseling & Referral Service (ACRS), the Filipino Community of Seattle (FCS), Muckleshoot Tribe Foundation, City of Seattle Human Services Department Aging & Disability Services, and the Seattle Foundation to name a few.
THE BOARD MEMBERS AND STAFF
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jun Aesquivel Edna Armas
Camilo De Guzman Pilar Nable Renato Santos
Mariela Fletcher, President
Juan Pablo Paredes, Vice President
Nanette Villanueva, Secretary
Leonico Panlasigui, PRO
Conrado "Sluggo" Rigor
Exec. Asst./Social Worker
Mary Jane Garcia