SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department joins the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), in honoring Olympic heroine Victoria Manalo Draves with a special plaque unveiling October 10. Draves was the first American woman to win two gold medals for diving and became the first woman of Filipino heritage to win an Olympic gold medal. She won them in both springboard and platform at the 1948 Olympics in London.
Born in the South of Market area in 1924, Draves attended school on the same site that would become the neighborhood park named in her honor in 2006. The plaque ceremony on October 10 will be held at Victoria Manalo Draves Park, located at Folsom and Sixth Street.
“Victoria Manalo Draves was a brilliant athlete and a great role model for both women and Asian American communities,” said District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim whose district includes Victoria Manalo Draves Park. “I am proud to be honoring her legacy as an athlete and as an Asian American woman who never gave up on her dreams despite the discrimination that she faced.”
She did not try diving until the age of 16. A year later, she attempted to join the Fairmont Hotel Swimming and Diving Club but was rejected because of her Filipino name, according to The New York Times. She was able to compete only after changing her last name to Taylor, her mother’s maiden name.
“The Bronze Plaque in honor of Victoria Manalo Draves contributes to the vibrancy of San Francisco and illustrates Rec and Park’s partnership with the SoMA community,” said Rudy Asercion, Executive Director of National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).
Since many people who use Victoria Manalo Draves Park do not know who she was or what she accomplished, the community wanted to provide that history by installing a plaque near the entrance of the park that tells her story and celebrates her achievements.
“Ms. Draves is an idol for young boys and girls everywhere, she changed diving forever,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec & Park General Manager. “We’re proud to be able to tell her story in the park named for her.”
In addition to the unveiling of the plaque, there will be a live performance of Singkil by Johnny Velosco Dance Troupe. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. with the National Anthems of both the United States and the Philippines.