Bessie Carimichael Mural


Tuloy po Kayo, is Filipino for “welcome.” The mural was designed by internationally ­acclaimed muralist Cece Carpio, and painted with Miguel Bounce Perez and other volunteer artists, the mural represents the Filipino community’s shared experiences, history, and culture.

To prepare for this mural, Carpio led an arts workshop with Bessie Carmichael students, ( the elementary school in the neighborhood) where the children created drawings on themes of self­identity, family, and community. Using the children’s input as her guide, Carpio led a community meeting at the Bayanihan Center (neighboring Filipino Center) to gather more feedback and flesh out ideas. Once a final sketch was in hand, community members came back once more – this time, to paint their mural on the wall with a celebratory paint day. 

The final work includes several layers of meaning. In the center, a “balangay” (boat) and “araw” (sun) convey the significance of the Filipino peoples’ ancient sea faring ways and the overseas journey of immigration to the US. Cleverly, the poles of the balangay form a star­shape – when viewed with the two star­shaped parol lanterns at each end of the mural, the stars and sun evoke the Filipino flag. The parol lanterns themselves are important symbols of light and blessings, evoking holiday traditions widely celebrated among Filipinos. In SOMA, the annual Parol Festival brings thousands to Jessie Square each December. Against a foreground of waves and a background of sky, the mural includes many children and family groups, playing traditional games or strolling down city streets. Throughout, the composition creates links between San Francisco’s busy city life and memories of Filipino landscapes.

Miguel Perez received a BFA in Communication Design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and currently works as a freelance designer and muralist. He is co­founder of Pueblo Nuevo Gallery, a community art space in Berkeley, This is how Cece describes herself on her own website. From the islands of the Philippines to the streets of Brooklyn, Cece Carpio paints people and places on the edges of survival. Using acrylic, ink, aerosol and installations, her work tells stories of immigration, ancestry, resistance and resilience. She documents evolving traditions by combining folkloric forms, bold portraits and natural elements with urban art techniques. She has produced and exhibited work in the Philippines, Fiji Islands, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Italy, Norway and throughout the United States. She can often be found collaborating with her crew, Trust Your Struggle, teaching, and traveling around the world in pursuit of the perfect wall.