Undiscovered SF goes virtual, links up with other cities
By Wilfred Galila
October 2, 2020 at 9:45 am
Local artist Paolo Salazar in his art installation at Undiscovered SF 2019.

Local artist Paolo Salazar in his art installation at Undiscovered SF 2019. MOGLI MAUREAL

SAN FRANCISCO – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the popular Filipino night market, Undiscovered SF, is going virtual with Undiscovered X, a 2-day online event on October 17 and 18, 2020.

The “virtual gathering of Filipina/x/o entrepreneurs, creative, and thought leaders” will feature four virtual stages, four live streaming hub cities, over 60 guests and performers, and more than 50 sponsor and vendor expo booths.

Undiscovered X, a global virtual event, will have live stream partners in four major cities. The main hub is San Francisco, hosted by Kultivate Labs, Make it Mariko, and Creative Transit Agency and participating cities are New York, hosted by DJ Getlive, Rise Radio, Fil Fam

Crowd gathers for live music performances at Undiscovered SF 2019

Crowd gathers for live music performances at Undiscovered SF 2019. MOGLI MAUREAL

Collective, NextDayBetter; Los Angeles, hosted by HiFi Kitchen, SIPA, OneDown Media; and Manila, hosted by Kumu and She Talks Asia.

Four virtual stages will host featured artists that include rapper Ruby Ibarra, singers Kiana V and Jeff Bernat, and world-renowned DJ crew: Triple Threat DJs. These stages will also host several panel discussions on relevant topics in the community.

The event will have virtual expo and vendor booths. “Every day we’re going to be incorporating a flash sale where the vendors get to put up the main product that they want to push,” says Rosales. “You can think of it as each of the vendors has their own personal Zoom room but their own customers could join them on video and actually talk to them live.”

Undiscovered X will also offer one-on-one networking where attendees can connect via video chat. “I’m really excited about this one-on-one networking option,” says Rosales. “Imagine Filipinos all over the world can go into this ‘room.’ It’s kind of like the chat roulette version of meeting Filipinos.”

Produced by Kultivate Labs, a non-profit business accelerator in SOMA Pilipinas, Filipino Cultural Heritage District, and SF Bay Area event planning company Make it Mariko, Undiscovered X “will showcase a range of Filipina/x/o stories, art, music, panel discussions, and more.” It is planned to be the biggest virtual gathering of the Filipino community to date.

“Undiscovered has done an amazing job galvanizing the Filipino community and sparking a new sense of pride in the Bay Area. We want to bring that magic to connect all of the change-makers, creatives, and entrepreneurs that are accelerating Filipino culture worldwide,” says Desi Danganan, executive director of Kultivate Labs.

He adds, “During these uncertain times of a global pandemic, social unrest, and economic collapse, it’s imperative that we harness our shared cultural values of kapwa and bayanihan at a scale never attempted in recent memory.”

A majority of social activities and events have shifted to virtual spaces and the Undiscovered team had to rethink how to translate the real world, on ground experience of their event online.

“Mainly it was recognizing that the experience we were creating was going to be different than the night market. People have a set notion of what a night market is and we didn’t want them to try to compare that to the virtual experience because it was going to be so different,” says Gina Rosales, event producer and founder of Make it Mariko.

Representatives of SOMA Pilipinas at Undiscovered SF 2019.

Representatives of SOMA Pilipinas at Undiscovered SF 2019. MOGLI MAUREAL

The theme of the inaugural virtual event is “Culture Connected” in which relevant issues are considered: “the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on BIPOC communities and businesses, the global civil rights movement for black liberation, critical questions around diasporic identity, community building, storytelling, cultural and economic support, and allyship.”

“Now that we’re more of this virtual summit experience, we’re really looking to create what’s the Filipino/Filipinx version of South by Southwest where you have this amazing live performances but also to talk about the issues facing our community right now,” says Rosales.

What has made Undiscovered X possible is through the use of an online event platform called Hopin.

In addition, to “add a more sensory touch to the Undiscovered experience” there will be Filipino food meal kits available for sale in select cities. “How it works is you order ahead of time. There are a limited number of meal kits that are available each day and we sell them until they’re sold out. They can either pick it up directly from the business or, if they’re local, pay extra to have it delivered, depending on the restaurant,” says Rosales.

Undiscovered is currently expanding on its meal kit partners to have a wider availability of Filipino food for the event across the nation. “We’re going to find meal kit partners in our three main cities, SF, NY, and LA. Bay area will have a few ones in Oakland, SF, and San Jose,” says Rosales.

“We’re partnering with Ramar Foods who are going to be the national meal kit sponsor. Anywhere in the U.S. [mainland], you could buy different kinds of meal kits and have it shipped to you door, frozen, so you could still enjoy Filipino food wherever you are with us that weekend.”

One of the initial challenges of having a virtual global event is the difference across time zones. The solution was to anchor the time based on that of the main event hub in SF and to adjust accordingly with the time of the other hubs in other cities.

Considering the time difference, Undiscovered plans to share the recordings of the panel discussions online after the event, but Rosales encourages people should join live.

Although the virtual event allows access to a wider audience, the Undiscovered team realized the limitations of the medium in relation to the technology and know-how required to be able to attend as it pertains to some members of the community.

One of the ways to allow and encourage more people to come, other than the low ticket price, is through free tickets. “We have free tickets that Kollective Hustle is sponsoring. And even if those tickets run out it’s only going to be a dollar, but we’re basically sponsoring tickets in SOMA Pilipinas, sponsoring tickets for seniors.”

One of many Filipino dishes featured at Undiscovered SF 2019.

One of many Filipino dishes featured at Undiscovered SF 2019.

In spite of it all, the pandemic has inadvertently brought about opportunities. By forcing people to engage more on a virtual platform, it has broadened connections across the community.

“COVID sucks. Don’t get me wrong, COVID sucks, hardcore, but I’m very thankful for what it has forced us into because with Undiscovered we were very solely, in a good way, focused on SOMA Pilipinas but now going virtual has given us the opportunity to broaden our reach to the global community,” says Rosales.

“And, look, we’re now building with New York, with Historic Filipinotown in LA, and Manila, and getting to share across regions, that is so powerful.”


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