Photo depicting the glass front door of Archipelago.

Hillman City’s Archipelago Burglarized

by Ronnie Estoque

Archipelago, a nationally recognized Filipino restaurant located in South End’s Hillman City neighborhood, was recently broken into, possibly reflecting a disturbing trend for local businesses. 

Amber Manuguid, co-owner of Archipelago, had spent the morning of Nov. 7 playing with her son, since Sundays are her only day off, and found out about the incident about two hours after it happened.

“I grabbed my phone to play him [son] something and saw the alerts from our security system,” Manuguid said. “Our security timeline says there was a brief power outage when they entered.”

After seeing the notification, Manuguid contacted co-owner Aaron Verzosa to check on the restaurant. After Verzosa had visited the scene and took note of what was stolen, he gave Manuguid a follow-up call.

“At that time, I felt anxious, angry; it was emotionally draining trying to gather receipts, order replacements, while trying to shield our son from our stress,” Manuguid said. “In restaurants we work late nights and long hours, so those days off are precious, especially when you have a 1-year-old who is growing up so fast.”

Even with the brief power outage, Archipelago’s security system was still able to run and was able to get surveillance of the incident as shown in this Instagram post. Manuguid believes that the culprit could possibly be female, white, and around 5-foot-7. The culprit was able to climb through a small basement window without needing to break it all the way open. Electronics, wine, supplies, and some personal items from lockers were stolen during the incident. This is the first time that Archipelago has experienced a break-in.

“We [Archipelago] are thankful to everyone who sent us messages of encouragement and offers to help,” Manuguid said. “Though it feels awful to find a space that our family spent years to open and that the team works in day and night to uplift their culture and share the craft of their ancestors violated, we also have taken this moment to count our blessings.”

Archipelago’s journey began in May of 2016, followed by a trip to the co-owners’ ancestral lands of the Philippines. Since establishing themselves in Hillman City, Archipelago has grown tremendously in their recognition as they were one of three Seattle restaurants to be selected by The New York Times as part of its 2021 Restaurant List last month.

While Manuguid has acknowledged that the stolen items can be replaced, she does have concern for other businesses and organizations that are also experiencing suspicious activity.

“We [Archipelago] heard that there were more businesses on Rainier that experienced break-ins or attempted break-ins around the same time,” Manuguid said. “We know that they unsuccessfully tried to break into TT Mart next door, and we heard that Safari [Restaurant] down the street was also burglarized.”

The following day, around 2:55 a.m., the Filipino Community of Seattle’s (FCS) bus for senior citizens was broken into from its back door and side panel, as shown in this footage posted on their Instagram page. Parts were taken during the incident, which insurance will cover costs for replacement.

“That was heartbreaking to find out; the FCS is a nonprofit that does so much for our South End community and has been a source for food and other resources for those hit hard by the pandemic,” Manuguid said. “Though for many of us insurance will help take care of the repairs and replacements, we cannot let these individuals continue to attack our South End BIPOC businesses and organizations.”

Ronnie Estoque is a South Seattle-based freelance photographer and videographer. You can keep up with his work by checking out his website.

📸 Featured Image: The entrance of Archipelago in Hillman City. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)

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