“WHERE IS THAT?” is an all too common question about Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown. What’s Filipino or historic about it? How does it fit into “The Big Picture” story of Los Angeles?
In many ways, Hi Fi epitomizes Los Angeles: a diverse population, a significant percentage of low-income and recent immigrants, and a history that has been erased or is hard to find. How then do you experience the history of a place with few visible cultural markers? How do you access the hundreds of stories permeating non-descript buildings, now-empty lots, and commercial strip malls that, taken collectively, result in that Historic Filipinotown sign by the 101 Freeway? How do you dig up the past, peel back the layers of a neighborhood’s evolution over time and make it meaningful to a contemporary audience?
That’s where PDUB’s MOBILE HI FI Tours come in: historical excavation through time travel, experienced through the perspectives of immigrants from different time periods. Using GPS-enabled Nokia tablets, users can access audio, photos and maps that comprise these Immigrant’s Guides while walking around the neighborhood or riding on PWC’s Jeepney.
PDUB’s MOBILE HI FI Tours aim to promote and benefit Historic Filipinotown as a neighborhood, to increase its public visibility, to drive interest, investment, and foot traffic into the area, and to enable it to more effectively advocate on its own behalf by:
* Supporting local businesses
* Elevating the status of area nonprofits
* Informing + assisting with planning + development
* Mitigating harmful effects of gentrification on residents
* Establishing the area as a recognized Los Angeles cultural destination
What were these immigrants’ lives like? How did they survive and thrive in the midst of racism and exclusionary laws?
These Immigrant Guides are the result of a collective effort. The process of creating them is participatory, multi-generational, and cross-disciplinary. Contents are generated through workshops, research, and interviews with community members, university classes and the direct input of community members. In fact, these Guides have galvanized support among HI FI community members because the project enables them to contribute content, shape its conceptual framework and its public presentation. They are eager to speak with local youth, share photos, record their stories and volunteer. They recognize PDUB’s Mobile HI FI Tours as a much-needed repository of the stories and value people have placed in the neighborhood and that they effectively allow a community to tell its own story, with all the weight and meaning that only its members can bring.
Mobile Hi Fi enables the user to travel through time, to experience the evolution of the neighborhood and the migration of Filipinos across Los Angeles through the stories of immigrants who have called it home.
Guide topics include housing, employment, language, transportation, social life + recreation. Featured content includes:
* Audio recordings of oral histories from the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, read by PDUB Youth + PWC members, primarily immigrants themselves and many of whom work in domestic service jobs, such as caregivers
* Audio readings by PDUB Youth + PWC members from key Filipino authors such as Carlos Bulosan + Philip Vera Cruz, Vice-President of the United Farm Workers (UFW)
* Haranas, traditional Filipino seranades, performed by Filipino immigrant seniors from the Silver Lake Adult Day Care Center (SLADHCC)
* Interviews, stories, statements from key members of Hi Fi’s Filipino + Latino communities
* Photos from community members that give invaluable insight into neighborhood life
* Photos from UCLA + USC’s historic archives
* Profiles of local businesses, churches + nonprofits
row 1: GPS-enabled Nokia tablet displays a 1930 WPA map of the neighborhood now known as Historic Filipinotown.
row 2: (left) PDUB Youth Diane Pascual researches the history of Filipinos in Los Angeles through old photos; (right) REMAP’s Nicolai Munk Peterson leads a Mobile HI FI field test.
row 3: (left) Long-time resident Gerald Gubatan next to his father, Severo Gubatan, in a Mackintosh suitsCommunity members; (right) Mobile HI FI Jeepney Tours launch, September 26, 2009.
row 4: Tour-goers experience HI FI on the world’s only mobile media jeepney, PWC’s own original 1944 Sarao Motors Jeep Willy.
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