Some days, everything just seems to come together in harmony. Kind of like a classic Cartier-Bresson image where you stare at it and wonder how could it possibly get any better than this? I just had one of those days. They don’t happen often, but when they do it’s worth the total enjoyment.

I was assigned to photograph the Say Say Project, a small, non-profit project based in the story corps approach which sought to record the thoughts, history and perspectives of Filipinos in America. Having spent considerable time around the Filipino arts culture, and having many Filipino friends, it was just one of those assignments where my personal and professional lives collided for a brief moment.

The Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture at Pt Fermin Park in San Pedro, CA drew thousands of Filipino Americans to the two day event. Amid the music and spoken word performances on two stages was a small canopy where mostly older Filipinos were asked to sit in front of a camera and talk about their various experiences on record. A small, wooden tree beckoned them to write their thoughts on paper leaves and place them on the tree under certain categories relating to the Filipino community. When traffic slowed, the multimedia team for Say Say wondered amongst the crowd and recorded more oral history from the festival participants.

The history of any culture is vitally important to preserve. The Say Say project, funded by the wonderful James Irvine Foundation, is taking that history and preserving it via a story corps format for future generations to access.

Please consider a donation to the James Irvine Foundation which helps support and grow the arts, particularly in traditionally under-served communities.

Todd Bigelow Photography

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