PDUB Productions (2008-2011)

PDUB Productions, PWC’s Jeepney, and the Mobile Hi Fi Tours all have the goal of raising the visibility of the Filipino American Community.  PWC in particular is trying to raise the visibility of hardworking, low-wage Filipino workers and their issues.  We know that when our community and issues are not discernible, they are also not addressed. PDUB helped to excavate the history and the current experiences of the geographic neighborhood as well as the larger Filipino American community. The Tours have created a tangible, physical way to experience the Filipino community and Hi Fi. The jeepney represents Filipinos. It’s bright, its colorful, its unmistakable. With the Mobile Hi Fi Tour you can find out about Hi Fi’s stories and the richness that’s here. The stories are resources by professors and students, both formal and informal. HyperCities enables deeper exploration of Hi Fi through quantifiable data as well as through qualitative narratives that bring the data to life.


–Aquilina Soriano-Versoza, Executive Director, Pilipino Workers Center


PDUB Productions was an innovative, participatory youth media and civic engagement program through which local immigrant youth created digital content about Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown (Hi Fi). Before the age of the smartphone, PDUB was ahead of the curve, using locative media, and digital technology in a creative, educational, innovative, and participatory manner. PDUB Youth created community-generated content about Hi Fi to deepen the understanding and appreciation of Hi Fi, build relationships, and create an ongoing archive about the neighborhood. Project partners included the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), HyperCities and UCLA REMAP.

We created not the definitive Hi Fi digital archive, but an evolving one. PDUB’s formats intentionally varied from online to mobile media to public events, from experiential to analytical. We created interactive Mobile Hi Fi Tours that traced immigrant patterns and settlements; put youth-generated content onto an online, map-based, time-travel application, and on Los Angeles Metro buses; collaborated with Filipino seniors to revive the tradition of Haranas; and presented a series of community events. PDUB’s content varied from neighborhood and social history to personal stories of immigration and assimilation to reinterpretations of cultural traditions.

Our Role

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Public Matters worked with PWC to identify, design, and implement project goals

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Designed the program and built partnerships

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Created PDUB’s curriculum and led its after-school youth workshops

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Created 113 videos and hundreds of pieces of media

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Developed the innovative styles of content dissemination

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Oversaw PDUB’s overall vision and direction


WHERE IS THAT? WHAT’S FILIPINO OR HISTORIC ABOUT IT?” are all too common questions about Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown. The community is actually majority Latino. It’s only 2.1 square miles. “Historic Filipinotown” was a designation created by the City of Los Angeles in 2002. There are no cultural markers like in other LA ethnic “towns” such as Koreatown or Chinatown where it’s clear where you are. Hi Fi looks like Anywhere, Los Angeles. If anything, Hi Fi is better known for its proximity to the 101 Freeway and as shortcut to downtown than as a cultural nexus.

Historic Filipinotown’s small size stands in contrast to its role and potential in Los Angeles. In many ways, Hi Fi epitomizes LA: a diverse population, a significant percentage of low-income and recent immigrants, and a history that has been erased or is hard to find. Filipino enclaves have been established, pushed out, and reestablished in many areas throughout LA. PDUB was designed to celebrate and document Hi Fi’s history and significance; to bring investment and attention to the area; to bring together generations of residents, stakeholders and youth; and to bridge institutional and geographic boundaries in a scholarly and participatory exploration of how immigrant enclaves shaped and continue to transform LA.

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PDUB is unique in its depth and scope, and its reach and community impact. Its comprehensive hands-on curriculum emphasized the connection between media production and community benefit, combining neighborhood and cultural history, community journalism, interactive tour design, audio and video production. PDUB Youth participated in a range of activities that strengthen confidence, creativity, leadership skills and civic awareness. They interviewed stakeholders about neighborhood history, Filipinos in Los Angeles and community activism, and worked with prominent scholars and experts in digital media. The result of PDUB was the creation of a 21st century cultural landmark—one that is participatory, reflects the community, and is malleable in format.

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 PDUB flipped many pre-existing power structures, whether institutional or age-related. PDUB Youth were mainly recent Filipino immigrants along with a few local Latino high school students. Of students going to college, most attend vocational school or community college. Attending an institution like UCLA was beyond the reach of most.  Many enter the work force as caregivers or enlist in the military. PDUB reshaped educational processes, as the PDUB Youth became UCLA students’ teachers and tour guides. PDUB Youth worked closely with the students to create mapping projects about Hi Fi, many of which are in HyperCities. They worked directly with artists, community members, and students through a seminar called “Creating and Recreating Historic Filipinotown,” taught by UCLA Professor Jan Reiff.

In PDUB, youth drove the project. They became the experts and educators, meeting and collaborating with leading community members and organizations to generate PDUB’s content both in front and behind the camera, in turn, facilitating new relationships and cultivating a deeper sense of place.

PWC was PDUB’s community hub. A grassroots social justice organization, PWC provides services and resources for Pilipino workers and their families while building their capacity and leadership to take collective action for long lasting change. PWC’s community-based programs include case-management, legal assistance, trainings, leadership development programs, and civic participation and advocacy campaigns. PDUB grew out of PWC’s desire to create a program for Filipino immigrant youth and give them access and entry both to the community and to media-based skills.

HyperCities is an online, map-based, time-travel application that connects personal stories and histories with data-based information about places. HyperCities is a centerpiece of UCLA’s Digital Humanities program. In addition to being a repository of PDUB’s content, HyperCities faculty and staff taught and interacted with PDUB Youth and created paid internships for them.

Silver Lake Adult Day Care Health Center (SLADCHC)

A home and service center for many senior Filipinos, SLADCHC is a community treasure of knowledge about traditional Filipino customs. Seniors from the Center collaborated with PDUB Youth on a project that revived and reinterpreted the traditional Filipino harana or serenade.

REMAP is a joint effort of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. REMAP brings together world-class faculty and students from both campus units to engage the public in envisioning and building technologies that promote hands-on explorations of local culture, identity, memory, technology and urban design. Working with PDUB Youth and partners, REMAP helped design the framework for the Mobile Hi Fi tours and wrote their code, helped turned PWC’s jeepney into a PDUB’s largest piece of mobile media, and created paid internships for PDUB Youth.

A project of Freewaves, Out The Window placed community-generated PDUB content on the LA metro buses, reaching a weekly audience of millions of riders. By sharing perspectives from individual households and neighborhoods to the city and region at large, Out the Window creates a mosaic of the many social, cultural, economic and creative layers of a complex American city. Freewaves is a trailblazing media arts organization that has been at the forefront of creating public media art events in interesting and innovative LA locations for over 25 years that bring diverse audiences and independent media artists together in dialogue on current issues.

PDUB shaped me as a person and artist. Projects were predominantly youth-led and developed from conception to completion–being trusted with my own creative impulses by teachers or adults in general was quite shocking. PDUB projects, such as re-imagining and recreating a harana in English, composing original music, developing and shooting a music video— daunting tasks all of them—were not tasks I could expect from school. I gained confidence through the trust I was given in my ideas. PDUB raised expectations in others and myself by putting faith in our collective ability to create thoughtful art via filmmaking. PDUB was my introduction to that art form, it incited an interest I am currently developing and nurturing into a career. PDUB was transforming and transcendent. I stand endlessly grateful.


–Xochilt Sanchez, former PDUB Student, current Public Matters Fellow


PDUB’s Youth were local high school students, mostly recent Filipino immigrants, along with a few Latinos from the neighborhood. Most were new not only to Hi Fi, but to the country and culture. None were familiar with Hi Fi’s history or purpose. Some weren’t even aware that the community was called Historic Filipinotown. PDUB was a way to connect them to the community, cultivate their sense of place, and give them agency and pathways for engagement, education, and personal development.


PDUB took place via afterschool workshops led by Public Matters at PWC and throughout Hi Fi. After learning basic media production skills, students created content about themselves and about Hi Fi’s history, culture and meaning. PDUB put students directly in contact with Hi Fi’s movers and shakers, introducing leaders to a new generation of community activists and leaders.  It allowed students to speak about their experiences, exercise their creative chops and learn about Hi Fi and the immigrant experience in Los Angeles. Students were at the forefront of all creative efforts, shaping and creating content for the Mobile Hi Fi and Jeepney Tours, interacting with Seniors, writing music and shooting a music video for the Harana Project, and creating content for Hidden Hi Fi that played on the LA Metro buses.

PDUB’s comprehensive hands-on curriculum emphasizes the connection between media production and community benefit, combining neighborhood and cultural history, community journalism, interactive tour design, audio and video production. PDUB Youth participate in a range of activities that strengthen confidence, creativity, leadership skills and civic awareness. They interview guest speakers about neighborhood history, Filipinos in Los Angeles and community activism, and work with prominent scholars and experts in digital media.


The partnerships with UCLA HyperCities and REMAP also opened educational opportunities that were otherwise beyond PDUB Youth’s purview. Youth worked directly with UCLA faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students both at UCLA and onsite in Hi Fi. Students learned digital media, production, mapping and communication skills. As most PDUB Youth were not on a trajectory to attend a four-year college let alone one as prestigious as UCLA, this was a singular, invaluable opportunity. For some, it lead to direct paid internships with HyperCities and REMAP or to additional paid work with Public Matters.


PDUB Youth also interacted directly with students and faculty from a UCLA seminar, “Creating and Recreating Historic Filipinotown,” taught by Professor Jan Reiff. The seminar was specially created to interact with PDUB. In all of these cases, PDUB Youth didn’t simply have access to UCLA, its faculty and students; they were the experts and content creators who drove UCLA’s understanding, interaction and experience of Hi Fi.


Beyond providing youth with digital media skills, PDUB built a greater sense of community through civic participation. Media production about Historic Filipinotown was the vehicle for connecting youth to their neighborhood—its history, local stakeholders, community resources. Media distribution through the Mobile Hi Fi Tours, HyperCities, and LA Metro buses increased public awareness and visitors to the area. On a deeper level, PDUB created among participating youth and the community-at-large a heightened sense of belonging, ownership and continued investment in Hi Fi.


Public Matters built partnerships inside and outside the community, bringing together large and small institutions, multi-generational neighborhood organizations, youth and professors in unique ways that deepened and broadened PDUB’s impact, expanded educational opportunities for participating youth and resulted in greater community benefit.

PDUB’s impact was profound. Among its accomplishments, PDUB:


  • Elevated the profile of Historic Filipinotown and PWC
  • Turned Hi Fi into a learning lab for local immigrant youth by creating a digital media program where they created content about Hi Fi’s character, history and significance
  • Used innovative and unconventional means of content distribution to put content about Hi Fi throughout LA
  • Built a malleable digital repository of hundreds of videos and images that is still in use
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  • Created a digital media program for neighborhood youth
  • Engaged local immigrant youth to create content about Hi Fi’s character, history and significance
  • Taught PDUB Youth digital media skills they didn’t learn in school
  • Deepened PDUB Youth’s interest and investment in their new community by directly introducing them to people who work in, on, and influence the community
  • Gave PDUB Youth authority as Hi Fi’s media makers
  • Created a relationship between UCLA, Hi Fi and its youth that brought the university to the neighborhood, the neighborhood to the university, and opened up pathways to learning and paid internships
  • Created HyperCities’ most comprehensive portrait of a single Los Angeles neighborhood using local, user-generated content
  • Allowed PDUB Youth to become the de facto teachers about Hi Fi to UCLA students through the placement of their content on HyperCities
  • Created jobs and internships for PDUB Youth above and beyond project workshops
  • Led to the creation of a UCLA seminar, “Creating and Recreating Historic Filipinotown”
  • Received public acclaim and recognition for PDUB Youth by City officials, local media, and neighborhood leaders for their efforts
Cultural and Economic Development
  • Enhanced Hi Fi’s visibility and foot-traffic
  • Used innovative, cutting-edge digital media strategies to place stories and pieces about Hi Fi into the public realm in unexpected ways both inside and outside the neighborhood:
    • Mobile Hi Fi Immigrant’s Guides: walking locative media tours about the immigrant experience from the time Filipinos first came to Los Angeles to the present day
    • Jeepney Tours: turning a 1944 Sarao jeepney into a giant piece of mobile media that highlights stories about the neighborhood
    • Out The Window: placed PDUB video on LA Metro buses through a partnership with Freewaves
    • Online via HyperCities
    • Performances: collaborations with Seniors; screenings; musical events
  • Convened a multi-generational, cross-sector coalition of neighborhood stakeholders
  • Deepened a sense of place by engaging generations of community members in the process of representing Hi Fi through their own stories
  • Created a way for Filipinos and Filipino-Americans who are dispersed in enclaves throughout Los Angeles to interact with each other while learning about Filipino and Filipino-American culture, Hi Fi’s history and significance.
  • Created a sustainable way for teaching about Hi Fi. PWC continues to lead Jeepney Tours and walking tours of Hi Fi using the Mobile Immigrant’s Guides to this day.
  • Helped shape Hi Fi’s future
  • Expanded the capacity and visibility of PWC
Content Development
  • PDUB created a vast, malleable form of digital content and a living archive that includes:
    • 113 original videos about Hi Fi, the role of Filipinos and immigrants in Los Angeles, and PDUB Youth were created
    • Thousands of images created and curated to tell the story of the neighborhood
    • Close to 100 pieces of audio and photo content are embedded in the Mobile Hi Fi Immigrant’s Guides
  • PDUB is a featured project in the Harvard University Press book, Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities


Many programs aim for sustainability but fail. PDUB endures today through the continued use of its digital media content by the project’s partners. HyperCities’ PDUB content is a teaching tool for UCLA students and faculty.  The Mobile Hi Fi Immigrant’s Guides are the base for our current collaboration with PWC – Hidden Hi Fi.



Self-guided walking tours of Hi Fi that enable users to travel through time while discovering the neighborhood




PDUB’S collaboration with UCLA’s award-winning interactive web-based research platform and and authoring environment




How PDUB media connects with broader audiences




Taking to the streets to learn about Hi Fi in a 1944 Sarao Jeepney




Intergenerational cultural and narrative exchange – through song




  • Public Matters just added another book to its bookshelf – Todd Presner, David Shepard, and Yoh Kawano’s HyperCities: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities. Not just another urban planning tome from another elite East Coast university (the book is available from Harvard University Press), this......