“I was at the lowest point in my life. I was lost trying to find myself and a reason to continue to strive,” remembers Francisco, a participant and later mentor at the Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy in Redwood City, where he now works as the Video Technology Coordinator.
Then one day, while looking through a photo album, “I compared my baby hands with my current hands and realized how much I’ve grown.”
A memory of his nieces and nephews came to mind. They would be watching television and say, “One day my Uncle Paquito will be on TV.” That lit a fire in him. He suddenly felt confident in “our pursuit of happiness.” An idea formed: to create something that would be a source of inspiration for his family, his friends, the youth he mentors, etc.
That’s when Francisco swept into the “Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy music studio making the beat with the rhythm of my heart. I began to write lyrics through the eyes of the youth and rap with a tone of voice that would remind you of the man who has a dream – Martin Luther King, Jr.” This is Francisco telling the story behind his music video, “Lead the Way”.
Like so many creative endeavors, it took a little help from his friends. He put thought into who should be involved in the project: “I decided it would be best to have a strong female singing in the song as well, for the young girls to look up to.” So he asked his friend, Lilliana, to sing the female lead.
The cast would be “my nieces, my nephews, my cousins, my bothers, my beautiful mother, and the man who came to America with nothing – to having a family, establishing a job, and owning a house.” As well as a creative journey, it was a real journey across the miles. On his four-day trip to Los Angeles, Stockton, Sacramento, and Chico, he brought his mother along to see her family.
There were other key elements for the media work he envisioned. In addition to filming members of his extended family, he took video of the youth he mentors at the Mervin G. Morris Clubhouse in Redwood City, California. His friend Carlos filmed Francisco’s own performance shoots, and, he found the right backdrop for Lilliana’s parts at Half Moon Bay State Beach.
Amid these and other production tasks, working on this music video was not his only focus at the time. He notes, “Once I got the footage I needed, I started to edit with a purpose while living on my own, attending college full-time, and working part-time.” As he was pursuing his dreams, he took time to craft a message to share with others that might inspire them. Indeed, that was a dream too. “That moment sparked the fire in my eyes to continue to strive in college, music, and film,” says Francisco.
People used to tell Francisco to be realistic about his dreams and goals – “trying to have me live in mediocrity or a simple life, instead of encouraging and supporting me by giving me knowledge, networks, and resources to live my dream.” But he learned to “direct myself for success.”
“To this day,” Francisco avows, “I continue to lead the way by attending college to get my education, expressing myself with music, and being myself, so that one day when I have a family of my own, my children can say, ‘If my dad can get a degree from college, do what he loves, and still be himself, I can do it too.’” In his music and his story, Francisco exhorts, “Let’s lead the way!”