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Creatives for Community: Diana Saguin With Halo Halo Music Fest

The Vera Creative Team


As artists, our identities often guide our work. We draw inspiration from our culture and roots, and our experiences and traditions shape us as creatives. Embracing our heritage is not just about paying tribute to where we come from; it's about finding our unique voice and uplifting our communities through design.

Our talented graphic designer, Diana Saguin, has partnered with a team of creatives in her hometown of Orlando to celebrate their Filipino heritage and create a space for the Filipino community to do the same.

Through this Q&A, Diana shares her background as a Filipino-American and her role in Halo Halo Music Fest, one of Orlando's only Filipino cultural celebrations.

How has being a Filipino-American shaped your identity? Do you recall a time in your life that you struggled to connect with your heritage?

As a minority, I’ve always felt a sense of otherness growing up and experienced a lot of discrimination, so I sought out a sense of belonging in art and music to connect with others. It's very common for first-generation Filipino Americans to have been raised to assimilate into Western culture. Therefore, I never learned my family’s native tongue, Tagalog, and my connection to my heritage was mainly through food and my late grandparents.

Tell us about Halo Halo Fest. How and why did it start, and how did you get involved?

Halo Halo Music Fest is a DIY fest dedicated to amplifying the voices of Filipino-American creatives in Central Florida. The name Halo Halo is a Filipino dessert, which literally translates to “Mix-Mix”, so that is why we are centered around spotlighting not only a variety of music genres but our local artists and food vendors.  

Funny enough, it started while I was riding in a monthly bike ride called Critical Mass. One of their volunteers, Jay, rode up to me and recognized me from my band. We started talking about how we were half-Filipino and fronted our own bands. She said she wanted to organize a show centered around bands with Filipino musicians. We pulled in another local musician, Kevin, our now production manager and the rest was history. It grew from a show concept into a full-fledged festival with 2 stages, 20 vendors, and 13 bands from across the state.

What was your role in Halo Halo Fest and what was the planning process like for a festival that size?

Because of my profession, I naturally became the creative director of the fest. I produce all the art for the fest and provide insight into our marketing strategy. My co-founders are also in professions that reflect their roles, so we use our collective knowledge to optimize our collaboration.

Halo Halo Music Fest sold out in its first year. What significance did that hold for you?

It felt tremendous to have brought something so culturally significant to my community. I’ve never felt such a sense of belonging and pride in any work I’ve done. Above all, it was healing to the little girl who used to be picked on for being Asian.

You’ve relocated to Chicago, do you have any plans to expand the festival or connect with the Filipino community here?

I am absolutely looking forward to connecting with the Filipino community in Chicago and already have my eyes set on joining local Filipino community initiatives. I have so much admiration for creatives who have walked similar paths to mine. Additionally, I want to maintain my focus as an event organizer in my hometown. Orlando has a much smaller community that will always be important to me, and I am determined to give us the representation we’ve always deserved.

Has your role at Vera Creative impacted your success with Halo Halo Fest? If so, how?

My role at Vera Creative has a great impact on setting me up for success. I feel so much more prepared and organized by using our processes as a model for our campaigns and event organizing. I feel very blessed to have a career that also aligns with my passions in this way.

You’re currently planning Halo Halo Music Fest for this fall, is there anything you’d like to share about that?

Yes, I would love to! The next fest is going to have 3 stages – so even more music and a larger space for our vendor market. It is taking place again in Filipino-American History Month. It will be on October 19th in the Mills 50 district of Orlando, which is home to several Asian-owned businesses and a vibrant underground music scene. On top of that, this year, we will collaborate with a local Filipino-owned brewery, Redlight Redlight, for a limited edition craft beer called the Halo Halo IPA!

Follow Halo Halo Music Festival on Instagram to learn more and show your support!

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