Corky Lee on My Mind: Joseph Songco

Dragon Boat Racer by Joseph Songco

Dragon Boat Racer (Flushing, NY, 1996)

“Before I met Corky, I often considered myself as an FOB, to use the simplest of terms. My family came to the U.S. from the Philippines in the early ‘80s when I was 13. Navigating my way through the ‘80s and ‘90s was a struggle. I didn’t really comprehend my place in this country. I felt neither Asian American nor American enough. I always felt like an outsider.  

“Corky was the first person who actually made me realize my place here. Meeting him and photographing alongside him in the late ‘90s, I quickly understood that no matter who we went out to photograph — be it a sweatshop rally for more humane working conditions, a Buddhist festival, or a Dragon Boat Race in Flushing — we are all tied together by the lives we live as Asians in America, newly arrived or not.

“Corky made me feel welcome and he continues to provide a source of inspiration. He was the father/older brother figure I needed, and I was truly lucky to have met him when I did. He will always have a special place in my heart.”

(Learn more about the Dragon Boat Festival.)


Joseph Songco has worked in the photo industry as a photographer and media researcher. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two kids. He continues to work on diverse projects, from documenting personal experiences as an Asian American living in America to capturing a change in the visual urban landscape of immigrant neighborhoods of Seattle.


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