Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Q' Viva our culture. Que viva Marc & Jennifer

How did I know that Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthonys' American Idol collaboration was not just coincidental but it was a plot to bring alive their own talent show. Q'Viva: The Chosen is probably what Latinos around the globe need...our own show celebrating our passion and our love for what we do best. The best part is that the show is not a contest, it's just a celebration of our talent. Anyone can enter!

“This is a show for the 21st century with an unprecedented global and local story. The Latin culture is a tapestry that is rich in passion, tradition and artistry," says Lopez. "We are going to places where all of this talent lives and wouldn’t have otherwise been discovered. This journey for me and Marc is going be exciting and groundbreaking."

Couchsurfing + Venezuela = Disaster?

Okay so I bet you're wondering what is couch-surfing and what does it have to do with Venezuela? Well imagine a non-Spanish speaking travel writer hitchhiking across the country and sleeping in other peoples' homes. Sounds like grand ol' time unless you have no clue what the country is about. But sure enough there are people across the world that love traveling and care enough to share with us what they experienced. And now we have Jamie Maslin.

In Maslin's new memoir, Socialist Dreams and Beauty Queens, our couchsurfing travel writer offers an irreverent, informative, and entertaining account of a young adventurer's journey through a breathtakingly beautiful country that tourists rarely get to see. Did you know the murder rate in Venezuela is higher than Iraq's? Well that's where Maslin spent days upon days traveling.

And now the question of what he experienced? Sure there were corrupt cops but there was also the following:
  • Recognizing the Venezuelan body-complex epidemic that fuels the country’s love for beauty pageants that transform young girls into grown women through surge
  • Meeting a poverty-stricken populace looking to exploit naïve travelers
  • Witnessing natural beauty in flat-topped jungle plateaus, waterfalls, rolling deserts, and the famous lightning that appears suddenly in the sky with no rain or thunder
Don't worry. There's a lot more. Will this bring bad publicity to Venezuelan tourism? I'm sure it will. But sometimes there are those people that love the "raw and uncut" stories. Let's hope Maslin didn't end up in NatGeo's "Locked Up Abroad."

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Hispanic White House

I recently came across the White House's Hispanic page and was actually amazed it existed. Over President Obama's presidency, I have seen more of an interest in Hispanic culture and our buying power. Sure it always comes down to money but the more we grow, the more we'll be involved on a variety of levels.

According to the website, "To win that contest and secure prosperity for Hispanics and all Americans, we have to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world." We definitely play an important role in this country's future. Of course there are immigration and educational issues which everyone needs to improve on, but that can't happen without our commitment. I hope more of the younger generation can see what is happening and will make smart decisions. It's important we teach them (including myself) their role and how important they are to this country's future.

I really sometimes wonder about this future. By our I mean America in general. With racism CLEARLY still in existence and with laws in Arizona ready to pass, I fear for those residents who aren't citizens. Let's hope Obama's visit to Puerto Rico goes well and something comes out of it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

American Idol's many Latino moments

Anyone notice an American Idol trend this season? First Jennifer Lopez joins the judges and then a lot of the finalists were Latino or came out and said they were "half Latino." I guess the Census numbers did a number on Fox. Our friends at FoxNewsLatino listed Top Latino 10 moments during this season. Some were reaching but some were some were legit moments. I wonder what other shows will "Latinize" their programming.

Then the season finale ends with a performance by Marc Anthony and J-Lo. Coincidence? I think not.

Word of the day: Emboricuate

You know, I wonder what goes through someone's head sometimes when they start advertising campaigns. Then I wonder why the agency/festival/parade/company would allow some slogans along with their name. Not only do you have the Puerto Rican Parade crest on this ad, but you're also advertising the idea about being Puerto Rican and drinking. Emboricuate? Um. Definitely sends a bad message.

A recent TelemundNY article brings up all the drama from past Puerto Rican Day Parades as well. So what logic is there behind producing this advertising? Unfortunately if you ask me, it usually comes down to the money. If you're willing to pay that much money to sponsor an event, the business usually approves. Don't get me wrong though, this is not always the case. Would you let something like this print? Even if it meant the survival of your organization? Yes the Puerto Rican Day Parades across the country are meant for fun, but they are here to celebrate our culture and keep history alive.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jarritos takes over the social media world

When we last spoke about Jarritos, I somehow found a small obsession with the fruit soda. Well as if the 10 or so flavors weren't grabbing your taste buds, they've rolled out a whole new flavor: Mexican Cola. Any may I add it's made with 100% natural sugar and not high-fructose corn syrup. Just saying.

In addition to the new flavor, it seems as though Jarritos Nation has taken the way of the Facebook page. They've rolled out some additional features:

  • Send-a-Bottle app with a brand new design.

  • Jarritos Nation contest - Daily scavenger hunt where users can follow clues to win sodas, t-shirts, gift cards, and more.

  • Club Jarritos program integration to their Facebook page so players can redeem bottle cap codes online instead of having to mail them in.

So if you're into a sugary drink and want to win free stuff, check out Jarritos Nation. The funny thing is that I've seen the drink distributed more and more now in Philadelphia. Weird.

Our obsession with novelas

As a child I would watch novelas with mom and dad but later on I just stopped watching. It wasn't until my recent career move that I had a sudden interest in the novelas. With everyone talking about Reina del Sur, I had to see what the fuss was about (although I missed the entire series). Unlike mainstream soap operas, Spanish novelas only last one season and don't go on for 10+ years.

Last night, Mi Corazon Insiste, premiered on Telemundo. I must say it caught my attention. I'm a sucker for love :sigh: so it was interesting to see all the drama roll out. And talk about grabbing your attention. This pilot episode had everything a novela from my past had and then some. It reminded my of Moulin Rouge. Why? Because above all else, all you need is love. Sure there's the bad guy who happens to be the father of the main character who is in love with a girl younger than him sent to prison for 5+ years and when she gets out on probation he is getting married to someone else. Too much? Now I know why our comunidad just LOVE these novelas. Anyone want to start the Club de Noveleras in Philly lol.

Monday, May 23, 2011

2011 Hispanic Choice Awards

Ugh oh, speaking of festivals, to close off the Hispanic celebrations of the year, the Philadelphia Hispanic Choice Awards (HCA) is back and what a difference. The Hispanic Choice Awards honors and celebrates Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware's Latino professionals, organizations and businesses across all sectors. Nominations are made via an online campaign and is open to the public. The HCA program highlights the meaningful collaborations and socially responsible impacts of the Latino community in the entire Delaware Valley.

This year's new (and slimmer) awards are as followed:
  • Community Advocate of the Year - "Impact" Award
  • Education Champion of the Year - "El Futuro" Award
  • Creative Artist of the Year - "Vision" Award
  • Business Person of the Year - "Trailblazer" Award
  • Corporate Partner of the Year - "Alianza" Award
  • Lifetime Achievement Award - new for 2011
As you can tell, this year's show will most likely be shorter. And in all honesty, this awards show should not have been 6 hours long. The slimmer awards will make competition a little better and will surely bring out more people. Nominations can be made from today through July 14th. Winners will be announced live at the HCA's on Tuesday, October 11, 2011. Throughout the years, we've seen more and more outstanding winners announced during the event. Of course some may think it's a popularity contest, some might think of this event as a chance to award those who haven't gotten the spotlight. There are hundreds of leaders out there in the world and only a small portion get recognition. See you then.

Latino festivals gear up for el verano

Now that Philly's Latino festival season has geared up, maybe we should start thinking about how difficult it is to put these events together. I don't know why I'm even blogging about this, but it's true. Imagine trying to put on a large scale event where anything can go wrong. Imagine you have a huge name coming to perform and 10 hours before the event starts, the star cancels, or worse...they don't even show up. Imagine one of the event attendees decides to pass out or get hurt? Imagine the worst because it can happen.

But nonetheless, these festivals have to go on! The media pay close attention to these celebrations of culture. When there's "drama" brewing up with participation, sponsorship and/or themes, the media only look at the negative. Yes year after year festivals try to reinvent themselves but sometimes the public agree things get repetitive. I've seen some festivals drop in attendance and some get higher. What would you want to see different? Musical talent? Contests?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Video: MQS speech

Since I'm mobile for the next few day, I found this video from Maria Q. Sanchez's celebration party. Enjoy!
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.7

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sunday in DC

This Sunday I'll be volunteering at WZDC Washington's Fiesta de las Madres event in Silver Spring, MD. This festival celebrates all things related to mothers because...well what Latino doesn't respect their mother. It's in our culture to cherish nuestra mama por todo la vida. It's not as big as a Feria de la Familia, but it's just as important to our comunidad.

Catch my live tweets via @navaja1cortes.

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Our cultural engagement rises

The Cultural Engagement Index (CEI) is a research tool that tracks trends in consumer cultural engagement over time in the Greater Philadelphia region. The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA) has released the results of the second CEI survey which finds an 11% increase in cultural engagement since the last survey in 2008. So what does this exactly mean? Um only that the Philly region is more engaged in cultural activities than the national average.

AWESOME ALERT. The study found that engagement levels in African-Americans and Hispanics increased more overtime than the average bear...aka caucasians. So what is it that we do that has us more engaged? Well there are the obvious cultural festivals like the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival, Puerto Rican Day Parade, Hispanic Fiesta, Global Fusion and because we find reason to promote our own culture in dance/music among other things.

So what do you do with this research? Well you take it and promote it and this most definitely puts Philly on the map (even more) as a cultural city. I'm sure organizations will apply for grants and maybe some nice arts & culture conventions will want Philly to bid to be host city. Time will tell. So go out and get cultured...let me know how it goes :).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Are you against a name change?

Okay. So I have to mention the opinions expressed in this post are of MY OWN and in no way represent anything else I represent including work and organizations I represent. A few days ago I wrote about the Concilio brand change and commended the new executive director for taking a new approach. However, what I didn't know was that there was a change in festival name as well.

The "Festival Puertorriqueno" will now be named the "Festival Anual Latino de Cultura y Arte." Are there pros and cons of this change; of course there are...lots. But you have to put it in the perspective of the organization today. Yes keep the history and yes maintain your mission. But things change over time...that's what brands do. We also have to consider the people who founded the org. and those who have been there since the beginning. Do I think this is a stab in the back to Puerto Ricans? Of course not. While I do not know the whole story, everything is done in good intention. But I can see both sides to the story.

Remember, the 2010 Census changed EVERYTHING. Media, advertising, sports, business, communication, social media, culture...the list goes on. There is also an organization rallying to discuss and maintain the Puerto Rican name. Whatever the result may be, Latinos need to stick together and prove the stereotype wrong. Let's unite and prove the 2010 Census right; that we are here and we hold the power of the future.

Latism partners with BlogWorld

Our good friends at Latism (Latinos in Social Media) have partnered with the BlogWorld Conference to be held on May 24-26 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. The conference will include a Latism panel which will include Latism board memebers Ana Roca Castro, Elianne Ramos, Giovanni Rodriguez and Sylvania Aguilera. During they panel, they will unveil the results of the largest study of the Latino Blogosphere to date.

With a network of 134,000 Latino/a bloggers, Latism continues to study the trends, demographics and purchasing behavior of influential Latinos online. Details about scholarships and special discounted rates will be revealed separately. The BlogWorld conference provides an education experience for all levels of expertise and interests.

So what is next in social media? Like every other industry, Latinos are getting more and more attention. An article from HispanicAd.com said it best, "It's important to knwo that there are 32 million HIspanics online, the Hispanic online market grew 13% from April 2010 to April 2011 and that Hispanics make up 14.5% of the total US Online market." Imagine that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Today: MQS made history

Getting involved with politics was never in my best interests. I just never thought it was necessary for me as a young leader to get into the "nitty gritty." However, after helping about Maria Q. Sanchez a few years ago and getting to know her better, it was obvious that I needed to get more involved.

Over the last few years I got to know her better and started to realized that no matter what career path you take, politics will be right there knocking on your door. Earlier this evening, Maria made history (again) and won her re-election as 7th District city councilwoman. It was a great feeling not only being part of the celebration but helping out in any way I could.

I'm not one to canvas nor knock on doors but through little writings here and day-of canvasing there, I was happy to help. I noticed there were people on voting day standing outside canvasing for 10+ hours which I give much credit too. The few hours I was able to commit may not have been as much, but I was happy to be there. Tonight, I celebrated with hundreds of supporters and voters. Here's to more years to come MQS! Pa' lante.

Maurica hosts the Silk/Smooth Stroll Show!

Okay. So we all know who Maurica is right? Dassit! Well for some reason the Greek system has embraced her...specifically the Latino Greek world. There are many Greekstand shirts being created like CUS: Dassit and LUL: Dassit. Makes sense if you ask me. Right? If only there was a, "West Chesta! Dassit" shirt because I would buy it.

Anyway. The award for brilliant idea of the year goes to Greekster.tv. Why? Because they got Maurica to host the SILK/SMOOTH 2011 Stroll Show. So imagine a whole bunch of Latino Greeks and Maurica? I'm pretty sure there's going to be a lot of YouTube videos created. In fact, if the video below is true, Phi Beta Sigma and Lambda Alpha Upsilon better watch out. Sororities? You all will probably attempt to recruit her (him). Enjoy! And I may see you there.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The African influence in dance

I love when organizations celebrate their culture. And I do love a good dance party :). Well on Friday, June 3rd, 2011 the Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble will host its annual fundraiser with a Dundunba entitled The Circle of Rhythm: A Dundunba Dance Party. The fundraiser will take place at the First Episcopal District Plaza, 3801 Market Street and will feature lots of drumming and dancing. Best part: you are able to participate!

Performances and workshops actively engage audiences and convey the significance of the dances in the societies from which they are derived. For many in the audience, a Kùlú Mèlé performance strengthens the sense of cultural identity; for others, it offers a look at the rich traditions and heritage of Africa. As always, you don't have to be of the culture to enjoy these performances. In fact, one of the dancers is Latino! Must I mention Latinos do have African influences in our culture. It's most notable in dance and music.

The fundraiser costs $50 but again...it's a fundraiser. Enjoy!

The Mayan language

The other day I was watching the documentary Cracking the Maya Code and it reminded me about the linguistic history the Mayan culture still has today. It also shed a little more light about our history as Latinos. The first portion of the documentary touched on the Spanish conquistadores and how they attempted to convert Mayans to Catholicism. Did it work? It sure did but thankfully there is something called preservation and study.

It took many hundreds of years in order to crack the code. Oddly enough it was a mix of Americans and Europeans to do this. Why weren't Mexicans or other Central/South American countries interested? Maybe it was the European influence that still prevented them from being interested. However, today the people of Southern Mexico and Central America are still true to their roots. They practice many Mayan rituals, but unfortunately cannot speak the language. With hundreds of symbols, the Mayan language is very complex. It took me a while to be able to read the Mayan calendar which unfortunately I do not remember.

In addition, our Philadelphia native friends at the Eyes Gallery recently took a trip to Guatemala to explore more of the Mayan culture in Guatemala. I'm thankful there are people (Latinos and non-alike) who preserve our ancestral culture. Are you staying true to your roots?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Social media and your food

Gotta love social media and the twists and turns it takes. It can be used for marketing, public relations, networking, business and a whole slew of other tools. But what's the one thing people "need" to do in order to survive: eat. About a year old, Foodspotting allows users to recommend their favorite dishes and drinks by taking photos of the items and sharing them with the community via the website or smartphone apps. They can bookmark foods they want to try, endorse their favorite dishes by giving them a blue ribbon or a "nom," to gain points. Sounds like Foursquare, but limited to food.

The good ol' social media folks at the Philly tourism office have partnered up with Foodspotting to promote local food and dining in the Philadelphia area. After all, Philly is a food town, so why not create guides which help out citizens and tourists.

Guides include:
  • Taskykake-inspired dishes
  • Beer lovers' breweries
  • Veg-Out!
  • Philly Te Ama, related to food and drink at Latino-inspired eateries
So grab your smartphone and start foodspotting all around town. You might discover a new dish, something you didn't know about vegans or just get trashed drinking beer. Oh and don't forget to follow VisitPhilly's guides on Foodspotting; besides, they have yet another cool contest.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rebranding, Restructuring...Why not!?

I love it when organizations rebrand themselves. It's an exciting opportunity to present what's new and fresh. I was a part of Taller PR's new logo/website process back in 2007 and it was an amazing experience. In the past month or so two great Philadelphia Latino organizations decided to go with a fresh (younger) look. And why not right? A lot of the Latino organizations in Philadelphia have kept the same logo since when they were founded. And with the age of technology and reaching "youger audiences," I think it's about time change happens.

Yesterday El Concilio launched their new look. When I first look at the new logo (pictured above), I honestly think of health. It just has that essence which the original logo did not have. Founded in 1962, the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations, Inc. (Concilio) is the oldest Latino organization in Philadelphia and has a well-established reputation as a leader for Latino family services. Our mission is to ensure that equitable social, educational, cultural, prevention/intervention services and programs are made available to the Philadelphia community.

Another organization which launched a new logo is AMLA. Pictured right, AMLA's new logo sure does emphasize a younger taste in music. Talk about attracting new and younger audiences :). Since 1982, AMLA has promoted the development, dissemination, and understanding of Latin music and culture in the Philadelphia area.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sustainable living and caring

I love sustainable living...even though I sometimes don't practice the idea. However, I'm glad when big corporations take effort in educating communities about sustainable living. Earlier today Aramark, in conjunction with the Mayor's Office of Civic Engagement and the Federation of Neighborhood Centers teamed up with local children from the Lighthouse Community Center to refurbish buildings, construct a community garden and more.

Did someone say community gardens? Yep, the new community garden at the Lighthouse Field will serve the ballpark food! How cool is that?! What's the bigger picture? This is all part of Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" obesity campaign. It's so important to educate our community and children about the idea of living healthy. Start early. If they aren't eating healthy and exercising then what will our children look like in future years?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Feliz Birthday BeingLatino

Two years ago I met someone via Facebook and to this day haven't met the dude lol. However, he created an online space which has turned into something bigger than a fan page. It was in 2009 when Lance Rios took at simple fan page and created BeingLatino (BL). With countless partnerships, everyone is attempting to get a little bit of BL.

According to BL's fearless leader, Being Latino, Inc. has an administrative staff of 11 gente, nine staff writers, a 56k+ fan fase following on Facebook and has relaunched/renamed their blog as BeingLatino Online Magazine in 9/2010. Where else can they go but up right? I'm glad to have been contributing to the blog (not as much as I want to) and engaging with such a diverse group of Latinos (and then some). Sure there are others who "like" the page in order to just bash it, but what can you do. We simply cannot make everyone happy.

Redrawing our boundaries

Look familiar? Of course it doesn't. The image above represents what the LatinoLines Coalition hopes to become the newest 7th council district in Philadelphia. "It's election season and we want to let everyone know who's running the Latino growth in this city is serious," said the group's leader, former Councilman at Large Angel Ortiz. The coalition believes there has been illegal gerrymandering during the last redistricting. Gerrymandering is the drawing of district lines to gain or retain an electoral advantage.

The 7th Council District leader will be decided on Tuesday, May 17 since only Daniel Savage and Maria Quinones-Sanchez are running in the democratic seat. What's going to happen if either wins? We'll just have to wait and see. Although some people think a Latino district needs a Latino councilman (or woman), some think the opposite. The local headlines have been crazy in the past few weeks.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The ministudio del tiempo

Last Saturday during the Dia del Nino event, Telemundo Philadelphia presented their ministudio for children (and adults) to report the weather and traffic. The ministudio attracted over 40 participants wanting to get their opportunity to be on camera. And no one was shy at all! Whether in English or in Spanish, it was a great opportunity for everyone.

Below is an example of one of the videos but for more (any maybe your own), visit holaciudad.com.

The Knight Arts Challenge (in Philadelphia)

Earlier today the Knight Foundation announced their 2011 Knight Arts Challenge winners at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The program hosted only in Philadelphia (this year) is a three-year, $9 million initiative to draw the best and most innovative ideas out of local organizations and individuals seeking to transform the community through the arts. Great ideas can indeed start anywhere, so the challenge was open to anyone.

There were three simple rules:
  1. The project must be about the arts
  2. It bust take place or benefit Philadelphia
  3. Find other funding to match the Knight Foundation <-- The tricky part.
With $2.7 million in funding and only 36 project winners, the competition was enormous. There were over 17,000 entries since the launch of the program. The sole Latino organization to win the challenge, Taller Puertorriqueño. Although there were many organizations that had Latino influence and "new audiences" involved in the program, Taller PR's "Cafe under the Stars: Spotlighting Arts in the Barrio" is an obvious Latino cultivated project.

"Cafe under the Stars" will create personal cultural experiences that connect audiences across cultures by producing a series of monthly outdoor performances in the heart of Latino Philadelphia. See you in 2012 mi gente :).