Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Taller Puertorriqueño needs your support

There comes a time when you see an organization grow from small to large. I used to work at Taller Puertorriqueño where there mission is to preserve, promote and develop Latino arts & culture. Not just an organization for Puerto Ricans, Taller has changed and connected so many lives in the local and national community. But now they need our help. With arts organizations losing funding, Taller has been struggling with their capital campaign for the last four years.

Just in time, the Innovation grant program rewards artists for using their talents to turn their cities around. And now their asking art lovers to help pick the viewer's choice to help a worthy project win $15,000. choice. Taller has been chosen as one of the top 64 organizations fighting for the grant that will help support their own programs. This grant would actually help Taller make their dream a reality- they have already over halfway there, having secured the site and $6.5 of the $10 million needed to build a new building.

Here's how to help Taller: 
  1. Log in to Facebook (or register if you don’t have one) 
  2. Click this link: https://www.facebook.com/OvationTV/app_255394737897823 
  3. Click the “Like” button that the big red arrow on the page points to. 
  4. Scroll down to find our project, “Building Community Through Art: Taller Puertorriqueño’s Capital Campaign” 
  5. Click the “Vote” button under our project.

Friday, October 19, 2012

NALAC's inspiring preformances

Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra
Last night (Thursday, October 18) I had the pleasure of attending NALAC's evening performances at the Prince Music Theatre. I didn't know what to expect when I attended, but I left amazed. Performances included Awilda Rodriguez Lora, Quique Aviles, Circa '95 and Spoken Had Percussion Orchestra. All different types of performances, but they had something in common. They each brought a sense of identity and the self to the audience.

Lora performed a very personal story about her upbringing through spoken word, music and acting. She spoke about the role of women in today's society and the machista mentality our fathers usually have. While adding some humor, she ended on a note about discovering herself and looking after herself but still caring for others. Aviles had a great story to tell through poetry and spoken word. He spoke greatly about immigration and how our mothers and fathers leave their country to come live the dream in the United States of America.

So what is it about the arts? I believe it can change lives for the better. Whether visually, voice or through sound, we should be creating better worlds for our sons and daughters. Keep art programs in our schools, encourage a little creativity, because without these activities, we will not only lose culture, but our self-identity as well.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Disney announces their Latina princess

Now I'm not one to add people to "boxes" but sometimes I have to ask myself and others, "What exactly does a Latino(a) look like?" In fact, what defines us as people living in the United States. Remember, a Colombian in Colombia will never call them-self a Latino. An Argentine living in Argentina will never call them-self a Latino and so on. Some people may say our language, food, music is what makes us Latino. Just because some don't speak Spanish does not define who we are. But now, Disney has decided to announce their first Latina princess and some people aren't liking it.

“She is Latina,” Entertainment Weekly reported executive producer Jamie Mitchell as saying. “It’s sort of a matter-of-fact situation rather than an overt thing.” In a mashable.com story, "Disney had announced the movie and subsequent of 2013 TV series back in December 2011, and made no mention of the characters’ ethnic backgrounds." I hear both arguments.There's the, "The complexion of a person does not make you Latino(a)." However, Disney could have probably given her a little more spunk to give the viewers the illusion that she is indeed Latina. If children are watching this, they will have LOTS of questions about identity. And we don't need that.

I wonder if a little change in complexion would make things different. Or how about an accent? Maybe some lines in Spanish? What would you change? Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess airs Sunday, November 18 at 7 p.m. on the Disney Channel. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NALAC conference begins with a welcoming reception

Just this evening, Wednesday, October 17th, 2012, the National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures (NALAC) held their welcome reception at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel (33rd Floor). NALAC and the Philadelphia host committee welcomed all attendees and community leaders to a warm reception. With an amazing view, NALAC explained their reasons why they chose our beloved city. Philadelphia was recently chosen as the #1 city for arts & culture by Travel & Leisure Magazine. The Philadelphia Cultural Alliance mentioned that people of color (mostly Hispanics) have the highest level of engagement when it comes to arts & culture in the city.

Reception attendees included the Mexican Consul Carlos Giralt-Cabrales, Maria del Pilar representing State Representative Angel Cruz and Mayor Michael Nutter. From today through Sunday, October 21st, NALAC conference attendees will enjoy a variety of workshops, exhibitions, tours and more. Who knows, maybe there will even be a few surprises. For information regarding the conference visit http://conference.nalac.org and follow them on Twitter @Nalac_Arts (use #NALACphilly).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Video: Rosie Perez speaks the truth against Romney

Celebrities have no issue discussing politics, especially if they're against the Republican side. Actress/comedian Rosie Perez spills the truth against Governor Mitt Romney. In the video Perez states:
“What if you were just a little bit gay, Mitt,” Perez cracks. “Think of all the advantages that would provide. No, wait for it ... what if you had a vagina. If you were a gay Latina, this election would be in the bag for you. Unfortunately for you Mitt, you were cursed with the hard-knock life of growing up as the son of a wealthy governor and auto executive."
So is she right? What if Romney was indeed Latino...or a little bit gay?

P.S. Don't forget to watch today's (second) presidential debate at 9 p.m. Click here for more details including where to watch.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Opinion: Looking back at my Latino leadership training

Leadership. We define leaders in our own way. Some people think it's a CEO from a local organization while others will say it's the intern that has taken an active role in the business. Or maybe it's your aunt who hasn't worked in 10 years but has volunteered her time to various community efforts. Regardless, we all have the potential to become great leaders.

I was recently interviewed for a documentary capturing the Philadelphia Prevention Partnership's Latino Leadership Institute. Gilberto Gonzalez, local Philadelphia artist and author, was commissioned to help produce this very important documentary. During the interview, I had to go back to 2008 and remember my class...Unidos Sin Fronteras. Although every class has their similarities, the students in the class is what makes it worth while. The relationships I have made and the advice I was given throughout the leadership program were important to me. It's what gets me motivated to help in any shape or form.

There are so many things going on in our community that we are unaware of. And unfortunately, it takes a video and an incident for "us" to get involved. It's unfortunate the incident after the Philadelphia Puerto Rican Day Parade occurred but if it wasn't for the video that was posted, no one would have known. We must choose our topics wisely...getting involved with everything will only hurt us.

Educate yourself and find out what motivates you, educate yourself to have a better perspective on life. Latinos in the United States have the tendency to take things personally. We have to educate ourselves and learn never, ever to mix business with pleasure...it holds us back way too much. Remember to never hold grudges either, it's important to keep a professional relationship with anyone we ever meet. Unless you go out for drinks every now and then :).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

UofArts wins Philadelphia's PR Pardae

Photo courtesy Al Dia News
Congratulations to the Latino Student Union (University of the Arts) for taking first place overall during the 50th Annual Puerto Rican Parade held on Sunday, September 30th, in Philadelphia. Community groups, schools and non-profits all worked effortlessly to represent the Puerto Rican culture. For parade photos visit pontealdia.com.

Some of the other parade winners include:

Elementary Schools Division

  1. Antonia Pantoja Charter Elementary School 7.7
  2. Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter Elementary School 6.5
  3. Congreso’s Pan American Charter School 4.8
Non-Profit Division
  1. Instant Addiction Dancers 7.0
  2. Aspira, Inc. of Pennsylvania 6.5
  3. Caliente Dance Company 6.1
High Schools Division
  1. Thomas A. Edison High School 6.5
  2. Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls 6.4
  3. Kensington CAPA High School 5.8

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

EVENT: NALAC hits Philly in one week!

In one week (10/17-10/21) more than 500 artists, community leaders and officials will convene in Philadelphia for the National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures (NALAC) conference. The 8th National NALAC Conference, Seizing the Moment NOW, is the only national convening of Latino arts. The five-day conference will serve as a platform for the development and promotion of Latino arts via educational sessions, panel discussions, exhibitions, and performances. Notably, the NALAC Conference provides opportunities for conference participants, established and aspiring artists, and speakers to interact, network, share their knowledge and resources, and create new ideas in intimate settings.

Special honorees have been selected to receive 2012 NALAC Lifetime Achievement Awards during the Conference. The honorees are Jesse Bermudez, Founder and Executive/Artistic director of Asociación de Músicos Latino Americanos (AMLA); René Buch, Artistic Director of Repertorio Español; Al and Carmen Castellano, Castellano Family Foundation and Tina Ramirez, Founder of Ballet Hispánico.

In addition to conference workshops and learning experiences, attendees will be able to explore Latino Philadelphia with mural tours, exhibitions, etc. If you are interested in volunteering at the event, please e-mail nalacphilly@gmail.com with your name and contact information. Be sure to follow NALAC on Twitter, Facebook and other notable Latino Philly Twitter accounts like @PhillyTeAma and @TelemundoWWSI.

Special thanks to the Philadelphia host committee:
  • Veronica Castillo-Perez, Raices Culturales Latinoamericanas, Inc. 
  • Carmen Febo San Miguel, Taller Puertorriqueño 
  • Magda Martinez, Fleisher Art Memorial
  • Emilio Buitrago, Casa de Venezuela 
  • James Claiborne, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance 
  • Andrea Townrow, Mexican Cultural Center 
  • Alice Santana, Artistas y Musicos Latinoamericanas (AMLA) 
  • Matilde Duenas, Mexican Cultural Center 
  • Jasmin Dottin, Raices Culturales Latinoamericanos, Inc. 
  • Michelle A. Ortiz, Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation 
  • Tony Rocco, Photography Without Borders 
  • Edgardo Gonzalez, Taller Puertorriqueno 
  • Cecilia Bonilla, Mexican Cultural Center
  • Eric Cortes, WWSI Telemundo Philadelphia 
  • Graziella DiNuzzo-D'Amelio, 2012 Philadelphia NALAC Conference Coordinator

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Video: President Obama approves this message in Spanish

Watch out Mitt Romney, our current president Barack Obama has released an official ad in Spanish earlier today. What do you think about the president's Spanish? Is it too general or is it a valiant attempt?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Live and breath Latino art all this weekend

First Friday. That can mean many things. But in this blog post it means there are a good number of art exhibitions opening up to the public. This weekend there are a good number of Philadelphia Latino openings as well.Below are three events happening today through Saturday; all hosted by some great people.
  • 15 Ideas to Rebuild our World - This art exhibit displays Gina Echeverry’s 15 ideas of her optimistic vision of our existence, considering we are an intimate part of the universe. This is her vision of rebuilding hope allowing her audience the opportunity to possibly reinvent a new consciousness and spirit that will help to rebuild self-esteem of our people to become better citizens of the world… affecting all other systems that shape us. 2708 N. 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19133

  • Aqui y Alla exhibition - The "Aqui y Alla" transnational public art project was created and directed by local artist Michelle Angela Ortiz. The project explores the impact of immigration in the lives of Mexican immigrant youth in South Philadelphia in connection with youth in Chihuahua, Mexico.1729 Mount Vernon Street, Philadelphia, PA

  • Latin Bridges Meet and Greet- Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd St. , Philadelphia, PA 19106
There are also a few places to buy Latino art in Philadelphia. Check them out here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Latinos strongly agree with same-sex couples

When it comes to being gay in the Latino community, it seems as though opinions are changing. A recent NBC Latino/IBOPE Zogby survey says 6 out of 10 Latinos in the sample agree that same-sex couples have the right to marry. Thirty eight percent said they disagree and 31 percent said they did so strongly. Sometimes I wonder about these polls because asking in the moment or conversation is different than asking in a survey. A lot of factors also come into play like if the respondents actually have children who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

President Obama may have favored gay marriage, but there are always the skeptics. We all have difference of opinion. Latinos are naturally religious. We go by what the book says. Throughout the years these things have changed though; the landscape of what exactly a Latino in America is different. However, the party I found hilarious (but not) was what would be the biggest disappointment for you when it comes to your child(ren)? Survey says: Being a drug addict. Being sent to prison. Being gay is at the bottom of the barrel. 

Read more about the survey at NBCLatino.com.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

César E. Chávez National Monument

There comes a moment in time when we wonder will we be remembered in 100 years (post-death). We are all humans who work hard to sustain a living; more so than others. But there are those trailblazers, lideres, inspirational and noteworthy people who changed the course of time. On October 8th, 2012, President Obama will travel to Keene, California to announce the establishment of the César E. Chávez National Monument. Years in the making, the monument – which will be designated under the Antiquities Act – will be established on the property known as Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), or La Paz.

Chávez played a central role in achieving basic worker protections for hundreds of thousands of farmworkers across the country, from provisions ensuring drinking water was provided to workers in the fields, to steps that helped limit workers’ exposure to dangerous pesticides, to helping to establish basic minimum wages and health care access for farm workers. The César E. Chávez National Monument will encompass property that includes a Visitors’ Center containing César Chávez’s office as well as the UFW legal aid offices, the home of César and Helen Chávez, the Chávez Memorial Garden containing Chavez’s grave site, and additional buildings and structures at the La Paz campus.

So why do we immortalize these people? It was just recently that the National Park Service helped bring the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial to Washington, DC. It takes years and years for something that happened even longer years ago to come to life. These memorials must embody and showcase the struggle of all America. Whether a life-size statue or a grave site, Americans of different ethnic backgrounds are shaping the way we look back at history. One day the color of a person's skin won't matter. Until then, let's make history.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Video: Puerto Rican celebration goes wrong

Last Sunday, September 30 Philadelphia was home to the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. While most people wave their flag in ignorance there are those who know the contributions of Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia. As Dr. Victor Vasquez-Hernandez put it, "So, beyond the Puerto Rican Day Parade, folks should also remember the many generations of Puerto Ricans who have lived, worked, entertained, governed and taught in Philadelphia." It's great to celebrate your culture, but it's better to know your culture.

There are however those incidents which cause shame. In my opinion when there are police officers gathered together, it causes more harm than good. I get nervous when I see them gathered but that's just me. You never know when "you" will be judged as to why you're walking in the area just because of how you are dressed. I just became aware of a video (on myfoxphilly.com) which shows a police officer striking a woman in the face. From the video you can see the woman did nothing but remember, there's three sides to the story his, hers and the right one.

Note: The incident happened on 5th and Lehigh and had nothing to do with the annual Puerto Rican Parade. Most residents take to the neighborhood for post-celebrations. 

For more info visit the myfoxphilly.com article.

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