Published in SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
Puerto Ricans Enrich Our Lone Star State
When most people refer to Hispanic or Latino here in South Texas, it is
usually synonymous with Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, or Tejano for
obvious reasons. Our city in infused throughout with the sounds, sights,
styles, and vibrancy of Mexico, the madre tierra (motherland) that gave San
Antonio its traditional stamp of original identity.
Story by Julio Noboa
San Antonio Express-News
December 7, 2002
Yet, there is another Latino group here in our diverse state, who speak
Spanish with a different accent, dance to more complex Caribbean rhythms, and
consume a traditional cuisine that has nothing to do with tacos, burritos, or
pico de gallo. Although a long way from their tropical island home, Puerto
Ricans have been here for decades in Texas and in San Antonio.
As American citizens by birth, Puerto Ricans or Boricuas, as we often call
ourselves, have traveled freely throughout our nation, and actually
represent the first major airborne migration in US history. Beginning in the
early 1950's, Boricuas came to New York City, New Jersey, Chicago, and other
major metropolitan areas in the East coast and the Midwest. They sought work,
better opportunities, and all the promises of the American Dream which drives
the indomitable will of every new immigrant.
Over the years, a few have also come this way to South Texas, where the
climate is warmer, and the Hispanic influence creates a more welcoming
cultural climate. Many came here as young soldiers at first, but later,
professionals arrived as well, and they have gradually begun to distinguish
themselves as judges, doctors, musicians, small-town mayors, and an entire
array of occupations as fully contributing members to our city and state.
Like other immigrants from all over the globe, Boricuas have formed cultural
organizations dedicated to the preservation and presentation of their
heritage. Here in San Antonio we are fortunate to have the Sociedad
Herencia PuertorriqueNa which has sponsored events such as the Feast of the
Three Kings, and the annual Puerto Rican Festival at La Villita, both
thoroughly enjoyed by the entire San Antonio and South Texas community.
Just last month the Sociedad hosted a most singular event by a sister
organization in Austin, the Puerto Rican Folkoric Dance & Cultural Center.
It was truly one of the most energetic and captivating presentations of folk
dance I have witnessed in years. The triple roots of Boricua culture, Spain,
West Africa and the Taino Indians, were blended in varying combinations in
each performance through sight, sound and movement.
The Center has already gained visibility and recognition in the state capital
since its founding in 1997 through extensive educational programs and
outstanding performances in traditional Puerto Rican dance and music. With
the energetic leadership of it's Founding Director, Dr. Ana Maria Maynard,
the Center is building its resources and supporters with the help of a
website (www.prfdance.org) and a newsletter, Ritmo Y Cultura, which features
elements of history, literature, cuisine and traditional arts.
It was their premier performance company, Puerto Rican Folkoric Dance, which
swept me away last month with the time-traveling effect of dances and
costumes from different periods of the islands 500 year recorded history.
Not knowing when they will return to our town, I was pleased to discover that
this very evening in Austin, the PRFDance will be offering their annual
performance, Sembrando Herencia 2002.
Beginning at 7:30 pm in the Schroeder Performance Hall at Concordia
University, (3400 N. IH-35), the program will also showcase a children's
choir from the island, Coro de NiNos de la Escuela Libre de Musica.
This year, the PRFDance will premier their new number, Oye Como Va, from the
classic cha-cha standard by the late, great Tito Puente, further popularized
Admission is only $7, and well worth it especially for those who have already
experienced the contagious and engaging energy of Boricua dance. It will be
a wonderful way of welcoming the joyous spirit of the holiday season, and
exploring all the Latino flavors Texas has to offer.
Julio Noboa is a teacher educator and free-lance writer.
He has been a biweekly columnist with the San Antonio Express-News since
1994. Julio can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2002 Julio Noboa