Friday, March 30, 2012

Taller PR presents "Cafe under the Stars"

There comes a moment in time when an organization really moves forward. Right now it's Taller Puertorriqueño's time. Taller PR's mission is to promote, preserve and develop Latino arts & culture and for over 35 years it's been happening. I'm not saying this because I worked there; I'm saying because I've seen the good and the bad. But right now with the Cafe Under the Stars program launching and talks about the new building opening, it's bound to go uphill.

On Friday, April 20 at 8 p.m., the first of seven free concerts will begin with Pleneros de la 21. Presenting selections from the group's five album discography and riveting new singles, the intergenerational ensemble continues to push the musical envelope - incorporating traditional elements of Bomba and Plena music with contemporary sounds and instruments. I attended the Intercultural Journey's event last year in conjunction with the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) festival.

Café under the Stars: Spotlighting Arts in the Barrio, is an exciting series of 7 monthly outdoor, live, innovative, performances (April to October, 2012) in the Heart of Latino Philadelphia, which, except for Feria del Barrio, will be staged at the site of Taller PR's future $10 million state of the art facility. The series, primarily sponsored by a Knight Foundation Art Challenge Grant provides a unique, charming, and alluring community setting to experience the richness of Latino art.

Café under the Stars
Friday, April 20, 2012, 8:00 - 9:30 p.m.
2600 - 24 N. 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19133
(215) 426 - 331

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fun facts of the American Latino

Earlier today I received an e-mail from the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino. Just a simple e-mail blast asking for donations, it also included some fun facts that some people may not know. 
  • In 1565, the nation's oldest city, St. Augustine, Florida was established by the Spanish. This was 42 years before the English colonized Jamestown and 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. 
  • In 1899, the “Borinqueneers”, the all-Puerto Rican Infantry Regiment unit in the Army was formed. Among their many commendations, that unit went on to win 4 Distinguished Service Crosses and 125 Silver Stars for their heroic courage, loyalty, and skill defending our freedom. 
  • In 1931, Rita Moreno, an energetic dancer, singer, and actress, was born. She is the first and only Hispanic woman to have won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, an Oscar, and a Tony Award. Moreno appeared in such American classics as The King and I and West Side Story.
There is no known date the museum may open. Since the museum is proposed to be a part of the Smithsonian Institution, entrance would essential be free. And according to a FoxNewLatino article, "Projections for the project require the government to pay half of the $402 million needed for construction, in addition to committing to cover 40 percent of its $47 million per year operating costs." Glad to know it will be located in Washington, DC, however, I wonder how long we must wait for a grand opening? 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Event: Día del Niño at the Please Touch Musem

Every year Telemundo Philadelphia teams up with the Please Touch Museum to present Día del Niño. The event will take place on Saturday, April 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Día del Niño is a fun, family-oriented event that celebrates children. Last year more than 5,000 kids attended to play, laugh, dance and participate in a day full of activities and giveaways with their families. The museum, which has been at its current location at Memorial Hall since 2008, is a great place for both young and old attendees.

This year's activities include musical performances by local favorite Louie Miranda, the Mexican Culture Center will provide an arts & culture workshop, the Art of Stepping will provide a workshop teaching healthy living through stepping and the Philadelphia Eagles' cheerleaders and their mascot Swoop will be in attendance. And one of my personal favorites, the Telemundo Mini TV studio will allow attendees to record the weather and traffic. The museum also offers a variety of exhibitions where children (of all ages) are able to play and learn at the same time. See you there! For discounts to the museum visit or see the ad in El Sol Latino Newspaper.

Our education is important to us

Immigration is clearly a big issue in Philadelphia. It wasn't too long ago when two undocumented University of Pennsylvania students marched in hopes to take a stronger stance on this issue. But these issues don't speak to just undocumented people, there's a lot more than meets the eyes. A few days ago, students testified at a City Council education-committee hearing on Philadelphia School District budget issues. Why? Because of the lack of bi-lingual counselors.

A article stated, "LAST OCTOBER, Eva Serrano was called and asked to head straight to her fourth-grade son's school. She was frantic, but when she arrived, no one could communicate with her because she speaks little English." And this happens everywhere. In our hospitals, schools, law firms, restaurants, etc. Sure there's a budget crisis in the school district, but how are you going to cut 18 ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) jobs? These jobs are so essential not just to place people in those positions, but to support a child's education. Someone earlier today said, "I'm learning more Spanish. It should definitely be mandatory to learn Spanish." Enough said.

Councilwoman Maria Q. Sanchez said at the hearing, "Quiero darle las gracias a las madres presentes por su activismo y su lucha. Además a JUNTOS por el trabajo que realizan en la comunidad. Estoy muy contenta de que alguien más alce la voz para defender los derechos de los estudiantes que están aprendiendo inglés y sus familias ya que yo siempre lo hago y ya sueno como disco rayado. Los invito a seguir viniendo a las audiencias ya que en los proximos meses se tomaran desciones drasticas y vamos a necesitar luchar mucho". Erika Almiron, Executive Director at Juntos, is doing a tremendous job and plans on doing more for our community.  Are you ready to do your part?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A competitive Latino media world

It seems as though the Latino media world is getting more and more competitive. Just recently (and quietly) two community newspapers revamped their websites. El Sol Latino Newspaper and Impacto Latin Newspaper have both changed their website look dramatically. Originally the content wasn't as much and they each weren't always up-to-date. However, now they both have similar styles with prominent photos and tabs. Impacto, however, allows visitors to read the digital edition of their magazine. I always question whether or not that's a good idea but it all depends on where you find that version and the difference in content.

This is just another example of how web and social media are quickly taking over the media world. With the addition of NBCLatino, FoxNewsLatino, Latino Voices and other English-language Latino media, our culture is seeking more and more content. In Philadelphia, currently all Latino media has websites including Al Dia, Univision65 and Telemundo Philadelphia. The two radio stations, El Zol 1340AM and La Mega 1310AM, both have websites but aren't used as much as they should be. So...where do you see this market? Are advertisers paying more attention, are you seeking more local content? What's this market look like in 10 years?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Latinas United for the Cure a huge success

This past Saturday, March 24 I volunteered at the annual Latinas United for the Cure event. It was very empowering seeing roughly one-thousand women (and men) interested in learning more about this deadly disease. “Breast cancer is a leading cause of death in Latinas here in the United States and around the world, and requires a large-scale effort to address and overcome,” said Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Komen for the Cure. The event featured English and Spanish sessions with a panel of experts. They discusses various ways to treat breast cancer as well as what to do and how to check yourself. The best part of the event is that it's completely free! Hope to see you all next year.

NALAC connects Philadelphia's community

As you all may or may not know the National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures will be holding their national conference in Philadelphia. This biannual event is the only national conference in the United States that specifically convenes Latino artists and arts professionals. More than 500 participants are expected to attend from across the nation. Conference participants who travel to Philadelphia for the conference will be encouraged to visit local museums, arts organizations, and explore the city’s artistic heritage.

This Thursday, March 29 the host committee will be hosting a "connect" reception in hopes to continue momentum until the conference. Major conference updates will be announced including this year's keynote speaker. And because I'm on the committee, word has it there will be a surprise performance during the reception. The reception is your chance to get involved in the NALAC conference. Whether you'd like to volunteer, sponsor, perform or just support, this is the perfect opportunity.  Moira Baylson, Deputy Cultural Officer, Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy at City of Philadelphia and Maria Lopez de Leon, executive director, NALAC, are scheduled to speak. For more information please e-mail

The NALAC host committee consists of: Carmen Febo San Miguel, Taller Puertorriqueño; Edgardo Gonzalez, Taller Puertorriqueño; Cynthia Hernandez, Taller Puertorriqueño;  Veronica Castillo-Perez, Raices Culturales Latinoamericanas, Inc.;  Jasmine Dottin, Raices Culturales Latinoamericanas, Inc.;   Matilde Dueñas, Mexican Cultural Center; Marcela Garza, Mexican Cultural Center; Andrea Townrow, Mexican Cultural Center; Lucas Rivera, Artistas y Musicos Latinoamericanos (AMLA); Magda Martinez, Fleisher Art Memorial; Michelle Ortiz, Artist, Bartol Foundation; Tony Rocco, Artist, Photography Without Borders; Eric Cortes, WWSI Telemundo Philadelphia; Emilio Buitrago, Casa de Venezuela ; Israel Colon, City of Philadelphia; James Claiborne, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kimmel Center presents: WEST SIDE STORY

This just in! The Kimmel Center’s 2012/13 Broadway Season continues with the smash hit Broadway revival West Side Story, on stage at the Academy of Music, March 28-April 8. Probably one of the best musicals and movies ever (for Latinos), I definitely plan on watching this one. I actually am surprised when I come across people that have never watched the movie. What is it about? Well in a nutshell it's your typical Romeo and Juliet story-line with a racial twist. I won't ruin any of the movie but all I can say is, "Jets vs. Sharks!" Anyone want to come with me to the musical?

West Side Story at the Academy of Music
When: March 27-April 8
Where: 1420 Locust Street
Tickets range from $20-$100
More info:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pennsylvania at the White House

So now that I believe it's okay to announced, I have been invited by the White House to participate in a delegation of Pennsylvanians for a Community Leaders Briefing (CLB) in the White House this Friday, March 23. The goals of the White House Community Leaders Briefing Series are:
  • To ensure the public is well-informed about government policies and programs and how they can utilize these resources
  • To ensure that the White House is hearing from the public about how government policies and programs can serve them better. 
  • To brief leaders on the tools and resources available to their communities, so that they can return home better armed to connect individuals to the policies and programs of the federal government.
One of the most important topic being discussed will be the Affordable Care Act. The CLB coincides with the second anniversary of the signing of the landmark healthcare reform legislation. Be sure to follow the Twitter hashtag #attheWH this Friday for up-to-date tweets.  And just in case you have to know, this is a nonpartisan event. 

Video blog: Dancing with the Philadelphia Stars otra vez

So we are basically one month away for the 4th Annual Dancing with the Philadelphia Stars and things are getting busier. As you may have remembered, I did my "reality TV" trash talk post a few weeks back. Well here we are again! Below you'll find a preview of the dance as well as my thoughts on who is going to win. Seriously though, purchase your tickets now. You're not only going to see me dance and win, but also raise awareness for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012 Real or fake?

So I recently read an article in the Philadelphia Business Journal about a new website looking to hire and grow. The article quotes, "One of the more interesting was Donald Woodring, the president and CEO of DonFiesta LLC, the operator of, which Woodring wants to make into a big Web destination for Latinos." Well currently it doesn't look like it will be. The homepage looks a little too simple for my taste and when I saw the istockphoto...enough said.

The article continued, “There’s a huge gap in the availability of websites that are in Spanish on the Internet, as well as websites that are not only in Spanish, but meet the cultural needs of the Latino community, so that’s what we’re attempting to do." I doubt this guy has any knowledge in the Hispanic market and is attempting to make a quick buck or two. I mean isn't that the thing to do nowadays? Make money off of our culture? I didn't even bother clicking on any of the website links considering most of the text on them were in gibberish. I wonder if he's heard of

Monday, March 19, 2012

Estado Latino launches on WFMZ

In another bold move by sponsors and TV marketers, WSK Lawyers is supporting the production of the TV show Estado Latino to help the region’s Latino community in the areas of business and economic development, health, civic participation and education. So why would a bunch of lawyers want to support a TV show? Think about's a huge investment that will pay off in the long run. It's like advertising, except you're just paying for the entire show. The show begins Monday, April 2 (air at 11:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays) and will be hosted by Norman Bristol Colón, former executive director of the PA Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, with co-presenters Pina Ugliuzza and Gabriela Raful, both staff members of the firm.

TV plays such a large impact in the lives of the Latino...but I wonder if it's going to be in English or Spanish. WFMZ already airs a Spanish-language news cast which supports the Lehigh Valley. This public affairs style show will absolutely support and increase businesses and organizations seeking Latino exposure. "There are more than 719,000 Latinos in Pennsylvania and this community represented more than fifty-percent of the state’s population growth in the last decade," says Bristol. "If we can help empower this community through Estado Latino, it is a mission-accomplished project that benefits all Pennsylvanians." Although located in the Lehigh Valley, I see the area getting more competitive.

Continuing my studies at St. Joseph's University

About a week ago I was accepted into the St. Joseph's University (SJU) Master's of Arts in Writing Studies program. Wow right!? This is a tremendous opportunity and a big step in my life as I continue to grow. Of course there are many reasons why I decided to continue my education as well as even pick SJU out of all schools. Continuing your education is as natural to me as eating every day. As a Latino I have to face the facts that not everyone is the same. Not everyone is given the same chances as myself nor anyone else. We choose our own fate and decide the best route.

So why continue my studies? A USA Today story quoted, "Census figures show that only 13% of Hispanics have a college degree or higher, compared with 30% among Americans overall." That needs to change ASAP. And sure the idea about going to college is difficult since it involves borrowing money, but it's still important. That percentage gets smaller as you bring up graduate school. My family (especially parents and Tia Fela) really pushed getting that education...and it did stick with me. I also need to become a better writer; it's what I love. In an Al Dia interview I told the reporters I remembered when I was in elementary school I would write short comics. Is it about money? Never. Although a master's degree does increase your chances of getting a bigger salary, I find that SJU will provide other opportunities.

So why SJU? The school has everything I need to become a better writer overall. Although my concentration is journalism, I need a variety of styles in my life. Sure it can come crashing down on me but these days you need to be a multifaceted worker. Whether grant writing, magazine style, online, fictional or even poetry, my style needs to be able to adapt to all.  SJU will open so many doors that I am not aware of as well. Remember...don't put me in a box :). Here's to 3 (maybe 4) more years of the school life!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

LATISM Announces Its Stellar 2012 Event Lineup

As Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) continues to grow both nationally and internationally, we must sit back and ponder where exactly social media is going. With over 140,000 top bloggers, internet leaders, innovators and influencers, LATISM will host a variety of events that covers the very best in the areas of focus for its mission: education, health, civic engagement, business and technology.

Key events for the 2012 year include:
  • May 2012 – Top 100 Blogueras Retreat Washington, DC 
  • June 2012 3rd Annual Latino2 Tech Summit - New York, NY 
  • July 2012 – Cyber-Sustainable Development Project – Machu Picchu, Perú 
  • October 2012 – LATISM ’12 National Conference – Houston, TX
Maybe I'll make one or two of these events...we shall see. It would be great to start a chapter in Philadelphia but like anything it takes a lot of work. If interested in starting or supporting a local chapter, write a comment below. Philadelphia's Latino community is in need of learning more about social media and how to use it effectively.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for all events. To request our sponsor package, please visit:

Update: DreamActivist PA Coming Out Action

Yesterday afternoon Tania Chairez and Jessica Hyejin Lee, two undocumented youth were arrested in front of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after a civil disobedience action. Earlier today we found out they had a court hearing to decide their future. Luckily a few hours later they were released.  Before their arrest, Tania and Jessica entered the ICE office building and presented a letter to Field Office Director Thomas Becker demanding the release of Miguel Orellana Garcia. Miguel is an undocumented youth who has been detained at York County Jail since July 2011 (and still there), away from his two sons and fiancee.

Watch Tania's story below:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Will Ferrell's politically incorrect pelicula?

You know I don't know what to say about Will Ferrell's current media tour promoting his new movie "Casa de Mi Padre." The movie is an R-rated spoof not only of telenovelas  but also spaghetti Westerns and 1970s B movies. And sure with all the attention hitting Latinos in almost every industry, Ferrell is very clever when it comes to how he promotes this movie. And while the movie probably hits a lot of stereotypes, we must remember it is a comedy. And from the interview below, he hits a lot of other points. My favorite part? When they ask the clearly Latino coworker a question in Spanish and he answers, "I don't understand you guys." I'm sure there was a hidden message in there. Enjoy!

Reflection on an extended weekend

17 years ago I went to Colombia to visit my dad's side of the family and fell in love. Today my prima @ElectricMagda visited the United States and took a nation-wide tour hitting Vegas, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, NJ/NY and Miami. It was the first time someone from my father's side of the family visited and I must say it was a blast. Even for just two days, I was so happy to meet (again) her and just talk about random things. Everything from family to "did you knows" and life reflections.

Hearing a completely different (and similar) opinion about various family issues made me appreciate things even more. Remember, you can change your friends but family is forever. Only 2.5 years older than me, I appreciated all her stories and fun vibe she brought. Life is definitely too short to hold back and just complain. My cousin brought a bright and positive vibe into my life. Even though it was only for two days, it helped out a lot. We did the whole history tour, ate a cheestesteak, ran up the Rocky steps (or tried), shopped at King of Prussia mall and ended with a wonderful happy hour/karaoke night. Thank you Magda for these two days I'll never forget :).

Monday, March 12, 2012



Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mexico's eight week celebration

Looks like Philadelphia is paying more and more attention to Latino culture...well at least a part of it. De Pueblo a Pueblo (From Town to Town) is an eight-week celebration in Spring 2012 that will honor Philadelphia's local Mexican community by promoting greater understanding of traditional arts, language, and history of our southern neighbors. The citywide festival will connect this growing population and their customs with a broader Philadelphia audience. Most if not all of Philadelphia's Mexican community will take part in the festival including the Mexican Consul of Philadelphia, Mexican Cultural Center, Puentes de Salud, Penn Museum and more. Glad to see Mexican celebrates all year long rather than during September aka Mexico's Independence Festival. However, I can see some people taking this festival the wrong way during 5 de Mayo -_-. Either way...let's celebrate!

DreamActivist PA Coming Out Action

As part of a national week of action in coordination with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), in about a week undocumented youth and their families will publicly reveal their immigration status. A very bold move, these families are fed up with the rules and regulations that are tearing their families apart. Through a public Coming Out of the Shadows, DreamActivist will empower other undocumented immigrants to stand up and fight for their human rights. And to be honest, they shouldn't be afraid. It's a shame that some people have to hide because they fear being targeted. When immigrants enter the U.S., stay undocumented and give birth to soon as those children grow older, they will realize the fears of their parents. This will be an ongoing battle that no U.S. President can ever fix. There will always be American citizens living in fear because they assume undocumented immigrants are "taking their jobs."

Coming Out of the Shadows
Wednesday March 14th, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Start - 1599 John F. Kennedy Boulevard Philadelphia, PA 19102 (Love Park)
March to - 16th and Callowhill (ICE Building)
More information:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stop the invasion...stop illegal immigration?

I recently read an article in the NY Time's Upfront Magazine titled, "Scenes from the Border." From the title you can obviously tell it's about the ongoing discussion about illegal immigration. In recent weeks I've had such a hatred towards the word "illegal." Even two years ago there was a discussion with the words illegal and undocumented. The article states, "...Mexicans account for about 6.5 million of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S." With more than 50% of America's immigrants it's astounding the issue is still a problem.

So what exactly is the problem? Is there a problem? Does America fear the assimilation between North, Central and South America? Most citizens say Mexicans are "stealing their jobs" but in reality immigrants are taking the jobs no one wants. Would you go from having your own agency to working the fields? Washing dishes? Most likely not. After 9/11/01 the Department of Homeland Security took over the issue of immigration. So hear we are in 2012 when the next president will most likely be decided by decedents of immigrants (undocumented and not). Thanks to the article I also found out that in the 1920s, America favored Northern European immigrants than those from other continents/countries in fear of an "invasion."

Will the 2012 election pay attention to immigration topics? Where do you stand?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Video: Senator Robert Menendez discusses our issues

"The civil rights issue of our time...," is what Senator Robert Menendez is calling the most important issue among Latinos. Here Senator Menendez discuss topics including immigration, marriage equality and more in this Al Dia round table.

Dancing with the Latino Heartthrob

Maybe it's because I'm in the local Dancing with the Philadelphia Stars but I find it ironic that Latino actor, William Levy, is one of the newest cast members on the national Dancing with the Stars. Born in Cuba, Levy moved to the United States at the tender age of 15 and has including acting roles on Telemundo, Univision and even fashion runways. I wonder how he feels about being labeled "the Latin heartthrob." Do we have to tell ABC producers he isn't Latin? Anyways, kudos to another network attempting to find ways to get new viewers.

Below you'll find a a CNN en español clip sort of "bashing" Levy and asking, "Is he really a star or is this bringing him back to stardom." My answer? Considering this is a mainstream television program, this is a new audience for Levy. So yes he is reinventing the wheel. Good for him!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Comcast to reach (new) minority audiences

In a race to grab the general "Latino" population here in the United States, Comcast will be launching the El Rey Network. Comcast Voices announced the addition of four networks this past month. About El Rey: Proposed by Robert Rodriguez with John Fogelman and Cristina Patway from FactoryMade Ventures, El Rey will be an action-packed general entertainment network for Latino and general audiences.  In the video below, Robert Rodriguez discusses goals for the new network. He hopes to focus on those 4th and 5th generation Lations who speak English more than Spanish. And although he's going to focus more on men, I'm sure women wouldn't mind those action movies as well.

Hear more about the partnership between Comcast and Rodriguez:

A community divided through housing

Remember my post about not trusting your local community? Didn't think so. Anyways...a few weeks ago the Norris Square Civic Association presented their plans for the new co-op housing units in the Norris Square neighborhood of Philadelphia. At first I was pretty much confused as to what exactly co-op housing was all about. The definition of a housing cooperative is, "A legal entity—usually a corporation—that owns real estate, consisting of one or more residential buildings; it is one type of housing tenure. The corporation is membership based, with membership granted by way of a share purchase in the cooperative. Each shareholder in the legal entity is granted the right to occupy one housing unit." Probably doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

I attending a meeting to help better understand a housing cooperative. Considering this is new to the neighborhood and pretty much involves the community, it's very important Some people see the negative and some people see the positive. The new property will include 15 units (for 15 families) and half of those families living in the units will have to serve on the board. The board pretty much comes up with all the rules and regulations, bylaws, costs, etc. associated with the property. Sound confusing yet? Considering the neighborhood, think about the type of people that "deserve" to not only live in this units, but also be in control. A person's ethics/morals comes to mind since this is strictly business.

There are countless factors to consider when seeking tenants and the board. Also, just because a person qualifies does not necessarily mean they can afford this type of housing. This is very similar to owning a house and living in a dorm room (during college). I'm certainly interested but then again, I have lots of questions. Do you think a housing cooperative can work? Any examples?

Friday, March 2, 2012

No representation for Latinos in PA

Imagine a world where your vote did not count nor mattered at all. I find it interesting that while corporations and organizations are doing their best to capitalize on this fast and awesome market, the political world struggles to see our needs. The LatinoLines Coalition recently sent out a press release stating the Reapportionment Commission in Harrisburg, PA canceled an important public hearing...again. This meeting would have included discussions about fair representation in government. The cancellation of the meeting has gotten people very upset and questions fairness in our own backyard.

Court rulings allowing the re-instatement of the 2001 voting districts for use in the 2012 Primary election are illegal under the Constitution. LatinoLines demands a new date be set for the primary election. Moving the Pennsylvania state primary is possible to accommodate proper implementation of a constitutional redistricting plan, based on the 2010 census. A few days ago the coalition went to Harrisburg and demanded the primaries on April 24 be postponed and also also created a petition.

I'm assuming government officials did not read the recent Time Magazine cover story
Favorite lines of the press release: Sadly, it is clear to LatinoLines that the ‘political community’ has never believed there was a respectable Latino voting community at all. It is clear from decades of actions and inaction, that the ‘political community’ viewed the Latino community as a big slush fund of votes to hand around and break apart, depending on which district needed strengthening. This explains the decades of vote cracking, stacking and packing. Those days are over. Quoting a phrase from the political protest movement, “The whole world is watching.”