12/2/16

Latino Outdoors in Texas: Opt Outside/Vamos Outdoors

                 

 Will you go OUT with me?

Friedrich Wilderness Park

This year Latino Outdoors in Texas joined in on the movement … #OptOutside & #ViernesVerde!

Last year REI the nation’s largest consumer co-op and specialty outdoor retailer made the brilliant decision to close all of their stores (143 to be exact) and pay it’s 12,000 employees on the biggest shopping day of the year (Black Friday)! They basically said Opt Outside! Hike, bike, snowboard, camp, kayak … just go!  Well you don’t have to tell me twice : ).

                      On black Friday in Texas, we went Hiking!

Friedrich Wilderness Park

With some grant funding fom REI I knew exactly where I wanted to go for our 1st annual event in Texas. With over 10 miles of Hiking Trails Friedrich Wilderness Park in San Antonio,Texas was the chosen destination.

Friedrich Wilderness Park Facts:

  • The park was developed with a grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and was dedicated on August 31, 1978.
  • The park is in the transition zone between the flat South Texas region and the Texas Hill Country.
  • It is internationally known for bird watching, with nesting sites for two federal listed endangered species of birds: the Black-capped Vireo and the Golden-cheeked Warbler.
  • Handicapped accessible trails.
  • No Fires and no smoking.
  • To protect the endangered species … Pedestrians only! (no pets)

Friedrich Wilderness Park

It’s moments like this. In Nature we Nuture the soul.

 

The weather was perfect, the smiles were endless and the talks on the trails were heartfelt. You could sense the confidence building! We had a wonderful guide Nicole who shared her wealth of knowledge on the plants and wildlife at Friedrich.

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  Latino Outdoors In Texas.

 

I wanted the 1st Annual Vamos Outdoors/Opt Ouside event to be successful. I wanted my group to be inspired and excited to be outdoors. The event was to share and showcase the beauty that is nature. Hiking locally and finding a great park to get lost in together was just the start for us. We made memories and then captured it on canvas. Art in the park : ).  

 

Latino Outdoors at Friedrich Park

The importance of the day was spending quality time Outside and we did just that! In San Antonio we represented proudly and fearlessly.

A park, a picnic, some painting, and for dessert … Pan dulce (sweet bread)!

Latino Outdoors at Friedrich Park

Fitfunand … Take a hike : ))!!

Friedrich Wilderness Park

 

09/25/16

Mi Vida Latina. #TXLatinoBlog

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I must have been about 7 years old at the time this picture was taken. I remember my mom brushing my hair and picking out my clothes. I was always up for a photo shoot. Smile!

When I look in the mirror today, I see who I am, what I have become and who I still want to be.

 

My parents met in middle school. They eventually married and just had me. Happily ever after is not what happened. They divorced by the time I was about 6 or 7.

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A testament to the love they had for me and the eventual mutual respect they had for each other in parenting me is the smile you see on my face.

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My parents were both born in Texas. I am 2nd generation Mexican American on my Father’s side and 3rd on my Mother’s. I naturally picked up the Spanish language, Gracias a Dios! My parents never really taught it to me but it was the language spoken on both sides of my Familia. It was how I could communicate with my Abuelita. It was la musica my Grandfather sang.

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My Mom and her parents Cristina and Domingo Garcia.

My Cultura was playing all around me and I was never the wiser!

 

The soundtrack of my youth is Mariachis, Musica Chicana and my Abuelo (Apa) playing his guitar as he sang Spanish songs.

Pets were chickens, ducks and my horse Big Red. My dad bought me one because he said I asked for one, lol. The chicken’s and duck’s were gifted to me every Easter (by me Dad) and I am forever grateful that my grandfather (Apa) had plenty of land to care for my pets.

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Me and my horse Big Red.

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My Sweet Sixteen.

La comida was so traditional that my expectations are high. I was raised on homemade tortillas, and frijoles from the jarro. Nopalitos, carne asada, chorizo, sopas, arroz con pollo were food for my soul. The salsa was always made from the cilantro, tomate, cebolla y chili piquin picked straight from my Abuelita’s backyard. Amor was comida and it showed.

Medicine was El curandero (the medicine man) for any ailment that the “Sangre de Chango” otherwise known as monkey blood (not really monkey blood) couldn’t cure. Aloe Vera was the plant kept in the front yard for burns and scrapes. If you still weren’t cured no worries because you probably had “ojo” (the evil eye) and having your Abuela rub an egg over your body as she prayed in Spanish somehow did the trick! The egg is then cracked and placed into a glass of water with a broken stick to make a cross on top of the egg. After a certain period of time the egg starts to separate and the more it does the worse the “ojo”.  I only wish my Abuelas were around to cure me without having to head to the local pharmacy.

The Amor is what cured us all.

 

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Mis Abuelas Cristina y Manuela.

My parents loved me unconditionally and gave me the best of themselves. We were rich in culture and that was my happy. We weren’t rich but I always had what I needed and the most important thing for me was that they were always present in my life and I knew I was loved. It showed in their actions as it does to this day.

I am a lucky girl! I looked in the mirror as a child with no clue of who I was other than happy.

 

I look at myself in the mirror now (still happy) and see the past, the present and the future. My past was an abundance of Cultura, Tradiciones y Amor. The present is the family I have raised and the future is full of promise.

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Mi Familia.

I grew up!

 

I am a daughter who became a woman, who became a Mom, who became a grandmother!

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A dance recital with my granddaughter.

My family is my backbone and the love and traditions I was raised on is what I hope my girls have had a taste of. I still can’t cook a tortilla but I know what restaurant makes a good one. I don’t usually play Spanish music on the radio but they know the sounds of a good Mariachi. I do make a mean Fidello, family approved!

I have lived a lifetime and my dreams have now taken me Outside and into Nature. I became an ambassador for Latino Outdoors a year ago. An organization engaging, empowering and inspiring communities to share and identify Cultura and the outdoors.

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Me and my Paleta.

I can’t be anyone other than me and I carry this in my heart. I am a proud Latina born and raised!

 

National Hispanic Heritage Month is honored September 15th to October 15th. It is a month to pay tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation.

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This post is a part of the #TXLatinoBlog Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop. Visit the bloggers listed below as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month together/juntos! Follow the hashtag #TXLatinoBlog on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too.

Que Means What – Being Latina Enough – Wednesday, 9/14

MexiMoments – Importance of Learning the Language as a Child – Thursday, 9/15

The Social Butterfly Gal – Mentoring Young Latinas – Friday, 9/16

Juan of Words – Mexican-American Culture – Monday, 9/19

Sweet Life– Food Recipes – Tuesday, 9/20

The Optimistic Heathen – Sharing Our Heritage with the Kids – Wednesday, 9/21

Modern Tejana – How to Live Your Latinidad in Mixed-Race Families – Thursday, 9/22

The Esposa Experience – Navigating the Pressures of Traditional Esposa Expectations – Friday, 9/23

The Nueva Latina – Mexican Independence Day in Guadalajara – Saturday, 9/24

FitFunAnd.com – Self-Reflection and Latino Outdoors – Sunday, 9/25

VodkaGirlATX – Latin-Inspired Cocktails – Monday, 9/26

Momma of Dos – How Mexican I grew up! – Tuesday, 9/27

Family Love in My City – Immigration – Wednesday, 9/28

Creative Meli – Basic and Healthy Latin Cooking – Thursday, 9/29

Mejorando Mi Hogar – Being Latino or Hispanic – Friday, 9/30

Power to Prevail – Body Shame in Latino Culture – Monday, 10/3

Teatrolatinegro – Latin@ Theatre Show in Houston – Tuesday, 10/4

Candypo – Being a Latino Military Spouse – Wednesday, 10/5

Coppelia Marie – Am I a Bad Latina Mom? – Thursday, 10/6

The Restaurant Fanatic – Cocina Latina – Friday, 10/7

Haute in Texas – Mothering Latinas When You’re Not a Latina – Monday, 10/10

09/10/16
Hike n Bike through San Antonio Missions Historic Park - FitFunAnd.com

#Sunday Funday: Hike ‘n Bike through the San Antonio Missions Historic Park.

The National Park Service celebrated 100 years of service on August 25th, 2016 and we were all invited to join in on the fun. In Texas a few friends and I attended a red carpet event at a local theater to watch a screening of the National Parks Adventure IMAX film. If you haven’t already seen it I would highly suggest it!

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I am honored to represent my community as the Ambassador for Latino Outdoors~Southwest. This platform allows me to creatively explore the outdoors and highlight the beauty of Texas parks. Lucky me!

I had an amazing opportunity to not just join a celebration but put one together. I had been in contact with Tiara the Outdoor leader in San Antonio for Outdoor Afro and we thought it would be a fantastic idea to join our groups for the Centennial. These two organizations are changing the faces of conservation. A diverse set of people exploring, sharing and showcasing their love for the outdoors.

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Tiara and I thought it would be a great idea to do a Hike ‘n Bike along the beautiful river connecting our Missions.

Mission San Juan Capistrano and Mission San Francisco de la Espada are about a 3 mile round trip down the San Antonio River. Two groups, two parks and some cool peeps : ). The group was amazing and the weather was perfect!

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I am inspired and happiest the most outside exploring and it was even more special because we honored the Centennial. We hiked and biked to our destinations with smiles on our faces. A sweet thank you to San Antonio B-cycle who offered our group a 50% discount to rent the bikes located at the Missions. Find your park they said and together we did just that.

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Sunday Funday Hike n’ Bike

I wasn’t done yet! There was just one more event left for me and that was to run the NPS 100th Birthday Virtual 5k/10k/half. A virtual race is basically your pace, your race, your chosen destination. You register on line and a portion of the fee goes to the specified race and in my case, the National Park Foundation. When you complete your race you turn in your time and a couple of weeks later you receive a medal in the mail. The medal for this particular race was a Ranger Hat and you can see why this was a no brainer : ).

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I decided to run the 10k (6.2) miles over to the beautiful Mission Concepción. This stone church was dedicated in 1755, and appears very much as it did over two centuries ago. It stands proudly as the oldest unrestored stone church in America. In its heyday, colorful geometric designs covered its surface, but the patterns have long since faded or been worn away. A perfect place to reflect on what once was and what is now.

Just because the celebration has ended doesn’t mean the party is over! Head over to National Parks and be inspired to discover these amazing open spaces. Now go on and get lost, anywhere is a good place to start!

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FitfunandNPS Centennial!

 

 

 

07/31/16

#Latino Conservation Week: Inks Lake State Park, Texas.

The Latino passion for the Outdoors was in full swing. A week showcasing our fearless spirits and beautiful selves engaging, experiencing and advocating for the great Outdoors.

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Inks Lake State Park, Texas

Latino Conservation Week took place July 16 to July 24 2016.  This Nationwide initiative provided an opportunity for Latinos to come together and to demonstrate their passion for the outdoors, both for enjoyment and preservation. Highlighting our lands and the spirit that stirs the Latino souls. Disfrutando y Conservando Nuestra Tierra!

In its third year, the week as grown to more than 100 events nationwide!

I had an opportunity to host an event at Inks Lake State Park. A hill country gem perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway. Because the lake’s level usually stays constant, you can play here year-round. This would be the place to perfect our kayaking and canoeing skills.

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July 23rd was the day to gather new friends and old friends at Inks’s Lake State Park in honor of Latino Conservation Week. Many of us had no clue what our journey to the final destination aptly named Devil’s Watering Hole would include. The name alone should have scared off my tribe, LOL. Devil’s Watering Hole is a place where many daredevils take a plunge from the cliffs into a deep sink hole, YIKES! No worries, it really is a pretty safe place.

I couldn’t wait to get into the water to try the kayak and listening to the nervous chatter and laughter around me I knew I wasn’t the only one!

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I am extremely happy that my group trusted me in guiding them to a location that I just knew would take us out of our comfort zone but in the greatest way. We engaged, we explored and we even walked a little taller exiting our kayaks & canoes. Every day is a chance to be greater than the day before. Mission accomplished for Latino Outdoors Southwest!

A special thanks to Sean D. Jones our Park Ranger Interpreter, Jasmine Scott with Texas Parks & Wildlife and to the sweet volunteer Allicia. Jasmine was my first point of contact and was excited to hear about the initiative and the event and even volunteered to come in on her day off to be with us, wow!

Exploring every chance we get. Mountains, Hills, Rivers, Lakes, Trails … here we come, Latino Outdoors.

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Fitfunand … Afuera!

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07/4/16

La Onda Chicana Concert 40th year Anniversary

In celebration of the 40th year anniversary of the concert La Onda Chicana, Efrain Gutierrez is making it available for free screening for the month of July. This concert was filmed in Port Lavaca ,TX on July 4th 1976 U.S. bicentennial.

Bands performing were Little Joe Y La Familia, Snowball and Company w/Laura Canales, Los Chachos and Johnny Elizondo y La Fabrica.

Efrain Gutierrez is the First Chicano Filmmaker and most recently his unique and personal window into motion history has now become a permanent part of history at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Preservation and Foundation Programs.

Thank you Efrain (Dad) for allowing us to take a trip back in time to La Onda Chicana. Password is 3gfilms.us.

FitfunandHappy 4th of July!

11/27/15

#OPTOUTSIDE … any day you can!

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When I heard that REI decided to shut it’s doors and pay their employees on the biggest shopping day of the year and encourage people to go OUTDOORS the day after Thanksgiving, my only thought was … BRILLIANT!

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I know where to go and fuel my soul : ). I am thankful that I grew up in a time that encouraged the outdoors and I am so happy to hear and see more people getting out to the local and state parks, may the movement continue.

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Hike. Bike. Swim. Ski. Camp. Run. Walk. Explore the Extraordinary and there is no better place than Outside.

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A baby me with my Mom & Dad

I am honored to be part of the Latino Outdoors family as a Southwest Ambassador. Celebrating our Cultura and the outdoors while sharing and supporting each other from all over the world.

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Happy Holidays and any day your your heart desires may you #OPTOUTSIDE

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Links to outdoor adventures in and around San Antonio, Texas : ).

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Guadalupe River State Park (Texas)

Fitfunand … Pa Fuera!

 

 

09/17/15

Latina Outdoors

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I realize as I look at old pictures that my love for the outdoors started naturally at a very young age. I traveled often with my parents and adventures to lakes,rivers & parks were not foreign to me. My dad traveled often and a lot promoting his movies (first Chicano filmmaker Efrain Gutierrez). I remember him buying me a pogostick,roller skates,tennis racket and a bike. These were outdoor gifts and for that I am grateful. My favorite were the roller skates and my least was the pogostick only because I could never stay on it for more than 3 seconds. My best friend Debbie and I roller skated into the night growing up and being outside was just what we did!

I grew up in a non techno world and because of this I know what makes me the happiest. I smile with my heart & soul when I disconnect with technology to connect with nature. The peace I feel when I hear the wind blowing and the birds making music is for me an experience I cannot explain. The beauty of the clear and crisp rivers with the backdrop of the hill country is what I get to explore often living in Texas.

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A few weeks ago I was asked to be a part of Latino Outdoors as an Ambassador in San Antonio,TX. I pinched myself,screamed a little, cried some and then called all of my family and friends! I felt honored to be a part of this organization. To engage & inspire Latino leadership in the outdoors.

The role as an Ambassador for me would be to represent LO  as a face for the organization & the network. I will take part in building the community here in San Antonio & help define the identity behind Latino Outdoors. I am excited for what the future holds.

I will be planning outdoor activities in the next couple of weeks and would love to hear your ideas on what to do. Life & adventures are better with family and friends by your side : ).

Say YES to exploring the Texas Hill Country together.

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Fitfunand ……. Latino Outdoors Ambassador in San Antonio,TX.

 

 

 

07/11/15

Memorias Y Cultura

I’ve heard my dad (Efrain Gutierrez) often talk about his years growing up as a migrant worker. So when he told me he was invited by The Northwest Michigan Migrant Resource Council to participate in the parade held on Saturday July 11, 2015, I was elated for him. I headed over to his place a few days later so I could learn more about his years as a migrant.

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Efrain Gutierrez is a 1966 graduate from Edgewood High School in San Antonio, Texas. He has an A.A. degree in Multimedia from Northwest Vista College in San Antonio,Tx and a B.A. in History from Texas A&M-Kingsville.

Gutierrez is also recognized by academia as the first Chicano (Mexican/American) to independently produce a movie “Please Don’t Bury Me Alive/Por Favor No Me Entierren Vivo!” released in 1976. Gutierrez’s low budget feature  film “Please Don’t Bury Me Alive !/ Por favor, no me entierren vivo!” revenues topped “All the President’s men” and “Jaws” in several Texas theaters. He also wrote/produced/directed two other films “Amor Chicano Es Para Siempre/Chicano Love is Forever” released in 1977 and “Run Tecato Run” released in 1979.  Each year UCLA selects 15 movies per year, out of over one million films available. UCLA has honored Gutierrez by selecting these three films for restoration and preservation at the UCLA Film and Television Archives, making Gutierrez the first Chicano/Latino/Hispanic/ to have his films archived at UCLA.  UCLA Chicano Film, Television, and Digital Media Studies Research Center professor Chon Noeiga compares Gutierrez to Oscar Micheaux, an African American film pioneer.  Oscar Micheaux, who directed “race movies” for black audience from the 1920 through 1940s. Rooted in Chicano teatro, Gutierrez films dramatize the moral dilemmas and socioeconomic hardship facing the Chicano working-class community, in his honor Noriega has nominated Gutierrez’s three films to the National Library of Congress. 

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Leelanau County League of Women’s Voters  invited Efrain to screen his films for the migrant community in Traverse City, MI on Sunday July 12th and before that he will be in Grand Rapids,MI for a radio interview and a platica (conversation) at the Grand Rapids Hispanic Center.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Efrain was a migrant worker from San Antonio,Texas who traveled “Al Norte” (North) every summer with his family and from 1955-1961 they picked cherries in Traverse City, MI. Michigan holds many special memories for my dad and he has not visited the city since. He had screening’s for his 1st movie “Please Don’t Bury Me Alive!” in 1976 in Saginaw and Detroit, MI and even took my mom and I to visit my mother’s family in Adrian, MI when I was about 4.

His memories from the ages of 2-15 years involve many a caravan trips. The family and many cousins would head “al norte” sometime in April and wouldn’t return home till December. This was the life of a migrant worker.

Tomatoes was the main crop where the bulk of the money was made. The family stayed at two different tomato farms for many years in Auburn and Woodburn, IN. They would hoe and plant the seeds in April for about 4 weeks then head to Traverse, MI where the scenery was beautiful and the weather was cooler. They went as migrants to pick cherries and Efrain recalls being the happiest there. He recalls that while they worked, the older men talked about the Revolution, Mexico and fresh lemonade while his older brothers went through adolescence. The women would take their children if any and have them under the trees while they worked/sang and talked about life and family.  Efrain had 5 brothers and 1 sister and he was the 2nd youngest. They stayed in Traverse about 4-6 weeks and afterwards they would head back to Indiana to harvest the tomatoes they had planted.

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The list is long……tomatoes,cherries,potatoes,pickles,melons,corn and the last was always the cotton, where the weather was cold and the work was hard. It was December when the family would make it back into San Antonio.

I asked my dad, what about school and he said “we went from January-April”.  The teachers were not fond of the migrant kids because they were always so far behind. They would literally split them up in two sections A & B. The migrant kids were B. My dad was always embarrassed by the divide and boasted that it only used to take him about 2 weeks to catch up and be transferred to the A side. This was life for him until he was about 15 years old and it was only then that he was able to go to school for a full year.

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I only wish I could post every memory and write every adventure. I told him that should be for his book. I walk away from our time together being reminded that his family meant everything to him. They bundled up in the car together to only be bundled up again in small quarters to live in and and the end of the journey they would bundle together one last time for their journey home. Together they traveled, together they worked, together they played and together they loved….Familia !

My dad’s memories are beautiful ones. He always had someone to play with in the nearby rivers and lakes and knew that his older brothers and dad were there to protect him. His mom always had food on the table even if at times it was small. Life was hard but simple. He remembers the Era was as colorful as it was vibrant. and the music was beautiful. I can only imagine what he will find when he returns to taste the cherries he once picked and ate as a child. He has often wondered what it would be like to return to the place that held beautiful memories for him and a place where his family was one.

Efrain the migrant worker.

Efrain the First Chicano Filmmaker.

Efrain my DAD !!!!!

Fitfunand………..CULTURA !

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11/2/14

Dia De Los Muertos/Day Of The Dead.

WHAT IS DIA DE LOS MUERTOS/DAY OF THE DEAD?

A traditional Mexican holiday to remember the people in our lives that have passed. The Day Of The Dead falls on Nov. 1st and 2nd every year, coinciding with the Catholic Holidays’s, All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day.

The belief is that the gates of Heaven are opened at midnight on October 31 and that the spirits of all deceased children are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours on November 1st. The spirits of deceased adults come down on November 2nd to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them. Indigenous people from Mexico believe the soul is eternal and that it can travel back and forth from this world and the next.

Celebrations will vary but a most common custom is the making of an altar (ofrendas) to welcome home departed spirits. Altars are usually decorated with flowers, candles, pan de muerto, ceramic skulls, and most importantly pictures of loved ones. Food placed on the altars consist of the loved ones favorite dishes and treats. Salt is considered the spice of Life and is often seen at Altars. A beverage will be waiting to quench the thirst of the dead after a long journey home.

  • PAN DE LOS MUERTOS (BREAD FOR THE DEAD) – A tradional sweet bread shaped like a round loaf with rolled strips of dough layered on top that resemble the bones of the dead.
  •  MARIGOLDS – The marigold is often referred to as the  flower of  the dead. The attractive scent of the flower is said to help the deceased find their way back home again.
  • CALAVERAS DE AZUCAR (SUGAR SKULLS) – A skull made of sugar and decorated with bright colors and fancy ornate’s. They will adorn the altar as a sugar delight for the visiting spirits.

I have lost many cousins,uncles,aunts,grandparents and friends to death. The pain of losing someone never gets easier. The Day of the Dead is just a beautiful celebration in honor of remembering the people we once loved and will never forget.

“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” –  George Eliot

FITFUNAND …… DIA DE LOS MUERTOS.

 

09/17/14

Hispanic Heritage Month (Mi Cultura) part 1.

La Familia Gutierrez de Silao Guanajuato, Mexico L-R Dionicia (daughter),Tranquilina (Wife), Mauricio (Dad) and Efren Abran (my grandfather)

Hispanic Heritage month is a celebration of Latin American culture, history and contribution. I am 2nd generation Mexican American on my Father’s side and 3rd on my Mother’s. My Mexican roots run deep and my culture runs through my heart and soul.

I was able to spend some time with my Dad talking about the story of my Great Grandfather Mauricio Gutierrez who was born in Silao Guanajuato, Mexico. The Mexican Civil War started in 1910 and lasted until about 1920. Mauricio was a Notary in his city and by 1915 the city of Silao had very few young men, women and grain due to the ongoing Civil War. The story my grandfathers told was that Jose Doroteo Arango Arambula one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary Generals, known also as ” Pancho Villa “, had stopped by the city of Silao around 1915. “Pancho Villa”  rounded up more men, women and grain. Mauricio felt the need to stand up to the General and told him that by taking what little they had left they would slowly die. “Pancho Villa” looked at him then looked around at what was left and decided to leave the city of Silao alone. Mauricio decided then that the future of his family was not in Mexico.

Between 1900 and 1930 Mexican Immigration into the United States rose dramatically. Mauricio, his wife Tranquilina and daughter Dionicia each signed a registrar and paid $1.00 to become citizens of the United States.  My grandfather, Mauricio’s son, Efren Abran Gutierrez was just 10 years old at the time and was put on a boat to cross the Rio Grande where his parents picked him up on U.S soil.  Efren Abran Gutierrez never became a legal citizen so he had to register every year to stay in the country. The family settled by Kyle,TX and became labor workers for the Germans. In 1939 Efren married my grandmother Manuela and together they moved to San Antonio and became the parents to 6 boys and one girl.

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My Abuelita Manuela Gutierrez.

My Abuelita was born in New Braunfels,TX in 1916 and worked at an early age farming and managing a mule team. Her strength and zest for life is what I remember the most. My grandfather died when I was very young but my Abuelita Manuela I was fortunate to have in my life till my late twenties. Manuela is the reason I speak Spanish and her home was full of culture and love. Her walls filled with images of the Virgin of Guadalupe and her candles varied from Saint to Saint, depending on the need of prayer. The front lawn was not grass but cilantro (the herb) and her back yard was lined with small tomatoes, fig trees and the popular and super caliente chili pequin. I will never forget the never ending rose bushes that always seemed to be in bloom. Her gorgeous silver hair was kept that way because she used the rose petals to rinse her hair….if only she had the web to spread the knowledge. To the left side of her front doorway there was an aloe vera plant which seemed to cure just about anything. Her cocina (the kitchen) was where the magic really happened. She loved cooking and you could definitely taste it in her food. I fell in love with the aromas and her famous homemade tortillas still make my mouth water.

Manuela passed away in 1997 mowing her own lawn. She is one of my heroes and I am proud to have her blood running through my veins. My grandparents only had about a 2nd grade education but worked hard to ensure that their children had more than they had. They kept the core of who they were and where they came from by sharing stories of the past so that our culture and history would not be forgotten.

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The Familia Gutierrez and Gregg Barrios (S.A. playwright,poet & critic) Cine Las Americas International Film Festival 2014

My father Efrain Gutierrez went on to become a Chicano Film Pioneer. He is known as the first Chicano filmmaker documenting the struggles he felt needed to be addressed during that time. Chicano meant, newly or recently arrived and it seemed that there was a respect when you addressed yourself as Chicano. He wasn’t Mexican but Chicano and that just felt right. He went on to become a part of the Chicano Movement. He encapsulated an era still dealing with the struggles of our people in his films. In doing so he also preserved the beauty of who we are from our culture,fashion,food and beautiful music. His movie soundtracks are filled with musica by Esteban Jordan, Little Joe y la Familia and Henry Balderrama y la Patria just to name a few.

Please, Don’t Bury Me Alive! Por favor, no me entierren vivo! 1976

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Chicano Love is Forever/Amor chicano es para siempre 1977

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Run, Tecato, Run 1979

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My father’s films have been restored courtesy of the UCLA Film and Television Archive. His legacy will never be forgotten. My dad now runs an Art studio in San Antonio,TX with the help of his beautiful wife Irma and my younger brother Efrain Abran.

I was unwillingly cast in my dad’s films as a child but forever grateful for it. I knew my Dad was special and it was a struggle for him to make those films. The struggle was hard but his passion was endless.

Embrace your heritage and may we all continue to never forget the past but let it be our guiding light as we strive for even bigger and better for the future of us as a human race.

As my Abuelita would always say “Dios de bendiga” God bless you!

 

FITFUNAND….Hispanic Heritage Month!

 

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