For years I have observed the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City.
When I was around 12 years old in the early 90's was the one, and only time I had the chance to experience it.
I can't even recall where my dad took my brother and me to watch the parade.
Memories of my First Puerto Rican Day Parade
I remember how I enjoyed seeing Salsa Musicians and other celebrities from the side of the New York Streets.
As a Kid born on the Island but at a very early age moved over to Connecticut. The Puerto Rican Parades made me feel closer to the Island.
The Other Puerto Rican Day Parades
Living in Bridgeport, CT I remember there was a parade that would come through. I went to this particular event a few more times. My dad was better known as Don Tito was involved in the community. At one point I remember he ran for Town Committee of Bridgeport.
20 years later in 2010 I would build the Puerto Rican Day Parade of Fairfield County's website (although it was taken down a few years after).
Summer Vacation a Bridge to my Puerto Rican Roots
I had visited Ponce every summer. When the School year ended and sometimes even a few days before I would be sent over to my Grandma's home. My Uncle and Grandma Lydia would take care of me and pamper me to another level. They still do.
My Uncle Tito who happens to be a history buff would teach me about the Island. He took me around all the historical sites, and the experiences are endless.
I got to learn and understand what Puerto Rico was from the eyes of two beings that loved the Island and me. Looking back not many of other kids like me who lived in the states and were Puerto Rican had a chance to see the Island as I did. There are usually many missing links in out story of migration.
Moving to Puerto Rico as a Teenager
At the age of 12, I arrived on the Island getting a bit of culture shock. Even though I had visited the Island during my summer vacation. Puerto Rico was far from what I had experienced once I was a resident. The Puerto Rican community stateside and the one on the Island are still two completely different worlds linked by shared traditions and values.
Back and Forth from the Island to the Colonizers
Since I moved to Puerto Rico as a Kid, I have spent most of my life living on the Island except a couple of years. Those times when I served in the U.S. Army and then 22 months I went to work for KPMG in New York City.
My parents, brothers, and most of my dad's family live in CT. I go back and forth, and this has given me an interesting perspective. I get to learn the culture and how Puerto Ricans who left the island decades ago see the Island. I also see Boricua pride with those that are the descendants of those that migrated decades ago.
I see a sense of them wanting to understand what the Island is like. They want to be involved, but they are so busy with their struggles stateside that itis difficult for many of them to stay up to date.
Most of the information they get comes directly from corporate media. Which is manipulated by a few from the Island?
When I visit Connecticut or New York, I tend to talk less and listen more. Although I live on the Island, I learn a lot from their struggles as Immigrants in a country many now call home. It's usually very easy to identify common issues on both sides. Both caused by Puerto Rico's political situation. But the different perspectives can blame many other causes.
I take opportunities to discuss what is happening from my perspective in a more raw format than the news they receive. Over time I have gained the trust of many and I appreciate them looking at what I publish to compare what they read elsewhere.
I might convince a few that there are many other perspectives on the news they are getting. But there are so many millions more than are being misled I see it's a very uphill battle.
When I think of how I can help others understand what is happening on the Island, I quickly think of this blog. It's my only vehicle where I can reach tens of thousands once I cover an interesting subject.
But I also see how an event that brings many Puerto Rican community leaders together can get much done.
Vive Borikén as a Bridge to the Puerto Rican Day Parade & Diaspora
I also see fellow activists like Aimee Montoya trying to create a bridge between the Puerto Rican Diaspora and those who live on the Island.
Different to many other organizations which are more business oriented and focused on a select elite of people on the Island.
Vive Borikén has been in the frontlines creating awareness on issues that are important to our communities. I have seen Vive Borikén very active in the fight to save Playuela and making sure Toxic Ashes are not being deposited in our backyards.
So how can we do more?
Well, Aimee recently is trying to bring one of the students of the UPR to New York to the Puerto Rican parade. She wants to make sure those stateside are well aware of what is happening on the Island.
Boricua Unity Quest
This is part of Aimee's effort called the Boricua Unity Quest.
When certain groups attempted to brainwash New Yorkers and discredit the purpose of the Puerto Rican Parade. I think it's very critical that much stateside get to hear the stories of those who for months are fighting for our communities here on the Island.
I see value in what Aimee is doing. We all need to build and fortify those bridges with our communities.
Can You help Vive Borikén send a Student to Puerto Rican Day Parade
Well, Aimee right now needs around $400 to get a student stateside and make sure he can cover his expenses.
To get the ball started, I am donating $20 (5% of the goal), so in essence, all she needs is for you and 37 more like you to give $10.
Other than the $20 I already gave up front to get everything going. I will be donating all my profits from the photography I sell here on this blog this week to get that student to the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
If you don't like any of the images on this page which have not been updated in a while. Take a look at my Instagram feed and let me know if you would like a digital copy or print of some of my recent images contact me. I am sure we can work something out.
So can I count on you on helping Vive Borikén in getting the student to the Puerto Rican Day Parade?
Purchase any Photo
I will be donating any profits from my images to Viva Borikén until Friday June 9, 2017.