Center hosts night of Mexican-American culture

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MAS program launches with festivity, seeks students for club.

Keli Rosa Cabunoc from the Son Jarocho band Tallercito de Son performs a traditional Mexican dance style, zapateado, in which the dancer strikes hard-soled shoes on a tarima platform to create percussion, at the Mexican-American Studies program’s open house Oct. 4 in Room 100 of Chance. Photo by Alison Graef

Keli Rosa Cabunoc from the Son Jarocho band Tallercito de Son performs a traditional Mexican dance style, zapateado, in which the dancer strikes hard-soled shoes on a tarima platform to create percussion, at the Mexican-American Studies program’s open house Oct. 4 in Room 100 of Chance. Photo by Alison Graef

By Michelle Delgado
sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Tejano music played in the background as guests enjoyed tamales and Big Red Oct. 4 in the new MAS Center.

The center, which is part of this college’s Mexican American studies program, hosted an open house to commemorate the new program. Room 100 of Chance Academic Center was draped with papel picado, which hung from the ceiling in colorful, cutout squares of plastic.

The event began with a Native American blessing by Linda Ximenes of the Tap Pilam Coahuitecan Nation.

“Most Chicanos are indigenous even though they don’t acknowledge it,” she said. “There was a lot of repression and punishment for people who were indigenous. However, more people are beginning to acknowledge their indigenous roots.”

The room filled with incense smoke from a cup while Ximenes made offerings to the four directions — north, east, south, west; the audience of 23 participated in the rotation and individual blessing by fanning the smoke toward the back of their neck.

“One of the reasons I invited Linda Ximenes is because she acknowledges those indigenous roots. Oftentimes we don’t talk about that,” Dr. Lisa Ramos, Mexican-American studies program coordinator, said. “As Mexicans, we say we are Mexican but what does that mean? So in the MAS classes we talk about that.”

Representatives from Palo Alto’s MAS program attended the event to show support for this college’s.

“It’s very exciting,” said Arturo Valero, art sophomore and president of MAS at Palo Alto. “It’s interesting to help another college get started with their MAS program.”

The MAS program at this college is seeking students to start a student organization.

“This class is empowering,” Valero said. “Once you start studying the culture, you just want to learn more.”

To join this college’s MAS student organization, visit Room 100 of Chance.

Actors from the upcoming play “Adelita” performed a stage reading. The play was written by Mariano Aguilar Jr., English and MAS professor.

The play will take place at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3-5 and 10-12 at the Josephine Theatre. For more information, call 210-885-3405.

The party got started when six musicians entered the room, a group called El Tallercito de Son, which translates to “the little workshop.”

Son Jarocho is a genre from Veracruz, Mexico, that combines African, indigenous and Spanish influences.

Lead singer Keli Rosa Cabunoc clopped her blue heels against a wooden platform while the band strummed their jaranas — small, guitar-shaped instruments — to a song titled “La Morena.”

The act of stomping is used as a drum beat for the music, a tradition that started over 500 years ago when the colonists banned drums, Cabunoc said. This was a way to continue a drum beat without using a drum, a dance called zapateado.

“We use Son as a way to build community and as a vehicle for social justice,” Cabunoc said. “We call ourselves “artivistas.” We’re artists and activists.”

The band got the audience involved by teaching the zapateado dance, instructing the guests to stomp twice, raise hands and turn in place. Grown-ups and children alike giggled as they attempted to follow the dance steps.

El Tallercito de Son hosts free workshops at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday at San Anto Cultural Arts, 2120 El Paso St. The group has a Facebook page, El Tallercito de Son SATX.

“The majority of our population is of Mexican descent,” Ramos said. “We want them to learn about their own family history and about the history of this community that was founded by people of Spanish, indigenous, African roots.”

The MAS center is open 8 a.m-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and can be used as a home base for program majors and a meeting area for the student organization, Aguilar said.

For more information, visit the SAC MAS Facebook page.

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