November Update

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Salt Water will be undergoing more edits

With all of what’s happened during the past few weeks it’s been difficult to keep myself together with my work, but here are a few things that’s happening or that are scheduled to happen this month.

  1. I moved to a new location – we’ve known that I’ve been looking for a new place to settle down and I’ve finally found one that I’m incredibly happy with.
  2. While I haven’t had much time to sit down and work, the few moments, hours I’ve had to do so I’ve realized that I’m not happy with the final cut of Salt Water and will be working on the edits once more. Once I’m incredibly happy and super satisfied with it, I’ll release it (thank God I didn’t release it already!) and submit it to film festivals, and later on upload it to my YouTube Channel.
  3. I’ve started to think of the perfect way to edit the pilot for the Silent no More docu-series. I do need a bit more footage, and do some additional recording myself – then it’s going to be perfect.
  4. There’s an upcoming surfing event (the Saturday after thanksgiving) and I’ll be covering that for the No Boundaries X Magazine – a publication that focuses on extreme sports and healthy lifestyle here in Puerto Rico.

What’s going on with the Film Festivals?

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Forced into Silence is still competing at Film Festivals! 

So, I’ve been waiting to hear from the 11 festivals I’ve submitted Forced into Silence to and while I’ve been accepted to one – and voted to win the Best Documentary award for that festival, there are other festivals that the film is still “in consideration” and others that have already rejected it. Why? Well, I don’t know, since they don’t give explanation for their decisions. I’m thinking it could be anywhere from the fact that I used Google Hangouts (because of budget restrictions) to make most of the film happen or the topic of choice of the film – again, I don’t know. However, I’m still hopeful that it makes the cut for those other festivals it’s still in consideration for. I also keep on getting invitations to submit to festivals. It’s all confusing and exciting, so I’ll keep you guys posted on that as I am informed of decisions, invites and more.

Political postings and rants

It’s been a tough couple of few weeks for me and my fellow liberals – and although I’ve never made a posting about politics, the results of an election, but I felt that this was more personal than any other election. I’ve been accused to be part of the snowflakes that are too delicate to deal with a real Presidential candidate by those in the alt-right – to which I say: “I’m too progressive to regress to segregation, religious registration and prevent a possible genocide of any kind” therefore I made a post about how I felt the political outcomes of both countries I’m directly involved with affected me personally.

Moving forward…

20160802_163946I’m putting together a group of amazing people in order to launch a podcast for those who need to hear about how to take on challenges in this world. So many people come up to me and confess to me their admiration for how I deal with issues in my life and ask for advice and that has inspired me to make a podcast to give people a new perspective as to how to see and deal with issues in their lives. I’m often told that I put things in a viewpoint that perhaps they would have never thought of – and maybe the podcast will enable me to help people that aren’t just my friends. Right now it’s an idea, so it’s going to be a while before I get that off the ground and running – still, stay tuned!

And since it’s November, happy holidays to everyone out there!

Fear and hate; the real winners of the 2016 Elections

November 8, 2016 – a historic day that determined the path of the modern world. A day that revealed the truth of the people in one of the world’s most coveted, admired countries – a day where I knew, for sure, where I stood as a woman, as a Latina, as a human.

For a while now I’ve seen how the first world is slowly moving towards the inevitable 3rd global war, and for that time I’ve often told myself that I am just imagining things, that the face of America I’m seeing is a figment of my imagination, that Americans are smarter than to elect someone that will surely damage the progress the country has made during the last eight years. That Americans will surely never regress to the racial tension, segregation, and violence that during the 1950’s…I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Today, November 9th – I think that there is a great possibility that I might see a sign that my father once saw when he was stationed in Louisiana during basic training for the US Army – a sign that read “no niggers, no dogs, no porto ricans’ in that order.

What happened in Puerto Rico?

Fear is what happened.

As the results for the next governor of the US territory invaded my television screen and radio airwaves, I witnessed the push towards a different path my fellow islanders and I are so desperate for, as more voters chose the independent candidate Alexandra Lúgaro, who earned a record 11.11% (a total of 172, 882) of the votes – unprecedented, un-thought of for a candidate of this kind, it wasn’t enough for her to win. However historic this was, ultimately fear of letting go of big brother won; leaving the politically inexperienced and ever-redundant Ricardo Roselló, the candidate for the Partido Nuevo Progresista – PNP (New Progressive Party) with a 41.76% (a total of 649,569) of the votes, making him the governor-elect of Puerto Rico.

Disappointment. Still, I know that while Puerto Rico is very set in its ways and is extremely slow to change, if I learned anything from yesterday is that change is going to happen. Independent candidates like Lúgaro and Manuel Cidre (who earned an equally historic 5.72% (89,051) of the votes – making that double the amount than the candidate for the third primary party, Maria de Lourdes Santiago, who ran under the Partido Independendista Puertorriqueño – PIP (Puerto Rican Independent Party) and walked away with 2.13% (33,173) of the votes – proved that. The results show that we are, in fact, tired of the partisan government and pushing for a major change. We just need to push harder.

The meltdown of the United States Democracy

From the island, a place where my permanent residency has been established about 4 years ago, therefore stripping me of my right to vote for the President of the United States – those who “own” this island – I watched as the mainland shifted, and revealed my greatest fear: Trump winning the Presidency.

I need to stop for a moment and ask; what really did win last night?

From where I’m standing, I saw hate, racism, degradation, sexism, and the encouraging of gender, sexual orientation and religious persecution win. From where I’m standing, I saw elitism win. I witnessed as racial divide made a reappearance. From where I’m standing all those who voted for Donald Trump under the pretext of religious beliefs, all of those who voted against corruption (or ‘crooked Hillary’), all of those who were desperate to find a solution to the economy while trying to create more jobs in the US, along with the excuse that they were fed up of the same failed promises of previous and current candidate(s) – I saw you all vote against the hundreds of millions of people who are part of your own country. I saw as you voted against immigrants, both legal and illegal, I saw you elect a man who has a tragic history of business management, a fraudulent record, and a bully a rapist, a bigot, a man who has bragged about physical and sexual assault – I saw you elect that man into office with a great deal of sadness in my heart. I saw as you praised the Lord for giving you the  man who has outsourced hundreds of thousands of American jobs to cut costs, and thinks is smart to commit federal crime (tax evasion) as President.

As I watched his campaign earned more and more followers, and saw him encourage violence, assault, hate – I saw you cheer him on, while letting him get away with the violation of women, the verbal abuse of the disabled, and heard you continuously label him as what “God chose” to lead Americans into the next four years of your and our history. With my heart is still broken, I am not surprised that this is who you truly are. In the face of Donald Trump I see all those people that denied me opportunities because of my gender, because of my race, because of my weight or all of the above. I was reminded that as people often think of the United States as the land of opportunity, it has been the land of opportunities for me to realize that I, and millions of others like me are nothing to Americans. I just didn’t think that any of the people that I once considered my closest friends saw themselves properly represented by this man. Then again, we really don’t know who our friends are. We never really know one another…

For those who voted for Trump because you wanted to vote against Clinton, you ultimately voted against me. For those who voted for Trump because you saw in him your Christian values, you voted against me. For those who voted for Trump for any other reason, you voted against me, against the LGBTQ community, against the right to choose, against women, against opportunity, against social, gender, and pay equality, you voted against freedom – you all voted against anything that is different than you.

You elected hate, racism, segregation, deportation, censorship, and lynching – if you’re of immigrant parents, you voted against them and their life’s sacrifice. If you are a minority, a woman, Asian, Muslim, Black, Latinx, a member of the LGBTQ community, disabled, poor and voted for Trump you, my friend, voted against yourself and your basic human rights. If you elected Trump with the hopes of him bringing back jobs, making “America Great again” think that this is a man who cares not for the welfare of the people, he is a beneficiary of the Dakota Access Pipeline – one that contaminates water, violates treaties and sacred lands – you voted for regression, not progression.

Because of you, millions of lives are now at risk.

October Update

There is so much to tell about these past few months!

Let’s start with the most exciting; after working on a film for so long it was selected to be a part of its first festival, which did well because the overall rating for the snippet shared on Get Indie Wise came up to a 9.2 on their 10 score scale. I’m really excited that people want to see this documentary and voted for it. It’s truly heartwarming, humbling and overwhelming to see that while some producers might not see the value of a story, the audience does and that’s what really matters to me – to any filmmaker I know really.

Furthermore, I began filming on the docu-series Silent No More in the first episode I speak to James Landrith, who has made incredible things as a speaker and writer about that one horrific time a woman raped him. His declarations are compelling and I can’t wait for you to hear him. I also include an interview with William Murray, a theology student who is focusing his thesis on criminal behavior and how we, as a society, can change the way we educate ourselves when it comes to aggression, sexuality and religion – all of which are the three main causes of harassment and/or crime in my opinion. It’s going to be a real treat for you to see the series. The goal is to really explore the topics I mention in Forced into Silence, which because of time restrictions couldn’t really go into it – because that would have made a 10 hour film….and no one wants to sit through something like that…also that’s what series are for!

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In other (short) film news, I began….and completed shooting Ocean Therapy and changed the films name to Salt Water (<<< click to see the preview) – I thought the latter had more “oomph” and would be more poetic and direct at the same time.  Salt Water is the second installment of the environmentally themed trilogy of short documentaries that began with Forever Boogies. The short runs about 33 minutes long and features interviews and snippets of the work done by two of the most amazing people I know. Yesael Rivera and Lisandra Baez are setting out to change the world they live in and by working with children with Autism and Down Syndrome through their free clinics/lessons of body boarding, stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and skateboarding.

Baez, a former physical education teacher and athletic director in Dorado was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2009. Still, she competes in may SUP events, recently winning first place in women’s division in Rincón.  Rivera, a former Olympic qualifying and Central Olympic swimmer, is coming up with some amazing proposals for coastal safety as he co-directs an innovative non-profit in the North-Central area of the island. It’s a great film filled with anecdotes, positivity, inspiration and how the ocean is providing so much for people who find themselves with so little.

In other news, I have come to work with a fun magazine called No Boundaries X Magazine; it’s a new local publication that focuses on extreme sporting, athletic development and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and environment. It’s a lot of work, but it’s enjoyable.

I have to admit, being the managing editor and social media manager for the magazine, as well as a filmmaker, caregiver and business woman…it’s satisfying, but also a lot of responsibility and at times a bit overwhelming. Wherein comes scheduling in order for me to make everything I need to make happen…well, happen. I like working at the magazine because I get to see how people are improving their lives through their efforts, and their passions are contagious.

Although I work incredibly hard, I make sure to take time for myself. To recharge, to disconnect from all the things that, while amazing, they can be stressful – so I go out to the beach and ride some waves, or take a dip or two after I cover a coastal event. This is part of making sure I don’t lose my mind, or how I usually say it ‘lose my shit’ – I have so much to do and I’ve been neglecting other things (like making diaper bags for one of my best friends and her husband because they just had her first child) – but that’s okay, because I still have time to make these things. I just have to make it fit my schedule (hahaha).

Also, if you follow me regularly, you might have noticed I took out the Patreon page for donations. Why? Well, because no one was pledging and it was annoying me – so I took it out after closing the account. I understand the economy is bad, and that’s okay.

FiS’ First Film Festival!

forced-into-silence-official-posterI am extremely excited to announce that my passion project, Forced into Silence, is part of the Official 2016 Selection of the IndieWise Virtual Film Festival!

This is a unique sort of festival, it’s virtual, so that enables anyone can see the films from wherever they are in the world! With that said, I need your help to bring my film up to a popular status, and therefore further build an audience for it.

 

Please go to: https://getindiewise.com/xjJK36Y5ra and vote for my film – it’s easy to sign up, it’s also free and not only will you get to see the sneak peek of my film (I only included the first 1:30minute because it’s still being considered for other film festivals, and I didn’t want to get rejected for streaming on a digital platform) but, you’ll be able to see other amazing films from all these great emerging filmmakers!

Please help my film and its story make it! I thank you all for your support

Weightless

I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe the feeling of being in the ocean – yesterday, I interviewed someone for my next documentary on using the ocean as a form of physical and mental therapy and he used the perfect word to describe it “weightless”. He went on to describe how he felt as being superman, as if he were flying on water – a sensation that he’s never experienced before.

It reminded me of the first time I went on the water – how weightless and at home I felt. As I was completely submerged in the ocean, I felt the earth hug me and kiss me. Nothing else has made me feel quite at home, or at peace – not even hiking excursions or dips in the rivers. It’s the ocean where I feel most at home.

Because of this feeling, as well as the feeling of rejuvenation that each beach trips leaves me with I started to wonder; how would this make a child with autism feel? How will a child with Down Syndrome, ADD, ADHD, and more – because I needed to ease my curiosity I went to see how kids with these ‘learning disabilities’ benefited from being in the ocean, even if it was for a day. The results were outstanding. I saw children who were incredibly anxious in the morning to tirelessly smiling, cheering and hugging as soon as the water kissed their toes.

According to CoralReefSystems.org “Creatures found in coral ecosystems are important sources of new medicines being developed to induce and ease labor; treat cancer, arthritis, asthma, ulcers, human bacterial infections, heart disease, viruses, and other diseases; as well as sources of nutritional supplements, enzymes, and cosmetics. The medicines and other potentially useful compounds identified to date have led to coral ecosystems being referred to as the medicine cabinets of the 21st century by some, and the list of approved and potential new drugs is ever growing.”

So, why aren’t more people looking towards the ocean as a form of therapy? Why aren’t we taking better care of our oceans, when we can benefit in so many more ways than just economically? These, and many other questions, I decided I was going to try to find answers to, by asking the right people in my next documentary. Yesterday I began filming the first interviews.

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Yesael Rivera says that being in the ocean makes him “feel like Superman”

Yesael Rivera, a kind, soft spoken student of biology and physical therapy agreed to be a part of the film – he spoke about his passion for swimming (he is a former Olympic-qualifying swimmer), helping others and how he balances his day job, studies and his volunteer work. His weightless feeling in the ocean, coupled with his love for nature and conservation is part of what keeps him motivated to work with children and people who suffer from any ailment. It has been his experience (which is similar to mine) that the ocean provides the necessary tools to open up a persons’ mind, heart and soul to be able to improve physically, mentally and emotionally.

These, and many other benefits of the ocean is what I will explore in this unique film that I’m sure you’ll all love.

In the meantime, I will go on filming and feeling weightless, and much like AquaWoman – because in the ocean is where I know life continues. Even while we, as humans, try our best to destroy it – it evolves, it heals itself, it thrives and is ever constant.

Film Festivals and more!

After 5 years of production to finally be able to hit “render film” brought tears of joy and an incredible sense of accomplishment, completion and pride for my determination to complete Forced into Silence and have sent it off to festivals!

As of today, Forced into Silence has been submitted to 10 international film festivals!!!!  (festival locations are: UK, EU, US and Mexico as well as virtual/online screening) – Although it was “disqualified” for one of the fests, I’m still really excited about this and hope that it gets picked up for at least 2 festivals!!! Furthermore, I’ve written a 32 page screenplay that I’ve sent out to 2 screenplay/film fests! So that’s even more excitement! Even if the film gets picked up by just 1 of these festivals, I’m confident that it will help many people – men and women alike when it comes to victimization and learning how to deal with the aftermath. 

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With that said, I’m starting this another and even more ambitious project to further explore the topic, while setting up a platform for those who feel ready they can speak about their experiences with boys and young men. The project (a 13 episode docu-series) will feature interviews with men who have been victimized and have turned these traumatic events into a tool that can help others. Example of which, is the amazing James Landrith – rape survivor turned speaker, writer and overnight manager for RAINN.  Landrith was raped by a woman when he was a young 19 year old Marine – this event was traumatic and, as any traumatic event should, left a lasting impression on him (you can learn more about it in this Huffington Post video).  After 18 years of the event, he decided it was time to speak about his rape and let others know that this does and can happen to men – more importantly, that women are capable of rape as much as men are.

While this is a sensitive aspect of rape that many people still struggle with, and I fully understand why since women have been perceived for centuries as the “weaker sex”. Often portrayed as the victim, the defenseless person attacked by the mean man who wanted to violate her, take possession of her body and quite possibly kill her. Never, unless it’s in a Lifetime movie, is a woman seen in any other light. So speaking about men being abused, assaulted and/or raped by a woman has caused an incredible amount of backlash to me and my work. One thing I want to make clear is, I AM NOT BASHING MY OWN GENDER, I am being the feminist that is looking for equality – namely in the areas of the law that punishes perpetrators for their crimes and helps and protects victims.

With that said, my next project, Silent No More, has already begun filming!

The idea of this series is to further explore the issues presented in Forced into Silence and also serve as an outlet for victims, former victims, and their loved ones to seek help, solace and understand what’s happening.

Screenshot 2016-08-17 16.07.22Along with a great interview with James Landrith, the pilot episode will also feature a second interview with NYC tour-guide turned actor Bryant Mancebo, who appears in Forced into Silence. I wanted to bring him on the series to speak about his career, how being a survivor of partner abuse influences the choices he makes in roles and what he hopes he can do with his career as an actor to those men who are or have been abused by their partners and more. I believe this is a great choice for a pilot – once it’s completed it will be submitted to festivals for consideration and shopped around for producers, networks, financiers, etc.

For those of you who are wondering about it – I haven’t forgotten about my environmental projects! I’m working with a special group of people that are informing me on the best possible ways to film Beneath the Waves, location wise as well as another short documentary with some amazing people that are doing some incredible work. So, with all this, I have my work cut out for me.

I’ll keep you posted with the news about the festivals, and further project developments!

Meet me, the Boricua

Mom 005I was born in New York City, Spanish Harlem, el barrio – in the early hours of a December morning in 1978. There had been heavy snow fall the evening/day I was born – almost a snow storm. My mother from was from Guayama, my father from Vega Alta. Went to New York to live with their parents who brought them there for better opportunities, for a better life…

My first words were in Spanglish…my first steps were taken in a post-war walk-up railroad apartment in Harlem. I learned how to go potty in New York, but I really learned how to be myself in Puerto Rico, where my parents brought me and my siblings to escape the increasing violent life in New York.

My father came down to the island first, searching for a home for his family. It wasn’t long before I arrived with my mother and two siblings to Vega Alta, Puerto Rico. I was four years old. I remember it being a few days before my birthday. I didn’t know any Spanish. The house seemed so big, with its large marquesina that lead to an open laundry room in the spacious backyard. A huge kitchen, and each of us had a room of our own – unlike the Manhattan apartment on Schomburg Plaza where I had to share a room with my older sister, no. I had my own room, with my own closet, my own door.

Soon after I was in school, with kids I didn’t know, speaking a language I didn’t understand much. I hid behind my mother every time someone approached me and asked my name. She’d answer for me. I didn’t speak much, to anyone. Until I met a boy – he was kind, he was cute and soon I was writing our names inside a heart, mine + his por siempre but…I was the “American” the girl who wasn’t from the island. I figured that as time went by, they’d come to accept me as their own…

ballerina meThen my mother took me back to New York, where I became quiet again, placed in English as Second Language (ESL) classes because my shyness was misunderstood for learning disabled. It was hell starting all over again. Still, there was something I was used to hearing; kids in school would tease me, I was too dark, too fat to be pretty, I was too Puerto Rican, with my braided pony tail, my bright colored clothes. Then some people in my family started taunting me, I was too dark for their love, I was too fat to be anything but disgusting…I was too dumb to be anybody in life. I was, as they would try to imbue; unlovable, disgusting, going to amount to nothing.

A few years later I came back. Again, I was the American – this time, because of a forced diet I was slimmer, but that didn’t last long. My Spanish was wrong, my skin was a bit more acceptable until the tropical sun began to give me the dark tanned complexion that so many white women desire. My hair was out of control. I was once again the outsider. I remember starting the second semester of the fifth grade nervous. We had to stand up and sing La Borinqueña followed by Mi Viejo San Juan those were our pledges of allegiance, our star spangled banner – It took me a month to learn the words. Once I did I was proud of myself, happy of being back in the warm weather, back to the place where I could go to the beach and swim in the ocean every day…but that day, as I was standing there, with my hand over my heart singing my little heart out – I see a boy turn around and tell me “you can sing this song, you weren’t born here, you’re an intruder” my heart broke, but I still sang. Tears running down my chubby cheeks, my frizzy hair surely smoking from the fire that was burning inside me…

That same semester, I tried out for the school choir. I was told I wasn’t ‘aesthetically pleasing” and couldn’t be a part of the choir, even though I was the strongest singer. They picked all fair skinned girls who had straight hair. One of them looked at me apologetically; she knew they were wrong to not pick me. I unregrettably felt happy when the choir didn’t do so well.

As years passed and I grew, I was teased for many things. I wasn’t La Shawn, no, I was the Americana. I was also the younger one of my siblings. The fat one. I was the one with the weird nose. I was always described as the dark-skinned, big nosed, frizzy haired, uglier and younger sister. I could hear people call me the weird one, the strange one, the girl who sneezed funny, who walked funny…the girl who talked funny. I was the one who people would sit behind so they could copy their English exams from. I was the girl who was just too fat to be seen with, but pretty enough to kiss by the water fountain that was at the volley ball court.

Deep inside, I was the Boricua, the one who wanted to make the island a better place.

Although, as time went by I made some really awesome friends, I was still mostly the me 1992outsider, the one who didn’t quite fit in. I wasn’t really Puerto Rican, because she wasn’t born in the island…didn’t matter if she grew up here. Strangers would tease me by saying “go back to New York” or tell me that my Spanish wasn’t good enough, even though I spent most of my life in the island…speaking Spanish…I had even forgotten how to speak English for a time.

Then, I graduated High School, and a year after I left to New York. Culture shock hit me like a ton of bricks. The warm sweet breeze that filled the nights of the melodies of coquies were gone. In its place were blaring sirens, stench of urine and trash, people screaming in the late night. I was home sick. For days. Months. Years even. But I had to make it, I had to be someone, I had to prove everyone wrong…right?

Then again, I was the outsider. The Puerto Rican girl. I’d speak and people were surprised, why did I sound like a white girl? Maybe it was gone because I watched too much Full House, period films, and had amazing English teachers…still I didn’t say anything, I just bowed my head and worked. I had to learn how to change my language depending on where I was living. One way during the day, another by night, I desperately wanted to fit in…until I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care if I was too fat, too dark, too white sounding, too frizzy haired, too Island-y, too anything. I just wanted to be me.

For years I lived in the shadow of what people labeled me as. Too fat, too ugly, too dark, too dumb, another statistic. It was breaking me. I didn’t feel I was worthy of love, of my dreams, of life. It took me 25 years to figure out that I didn’t have to conform to anything that anyone dictated for me to be. 25 years…a hung over morning and a silent cry for help on an unusual quiet morning in New York. That’s when I became free. When I became the Boricua I am today; the Puerto Rican who celebrates her soul with each passing day. I celebrate the soul that yearns for the ocean, but the rapid pace of the city. I celebrate the soul that loves the warmth of the sun, but also the coldness of the winter. Because that is who I am.

_MG_0155Although I am more than comfortable with who I am, in fact, I love who I am – what I look like and the color of my skin. Many people still aren’t sure what to make of me. I’m still deemed as the foreign one and urged to return to the states because I won’t be able to find work opportunities here. No matter how many things I do to show my fellow islanders that I am invested in life here, I can’t seem to be Puerto Rican enough for many people – still, I don’t care.

I was having a conversation the other day with someone and they told me not to worry, that I’d become a “Boricua” to others once I make a huge accomplishment, like win an Emmy, Golden Globe or Oscar…that I’ll be an “orgullo Boricua” when I find success outside the island, like Lin Manuel Miranda, Rita Moreno, Gina Rodriguez, and now Monica Puig and Laurie Hernandez..but to do that, to become “Boricua” to others I’d have to leave here…because here I’d continue being the outsider that’s over qualified, that’s probably too fat to put behind the camera, much less in front of one. Even if I’ve done amazing work as a writer, director, editor. Here, I’d still have to deal with people telling me to improve my Spanish, even if it’s fluent – because it sometimes sounds funny – regardless if those few times I do sound funny, it’s because I’m thinking in two languages….

I’m urged to leave, to go somewhere else, to find success, and probably never come back because there’s no future here for people like me. Who are ambitious, smart, determined, proud (but in a quiet way) and now, finally, pretty, with amazing hair…but still a bit overweight.

Screenshot_20160705-123029For those who are still here, who are still reading, I want you to meet me, the Boricua. Because I am, a BORICUA – I grew up falling asleep to the sound of the coqui, woke up to the smell of tropical grass. I’ve spent my a-day during my childhood eating quenepas from the trees, picking mangoes, caña, fishing for sweet water shrimp and blue crabs. I’ve walked barefoot on the roads, and roller skated down the flooded streets of Vega Alta. I survived hurricane Hugo and a few others during my younger years. I kissed my first boy here in Puerto Rico.  Meet the Boricua who never gives up, even when people tell her to – because she will never be good enough. Meet the Boricua who loves her island, even if the people in it don’t love her, and often show disdain for her foreign side. Meet me, the Boricua who’s made documentaries about the people who work so hard here. Has showcased my beautiful beaches. Meet me, the Boricua who hopes to start an art school, a free clinic, and other wonderful projects here in the island. Meet me, the Boricua, who is currently struggling to make ends meet, but still has the heart to keep going – because one day, I’ll make sure that people know that I am from here, from Puerto Rico, from Vega Alta, and that I’ve loved this island – even if I often times feel like it doesn’t love me back. Just meet me, the Boricua en la luna, en las estrellas, en el mar, en el sol…Boricua en mi alma y corazón. Conóceme, La Shawn la puertorriqueña, la negra gorda que habla raro.

In my heart, I will always be Boricua…even when I don’t scream “wepa”. Meet me, the one who knows that everything she has done, does and will do began in the house, en el sector de bajura – más abajo de Machuchal en Vega Alta, Puerto Rico. The house that Hector (Paito) got and Isabel (Cuky) made a home. Meet the Boricua, who dreams about learning languages, and visiting the world. Meet the me, the Boricua, who isn’t supposed to sing La Borinqueña, but still does – the Americana who doesn’t know the words to the Star Spangled Banner and isn’t ashamed to admit it. Who’d rather sing Mi Viejo San Juan than recite the pledge of allegiance.

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