While New York City had the Annual Puerto Rican Parade, Newark was producing its own historic celebration of the Island history. “Arecibo (ah-re-SEE-boh) is the oldest village and has been continuously inhabited in our history and is the second oldest city in the Americas, after Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic,” said Felix Rosario, president of the foundation of Arecibo, which is celebrating it 500 year anniversary next year. Founded in 1515, Arecibo is the largest city in geographical size on the island. Located in the Northern Coastal Valley region, adjacent to karst zone characterized by the presence of caves and wooded hills. Arecibo is bordering the Atlantic Ocean, north of Utuado and Lares; east of Hatillo; and west of Barceloneta and Florida. The city is bathed by two rivers, Grande de Arecibo, which runs through the middle of the city and the Tanamá River.
In 1508, Juan Ponce de León founded the original settlement Caparra (named after the province Caceres, Spain, the birthplace of then-governor of Spain’s Caribbean territories Nicolás de Ovando), which today is known as the Pueblo Viejo sector of Guaynabo, just to the west of the present San Juan metropolitan area. A year later, the settlement was moved to a site then called Puerto Rico, Spanish for “rich port” or “good port”, after its similar geographical features to the island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands.In 1521, the newer settlement was given its formal name, San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, in honor of John the Baptist, following the tradition of christening the town with both its formal name and the name which Christopher Columbus had originally given the island.
The ambiguous use of the name San Juan Bautista and Puerto Rico for both the city and the island led to a reversal in practical use by most inhabitants: by 1746, the name for the city (Puerto Rico) had become that of the entire island, while the name for the Island (San Juan Bautista) had become the name for the city of San Juan.
Approximately 1500 years ago the Arawak people of South America started to migrate northward into the Caribbean. In Puerto Rico they became the Taino Indians, translated as “the good people” in their language. During their religious, tribal and ceremonial activities, they were known to smoke cohoba, a hallucinate that “inspired” them to carve what we know today as petroglyphs. Petroglyphs were created on rock surfaces by incising, pecking, carving or abrading. The word petroglyph is derived from Greek “petros” meaning stone and “glyphein” meaning to carve. Petroglyphs are the most predominate form of rock art, found all over the world from many different tribes.
The city has one of the worlds largest observatories. The Arecibo, Arecibo Observatory is a astronomical observatory, which is one of the world’s most powerful radar-radio telescopes, and the largest single-unit radio telescope in the world. This instrument, inaugurated in 1963, employs a 1,000-foot (300 meter) spherical reflector consisting of perforated aluminum panels that focus incoming radio waves on movable antenna structures positions about 500 feet (168 meter) above the reflector surface. The antenna can be moved in any direction, making it possible to track a celestial object in different regions of the sky. It collects radio astronomy, terrestrial aeronomy, and planetary radar data for scientists around the world. The telescope was featured in the movies GoldenEye (1995) and Contact (1997).
On June 8th, The Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce foundation, presented it 1st annual Cultural Affairs Presentation commemorating San Juan Baustista, the island of Puerto Rico, at the Newark Museum. Steven Kern, the CEO and Executive Director of the museum greeted guest mainly of Puerto Rico descent, in Spanish, welcoming then to New Jersey largest museum and informing the audience that the museum is their home too”.
The Mayor Luis Quintana, also greeted the crowd, about the importance of knowing one culture and heritage. The even t was organized by Micheal the “Don” Rodriguez. Mr. Rodríguez became the Deputy Mayor of Community Affairs under Mayor Kenneth Gibson. Throughout his civic career, Mr. Rodríguez became a founding member of the Puerto Rican Lion’s Club (the first Puerto Rican chapter in New Jersey), the Communication International Marketing Award (CIMA), and the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce of Essex County, where he currently serves as chairman.
The band from Arecibo, came to Newark from Puerto Rico to celebrate the upcoming 500 year anniversary of Arecibo. Algareplena, the name of the 12 piece band, is made up of young band players, that have a contemporary interpretation of a fusion bomba and plana. Bomba and Plana are music played in the region of Arecibo.The band utilizes several tambourines, maintaing the rhythm, while the saxophone and the steel drum provide the melodically tonality of the dance.
Bomba is described to be a challenge/connection between the drummer and the dancer. The dancer produces a series of gestures to which the drummer provides a synchronized beat. Thus, it is the drummer who attempts to follow the dancer, and not the more traditional form of the dancer following the drummer. Bomba also is composed by three or more singers and a solo singer, the singing has a dynamic similar to those of “Son” where the lead singer sings a chorus and the other respond, and in between choruses the lead singer will improvise a verse. The theme of most Bomba songs is every day life and activity, Like the case of a certain song called “Palo e Bandera” that talks about a love triangle between a female dancer, a female singer and the singer’s husband the “Primo” player. The wife realizes her husband is cheating on her with the dancer and decides to teach her a lesson on the dance floor
Bomba the marginalized black music of Puerto Rico miraculously survived and has come to hold a special place of dignity and community expression for Puerto Ricans on and off the island. The elegant Bomba is the most African of Puerto Rican artistic genres, and the Plena – with its labor roots – has risen to truly represent the Puerto Rican working class in unrivaled fashion.This particular style of music originated in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico amongst the slaves who worked the sugar cane fields. These slaves came from different regions of Africa so they could not easily communicate with each other but they found common ground in music. As opposed to the Blues in the United States, Bomba was not a form to express the sadness or the troubles of their life but a way to escape from those problems. With the migration of these slaves to different regions of the island Bomba was practiced in different regions of the island each giving their personal twist to Bomba music, for example in the region of Ponce they play with larger drums than other regions that are played by placing the drum completely horizontal. After a few years songwriter Rafael Cortijo introduced Bomba to the Concert Halls by arranging it with brass instruments and more simple rhythm patterns, today Bomba can be found anywhere on the island and in fusion with different styles like Jazz or Salsa music.