EL CENTRO – On Friday, March 24 Imperial Valley National Latina Organization MANA (short for sister in Spanish) invited the community to take part in an evening of music, food, poetry, and cultural awareness at the Old Post Office Pavilion in El Centro, now known as the Imperial Valley Casa de la Cultura.
“The City of El Centro is extremely grateful for MANA of the Imperial Valley to select this venue as an opportunity to pioneer this event; as you can see, there is a lot of fun that is taking place here. The Casa de la Cultura is an opportunity for us to preserve culture,” announced El Centro Mayor Alex Cardenas.
At 6:30 p.m. the doors opened and tables full of treats and libations ranging from kabobs and sliders to water and wine provided a free-spirited ambiance for people to interact during the meet and greet portion of the festivities.
Mariachi Mixteco played traditional Mexican ballads as attendees sang along and became settled. A saxophone solo rendition of Solamente Una Vez quieted the spectators while the blaring trumpets during the performance of Guadalajara energized the feet and hands of the eager poetry participants.
Before the poetry readings commenced, MANA was presented with a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the city of El Centro for its involvement in the empowerment of Latinas and for improving Latina women throughout the community in terms of service, leadership, and advocacy opportunities.
“I want to thank MANA of Imperial Valley for bringing awareness to Empowerment opportunities for our Latina young ladies here in our community,” added Cardenas.
The first reading of the night was by Maria Carrillo Martinez who read Angela’s World by Barbara K. Bassett.
“I selected this poem because it focuses on empowerment,” said Martinez.
Sandra L. Jackson read next and selected the classic Phenomenal Woman by the famous poet/activist Maya Angelou. Juanita Salas also opted a piece by Angelou called, Still I Rise.
A Chilean piece written in Spanish called Besos by Gabriela Mistral was read aloud by Alicia Huerta who left the audience fanning themselves after the passionate performance.
Following the Latin lover’s poem, Ed Snively utilized satirical humor with his selection of The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service to cool off the hot crowd with a bit of comic relief.
Rosio Ramirez read the Spanish poem Volveran las Oscuras Golondrinas by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, an irony about the efforts and results of preparation and pre-emptive expectation.
People Come into Your Life for a Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime written by an unknown author was selected by Yuli Alonso Garza.
“This poem is important to me because it talks about the different levels of friendship,” Garza explained.
Maria Carmen Favela and Rebecca Terrazas concluded the readings with two thought- provoking works of art in Poema Del Alma by Manolo Galvan and It takes Courage by Anonymous.
Proceeds from MANA membership fees go to a Leadership Academy Program geared toward funding local young ladies from junior high and high school to visit college campuses in hopes of attaining personal development and future college and career planning skills.