By Ruben Hernandez
East Los Angeles College students received a taste of Mexican culture when the Cinco de Mayo celebration continued through the week.
Cinco de Mayo is a traditional event commemorating the Battle of Puebla, in which the Mexicans fought the French for the occupancy of Mexico in 1862.
Headlining the event were musical performances and customary dances honoring the various provinces of Mexico.
ELAC’s child development center kids took the stage first, dancing to the folkloric rhythm from the regions of Michoacán, Jalisco, and Sinaloa.
Young children scurried toward the face painting section, soon to return with various forms of colorful patterns decorating their faces.
Irwin Garcia, who was in charge of organizing the children’s dances said, “This type of event is a great way to explore identity and the most impactful way is through dance”.
Many students here at ELAC can relate to these traditions and customs that go as far back as Meshica tribal times.
The sun, motherhood, and warrior dances were performed by the Aztec group “Xipe Totec”, who gallantly moved to the beat of tribal drums and indigenous flutes.
Mexican flags decorated the S1 and S2 courtyards on campus. The green of the flag represents fertility, white represents peace and red signifies the blood of the warriors that died for their people.
A section for the Chicano Studies Department handed out information regarding Chicano heritage and the programs that are offered to students on campus.
Stands selling authentic Mexican drinks or “aguas frescas” such as Jamaica, horchata, and tamarindo flavors to name a few.
The smell of tacos and grilled corn on the cob lingered throughout the festival as the other bands arrived.
Playing classical salsa from the late 19th century to the early 1940’s, Domingo Siete performed a number of melodies derived from the island of Cuba.
Leading up to the final performance by the norteño group, Los Pochos based out of northeastern Mexico. They played classical love ballads which are known as corridos, and they are commonly revisited in today’s younger generations.
Angelita Romero was the head organizer of the event. She said: “As long as I’m here at ELAC I will continue this tradition by celebrating our culture. It brings the community together and exposes them to where they came from”.
This event would not have been possible without the contributions of Dean Sonia Lopez, funding by Oscar Valeriano, and the sponsorship of ELAC’s Associated Students Union (ASU).
Cinco de Mayo, and other cultural celebrations, continue to become more difficult with impediments connected to budget cuts and lack of funding for the departments of ethnic studies.