With guitar in hand, Dorian Cruz, a native of Yauco, describes the Puerto Rican charm, where “wave” and “wind” combine to fill his people with memories.
The 13-year-old singer-songwriter shares his theme “We are from here, we are from there” as a hymn to his land, but also to his dreams that extend beyond the mountains of the town where he lives in the southwest of the Island.
From the same municipality, Ignacio Pintado García, preserves a centennial family legacy: its La Montaña coffee farm, one of the largest in the Caribbean territory. Grains have permeated the family tree since the time of your great-great-grandfather.
Although With Hurricane María, Puerto Ricans lost approximately 90% of their crops, the storm failed to take away the love of the crop that continues to harvest at more than 3,000 feet high, for a higher quality.
Not far away, the footsteps of Emmanuel Caraballo Quirós stand out, nicknamed the “sexy canoeist”, who despite the storms and earthquakes, also decided to insist on the business that his mother started and his father continued.
Today, he is known for his visits to various parts of the municipality on Saturdays and Sundays to sell the traditional cones with ice and syrups such as raspberry and ice cream until the specialty, the “Melao de mami”.
Even further south of the island, in Guánica, an area seriously impacted by the shocks of January 2020, biologist Darien López Ocasio tells of the challenges faced until she became the director of the State Forest of said municipality and of the Forest Firefighters Unit of the Department of Natural Resources. The once keeper of the manatee Moisés rose to the Nobel Prize winners in Stockholm in 1992 by representing the Inter-American University and Puerto Rico in the presentation of the prestigious award.
His native-born and self-taught carver Wilzen “Cuco” Pérez González joins the chain of self-improvement and entrepreneurship with the creation of his Three Wise Men in wood. The veteran of the United States Army took up the tradition, but from a horse-drawn carriage.
From their respective fields, all “are Puerto Rico.” Their stories touch the heartstrings and connect Puerto Ricans inside and outside the island in the same closeness as if the borders were just an imaginary line.
At the same time, “We are Puerto Rico”, the new special project of GFR Media, seeks to promote small businesses and self-management from the communities, making visible the efforts of its inhabitants in 10 towns on the island, two for each geographical area: Guánica, Yauco, Naguabo, Ceiba, Aguada, Moca, Loíza, Manatí, Jayuya and Barranquitas.
An informative balance between national and local
The initiative has also served to capture local stories that for different reasons have no place in daily coverage.
“Convert our national newspapers, which are El Nuevo Día and Primera Hora, into regional newspapers for two weeks, because we work stories that the national newspaper usually does not have time at times, nor resources, nor people who can be in a small town perhaps seeing the very specific needs of the communities, from what is seen daily, to meet the people and the characters of the towns, because we are focused mainly on the metropolitan area and the stories of national interest ”, explained the deputy director of Primera Hora, Ana Enid López.
Two reporters from both publications of this leading print media company in the country are assigned to spend a week in each of the selected towns to capture stories that show not only the intrinsic faces of the place but also the needs of its residents.
“This project wants to highlight all the tourist attractions that the towns have, but in addition to that, it seeks to boost the economy, the small industries. I began to take stock of the towns that I had seen, where there are many beautiful things to see, but where they need our help, ”López added, who as a personal project decided to visit the 78 towns in the midst of the pandemic.
The selection of Guánica and Yauco for the first reviews was no accident. The editorial decision seeks to mark from the outset the newspaper’s commitment to the demarcations most affected by past earthquakes.
“What we were sure of from the beginning is that we were going to start with the southern zone, in this case, they are Guánica and Yauco, because they are the towns that most needed help after the earthquakes. So starting with Guánica and Yauco was important for us to establish what the mission of this project was, which in addition to bringing a tourist vision of how beautiful Puerto Rico is … is that we were going to do to positively impact the people of that town ”, the journalist added.
It all started with a cigar
However, the foundations of the project go back to February of this year with a chronicle about the Caguas cigar craftsman, José Gabriel Cruz Ayala, which Pedro Zorrilla, chief executive officer of GFR Media, editorially encouraged.
The owner of “La Hoja del Chan” told the newspaper his battle to expand the cigar brand beyond its town in the central east of the island.
The story that began as an exhibition of the skills of Cruz Ayala and his wife, Liz Janice López, in the artisanal tobacco industry ended up becoming a tool of economic empowerment for the family to the point that they began to sell their product at the Luis International Airport. Muñoz Marín, in Carolina.
“Without planning, you come across people that you can help in many ways. This is how I met the couple who created the La Hoja de Chan cigar brand, some young people with all the desire to make the best possible product and serve their customers, but with the need to have access to the Government, banks and systems of promotion and publicity. Through the publication of a report, the New Day and First Hour gave this family a boost and it is there that our interest as the main media of the country was born, to reaffirm our commitment to Puerto Rican entrepreneurs, both in the Island as in the diaspora ”, explained Zorrilla about the impact of the newspaper article.
The project manager also highlighted the importance of “We are Puerto Rico” as tool to expand coverage on local issues that impact these island towns.
“For more than 50 years, GFR Media brands have been intertwined with our communities.s. We have lived the news alongside the people. The stories embodied in our brands are a reflection of what this beautiful island is. With Somos Puerto Rico, we are reaffirming the intention of maintaining this closeness to local issues that impact our peoples, ”stated the executive.
“We are Puerto Rico fills us with enthusiasm because it is an opportunity to highlight the determination and potential of the Island and its people even in the midst of the great challenges we are facing as a country. We encourage you to connect to access this valuable content and to submit your suggestions for locally recognized stories and characters, places we must visit and situations that need to be addressed, ”he continued.
“We are Orlando” is in the crosshairs
In that sense, López anticipated the possibility of expanding the project to cover stories in key areas of the Puerto Rican diaspora such as Orlando, Florida, a city that many classify as the 79th town of Puerto Rico.
“You know that we say that Orlando is the 79th town of Puerto Rico due to the number of Puerto Ricans, so we have even talked about the possibility of doing “We are Orlando”… it is something that we have been talking about that can happen. Somos is a word that encompasses the whole world, so wherever there is a Puerto Rican, we are. So our aspiration is that through our pages and social networks, where there is a Puerto Rican, that flame of pride of being Puerto Rican lights up, that we have not forgotten the people of their town, and that they also want to return and do tourism here ”, explained the deputy director of PH.
Soon, both in the printed version of Primera Hora and in that of El Nuevo Día, the stories of Naguabo, the third town to be reviewed, will be published. Similarly, readers will be able to browse the stories of that and other municipalities under the vertical “We are PR” at the top of the web pages of both newspapers.
Various multimedia elements complement the stories
As part of the coverage, the digital versions include multimedia material such as aerial images from drones, very much in keeping with the adventure tourism that has become popular in the country.
“Likewise, it happens to us with the inns, which is no longer the hotel. People are looking for experiences. For example, in Yauco, we did a story about a girl that the mother had some wagons on her little piece of land and she was not going to use them, and she transformed those wagons into an Airbnb that has been a success … “, said the interviewee.
“It is another type of tourism that many people are looking for, which is, as I said, an experience. From you to spend a quiet weekend, to reconnect with yourself, and that is the type of experience that we are also giving projection. They are people who are trying to move their business forward, but they may not have the budget to make a mega advertisement ”, he pointed out.