Cultura, Familia

From Tepeyac to Hacienda Heights

I was raised to be a Guadalupana.

This happened long before my parents met at the youth group at Assumption Church. I’m pretty sure it was before Mamá Toni learned to pray the Rosary or Grandpa made dad and his siblings kneel down to pray the rosary every night.

But I don’t know that far back. I just know that my affinity for La Virgen is undoubtedly influenced by my elders. My parents and grandparents rise at dawn on el Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (or the Sunday preceding the 12th of December) to go pray and sing Las Mañanitas with other devotees at church. Mom typically dresses up in traditional clothes. Dad always takes his guitar as he’s part of the church choir.

When I was a kid, I slept through the early morning prayers, but would not miss 8 a.m. mass and the subsequent party at our home parish, St. John Vianney. Like my mom, I’d dress up in traditional clothes for mass, which was packed more than usual with hundreds of Guadalupanos. The church might have been more full than on Easter Sunday. Mass on la Virgencita’s feast day was festive. A mariachi would come and play “Las Mañanitas” as well as other songs like “La Guadalupana” with the regular choir. Aztec dancers would offer up their dance in the aisles and at the foot of the sanctuary. Sometimes there was even a reenactment of the story of la Virgen’s apparition to Juan Diego. There was no way I would nod off with sleepiness on la Virgen’s feast day.

After Mass, we’d proceed to the party at the O’Callaghan Center for delicious food, more music from the mariachi and dancing with my folkórico group.

I’ll be up early with my parents and grandparents tomorrow.

I miss the celebration.


2 thoughts on “From Tepeyac to Hacienda Heights

  1. visiGöthe says:

    I grew up in HH, graduated from Los Altos, attended the Mormon church next to St. John’s Catholic Church; I am UCLA alumni as well and I came upon you website by chance as I was looking up an incident that occurred in 2002 in the parking lot of St. John’s church. I was reading some of what you have written re life in HH. I can’t help but be offended by your use of the term “raza” which really it is just the Spanish equivalent for the word RACE. Why is it OK for you to use that divisive word and not be branded a racist? On that note, I don’t understand what’s happened to my old neighborhood. I moved to Santa Monica in 2001 unfortunately my mother still lives there god knows why. It is saddening to see the old Alpha Beta store (later a nice enough Ralphs) being replaced by some unknown Spanish name grocery store which looks filthy and smells disgusting. You grew up there yet you don’t seem appalled by the ghettoization of a once lovely neighborhood. So lovely in fact that Back to the Future was filmed at the Puente Hills Mall. I cannot even take my daughters to the park because of the large groups of Hispanic men assembled there at all hours casting lascivious looks and whistles at almost anything resembling a female, they do this even to my 13 year old daughter. Kwis was my local park, I played basketball with my brother and friends there, my daughter had her first birthday party there and today it looks more and more like a gathering place for people with nefarious purposes; more McArthur Park than suburban L.A. County. No one seems to speak English at all. Do you see this as progress?

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