This year’s theme of the Banco Popular Christmas Special, “De Puerto Rico Para el Mundo” focuses on the very relevant topic of the Puerto Rican diaspora.
The diaspora is a relevant topic because the number of Puerto Ricans leaving the island in recent years has skyrocketed due to the harsh economic situation, highlighted by the well-publicized $70 Billion government debt.
“De Puerto Rico Para El Mundo”
The Banco Popular Christmas special takes us through the story of the early Puerto Rican diaspora of the 1930’s to 1950’s, which migrated mostly to New York City (Spanish Harlem and the Bronx), and the more recent diaspora which settled mostly in Florida. Other migration destinations are also included, like Hawaii, which I had no knowledge of the Puerto Rican community leaving there.
I found this Banco Popular Christmas Special to be very well made, as attains a good balance of telling the story of the Puerto Rican diaspora with a well-mixed soundtrack of songs by veteran and younger artists.
The diaspora story is told through interviews to various artists, celebrities, and even regular folks, addressing different points of views from the folks that have been involved at one point of their lives with being Puerto Ricans living outside of Puerto Rico. The diaspora topic clearly focuses on the Puerto Rican case, but is clearly relevant to any Latino migrating to the US from any Latin American country.
One nice detail included this year, perhaps because of its relevancy with this year’s topic, is that “De Puerto Rico Para el Mundo” is, as far as I can remember, the 1st Banco Popular Christmas special that includes subtitles for the spoken word, so that it can be enjoyed regardless if the viewer’s 1st language is English or Spanish.
Soundtrack of “De Puerto Rico Para el Mundo”
Following the trend of the Banco Popular Christmas Specials of the last couple of years, the music included in the special has continued to evolve into a more varied mix of musical styles, with emphasis in fusion and alternative Latin music. Yet, there’s a little of everything.
Although I personally preferred the music of the early specials, only because it was mostly Salsa, Christmas songs, and bohemian pop, I understand the natural evolution to include the newer musical trends played by the younger generation of Puerto Rican artists. The producers of the Banco Popular Christmas specials have done a great job of managing this musical transition.
The creativity is abundant in the soundtrack, particularly in the arrangements of classics songs like “Un Verano en Nueva York”, “I Like it Like That”, “Lamento Borincano”, and “Bomba Para Afincar”. The fusion of rhythms in these songs is masterfully done, and well executed by the singers.
Also, as I briefly mentioned above, the mix of veteran established artists with younger up-and-coming artists is very well balanced, sometimes even pairing older and younger artists in the same song, like in “Quien No Se Siente Patriota” (by Andy Montañez and Zona de Bomba), and the classic El Gran Combo hit “Un Verano en Nueva York” (by Miranda and rapper SieteNueve).
“De Puerto Rico Para el Mundo”: A Good, Well-Produced Christmas Special
Banco Popular is in the right track with their latest Christmas Specials, and “De Puerto Rico Para el Mundo” continues a positive evolution of them. I enjoyed the mix of the diaspora history and stories, with the songs and mix of veteran and young artists. Some of the younger artists I did not know at all, which means I’ll be keeping an eye on these young talented Puerto Ricans.
Over the 23 years the special has aired, Banco Popular created excellent quality specials as well as some not so good, almost cheesy ones. The last few years, Banco Popular has taken a new approach to the Christmas specials, producing shorter and excellent Christmas specials.
The topic of the diaspora is one that focuses on Puerto Ricans, and as someone said, Puerto Rico is not just an island in the Caribbean but a nation spread-out through many places around the world. However, I believe the topic of the diaspora in this Christmas special touches all our Latin American brothers that live in the US or elsewhere.
“De Puerto Rico Para el Mundo” is worth having in everyone’s collection, in addition to the fact that the soundtrack makes a good playlist.