What do a priest, a singer and a teacher have in common?

This post is one of those that some readers will love while others might dislike. Yet, it is a topic that one must know about, regardless of cultural background, political beliefs or religious affiliations.

Just so that you, the reader, understand my fascination with this topic I have to share some of my fondest memories growing up in Puerto Rico. I must have been around six years old when I spent most of the time at my abuela Can’s house. As you can imagine there was always people visiting, coffee brewing, cooking, talking, cleaning and most importantly, music playing. The music of choice, particularly if my aunt and uncle were home, was Salsa. Fania All Stars, Seis del Solar, and El Gran Combo are the ones that first come to my mind.

I personally always liked Rubén Blades, as the lyrics of his songs stuck in my mind as they told stories. I didn’t quite understand their meaning yet I memorized every single word. This was the case of the song “El Padre Antonio y su Monaguillo Andrés.” It tells the story of a priest and an altar boy who were killed during a Sunday mass. Pretty tragic, but the beat of the song is so sabrosa (delicious!) that it was hard not to dance to it, and sing at the top of my lungs every time it came out on the radio.

Little did I know back then that it was based on a true story. It wasn’t until 1989 when the movie Romero was released that I understood the significance of the message in this song. The story turned even more meaningful to me as the main character was played by the late Raul Julia, in my opinion, one of the greatest actors ever born in Puerto Rico.

Back in February this year, the story of Oscar Arnulfo Romero was suddenly trending in the media. Papa Francisco had officially declared Archbishop Romero, a martyr of faith, therefore initiating a beatification process. I couldn’t be happier when I heard the news! Finally, after so many years we get to openly talk about the life of this man who has been such an inspiration to many. The television show “Aquí y Ahora” conducted a newscast report on the topic. See the link below:


Coincidently, this semester in New Jersey City University, the Modern Language Department held an International Film Festival. I seized the opportunity to share the film “Romero.” As part of the activity I created an interpretive task about the song “El Padre Antonio y su Monagillo Andrés” enclosed below. The task was designed for adult students at the Novice-Mid/High proficiency level of Spanish. It might be suitable for high school students as well.


Politics and religion are always difficult topics to tackle in a classroom. However, this story speaks so much about by background and upbringing that I couldn’t help to turn it into a Spanish lesson. At the end of the day, it is the stories that we tell that are remembered. My students might not recall a word in Spanish in a few years from now, but hopefully they will always remember what Romero, Rubén Blades and I had in common. The richness, history and love for our Spanish-speaking culture are part of what bind us together. If at the end of the day I’ve been able to spark the curiosity of my students or turn a negative perception into a positive one, I consider my job done.

Hasta pronto,


Copyright © 2015 Ericka Collado
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