Time (or ‘Tempo’) Recovered | OP-ED
Juan Ramos, the older brother of the better known Pedro —his younger brother, and neighbor of AL DÍA in our corporate home for 10 years in downtown Ph
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Juan Ramos, the older brother of the better known Pedro —his younger brother, and neighbor of AL DÍA in our corporate home for 10 years in downtown Philadelphia— was, to say the least, paradoxical.
We could say we “knew the man,” his dear wife, Ana, and his daughter, Anita— plus the community he attempted to organize through electoral politics in North Philadelphia, home for him and his multiple ramifications of relatives here and the island of Puerto Rico.
The Ramos are ‘a clan’ we documented for 3 decades, via photography, words— way before the overestimated VIDEO came to be a disruption in our former quiet moment of reflection that was the simple act of laying down our eyes on somebody else’s thoughts, left for posterity in the symbols these written characters are.
The photos of Juan, and about Juan —his moments of exultation, and moments of defeat— were captured by the hundreds with dexterity by photographers, the most prominent, El Maestro David Cruz, and his Peer, Maestro in Editorial Design, Yesid Vargas.
All along the decades of Juan Ramos’ public career, as local union leader, city council member, and sidekick to several Political Leaders in our beloved city.
Not to say, the Natural Leader he must have been at home, where he most likely was as well the Father, the Older Brother, the Dear Friend and Enlightened Son to the oldest Ramos, Mr. Juan Ramos, Senior, the I— his Father, a humble man born like in the ‘Island of Enchantment’— “La Isla del Encanto”, Puerto Rico.
Juan was “Phillyrican”, an entrenched native of Caribbean blood, but cold and exacting northeastern disciplines. Better —in their proud opinion— than ‘Nuyuoricans’, who call themselves the inhabitants of the “Real Island of Enchantment”, the extended strip of land called for 400 years as “Manhattan County”— formerly ‘New Amsterdam’ for the original European settlers in the 17th Century.
Juan was a child of that historic evolution, from Joe Feliciano, to Cheo Feliciano, to the “inolvidable” Héctor Lavoe, then famous composer and singer of pinging and stingy voice “Tu Amor Es Un Periódico de Ayer” (‘Your Love is Yesterday’s News’).
As the classical song lyrics resound in the cavities of our head, Juan’s life was “spectacular” when at first he came up to the visible public eye’s surface, as a “Young Lord”, and Union Leader and also fighting candidate form the PA State Representative in the State Capital, Harrisburg, of his own urban turf.
He failed, as he probably did— in many other instances not known to us.
Like his partially known feud with former City Councilman Angel Ortiz, the Columbia University New York Rican Trained Lawyer who was signed into a Council Seat Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode gave via Executive order when a vacancy came up.
Juan tried to dislodge Ortiz from the Philadelphia City Council next, and he finally prevailed in the year 2000. After several attempts, “he made it”, during the now forgotten “John Street Years”— in the first decade of our Historic city’s 21st Century, which suddenly brought Pedro to be the youngest Chairman of the Philadelphia School District.
Juan Ramos was synonymous with “El Barrio”, “La Esquina”, the imagery of the Urban reality of the Puerto Rican and Latino evolution of North Philadelphia, before it became, Upper North Philadelphia, where the pages of AL Día were first born, to South Philly, Lower and Far Northwes—, not to mention Downtown, Chinatown, and West Philly where Dominican Grocers and Mexican Tacos Places Owners and dwellers keep their demographic sprawling that has been a key ingredient of Philadelphia rebirth in the past 75 years.
Juan is to us the “Search of our Time Lost” —to borrow from French Classical Masterful Marcel Proust—, and for those of us who, in the upper echelons of life, rather call “Time (or ‘Tempo’) Recovered”, which is the final volume of Proust’s enormous Literary masterpiece.
Only one sentence comes to mind, fluttered by yet another Boricua friend in U.S., Mr. George Herrera, brilliant Corporate Board Member and former enlightened reformer of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, speaking in an AL DÍA Power Lunch.
We need to overcome the “Quítate Tú Pa’ Ponerme Yo”, as the Old Salsa Song’s Line drums in our mind, to the rhythm of percussion, and compressed air instruments from the Caribbean.
Gabriel García Márquez used to talk about the “Caribe”, as a state of the Soul of the millions of Human beings, born or raised from the Gulf of Mexico shores all the way to Bahia in Brazil, in the enlarged Mediterranean of our Emisphere, the Americas— ‘Americae’ in the original in ancient Latin Language, name of the smart sea explorer of Italian Origin, Mr. Américo Vespucci, whose names German Monks picked to draw and name the map of the “New Continent.”
Juan was “Caribe” all the way— nostalgic, profound, reflective strategist in electoral politics, but also a tender father, obvislusly tender but also a disciplinarian older brother, and noble son and neighbor he was.
What language did he speak?
Allows to venture this hypothesis:
...Evolved, Bare-Knuckled, Rolled Down by the Punches’ New Way of Speaking…
Sometimes, in Writing, in this porous English Language, in which we have ended up calling “U.S. Spanish” n the AL DÍA shop.