The meaning of “Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month” for the Indonesian Diaspora

Every year, the U.S. community commemorates Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month, or Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15. It is a month to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The Indonesian diaspora also celebrated it with their families from the Hispanic community.

Many important dates are commemorated during Hispanic Heritage Month. September 15 is the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries, from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, to Nicaragua. Meanwhile, Mexico and Chile celebrate independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. In addition there is also Columbus Day or Día de la Raza every October 12 to commemorate the first landing of Christopher Columbus on American soil.

People of Hispanic descent in the US commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month with cultural performances (photo: doc).

People of Hispanic descent in the US commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month with cultural performances (photo: doc).

Before the pandemic, Americans usually enliven Hispanic Heritage Month with various activities, ranging from art performances, cultural festivals to parades. At school, a number of teachers introduce books written and illustrated by Hispanic and Latino writers and artists. Young people are also enthusiastic about inviting friends and family to enjoy food and drinks such as taco, empanada, mole, paella, margarita and mojito while enjoying Latino music and songs.

The Taco food menu is a popular Hispanic cultural heritage in the US (photo: illustration).

The Taco food menu is a popular Hispanic cultural heritage in the US (photo: illustration).

Agustina Lumban Gaol, who lives in Austin, Texas, has a husband of mixed Hispanic and Vietnamese descent. This Hispanic Heritage Month, he celebrates with the community at his church with a variety of Hispanic specialties. There are several things that he thinks are similar to what he found in Indonesia. For example, spicy flavors, costumes, dances and kinship in Latino culture, which are like Indonesians too.

Agustina and Eugene Villarreal's family eat together (photo: courtesy).

Agustina and Eugene Villarreal’s family eat together (photo: courtesy).

Alexander Riyanto married a woman Mixteca Oaxaquena, one of the indigenous tribes of Mexico. He has lived in Mexico for 7 years, and has twice attended Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month celebrations in the US.

To Mouab, the man of Javanese descent who has a 4-year-old son revealed a number of similarities with Indonesians in that they still stick to their native culture wherever they go. For example, the Javanese with their gamelan, the Balinese with their dances or the Minang people with their Padang cuisine.

A Javanese-Mixteca family in front of a small town hero statue in Oaxaca, Mexico (photo: Alexander Riyanto).

A Javanese-Mixteca family in front of a small town hero statue in Oaxaca, Mexico (photo: Alexander Riyanto).

“Hispanics are like that too. He who feels modern will bring his Mariachi (Mexican band). Then the Aztecs will bring traditional dances, such as dances to exorcise demons,” said Alexander.

At the beginning of last September, said Alexander, the Indonesian people in Mexico collaborated to make dishes by combining the basic ingredients of dishes from the two countries. This event is to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Chile En Nogada, Mexican food.

Hispanic Heritage Month also marks the contribution of the Hispanic community to the US economy. According to the Pew Research Center, there were 62.1 million people of Hispanic descent in the United States in 2020, up from 40.4 million in 2010. California, Texas and Florida are the three states that saw a population increase of more than 1 million people of Hispanic descent over the past year. the last ten years.

Many Hispanic people work in the construction sector.

Many Hispanic people work in the construction sector.

The role of multiracial communities is significant in the world of work. Among other things, they work in agricultural fields, explains Hana Pangestu, an Indonesian diaspora in Austin, Texas. This mother of one child, whose husband is of Hispanic descent, is actively fighting for the equal rights of migrant workers.

“Here, because there are still many who are not legal, sometimes they don’t have the right to be able to get enough salary. Like (at work) farming. Here, a lot of things are actually harvested by illegal immigrants, because many Americans don’t want to work in agricultural fields because it’s very very hard work,” said Hana.

Baptism with the family of Eugene Villarreal-Agustina Lumban Gaol (photo: courtesy).

Baptism with the family of Eugene Villarreal-Agustina Lumban Gaol (photo: courtesy).

Both Agustina and Alexander hope for a better future for their son who is part of the Hispanic community.

“I hope the child is more successful than the parents. The child will definitely choose his own future. We can only support,” said Alexander.

Agustina doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of some Hispanic families who don’t instill Hispanic culture too deeply in their children for fear they won’t blend in with Americans. Agustina tries to keep her 4-year-old son from regretting like his father, who speaks neither Spanish nor Vietnamese.

“So I asked my husband’s Hispanic family. I said, if you can help my child, even though he is still small, teach Hispanic culture to my child,” he said.

Hana Pangestu, who is now able to cook tamales according to family recipes and directions from her in-laws, hopes to fight for equal rights for immigrant workers and access to vote in elections for members of the Hispanic community who have become US citizens.

Equal rights, equal pay at work. To vote if they are legal and if they have become citizens in the US, they should not be made difficult to vote in elections,” he hoped.

The observance began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. President Ronald Reagan later expanded it to 30 days in 1988. Hispanic Heritage Month was established by law passed on August 17, 1988. [mg/uh]

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