Author Archives: pvaladez

The fear of COVID-19 and the Police

Abstract: The Corona Virus pandemic has caused a lot of confusion in turmoil as people were suddenly ordered to return to their homes and not be allowed to roam the streets unless it was absolutely essential. This worried people such as JP and he began to hear rumors from students on campus saying they’d been pulled over by the police while in Downtown and told to return to their home or else they’ll be fined. Other’s heard they were giving tickets if you roamed near public places. These rumors are analyzed below. 

Background: JP is a Mexican America from Florida and currently lives in California and like all of us, he’s been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He is a University of Southern California student who studies Engineering. We were discussing the pandemic occurring across the world and the tight restrictions Los Angeles implemented to minimize the spread of the virus. We discussed how he was doing living near campus and any issues coming up due to it. He mentioned how he heard cops were pulling over people on the streets for being out of their homes.

P: How’s living in your apartment going? 

J: Dude it’s pretty weird like I’m the only one here right now and you know me I like to cook so I put on my mask and I drove to ralphs to pick up some stuff to cook and I heard people in line whispering that the police are apparently pulling people over for being on the streets? I was shocked at hearing this and I kept listening in on their conversation. They kept saying how the police might even start doing runs through freeways and just block off the ramps and only let you on if you have a valid reason. 

P: That’s a ridiculous man like what if you have an emergency or something? That’s not going to happen.

J: I know it sounds absurd but its the possibility of it happening you know? Like at this point it feels like anything can happen I mean look just a few weeks ago you and I were working on Homework in a study room just worried about our Engineering Midterm and now we’re stuck worrying about another midterm and this pandemic. This is not the way I envisioned us finishing our junior year. 

Clearly there is a lot of skepticism going around due to this unknown virus and pandemics are a great way to spread fear and rumors which will continue to stir the pot and cause more panic. Rumors such as these seem to be spread to keep people in their homes and away from the public so they don’t spread the virus to others. On top of this, these skepticisms are effective methods of keeping in people in check but also in a state of shock due to their lack of detail and origins. This pandemic has made it really hard for people since it keeps them thinking of what the risks are of leaving their homes. If they leave their home, will they encounter a cop or will the be exposed to this new Virus? This is a risk people are taking just to sustain themselves with essential goods such as food and toilet paper.  

Story of Saint Juan Diego

Abstract: The story of Juan Diego is one of the more known stories in the Catholic faith and by many Hispanic families as well. His story has influenced much of the paintings and illustrations of our lady de Guadalupe. Juan Deigo first encountered Mary who is the lady of Guadalupe while walking to mass one day. This encounter occurred in a vision where he saw her and he was asked to build a shine on a hill outside of Mexico city. In the end, the Bishop was convinced after seeing a mural of Mary on Juan Diego, and a large shrine was built for Mary. This story resonates with H because she has a painting of this mural in her family room where it’s constantly viewed.

Background: H is a student at the University of Southern California who’s experienced this traditional ceremony from her transition into womanhood. She’s lived in California her entire life and is a first-generation American and her family keeps many of their traditions from Mexico alive in her life.  She believes that the way her Quince was conducted is very traditional but also has a few twists that are uncommon to the format. The topic was brought up during lunch while discussing our family roots.


P: Well I want to know more about the picture you have in your living room, is there a reason for this being here or is it just for show? 

H: That’s a photo of our lady de Guadalupe and it has a lot of history and roots tied in catholic religion since he’s the saint who found out what she looked like through a couple of interactions and one big one. 

P: Tell me about the story of this saint.

H: Ok, Juan Diego was a dude from Mexico near Mexico City and was one of the first non-Spaniards to become catholic and join Catholocism with his wife. So one day he was walking to mass and then he had this vision that he was talking with Mary mother of Jesus. He was astonished by this so he went to the Bishop about this vision he had and how the mother mary told him to build a shine for her. I think it’s pretty weird that she’s like build me a shine. (laughs) 

Juan Diego then left the place of the bishop and was then encountered by the mother Mary again and he explained to her how no one believed him so Mary instructed him to walk on the hill and collect the roses in his robe and bring them to the bishop. He traveled to Tepeyac hill with the flowers and then returned back to the bishop. He dropped the roses from his robe and everyone was in shock because a mural of Mary was on his robe and that’s where we get the illustration from. They quickly built the shrine after that and in Mexico City, they have the original robe which Juan Diego wore to prove the Bishop wrong. We have that photo in our house to pray to and to remind us of the Catholic faith. 


From this story, it shows that the catholic faith means a lot to this family and many others with this mural in their home. Not only does it remind them of the story of Saint Juan Diego but it also acts as a constant reminder of their roots how where their religion stems from through these selfless acts of preserving the faith by building shrines to important Biblical figures. H heard of this story from her mother when she was younger and continues to hear about this story when she attended high school and during lent. H doesn’t recall how long this story has been in their family but she knows that her grandma told her mom this story. She assumes its been for quite a while. She’s also heard this story told at church and at her high school.

The story itself seems very skeptical in some sense as it relies heavily on miracles and random chance. At first Juan Diego is mentioned to be one of the first natives to turn to the catholic faith which is important because it contradicts the real idea that a lot of the natives of Central America were against turning to the catholic faith so this willingness may have been used as a way to entice others to do the same. Finally, I find it weird that the mother of Jesus is requesting to have a shrine built for her near Mexico city but later it was found that this shine is meant to hold special powers when it comes to healing and a higher rate of miracle granting compared to others.

Saci: The Brazilian Prankster

Abstract: A description of a Brazilians view of the character known as Saci-pererê. He is a one-legged short creature with dark skin who smokes a pipe and wears a red hat. He is the Brazilian prankster who is said to cause chaos when he teleports in and out. One of the key iterations told is his red cap is said to have a bad scent with doesn’t fair well. Other aspects that were mentioned about the trickster is his willingness to cause little harm to day to day life such as teasing dogs, releasing farm animals and cursing essential items such as chicken eggs to prevent them from hatching.

Background: MC is a Brazilian currently living in Florida and is a student at the University of Southern California. She’s an advocate for Brazilian culture and expresses it by speaking highly of their myths and legends and even partaking in the semi-religious activities such as wearing bracelets with powers to grant wishes to the wearer. She describes one of the few stories heard from parents when she was younger and details it below.

The legend

P: So tell me a legend that’s been with you to this day

MC: Ok so there is this character that I remember known as Saci and he was like a mischievous little guy who always wore a red had only one leg which I thought was so weird. He also had this red hat which when he wore it allowed him to disappear and then reappear and the thing was every time he did this, he caused a small tornado to appear like a dust devil I guess. 

P: So he’s like brazils version of the Norse god Loki? 

MC: Yeah exactly he’s like the Loki in the marvel movies except he bothers all of the locals and enjoys it too. Like what I heard is he tends to mess with your crops and stuff and ruin your day so people try to catch him and contain him to keep him from annoying the hell out of you 


My understanding of this character really came down to the parallel between Loki and Saci. It seems like he was a character commonly referred to when things went wrong in brazil such as MC made the comment that there was a phrase people said where it went like, “Saci must’ve been here again.” He seems like a great example of a Brazilian Oikotype seen this type of personality has been interpreted into other cultures like Norse Mythology or the Brazilian version of a Leprechaun. It was also mentioned that the story of this character was told by slaves and adapted in a way to scare both the children and fellows members. It seems like this character was a great influence on the culture as a way to explain certain phenomena which they had no explanation for so Saci was a great answer to the question of who released my animals or why there are small tornados across the land.

Pele: Volcano Goddess

Abstract: The goddess Pele also known as the Volcano goddess is a trickster since she favors testing the kindness of people by transforming into an old lady and seeing how she is treated on the Island of Hawaii. Depending on the response, Pele will either protect your home from a volcanic eruption or destroy it. Pele moves depending on the Volcanos active on Hawaii and she currently resides on the big island which explains the Eruption which occurred a few years ago on the island. A volcano is only active when Pele wakes from her slumber. 

Background: DM is a student at the University of Southern California who is a native Hawaiin and grown up with many Hawaiin tales to explain how her place of living came to be. She finds great interest in the history of her island She grew up her entire life in Hawaii and with that, has heard a lot of folklore. After reading about famous Hawaiin Folklore, I saught to ask her about what she knows about her Island and its origins.

DM: Ok there is another person which I’ve heard of named Pele and she’s the goddess of the volcanos around the islands. She’s typically asleep but when she wakes, a volcano will become active but she also moves around like right now she’s hanging out on the big island which is where the volcano erupted a year or two ago. I don’t remember exactly when it erupted but there was footage of people’s homes either being spared by the lava or being consumed but it and that’s because those people were either good or bad to Pele. She finds this out by turning into an old woman and walk among the people to test who will be nice to her and who will anger her. That’s why she either spills lava on people’s homes or leaves them alone. As you can she has like a short temper and is easily agitated and she’s very deceitful as well so good thing she’s not living on my island right now. 

P: So what does she look any different from other Hawaiin women or is she very blended in with those around her? 

DM: She’s untraceable like you can’t tell if she’s there or not so you have more reason to be nice to everyone around you because you might make a volcano goddess mad.


It seems fitting that a volcano goddess has a hot head and is easily ticked off by people’s actions or how she is treating when she is tricking the islanders. The Hawaiin people personified one of their most powerful threats which are the volcanoes, a looming threat that seeks to destroyer but also creates more land for the natives. Pele turning herself into a which seems like a very common trend in many stories such as snow white or Beauty and the best where old women represent treachery and seek to cause chaos toward a person or a group of people for their own personal benefit whether it be the enjoyment of others suffering or punishing those for their misdeeds. Pele is an example of a goddess who gives and takes to those depending on how she is treated. Pele seems to be more than a myth because her story also comes with a lesson. Treat those who are older and wiser than you with respect and goodwill come from it such as protection and learning of secrets that may guide your own path. 

Notch. The game with consequences

Abstract: The game is one where caution is always good when around people who know how to play. The game involves a group of people with no limit and all it takes if for someone to speak in absolutes meaning if someone says they’ll do something such as I want to eat this bowl of rice right now, someone int he group must say notch and the person who made the claim must eat the bowl of rice of shave off part of their eye. The possibilities for this game extend to many phrases both good and bad. 

Background: JL is an amateur gamer with a plethora of experience in the gaming community. He’s 20 and lives in Florida with one of his favorite pastimes is joining up with his friends and talking about some experiences he’s had when talking with his friends on different programs. One encounter he tested the game I’d shown him from USC which takes the name notch. This game essentially dares a person to perform the task they said they would or shave off a part of their eyebrow. The talk is described below. 

The game in action. 

JL: Alright dude lets keep playing this game. Dude if we keep up this losing streak then I’m going to dunk myself in my bathtub. 

Person 1: Notch!

JL: o my God no way dude. I don’t want to shave my eyebrow crap. Ok fine give me a few minutes. 

*After 15 minutes of waiting JL shared a video of himself dunking his head in the tub and shared it with all of us. At this point his eyebrows were spared.*


This game is very satisfying as long as your not the one being called on. The main part of this game is the humiliation aspect since all of those in our close group have an implicit vow to be playing the game as long as we’re together. Especially when everyone we know that knows the game is together. JL pointed out that he noticed people weren’t making many phrases or saying tasks that could be used against them. He said maybe soon we should put the game on pause so we can all continue to enjoy talking more again without the fear of the game looming over our heads.