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.  

A Modern Quinceañera

Abstract: The Quinceañera also known as quince is a huge milestone in Hispanic culture as it is the right of passage for a girl to become a woman. This is the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday and the meaning behind it has been adapted as time goes on. Initially, it was a ceremony to show that a girl is ready for marriage and to travel the path of motherhood but the ceremony now is more of a transition to dating. The ceremony consists of a few customs such as the girl attending a mass with their godparents and family witness the transition. Later at the dinner, a waltz is performed as a formality and the changing of the girl’s shoes into heels.

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: So tell me about an event that you think defines your culture and has influenced your growth.

H: My Quince! It was so much fun but it definitely wasn’t as traditional as some would have one of those was I didn’t wear the big dress because my parents wanted to surprise me with a large celebration so that would’ve ruined it and also because of this I didn’t have a chamberlain or a court but we did do a dance my family and myself and it was a lot of fun. Some of the traditions we did follow were we have a mariachi come to my house and play in the backyard and we did attend a mass to stick with the traditions of a quince. We also had a beautiful cake and we had a small ceremony where I put on heels to show that I’m growing up. It was so much fun being with my family. 

Interpretation:This seems to be a fun example of the modernization of a popular tradition where some of the key distinctions are preserved but some of the more outdated elements are omitted from the day. For example, the big dress which is meant to show that a girl is flowering out into a woman wasn’t required for her party since she went with a more mature modern dress which still has the same effect of showing a girl growing up. Second, she didn’t have a small court but rather she spend her time with her family which just shows that women being escorted by men is a bit outdated, and rather the party should show the enjoyment of being in the company of your family. However, the essence of her culture was maintained since she had her whole family with her and they ate a traditional Hispanic dinner while listening to cultural music. For more information of Quinceanera visit this source: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Quinceañera.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 12 Aug. 2019,

The Mythical Plant: Kalo

Abstract: A mythical plant that is known as Kalo in Hawaiin but as Taro in English. This plant is named after mother earth known as Papa and the Sky Father Wakea which are two of the most important entities in Hawaii. This planet is a great delicacy for the people of the island and is known as the Polynesian people’s most diverse plant since it was able to feed all ages. The story of the son of the two deities was Kalo in fact and he was stillborn so his parents decided to bury him in the ground. The burial of their sun brought his mother to tears which hit the soil where he was buried and a plant began to grow where he was buried. 

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. Unfortunately, she doesn’t remember when she first heard these stories After reading about famous Hawaiin Folklore, I saught to ask her about what she knows about her Island and its origins. 


P: So tell me about some of the foods or ingredients of the food that you think is significant.

DM: There is a plant that many Hawaiin finds to be important and also used in many delicacies, Kalo. Kalo is the origin of Hawaiin culture it feels like such as there is this lau lau where people roast a pig that is wrapped in Kalo leaves. If you pull the Kalo plant from the ground its root is very nutritious and used to make this paste known as Poi and its purple. This plant has a bigger significance than just being a widely used ingredient, its also named after the children of two entities which are Mother Earth and the Sky Father, Papa, and Wakea. They have some kids and one of them is named Kalo and this child died right when he was born which is so sad. Papa then buried the child and cried after she finished burying Kalo. From her tears, it added nutrients to the soil, and the plant known as Kalo grew. 


Kalo is the physical incarnation of nature and being a person of the earth. This myth shows the importance of Nature to the Hawaiin and how they personify all of its elements in an effort to protect nature. This is mainly shown with the connection between Kalo the son being born from the two deities of nature and being the main source of food for the Hawaiin’s. This story has the theme of giving as the deity of earth Kalo used her son to produce a powerful substance to feed the people of Hawaii and also present a symbol of nature to them. One could say that true Hawaiin values nature over most in order to preserve the Islands they live and the deities who protect them and the Island they inhabit. For more on the legend of Kalo, you can read this article: Scroggins, Dan. “The Hawaiian Creation Legend and Taro.” The Real Hawai’i, 10 Mar. 2016,

The Catholic Cross and its Influence


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 and how important religion is to their family. 


H: Continuing on with the religion in my household above my bed and the bed of parents which is the holy cross which is a great symbol for us especially the religious part. Its another reminder of religion to us and we sometimes pray with them or pray while facing them. 

P: Are they blessed or have you taken them to a church? 

H: Yes, we took them to the church where I was baptized to get them blessed by the priest of the church who is a nice friend of ours, and then we hung them where we did. It’s a nice symbol because it also gives us a lot of hope when we’re down and shows us there are better days ahead, especially during this lockdown. 


From this, it seems that this cross has the ability to bring families together and connect them through faith almost a magical power. This Folk Item represents the Hispanic ideals of carrying the catholic faith and continuing to practice it even in the home. The fact she mentions they blessed the cross as well shows the blending of a folk item and magic since the blessing requires an enchantment or a prayer to be said to be blessed. This folk item holds a lot of significance since it’s in multiple rooms and it was mentioned that this item is taken down and used when prayers are said especially prayers for a lost one or for one to feel better. This powerful item is a clear part of their family’s traditions and will continue to be for future generations. She also mentioned that the cross in her mother’s room belonged to her great-grandma so it been around for a while.

Vapuru. A Hispanic home remedy to cure Sinus Issues

Abstract: Vapuru, also known as Vaseline is the first line of defense whenever someone has a sore throat or a stuffy nose. This petroleum jelly frequently came up in J’s household as a kid especially since he grew up with allergies. His parents always rubbed the jell on his nose when it was stuffy or his throat when he was coughing a lot or had a sore throat. This cream meant for skincare was exploited and used for many other uses that J claims work like a charm and always helped him out. 

Background: JP is a Mexican America from Florida who takes pride in the traditions he’s received from his family as a child and continues to practice them with his children. He believes that his grandparents are the origin of this practice but also notes that a lot of Mexican families may share these same traditions and feels its part of the morals of a Hispanic household. This conversation came up while we were discussing what similarities we’ve experienced when we were younger.


P: Did your family ever use Vaseline for you as a child or even recently to help with your allergies or when you couldn’t sleep at night? 

J: haha yes they did! I always had some issues with coughing or with a stuffy nose so my parents would just say a quick positive saying that basically means feel better today and then rubbed on the nose or on my neck and then I would feel the Vapuru warm-up and then my throat started to feel better. As I got older I learned up Vapuru to buy for myself and I found out the jelly is meant for skincare so it was awkward asking a pharmacist where the petroleum jelly is for curing nose congestion or a sore throat. I guess this magical medicine is only used in a Hispanic household (laughs).


This Vaseline/ Petroleum Jelly is a huge hit in Hispanic families as I also grew up using it when I was sick or had some sinus issues. J mentioned that this method has been around since his parents were young which shows its a growing tradition that’s been around as long as the petroleum jelly’s been produced. The jelly’s alluded powers are what seem to assist these conditions because it clearly wasn’t designed to relieve congestion or throat pain thus the real magic behind this item is the number of times it’s been said the jelly curies these symptoms. The petroleum jelly seems like a fluke but it symbolizes how a conventional item from a market can be turned into a powerful curing substance that’s influenced many Hispanic families.