Panama: Roots, Culture and Arts

Panama is a well-known tourist destination but there is a hidden Panama not often viewed by the common tourist. Just like any other country, Panama has both wealthy and impoverished area. For the unconventional traveler, these areas can be dangerous but they also hold so much culture and arts.

San Miguelito is a district in Panama City, Panama that has produced athletes and music artists. On October 11, 2017, the national Panama football team defeated Costa Rica with the final score of 2 versus 1. This matched was the official game qualifying Panama for the World Cup for the first time ever. The Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela commemorated the date by making it a national holiday. Football player Luis Tejada was one of these players. He is a native of San Miguelito and proof that not everything from the ghetto is bad.

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(Photo courtesy of FIFA)

Another area is Colon. This is the central of Afro-Panamanians. Portobelo, Colon was once a slave-port and is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Every year on October 21st, Panamanians take a 53-mile pilgrimage with the Negro Cristo (Black Christ) statue in order bring blessings and miracles to their lives.

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   (Photo Courtesy of Playa Community)

  Yet, another area is Rio Abajo. This is the birth place of Reggae star El General. This Grammy-award artist started what is now called Reggaeton. Before there was Reggaeton in other countries such as Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, El General started the tropical sounds of reggae beats, drum patterns, and the Jamaican  influence  to Latin America.

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(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

In the interior of Panama, a small jungle like area called “Chilibre” borders both Colon and Panama City. I have family here including my father and this is my 2nd home ever since he was deported back in 2002. Every time I’m in Chilibre it is a humbling experience. This area has influenced me so much that I made a music video to expose the world to the other Panama not mentioned in travel guides. Panama has more than what meets the eyes.

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