Eternal Vigilance is the price of Good Unionism

Annual Dinner Dance

The Santiago Iglesias Educational Society holds it’s annual dinner dance every October at the Joint Industry Board of the Electrical Industry’s auditorium. The event features a cocktail hour followed by a dinner and a full service open bar. A live band along with a DJ entertain guests through the night.   The Jose Lopez Memorial Award and the Santiago Iglesias Educational Society Member Appreciation Award are given to worthy individuals in recognition of their excellence, integrity, courage, and dedication towards the society and its interest. 

Honorees’ Gifts

Circa 1900 (sheet metal)

Circa 1942 (ceramic)

Present (stainless)

The “Fiambrera is the Latin version of the Lunch Box. It was originally used by the farmers and laborers to carry their meals in. It was also used by the military as a food container.  It was made of three or four separate and stackable compartments, which was used to keep the vegetables, meat, rice and fruit separate. The separate parts were held together with leather or metal straps. The first fiambreras were made from tin then ceramic and aluminum. Eventually as workers migrated to the United States they brought along their lunch boxes with them. Today the lunch box is usually made of stainless steel and held together with stainless steel straps. They still can be found in most Latin community hardware and house ware stores. We have brass plates engraved and attached to the Friambre and present one to each of our honorees.

The Guayabera also known as the Mexican wedding shirt, Cuban shirt, Havana shirt, cigar shirt and yayabera are many names for the Guayabera. The definition of the guayabera shirt is quite broad with so much culture, history and pride attached to this symbolic garment, it is difficult to accurately define it in a single sentence.  Most people believe that the shirt originated in Mexico or Cuba but there is no solid evidence of its true roots. Here are two stories that claim origin to the legendary guayabera.

In Mexico, though commonly called “guayabera” the shirt is often called “camisa yucatan”. This reflects the belief in Mexico that the shirt was created in the Yucatan peninsula. Some Mexicans enthusiastically claim the shirt is a Mayan Indian creation and claim that it was created by the wife of a poor Mayan Indian guava farmer. Many of the world’s guayaberas are manufactured in the Yucatan today, perhaps leading to more support for this theory.

The most widely accepted belief is that the guayabera originated in Cuba. The story comes from a small farmer or campesino and his wife who designed the shirt in the village of Sancti Spiritus in Cuba. As the story goes the campesino wanted to create a functional shirt to carry all of his necessities such as tobacco, matches, snacks, writing utensils, and other items. His wife sewed four pockets on the shirt with buttons to secure his belongings. The shirt was quickly adopted by other campesinos in the village. Another version of this story is of a farmer along the Yayabo River who had the shirt designed to carry guava (guayaba) fruit. This theory leads to similarities between the name guayabera and the words yayabo and guayaba.

Although the origins of the guayabera are subject to debate, it clear that this article of clothing represents more than just a shirt.  It has been associated with the desire for liberty, the strength of the laborer and the appreciation for the fruits that are harvested through blood sweat and tears.  This iconic garment was the subject of a symbolic poem written by the 19th century poet, Juan Cristobal Napoles Fajardo also known as “El Cucalambé” to highlight the heroic Cuban men who died in the battle over independence with Spain.  Here is the poem in its original form:

¡Oh Guayabera! Shirt
With gleeful set of buttons
four pockets, freshness,
Of brave cane and breeze,
a single-breasted uniform jacket
with more than a Bloody button
for when the heroic rise
and for that reason the flag
has something of guayabera
that dresses gallantly in the wind

Spiritual invader,
you began your invasion
and between Jucaro and Moron
they called the trail to you.
It wanted Camagueyana
to you the noble and brave Camaguey, until finally from
the Cabo of San Antonio to Maisi,
Cuba does not dress without you, Fresh wave of the Yayabo.

¡Oh Guayabera! Camisa
de alegre botonadura,
cuatro bolsillos, frescura,
de caña brava y de brisa.
Fuiste guerrera mambisa
con más de un botón sangriento
cuando el heroico alzamiento,
y por eso la bandera
tiene algo de guayabera
que viste al galán del viento.

Invasora espirituana,
comenzaste tu invasión
y entre Júcaro y Morón
te llamaban La Trochana.
Te quiso Camagüeyana
el Camagüey noble y bravo,
hasta que al fin, desde el Cabo
de San Antonio a Maisí,
Cuba no viste sin ti,
Onda fresca del Yayabo.

The Panama Hat is a traditional brimmed hat of Ecuadorian origin that is made from the plaited leaves of the toquilla straw plant.  The Panama hat found its way to the U.S. in the 18 the century.  The U.S. government ordered 50,000 Panama hats for their troops heading towards the Caribbean during the American-Spanish war in 1898.  Before that, in 1855, a Frenchmen living in Ecuador took some Panama hats to the World Exhibition in Paris.  The finest hat was presented to the then Emperor of France, Napoleon III and has been sought by royalty ever since.

In the early 19th and 20th century many goods from South America were shipped first to the Isthmus of Panama before sailing for their destinations in Asia, North and Central America and Europe.  Some products get their name from their point of international sale instead of where they are originally made, hence the name “Panama hat.”  Even though the straw hats are made in Ecuador, they became popular and became internationally known during the construction of the Panama Canal.  The workers involved in the construction of the Panama Canal used the Ecuadorian straw hats as protection against the burning sun.  Its popularity increased when in 1906 president Theodore Roosevelt was photographed wearing a Panama hat while viewing the Panama Canal under construction. Another name synonymous with fine quality Panama hats is Montecristi, a small town in Ecuador where to this day the finest quality Panama hats are still woven. The Panama Hats are usually imported directly from Ecuador in their hood form. These are then blocked by specialist hat factories into a variety of shapes, with the most popular shape being the folding panama. This hat has the distinctive ridge running from front to back over the crown enabling the hat to be folded and rolled up for storage or travel.

Even though the Panama hat continues to provide a livelihood for thousands of Ecuadorians, fewer than a dozen weavers capable of making the finest “Montecristi-Superfino” (they range from $500 to $30,000) remain. In most recent reports it is noted that there may not be more than 15-20 years remaining for this industry in Ecuador, due to the competition of paper based Chinese-made imitations, especially as a few hat sellers dominate and manipulate the market, killing the trade.

Panama hats are often seen as accessories to summer weight suits, such as linen or silk.  Around the beginning of the century the Panama hat began to be associated with the seaside and tropical islands of the Caribbean.  In most Latin countries you will see the men wearing Panama hats, and it has become a cultural trademark of Hispanic men worldwide.