"THE DOMINICAN SOUTHWEST:
CROSSROADS OF QUISQUEYA AND CENTER OF THE WORLD"
Martha Ellen Davis, Director
Arturo Guzman, Editor
0:00:00 [Views of lowlands and highlands of the Dominican Southwest, followed
by scenes of human life of the region.
Accompanied by Dominican symphonic music representing the
Southwest: "Carabine and Mangulina" from the Suite "Recuerdos de
Infancia" (Memories of Youth) by Luis Emilio Mena, performed by the
Dominican National Symphony Orchestra directed by Manuel Simo. Live
recording by M.E. Davis]
0:01:10 NARRATOR: The Dominican Southwest: today in the periphery of the
national; but during the time of the Tainos, this was the center and axis of
the island they called Quisqueya.
TITLE: THE DOMINICAN SOUTHWEST: CROSSROADS OF
QUISQUEYA AND CENTER OF THE WORLD
[Map of the island of Hispaniola of today (divided into the republics of
Haiti and the Dominican Republic), focusing on the Taino political center
of island, today the Valley of San Juan in the Southwest region.]
[Focus on the so-called "Corral of the Indians," the Taino ceremonial
center, San Juan de la Maguana.]
[A bas relief sculpture depicting Taino life of the Corral of the Indians by
Natalie Saxton de Perez, situated in a public plaza in San Juan. The views
are accompanied by an imaginary representation of music in a Taino style,
composed by M.E. Davis and performed by M.E. Davis and A. Guzman.]
Subtitle: The Corral of the Indians
NARRATOR: For the descendants of Queen Anacaona, this is still the
Center of the World.
0:02:00 [In the "Hole of St. John" which the residents consider the Center or Solar
Plexis of the World, where the Earth bore St. John the Baptist; a church
was constructed next to it. Maguana Abajo, San Juan.]
["Missionaries" (=devotees), carrying out a monthly ritual of cleaning out
the "Hole of St. John and drawing geometic figures in the area with wheat
Song (repeated many times during the ritual):
[Don Juan de Le6n Mateo:] Beloved Sacrament, King of the World;
[Dofia Estervina Alejandro, his wife, responds:]
Embrace us, Lord, i i/h your love!
[Don Juan:] Right now you are at the Center of the World, the Solar Plexis
of the World; you can measure the same distance in all directions.
0:02:25 [Dofia zunilda Alejandro:] Whatever they say, this is the Center of the
World. The Hole of St. John is like this, ike the birth channel of a baby....
Subtitle: Zunilda Alejandro ("Dofia Zuna"), Maguana Arriba
... A wandering missionary found the child being born-from the earth!
St. John was born from the earth! He was discovered half-way out. that's
why the second God on the earth is St. John the Baptist-Majesty and
Lamb of Lambs!
0:3:30 [Don Juan, singing:] I am asking St. Anthony in the Divine Tribunal:
May he grant me all I request of him.
Long live St. John the Baptist;
may his glory grow each day.
By the Holy Spirit,
may I be reborn.
Subtitle: The "Hole of St. John" on "The Hill" at Maguana Abajo,
Province of San Juan
[Don Juan:] We are asking for mercy throughout the four continents of the
world, for help and support for every needy person.
[Dofia Estervina:] Amen. So be it!
0:04:09 NARRATOR: The Center of the World is the crossroads of the island of
Quisqueya, a point of encounter between two countries and three races,
which has developed its own culture: Haitian-Dominican border culture.
[Image of the cross and circle drawn with flour at the Hole of St. John, as
a symbol of the cosmology of the region and thus symbol of the
documentary: about the cycle of life in the region of the crossroads.]
[Images of the market of Comendador, Elias Pifia, at the border with Haiti;
of the superimposed Haitian and Dominican flags; and of the face of a
0:04:30 Vodu celebration
[St. Martha posessessing the medium, the head of the celebration]:
Welcome, Consecrated Beings!
Subtitle: Vodu party for Santa Marta la Dominadora-St. Martha the
Controller (Guede Lia), San Juan de la Maguana
...Force and power! Welcome, Blessed Delegation of Divine Jesus!
[Spanish spoken by Haitian-derived deity, so as if by a Haitian creole
speaker, with characteristic accent, errors, and inserted creole terms:]
With the power of "Papa God" and Damballah Wed6 [the serpent deity],
we are fulfilling a vow in this consecrated altar of Marta, to get what we
need today, tomorrow, and always!
Papa Candelo (possessing a young man): Thank the Lord!
0:05:12 Market of Comendador, Elias Pifia
Subtitle: Bilingual negotiation in Creole and Spanish.
[The saleswoman speaks Creole, then Spanish, concluding:] Two malt
Subtitle: Comendador, Province of Elias Pifia
[After views of the market, she concludes the sale:] Fourteen-and six...
0:05:40 Haitian-Dominican border crossing
["Palos" long-drums with Haitian-Dominican singer to accompany these
Subtitle: Haitian-Dominican border
0:06:15 NARRATOR: The sky, the mountains, valleys high and low, lakes, rivers,
and the sea-all are intersected by the vertical axis of the Southwest: the
tree and phallus of life, which unites ecological zones from Duarte Peak,
the highest in the Caribbean, to the depths of salty Lake Enriquillo, below
[Views of all these ecological zones and the Maypole dance = the tree and
phallus of life.]
0:06:34 NARRATOR: The crossroads of the vertical and horizontal axes is the
earthly plane, where nature converges with human nature and its sacred
[View of a planted field with a spiritual "service" in the middle, for
[View of a little boy with a hair braid in front as part of a vow.]
[Don Di6genes de los Santos:]
I have sure fought with bacas, but with me they always get screwed....
Subtitle: Don Di6genes de los Santos "Cola Blanca"
... I once tilled five acres of land for Nicasio in Salinas. When I finished
the job, he didn't want to pay. That man had a bacd. He was a bad, evil
man. The day I finished the job I went to him and said, "I came to collect
my money because I'm a poor man and I need it." But he was at the
cockfight and didn't pay any attention. I said, "Pay me my money! It's
already dark and I have far to go on foot in the mountains!" You know
what he said? "I'm going to pay you your money" and he paid me.
But he had his bacd follow me to eat me up on the road. But I
know three prayers that will help me fight 50 bacds! When I was crossing
Naranjo River, a palm tree fell across my path. By now it was so dark I
couldn't even see the palm of my hand. Then a huge pig appeared. It
threw me three times against a bunch of mesquite trees, and the thorns
stuck in my back. I thought: "I'm really screwed now!" When it threw
me again, I remembered the first prayer. It was a Haitian woman in Haiti
who had taught it to me, to defend myself. I said the first prayer. I turned
my clothes inside out fast, and said the second one. About 25 yards from
the mountain, in retreat, it said from the woods, "I'm leaving! Not even
the Devil can beat you!" I said, "Come back and fight! Now we're really
going to have it out! Come back!" But it left.
But then a little white banty hen started pecking at my heel. And
that little hen followed me to the door of my house. That was the bacd,
coming to eat up all my money But it couldn't beat me. I've got three
prayers that will make the house shake like an earthquake.
It's true that if you make a deal with a bacd, he will make you
rich. He'll take the bloom off your crops and give it to me. Yours won't
produce anything and mine will. The coffee growers in Polo say the same
thing. But if you don't do what he whats, he'll ruin you. He'll leave you
0:10:04 [Don Andres Heredia:] Don't ask me anything about that! I don't know a
thing about bacds...
Subtitle: Don Andres Heredia
...The only bacd I know is the one up there. That's the one I like.
I don't want anything to do with those creatures. I follow the will of
0:10:20 NARRATOR: Around this crossroads revolve the natural and human life
cycles of the Southwest.
[Image of a young man selecting pigeon pea seeds.]
[Diagram: The emblem of the crossroads with the circle, to develop a
diagram to explain the cosmology-that is, the vision of the spiritual
world-of the region.]
NARRATOR: The annual cycle of the sun and the monthly cycles of the
moon tell people when to plant, prune, harvest, and cut trees for lumber.
[Don Andres Heredia:] When the moon is full, we wait for the waning
moon to plant. We wait for the good months to plant. We also wait for
the moon in order to cut trees for lumber. You can't cut them during the
new moon. No, the moon has to be perfect: the full moon. If you cut
them in the new moon, they will rot and get worms. Because this is the
will of Christ.
0:11:13 [Dofia Reina Alejandro sings a Salve Regina at her altar in Maguana
Hail, Holy Queen Father St. John;
[Response in chorus:] Father St. John, give us your hand.
Subtitle: Salve to St. John the Baptist
Dofia Reina Alejandro Jimenez, Maguana Arriba
[Dofia Reina continues with the Salve Regina]
NARRATOR: The solar cycle is intersected by the axes of the solstices
and the equinoxes.
[Diagram: The emblem of the crossroads and the circle, to continue
developing the cosmology: here re: the solistices and the equinoxes.]
NARRATOR: The winter solstice is the domain of Christ as the Baby
Jesus; and the summer solstice, the height of the solar cycle, is the domain
of St. John the Baptist, who baptized Christ and in turn was baptized by
[Dofia Reina continues with the Salve Regina:]
... in this valley of tears...
Father St. John, give us your hand.
...gracious Advocate, pray for us...
Father St. John, give us your hand.
[Don Juan:] Since Jesus Christ baptized St. John and St. John baptized,
Christ, this means that Jesus Christ is God and St. John is a second God.
0:12:30 NARRATOR: The year is marked by sacred periods and days, mental
calendars which vary according to region and family.
[Diagram: The emblem of the crossroads with the circle as an annual
calendar, to be read clockwise, with the main saints of the region placed in
["Palos" drums of Las Matas de Farfan, singing:]
Long live God, long live Mary,
long live "The Man. [=Holy Spirit]
[Choral response:] O-o-e, 0-6.
Long live the Holy Spirit
and the brotherhood members.
[Image: Sacred dance with the banners.]
I was on my way home,
and the Holy Spirit called me...
NARRATOR: The greatest devotion in the Southwest is to the Holy Spirit,
celebrated during Pentecost by Afro-Dominican religious brotherhoods...
[Diagram: The emblem of the crossroads with the circle again, and the
calendar of saints, highlighting the Holy Spirit.]
["Palos" continue, singing:]
The Holy Spirit is the dove...
[Image: The "queen" of the brotherhood in Las Matas de Farfan, Dofia
Maria Carrasco, dancing with a carved image of a dove.]
NARRATOR, CONT. ... in El Batey in the Province of San Juan, the
largest in the country,...
[Image: Map of the region highlighting El Batey de San Juan.]
Subtitle: The Holy Spirit*, patron of the brotherhood in El Batey
[* here depicted as a doll, interestingly similar to the image
of St. John the Baptist]
NARRATOR, CONT. ... in Las Matas de Farfan...
Subtitle: Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit, Las Matas de Farfan
[Images: Map of the region highlighting Las Matas; return to the dance
with the image of the dove.]
NARRATOR, CONT. ... Elias Pifia, and other sites.
Subtitle: Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit, Elias Pifia
[Image: Map of the region highlighting Elias Pifia]
[Image: Return to the brotherhood in Las Matas and the "palos"]
NARRATOR: The most sacred drum rhythm of the whole region is-the
"drums of the Holy Spirit" -los palos del Espiritu Santo.
Master drummer sings: Iwas in a deep sleep;
The Holy Spirit called me.
The Holy Spirit is the dove.
[Image: At the same altar, praying:]
...By the Sign of the Holy Cross,
From our enemies free us, 0 Lord, my God.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Subtitle: End of a Salve
[Antiphonal song: the section of "verses" added at at the end of a Salve
One group: Receive this Salve i i/th great joy!
The other group: Say, "Hail, Holy Queen "! Long live Mary!
NARRATOR: The faithful make vows orpromesas, contracts with saints
for divine healing, inherited from one generation to the next, and paid by
organizing saints' festivals, ...
[Images: A young man with a vow before an altar; altars of saints'
NARRATOR, CONT.: ... going on pilgrimage, ...
NARRATOR, CONT.: ... or dressing in the colors of the saint of one's
[Images: Various examples of women with vows dressed in the colors of
0:15:21 NARRATOR: The cycles of the year are marked on the earth by
pilgrimage routes, ...
NARRATOR, CONT.: ... which convege at holy sites.
[Image: Catolic Church of St. John the Baptist, Maguana Abajo]
Subtitle: Church of St. John the Baptist
Subtitle [for image inside]: St. John the Baptist (as a child)
[Image: Woman with a vow dressed in the colors of her saint standing
next to the Hole of St. John.]
[Song: Further "verses" of the end of the Salve in Las Matas:]
...at night and during the day.
[Return to the altar at Las Matas]
0:15:56 NARRATOR: The most important pilgrimage of the Dominican
Southwest is to San Francisco-St. Francis-in the sacred cave at Banica,
celebrated the fourth of October.
[Image: Map of the region highlighting Banica]
[Don Jose Mateo:] Banica, where St. Francis appeared, became a little
town over the years...
Subtitle: Don Jose Mateo Heredia, Ex-Supervisor, "La Aguita de Liborio"
... became a little town over the years. The shrine is a huge rock as large
as half a hill, and you have to climb up that rock, sometimes with a ladder.
It has an entrance, and when you enter, a drop of water falls on you.
Above you there is an opening with a copey tree above and its root
[Image: St. Francis of Assisi]
... St. Francis appeared in that cave there in that rock, and so he was
worshiped. Just like St. John is worshiped here [in La Maguana]. St. John
appeared on "The Hill"[of Maguana Abajo]-there, where the church is.
The Holy Spirit appeared in El Batey. And every place where a saint has
appeared, people worship.
0:17:38 [Dofia China Acosta:] ... Three drops hit me. And I went up to the cave...
Subtitle: Dofia China, Tierra Blanca, Cabral
... There was a man up there in trance, and when I got inside the cave it
was like a big house. He spoke a while with me, then said I should go in,
through a narrow opening. I thought I couldn't fit through. But a child
grabbed me and pulled me through....
[Image: Chromolithograph of the Divine Christ Child]
... I didn't see the child. But I was able to get through to the other side.
0:18:30 NARRATOR: Another pilgrimage center is "La Agiita de Liborio" --
Liborio's Spring-in El Naranjo, above Maguana Arriba, in the Province
of San Juan.
[Image: Liborist musician playing the genre called the Comarca:]
Subtitle: Don Cirilo e la Rosa Cuevas "Hernandez"
He sings: At one o 'clock the cock sings,
At two o 'clock the chickens sing,
At three o 'clock in the morning, Long live Papa Liborio!
[Images: The famous photo of 1922 ofLiborio Mateo, assassinated,
wrapped in palm bark; devotees in La Aguita.]
Blessing by a "missionary":
May God be with you and protect you and free you of evil.
NARRATOR: La Aguita is associated with Liborio Mateo, a great folk
healer who arose at the beginning of the twentieth century, and is the most
important messianic leader in Dominican history.
[Images: Devotees in La Aguita; photo of Liborio alive]
"Hernandez" continues singing:
All of us Liborists
Are going to have a good time;
And the money that we spend
We didn't ask anyone for.
0:19:42 NARRATOR: In the Dominican Southwest, subsistence agriculturalists
are aided by animals enhanced by hald-crafted tools and accessories of
wood, leather, basketry, and iron.
[Images of a horse and rider and utensils of various materials.]
Subtitle: Don Uladislao Luciano, "Lao the Blacksmith",
Las Matas de Farfan
[Don Uladislao Luciano:] I have been making plows for over 40 years,
and my plows are guaranteed for three or four years. Apart from
agricultural tools, we make iron doors, gates, and balconies.
[Don Ramon Carrasco:] People come from all over the country to order
plows we make here: ...
Subtitle: Don Ram6n Carrasco, trained by Don Lao
from Monte Plata, Puerto Plata, the Capital, Santiago, the whole Cibao
region, the entire nation. We guarantee them for one or two years. When
they get old, they can break because they get weakened. When the blade,
the base, or the plowshare break, we make a new one or we fix the old
one. The plowshare can be repaired but the blade and the base can't.
[Images of him working the iron of the plows.]
This is called the cultivator. It has its chain, its yoke, and its whip. You
yoke the two oxen, the chain goes in between, and you attach the plow
behind. When you plow, you tap the oxen with the whip, to make them
walk. At the end of the row where they need to turn, you stop them
saying: "Oooh! Come!" and they turn back, plowing the soil.
0:21:33 Work songs, Cabral, Barahona
[Sequence of images below: views of the countryside in the Southwest and
its agricultural production, in the sequence: cultivation, harvest, sale in the
market, cooking, and blessing of the food.]
[Dofia Prenda Reyes:]
I stopped by hour house;
and you didn't offer me a chair;
Because you know that what I want
is the "marriage seat."
Subtitle: Courtship through improvised verse:
"Coplas" in the agricultural work context
The "marriage seat"
I cannot give you;
Because I'm too little
and I don't fit in it.
NARRATOR: Agricultural labor is traditionally accompanied by song, the
rhythms and styles varying according to the task and the cultural origin,
whether Taino, African or European.
Because you have your own house, [stanza not subtitled]
I'd love to sleep in your bedroom;
You have everything at hand
for us to be very happy.
Take a look out the window
and you'll see a lovely sight;
Give me a glass of water,
I'm very thirsty.
[Dofia Prenda answers herself:]
I have neither a cup nor a glass
to give you a drink.
Let me put some casabe with coffee
right in your mouth.
[Dofia Prenda continues:]
Your lips' desire
must be fulfilled.
May someone take your hand
since I am not able.
I put my hand in your bosom,
I put in my hand and pulled out:
a Catalonian rose,
and a Dutch-style button.
[Views of women and women's tasks, then the market, the place to buy
Whoever's left can sing now;
I'm stopping here.
[Dofia Prenda:] The little pig can't eat
the ripe fruit dropped from the palm;
But he gets it into his mouth
and he can manage it.
0:24:00 The blessing of the food
[Image: Blessing of the food at a saint's festival, as a culmination of the
food cycle previously depicted.
Note: The woman who blesses the food is the same one who was in trance
at the vodu festival depicted earlier (0:04:30+); the footage is from the
[Image: Removing small portions from each pot as an offering.]
Heavenly Father, bless those who have provided this holy food.
Heavenly Father, bless each and every one who deserves to partake of this
sacred food, and all good Christians are indeed deserving. May it be a
healing food, materially as well as spiritually. And if, in this sacred
moment, beloved Father, there is someone who has not partaken of the
bread of this blessed day, I ask you, beloved Father, that you find it
propitious that he, like us, may partake of the blessed bread of today and
during the coming days as well. We ask this in your blessed name and in
the name of your son, Jesus, who is God and who lives and reigns for ever
and ever, Amen. And to thank you, blessed Father, like good Christians,
we join in a chain for the prayer you taught us Christians: 'Our Father,
who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name..."
[Image: fade into the sunset]
0:24:42 CASE STUDY: THE TRADITIONAL CULTURE OF TIERRA
BLANCA, CABRAL, PROVINCE OF BARAHONA
NARRATOR: Cabral, a municipality of the Province of Barahona, is one
of the oldest and most traditional towns of the Dominican Southwest.
[Music: The typical Southern "pripri" ensemble: the mangulina, "Stinky
goat" performed by Beli y sus Muchachos (Beli and the Boys). Tierra
Blanca de Cabral, Barahona. Archival recording: M. E. Davis]
Goat, goat, goat,
damned old goat;
Let's kill it
and let's eat it salted.
Stinky goat, stinky goat;
The more you wash it,
the stinkier it gets!
[Response:] Abob6* [* Yoruba sacred word used in Haitian vodoun]
NARRATOR: It lies in a strategic location, at the crossroads between the
lowland resources of the Rinc6n Lagoon, a freshwater lake, and the
highlands of the Bahoruco Mountains.
[Views of scenery and resources of the region.]
[Dr. Le6nidas Temistoles Feliz Suearez, physician, in the Cabral
Cabral was founded in 1795...
Subtitle: Dr. Le6nidas Temistocles Feliz Suarez,
King of the "Cachuas" (carnival makers) of Cabral
... At that time, the town was called "Hot-Pepper Corner" because of its
[Image: The tomb of Temistocles's grandfather, a judge in Cabral, one of
those intrepid men of yesteryear.]
... The name of Cabral is from General Jose Maria Cabral,
head of warfare in the South....
[In front of a gravesite:]
...Here we have the burial place of one of the greatest men of the last
century, General Nicolas Cabuya. He had an entire community under his
command; all the men obeyed his orders. Every time the warriors from
other towns came to Cabral, he would fire a single shot to gather the men
of the town at his house. To distinguish themselves from others, the
warriors of Cabral wore just their undershirts. At that time, there was no
formal settlement. Every time warfare erupted, the people took to the
hills. So the population in Cabral was unstable.
NARRATOR: The lowlands of Cabral and its surroundings have
important aquatic resources in the Lagoon and abundant subterranean
waters, and significant mineral resources of salt and limestone, with one of
the largest salt deposits in the world.
[Views of the area and its water resources and activities, including fishing,
and mineral resources.]
NARRATOR: The Bahoruco Mountains are the abode of mystical beings.
And in colonial times, these mountains provided a secret refuge for Tainos
and Africans united in their flight from slavery.
[Views of a strange personage of the mountain, petroglyphs of the Tainos
of the region, and etchings of military attacks against the black slaves.]
0:27:45 [Don Di6genes de los Santos "Cola Blanca" speaking of some of the
"mystical beings" of the mountains:]
The Ciguapos...were ancestors who escaped [from slavery] and took to
the hills and dispersed. They say that they have their toes pointing
backwards and their heels in the front.
They say that the Ciguapos were real people! --male and female.
I heard this from the old people who have died. They whistled to one
another-in the fields-looking for something to eat. I have heard them
with my own ears, lying in bed right here. They were real people, but they
The same as the Indians. The Indian grabs you and takes you to
his cave, they say, and in seven years he lets you go. They say that the
Indian takes you to a party. He impregnates you and lets you go in seven
years, after you have given birth. He gives you a belly like this...
0:29:30 NARRATOR: The slopes above Cabral support subsistence agriculture,
and the higher mountain area has plantations of coffee picked by peasant
farmers, who are employed seasonally as salaried workers.
[Views of the mountains and country people riding in a truck.]
[Don Valdemiro Feliz "Valde":] I've done a lot of agricultural work since
I was little, my dad and I, and my mom...
Subtitle: Don Valdemiro Feliz, Tierra Blanca, Cabral
... cutting down the forest, farming; planting corn, beans, yam, taro, all
kinds of crops; raising chickens with a lot of eggs, lots of corn --that we
didn't sell; we gave it to the hogs-raising hogs, raising goats. My mother
and grandmother worked the land here, in Tierra Blanca, Cabral, and in La
Lajita, on the way up to Polo, which is where we had our fields. It was
our land to farm, but in those times it was government-owned.
There were two months-May and June-when it rained so much
that, to cut a bunch of bananas, you had to take off your clothes, or go in
with old clothes. It rained a lot, night and day. There weren't bad storms
at that time--they came later--just a lot of rain. Wherever you dropped
some beans or a sugarcane stalk, a plant grew. My dad, my mom, and my
family had a lot of land planted then, just like Prenda did.
0:31:13 [Dofia Prenda Reyes:] My father left me when I was 12. My mother had
given birth just 20 days before....
Subtitle: Dofia Prenda Reyes, Tierra Blanca, Cabral
...My poor mother! We had work parties and did all we could to help our
mother raise that baby, left when he was just 20 days old. My father had
left some partly-cleared land, with trees so big they were four-axe trees.
Although I was little, I took an axe, my brother Jose Altagracia took an
axe, Papasote an axe, and Tino an axe: We were four people for that one
tree. They had me start the song, Manuela, on this side of Pueblo Arriba
and the late Chiquitico would say: "Come hear this young lady sing!" and
I would take my axe to cut that four-cornered tree:
The tree is big--
It's a "four-cornered" tree;
And inside it bears
the divine Cross.
Subtitle: Chopping song ("Coro de hacha")
Where is the tree-chopper,
where could he be?
went to get him.
Me and my axe! I was just 12, but I was strong!
The tree is big,
Strike it hard,
So that it falls
Toward the river.
The tree is big--
It's a "four-cornered" tree;
And inside it bears
the divine Cross.
The tree fell!
0:33:20 [Don Valdemiro Feliz:] We had to clear the woods-we cut huge trees
with axes, then worked with machetes, wide machetes, and then planted
with a pick. Felling the trees had its own song. The wide machete for
weeding had its song. And the pick for picking had its song. I need
someone to sing with, and the youngsters now don't know how to sing the
response. Some old people can sing it. There is one man-but he's old and
sick now-who used to join the four axe-men and take the part of the tree.
We chopped, and he leaned down, and we chopped more, and he leaned
even further. When the tree fell, he fell, too! But he's old and sick now.
And there were a lot of dancers of mangulina and carabind--but their legs
are bad now. One of the best was that fellow called Gardillo, but he can't
do it any more. He didn't sing; we sang, but he took the part of the tree.
We had some songs that went like this:
Hombe This tree is tough,
Hombe But I'm tough, too!
Hombe I'll chop it now,
Hombe And it willfall right away!
Subtitle: Chopping song
Dolores! Don't cry!
Don't cry any more!
This tree is tough,
This tree is tough,
But I'll chop it down. [erratum on subtitle]
Me ii ith my axe,
I'll cut it down.
Like that. That's what our songs were like. This one was for chopping.
The one for weeding has another style:
Pedro Cabuyen says:
"I'm not going back to the hills. [to work agriculture]
Subtitle: Weeding song
Prenda, come over here,
To help respond to my song,
Because Ofelia is coming over,
But it's you she wants to see.
Two or three of us got together with picks. We worked for Public Works,
building the highway. We build the highway by hand! With a pick, a
shovel, and a wheelbarrow. I worked a lot on the roads, on a road near El
Lim6n in a place called Puerto Escondido.
0:36:28 [As they simulate coffee-bean picking:]
[Dofia Prenda:] They say I'm spoiled,
But I don't deny my color;
Of all the spices,
Cinnamon is the best.
Subtitle: REENACTMENT: Coffee-bean picking
Response: Fly, dove, fly!
--Cinnamon is the best.
I was the one who turned
the roasted green plantain;
And ifyou don't like it,
You can look for another one.
Fly, dove, fly! You can look for another one.
Get married and you will enjoy
the first three years;
And then you will be wanting
the single life again.
Fly, dove, fly! --The single life again.
This branch is very stiff; I can't lower it.
Let me lower it for you. Pick them well!
Can't I pick everything?
No! Just the ripe ones, and no sticks and leaves!
When a cloud passed by,
a star rose in the sky.
Ay, ay, Virgin of High Grace!
Pick them well!
Virgin of High Grace,
when she is sleeping.
Ay, ay, Virgen of High Grace!
Don't pick any leaves!
REENACTMENT: Labor dispute
] Don't be so bossy! The administrator told me that I
am the only boss here. You're the foreman, but
ro:] I have to carry out my orders, lady!
] What orders? I have more orders than you do!
If you want, we can fight right now!
ro:] Respect me!
] I'll even take your cap!
ro:] Respect me!
] Let's fight!
I'm more in charge than you are! Don't you know
that the administrator is the husband of my eldest
ro:] What does that have to do with me?
] What does that have to do with you? Tomorrow you
will be fired!
NARRATOR: Life in the Dominican Southwest is celebrated in the pripri
[Image: Beli y sus Muchachos playing, accompanying dancing]
Subtitle: Don Belisario Feliz ("Beli"), Tierra Blanca, Cabral
[Don Belisario Feliz "Beli":] The first type of music established in the
South is this music: mangulina, carabine, and valse. There were no dance
bands here [erratum: should be "no radio"], no juke boxes, nothing!
0:39:28 [Don Di6genes de los Santos "Cola Blanca":]
Nobody else here knows carabine and mangulina, just me. I learned to
play this stuff on a tin can. I started when I was about 10, on a tin can!
I learned it from a man called Francisco, my brother-in-law. When I
moved here, I learned from Beli. I make this from avocado, yagrumo, or
almdcigo wood. This is goat skin.
[Image and sound: playing the merengue rhythm on the balsie]
0:40:55 Southern pripri music and dance. Example: a mangulina.
Subtitle to designate the musicians: Beli y sus Muchachos (Beli and the
Boys), Southern "Pripri": "Stinky goat" mangulina
Subtitle to designate the dancers: Don Valdemiro Feliz and Dofia Rafaela
[Don Belisario Feliz:]
Stinky goat, abob6, stinky goat!
Stinky goat, abob6, stinky goat!
I've got a goat
and I am going to tie it up;
It's being a nuisiance--
Let'splay some music!
It's being a nuisance,
I'm going to tie it up.
Stinky goat, abob6, damned old goat!
Stinky goat, abob6, damned old goat.
When you leave,
I' m going, too!...
I had a fainting spell
because I'm so old...
Ay, my little goat,
look where he is!
He's being a nuisance;
we've going to tie him up.
Doha Rocio [the sound technician],
I'm going to ask you:
Please be nice to old man Beli.
Those who look at me
Don't know me any more...
I'm a sad sack.
Dofa Rocio, tell Martha for me [the director]
--ifyou see her around--
To go to the shop
And bring \,inehiiig for me.
When you leave,
Here's an idea:
Both leave together.
Look, Miguel [the videographer],
tell Rocio for me:
That I have gotten old
because I've lost my "umph. "
Damned old goat,
Stinky goat, abob6, abobo!
0:44:24 NARRATOR: Part of the cycle of life is death, sometimes premature. The
baquini is the wake for an angelito-a "little angel," whose should flies
directly to Heaven because he or she died too young to accumulate sin.
[Image: "Dead" child covered with a cloth and boughs, surrounded by
"family" and neighbors]
Subtitle: REENACTMENT: A child's wake
[Don Valdemiro:] Ay, rondo Mother, don't cryfor your child;
[Group response:] Ay, rondo [after each phrase]
your child has died.
You all should know
that he was born to die.
What is left to him [erratum in subtitle]
is this song that I sing.
[Dofia Prenda:] Mother, don't cry for your child;
your child has died.
The only thing i e regret
is the milk that he suckled...
Subtitle: A Salve for the dead
[Don Valdemiro:] Hail, Holy Queen...
[Response:] So that the souls may rest; [after each line]
Mother of Mercy,
Our Life, our Sweetness,
and our Hope.
To Thee do we cry,
mourning and eping.
poor banished children ofEve,
to Thee do we send up our sighs...
The song to raise the child from the place of the wake. [Unintelligible]
[Simulated "attacks" of grief.]
0:46:30 NARRATOR: The annual cycle in the Dominican Southwest is a cycle of
life and death. Death is symbolized by the death of Christ, and the rebirth
of life by His Resurrection.
[Image: The emblem of the documentary of the crossroads and the circle,
here with the principal saints of the region, once more, highlighting Christ
Christians abstain from carnal pleasures during Lent, when they
contemplate the death of Christ. In other towns, Carnival is the farewell to
pleasure before Lent. But the Carnival of Cabral celebrates the return of
life after Good Friday. During three days the streets are filled with
"cachfias," youngsters who don masks with cattle horns or cachos and are
armed with whips.
[Images of the carnival of Cabral.]
[Dr. Le6nidas Temistocles Feliz Suarez]: It's not clear when our tradition
of carnival in Cabral began. But because of certain of its elements, such
as the mask and the whip, we do think that our carnival has a maroon
[runaway slave] influence. The cachfuas makersr) were feared, because
when they came by, people were scared and dropped everything and
headed for the hills. If they were cooking, they left the pots on the stove.
The "cachias" scared away the people with their masks, their whips, and
their growl. So they took the food in the pot, the uncooked plantains, and
if there were any animals, they took them, too. The Civilian was the
antithesis or the opposition to the cachiuas. When the cachiuas came out,
they took over the town. The Civilian was excluded. So he had to
confront the cachfias to claim his position.
Subtitle: Archival footage, 1986
[Images of cachfua games; and the conglomeration of cachiuas on Easter
Monday and their run to the cemetery.]
NARRATOR: In the late afternoon of Easter Monday, carnival in Cabral
finishes with an homage to the former cachiuas -the ancestors of
carnival-by cracking whips on their tombs. And the cachiuas punish
Judas for the death of Christ.
[Images of cracking the whips on the tombs and running around the
cemetery, carrying, then dragging, a burning effigy of Judas, gradually
demolished by the whips.]
[The cachiuas chant:] "Judas, Judas, Judas! They killed him as a traitor!"
0:49:27 Sugar cane, the economic basis of the lower Southwest in the 20th century:
NARRATOR: The provinces of Bahoruco and Barahona are a dry tropical
forest whose rich lands flower with irrigation.
[Image: cane fields with an ox cart loaded with cane]
[Don Pedro Mendez:] This was a sugarcane area. Here, everybody used to
plant sugarcane. But people ground their cane not to make sugar,
but to make raspadura [rustic brown sugar in blocks]. This produced
income for them....
Subtitle: Don Pedro Mendez
Administrator, Rural Museum, Los Rios, Neyba
To grind the cane, they used the trapiche sugar mill, like this one. It was
pulled by oxen. The oxen walked in a circle, and the mill squeezed out the
sugarcane juice, which ran out over there and into the cauldrons, that had a
fire under them to render the raspadura. I used to grind in one, and so did
he [turning the floor over to Don Aurelio Cuevas].
Subtitle: Rustic sugarcane mill
[Images: Rustic mills]
[Don Aurelio Cuevas:] That is true. My father was the one who made the
Subtitle: Don Aurelio Cuevas
...He made about six mills here in Los Rios. He also made the ones in La
Descubierta, in Neyba, in Villa Jaragua, and many such places. Every
sugermill around here was made by my father.
[Don Pedro Mendez:] Everybody had his sugarcane. But the mill
belonged to an individual. Anyone who wanted to grind his cane, rented
the mill. We were very happy then. We didn't have a lot of things, such
as we see now, but a man with his sugarcane, with his hog, his cow, lived
But the government decided to charge taxes. The people didn't
have any way to pay them, because the sugarcane yielded just enough for
us to get by....
Subtitle: Colonial sugar industry with a slave labor force
... At the same time, sugar started to be industrially produced.
And people saw that the sugar was better than the raspadura, so they quit
Subtitle: Moder sugar industry with a Haitian labor force
0:51:56 NARRATOR: Today Haitian culture has entered the heart of the
Dominican Southwest. The Barahona sugarcane mill or "ingenio," started
at the beginning of the twentieth century, has introduced Haitian seasonal
workers or braceros to cut the cane, and many have stayed.
Subtitle: Archival images, 1986
Subtitle: Sugarcane workers' communities (bateyes) of the Barahona
[Images: Haitians washing clothes in an irrigation ditch; traveling down
the highway that connects the sugarcane communities (bateyes); tractor
maneuvers; the gaga]
[Image and sound: the ritual with the stone, abode of the Petr6 deity patron
of the gaga "Estrella del Cielo" (Star in the Heavens) of Batey Isabel]
Subtitle: Batey Isabel
Subtitle: Archival images, 1986
NARRATOR: At the same time as Carnival is celebrated in Cabral,
Haitian-Dominicans in the bateyes or communities of sugarcane workers
celebrate the cycle of death and renewal of life, including human life and
fertility, through their religious societies called "Gaga."*
[* the Dominican pronunciation of the Haitian "Rard"]
[Son of the ex-head of the gaga of Batey Isabel:] My father was the head
of this gaga. My father turned it over to Noel [the current head]. So there
can't be any other gaga here. Because this gaga is protected by God,
Blessed Mary, and the Virgin of High Grace.*
[* demonstrates a cosmology and religious life truly bi-
0:52:24 Examples of gaga societies of the Barahona Sugar Mill: from Batey Isabel
and Batey Santana
Subtitle: Archival images, 1986
[Image: The train that carries the sugarcane to the Barahona Mill; sound:
the bamboo trumpets of the gaga musical ensemble]
Subtitle: Batey Santana
NARRATOR: The ceremony of The Chair-"La .Silh --honors the
officials of the gaga heirarchy.
[Images: Batey Santana: Keeping evil at bay with a whip at the entrance to
the grounds; the "raising" of Dofia Tot6 Benoit]
Subtitle: Dofia Tot6 Benoit, Queen, Gaga ofBatey Santana
NARRATOR: In almost every batey, there is a Gaga society:
carnavalesque on the outside, but mysterious on the inside.
[Image: Don Noel, head of the gaga of Batey Isabel, with the water
blessing ("echando puntos") at the entrance to his grounds.]
Subtitle: Batey Isabel
NARRATOR: In Gagi, life and death are not opposite extremes, rather
coincide at the same point on the cycle of life.
At dawn on Good Friday, the death and resurrection of Christ is replicated
through the "birth" of the lead dancers or "mayores":
Four are carried out, one by one, like cadavers in death shrowds, or like
fetuses in "cocoons."
The head of the "gaga" society breathes life into them, and they break out
of their shrowds-or cocoons--to fly free like colorful butterflies.
[Image: The "birthing" of the "mayores."]
NARRATOR: On Holy Saturday, the gagds set out to visit other friendly
gagds and confront enemy gagds encountered on the roads that link the
[Images: The gags on the road and visiting other bateys; again, the train
bearing the sugarcane.]
NARRATOR: At the Crossroads of Quisqueya and the Center of the
World, the children are the link between tradition and future.
[Image and sound: Children playing drums and in other activities.]
They are the product of the crossroads of ecological zones, races, and
cultures. And their hands will give the impulse to the future cycles of life
of the Dominican Southwest.
Final song (end of a Salve): (3x)
Powerful Hand, protect me;
I truly believe in Her, and in Her I believe. [=Virgin Mary]
And Hail Mary, full of grace; conceived iithu ,t sin. Amen.
"The Route toward Liborio" Project
Ministry of Culture, Dominican Republic
Project Coordinator Lusitania Martinez
Minister of Culture Tony Raful
"The Dominican Southwest:
Crossroads of Quisqueya
and Center of the World"
Director Martha Ellen Davis
Producer Miguel Fernandez
Editor Arturo Guzman
Script Martha Ellen Davis, Pericles Mejia
Narrator Martha Ellen Davis
Videographers Miguel Fernandez, Arturo Guzman, Martha Ellen Davis
Amauta de Marco
Archival Footage Martha Ellen Davis, Romilio Leonardo
Slide Photography Martha Ellen Davis
Lighting Arturo Guzman
Sound Arturo Guzman, Rocio Calder6n
Archival Sound Recordings Martha Ellen Davis
Gaffer Arturo Guzman
Production Assistant Virginia Frias
To all the people of the Dominican Southwest who graciously shared their
memories, knowledge, and hospitality, which made this documentary
Our special thanks to:
Rural Museum, Los Rios, Province of Neyba
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island; Faculty Research Grant
Latin American Collection, Smathers Libraries,
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
Mr. David Tomlinson, Leitch\DPS Technical Support, Canada
Prof. Victor Perez, San Juan de la Maguana
Ms. Irka Mateo, Santo Domingo
Dr. Le6nidas Temistocles Feliz Suarez, Cabral, Province of Barahona
Dr. Juan Miguel Matos, Tamayo, Province of Bahoruco
Dofia Tot6 Benoit, Batey Santana, Prov. ofBahoruco (Barahona Sugar Mill)
"Carabine y Mangulina" from the Suite "Recuerdos de Infancia" of Luis
National Symphony Orchestra, Dominican Republic
Manuel Sim6, Conductor (1972)
Southern "Pripri" ensemble:
Beli y sus Muchachos
Tierra Blanca, Cabral, Province of Barahona (1983)
Recreation of Taino music by Martha Ellen Davis
Performed by Martha Ellen Davis and Arturo Guzman
Relief sculpture representing Taino life:
Natalie Saxton de Perez ("Tali")
City of San Juan de la Maguana
Ministry of Culture, Dominican Republic
UNESCO, United Nations Organization
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)