In Alba Garcia’s ‘Yo Soy Taíno,’ Puppets Tell the Story of an Abuela & Granddaughter Surviving Hurricane Maria
Seasoned animator and director Alba Garcia was deeply impacted when Hurricane Maria ravaged her homeland of Puerto Rico. The hurricane killed over 3,000 people and left survivors without access to basic necessities and electricity for months. While she now lives in the U.S., Garcia has family who still lives on the island.
The inaction and insensitivity on behalf of the United States government, in the face of such tragedy, pushed her to rethink what she knew about Puerto Rico’s history. She revisited the banishing of indigenous Taíno culture done by colonization. Although she had primarily only worked in stop-motion animation at the time, Garcia ventured into working with puppets when presented with the opportunity to explore the identity of her people in a new format.
With dialogue in Spanish and Taíno, the 13-minute film Yo Soy Taino (I Am Taíno or Dak’toká Taíno) revolves around an encounter between Puerto Rican grandmother Abuela Yaya (voiced by Amneris Morales) and her curious granddaughter Marabelí (Vianez Morales) following Hurricane Maria. Abuela Yaya teaches the young girl words and phrases in the Taíno language. She also offers her a crash course in the ways the United States has deliberately hurt Puerto Rico’s economy and tried to erase their multiracial heritage — a mix of Taíno, Spanish, and African traditions.Continue Reading