Entertainment

After A Long Recovery, David Ortiz Is Back In The DR For The First Time And His Fans Went Crazy

On June 9 2019, a terrible event shook the baseball world to its core. Retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was shot at a bar and almost lost his life. But Big Papi is indeed bigger than life and he pulled through, surviving and becoming even more of a symbol of inspiration for people in his adoptive Boston, the city which he now calls home and which absolutely adores him.

What made the Big Papi shooting even more shocking is the fact that he has always produced a public image that combines brute force with intelligence and a good nature that makes it hard to believe that he would have any enemies (and well, as it turned out he didn’t and it was all an unfortunate mistake). And the city of Boston got behind him with good wishes, cards and love. Ortiz was, for example, one of the unifying personalities in the city following the Boston Marathon bombings. Kids and adults, everyone loves him. 

The emotional and physical scars of the shooting that almost ended Ortiz’s life are still healing, so it came as a surprise that he decided to visit Dominican Republic.

The news devastated Boston Red Sox fan and Dominicans all around the world: Big Papi Ortiz was shot and struggling to stay alive. By now we know that he survived the incident, but he is clearly still shaken by having faced death.

In the first interview since the incident he broke down in tears, telling Univision: “For the first five seconds, I thought I was having a nightmare … I was feeling something that I had never felt before in my life, and that was to try to stay alive”. It has been almost six months since those bullets punctured his impressive physique. Because he has no enemies and an attempt on his life is a ludicrous idea, he was surprised more than afraid.

As he said during the same interview: “‘I wasn’t hurting (at first). I felt like a little burn, but I don’t even look at that. I know that I was hurting because of the impact and the sound. I started hurting later, probably when I was about to walk into the surgery”. 

It has been determined that the incident was a case of mistaken identity!

As bad luck would have it, those bullets were not intended for Ortiz. The authorities have made it official: the attack at the Santo Domingo bar was a nearly fatal case of mistaken identity. Since then a Dominican drug trafficker has been caught and charged.

The real target was Sixto David Fernández, with whom Ortiz was sharing a table and who is cousins with the alleged perpetrator,  Víctor Hugo Gómez, allegedly an associate of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel. So yes, Big Papi got caught in the middle of an international trafficking turf war, and he lost his gallbladder and a big chunk of his intestine, as well as a sense of personal safety, for it. 

Now Ortiz made his first public appearance in the Dominican Republic since he was shot and he received a hero’s welcome.

Credit: Tatiana Fernandez

After he was shot he was taken care of in his adoptive city of Boston, where the slugger has charmed baseball fans and is adored by almost everyone due to his generous spirit and charity worked. Big Papi appeared in front of a cheering crowd when he made a surprise appearance at the Quisqueya Stadium Juan Marichal for the Game of Legends, in which current and past MLB stars from the baseball-crazed country get together for a charity event. 

His words to the cheering crowd: ““Praise God and long live the Dominican Republic.”

Credit: Tatiana Fernandez

There were other stars in the building, of course, including Hall of Famers Pedro Martínez and Juan Marichal, Mets player Robinson Canó and Nationals pelotero Juan Soto. But it was clear that the real rockstar was Big Papi, who was ecstatic about spending time with his people. Dominican fans thought Ortiz would never return to the island que lo vio nacer but that was also the site of the incident that almost took his life.

But Ortiz looked cheerful and was his old generous self, wearing a colorful short-sleeved shirt in the best Caribbean way. But of course he did not participate in the events themselves, as he is still convalescent after multiple surgeries in the Dominican Republic and Boston. As Mail Online reports: “However, he did not participate in any of the events held as part of the Dominican Winter League’s mid-season break”. But his presence is inspiring enough to lift anyone’s spirits and leave the fans happy. 

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These Long-Time Best Friends Just Found Out They’re Biological Sisters

Things That Matter

These Long-Time Best Friends Just Found Out They’re Biological Sisters

Photo via Cassandra Raquel Madison/Facebook

We’ve all had those friends that are so close to us that they feel like they’re family. Well, in the case of these of two Connecticut women who had the same feeling, that ended up being the case.

Best friends Julia Tinetti and Cassandra Madison learned that they were biological sisters, adopted from the Dominican Republic.

The story is stranger than fiction. Julia and Madison met in 2013, when they both worked at a bar called The Russian Lady in New Haven, Connecticut. The women immediately bonded when they discovered that they both had tattoos of the Dominican Republic’s flag.

Cassandra rehashed the meeting via a Facebook post: “Julia notices the Dominican flag on my arm and makes a comment about how she’s Dominican too BUT she’s adopted from there. I stop her in her tracks and tell her I’m adopted from there too.”

“After that moment, we were so tight,” Julia told Good Morning America. “We started hanging out. We would go out for drinks, for dinner. We started dressing alike.”

Apparently, Cassandra felt the same way. “I thought she was cool,” Cassandra said to GMA. “We just kind of hit it off right away. It was very natural.”

According to them, coworkers were always telling them that they looked like sisters. But when the two of them cross-referenced their birth certificate, their information didn’t add up.

“Papers said we were from two different cities [with] different last names,” Julia explained. “And, our mothers’ names on our paperwork were different.” But the two women believed they were somehow connected–they just didn’t know how.

The mystery finally began to unravel after Cassandra took a 23andMe DNA test.

Through 23andMe’s genetic database, Cassandra tracked down her biological family in the Dominican Republic through a first cousin. She then traveled to the DR where she met her bio-family for the first time–an incredibly emotionally experience. While Cassandra’s bio-father was still alive, her bio-mother had passed away in 2015 from a heart attack.

Years later, Cassandra finally pressed her bio-father on whether or not he had put up another child for adoption. While at first he was hesitant to talk about the painful memory, he finally admitted that he had, indeed, put another child up for adoption years ago.

It was then that Cassandra finally urged Julia to take a DNA test so they could finally put their questions to rest.

The results came back on January 28th, 2021 and finally confirmed what they had long suspected: they were biological sisters.

The entire ordeal has been both thrilling, joyful, and emotionally taxing for the women. At times, it has even been bittersweet, considering the trauma their biological family endured in the past.

“On top of the DR being a very poor country, [our family] couldn’t take care of us,” Julia explained. “I was [born] 17 months later and they weren’t ready.”

All in all, Julia summed up how she feels about the situation in a very direct way: “This is the type of thing you see on TV.”

We couldn’t agree more!

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The Dominican Republic Finally Outlaws Child Marriage After Years of Campaigning by Girls’ Rights Activists

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The Dominican Republic Finally Outlaws Child Marriage After Years of Campaigning by Girls’ Rights Activists

Image via Getty

Outside of the U.S., some good news has occurred amidst a week that has otherwise been full of mayhem and chaos.

On Wednesday, the Dominican Republic’s Executive Branch approved a law that unilaterally bans child marriage in its country.

In the past, children younger than 18 were allowed to marry with a special exemption from a judge. These exemptions happened often. Now, no woman or man under the age of 18 are allowed to marry under any circumstances in the Dominican Republic.

This move is significant because the Dominican Republic has the highest rates of child marriage in Latin America and the Caribbean. Official government figures show that 36% of Dominican girls and adolescents marry or enter into “unions” before the age of 18. In 12% of these relationships, the female partner was less than 15 years old.

More informal “unions” where a girl simply moves into an older man’s household are also common in the DR. These are very common in higher poverty communities where many girls are considered a financial burden on their families. Unions like these will be harder to penalize because there is no formal documentation of their partnership.

There are multiple factors that play into the Dominican Republic’s high child marriage rate.

One of the main factors is the culture of machismo that informs the way that young men and women approach relationships.

According to research conducted by Plan International, 81% of Dominican girls said they preferred men that were five years older than them. This statistic is in stark contrest to 39% of Dominican men who prefer their partners 18 or younger because they found them more “obedient” and “adaptable”.

Not only that, but there is also a strong cultural expectation for girls and women to become mothers and wives. These cultural beliefs have simply stoked the practice of child marriage.

“Child marriage and early unions are seen as normal in society. It is driven by machismo that sees the role of a woman to be just a mother and wife,” said Rosa Elcarte, UNICEF’s representative in the Dominican Republic, to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Ending early unions will require years of work to change cultural norms.”

Feminists and human rights activists consider this law a win after many years campaigning to put an end to this practice.

But on a bittersweet note, many advocates realize that one law doesn’t dismantle the patriarchal structure of their culture that enabled this practice for so long. There is still a lot of work to be done.

“Our girls and adolescents will be protected … and cannot be forced into marriage in their childhood or adolescence, which in the past was often carried out by parents and legally allowed,” said Sonia Hernandez, an associate director of the International Justice Mission, in a statement to NBC News.

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