11 Things We Learned from the Movie ‘La Bamba’

La Bamba gif

La Bamba, the movie about the life and tragic death of singer Richie Valens, came out waaaaaay back in 1987. And the film, directed by Chicano theater legend Luis Valdez, STILL stands up today. If you haven’t seen it in a while, get on it and look for some of the not-so-obvious lessons the movie has to teach. Like…

You don’t have to be a Latino to play one in a movie.

Lou Diamond Phillips as Ritchie Valens

Lou Diamond Phillips does a kick-ass job portraying Ritchie Valens, the granddaddy of rock en Español. He’s played many other Latino characters since, but he’s not actually Latino – he’s Filipino and Native American – even though some people would bet their lives on it.

Whoever cast Esai Morales as Bob Morales is a genius.

Esai Morales as Bob Morales

La Bamba is just as much about Ritchie’s brother, Bob Morales, as it is about Ritchie. Esai Morales NAILS the part – you wanna hate him, but you just can’t.

If you go for the bad boy, guess what you’re going to get?

Sweet innocent Rosie couldn’t resist Bob’s bad boy appeal. Eventually, she ends up being surprised that Bob ain’t nothin’ but trouble. Ladies, listen up: sometimes what you see is what you get.

READ: 11 Iconic Movies that Make Your Heart Burst With Latino Pride

Never underestimate a Latina mom. NEVER.

Ritchie’s mom, Connie Valenzuela, was broke and falling behind on her mortgage. Regardless, she used her welfare check to rent out the veteran’s hall “so Ritchie’s band could play their first gig.” That’s how much she believed in her kid.

READ: 15 Reasons You Should Watch Stand & Deliver Again

There’s always one pinche drunk in the crowd…

…that ruins it for everyone. And it’s even worse when you happen to be related to the borracho.

America couldn’t handle a Valenzuela.

Ritchie’s given name is Richard Steven Valenzuela. Bob Keane of Del-Fi records suggested he go with Ritchie with a “t” to stand out from all the other Richies at the time and Valens instead of Valenzuela to appeal to a white *ahem* larger audience.

READ: 15 Reasons Everyone Should Watch ‘Stand and Deliver’ Again

When in doubt, go to Tijuana.

Bob takes Ritchie to Tijuana to forget about his troubles and get laid. Is it the best plan? Who knows, but they’re definitely not the first or last ones to go with it.

You might be a Valenzuela, but you’re still a pocho.

Sure, you may be discriminated in the US for being Mexican, but as soon as you cross the border, everyone including Tijuana prostitutes will call you out for being a pocho.

Wait, is that Los Lobos rockin’ pompadours?

Why yes, yes it is! And they rock hard on the soundtrack.

You don’t have to speak Spanish to record a hit song in Spanish.

Ritchie Valens rock-n-rollified the Mexican folk song “La Bamba” and turned it into a Top 40 hit in the US. Never mind that Valens didn’t really speak Spanish and had to learn the song phonetically.

This movie is hella meme-worthy.

There’s this…

and this…

This is true. #labamba

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AND, of course, it gave us one of the greatest scenes in Latino movie history:

Ritchie gif


I’m telling you, the movie is still tight. Go watch it, but before you do click the share button below! 

11 Latinas Slaying the Muralist Art Scene in Latin America


11 Latinas Slaying the Muralist Art Scene in Latin America

Since Diego Rivera’s heyday, the muralismo game has mainly been dominated by men. It’s seldom that we hear of female artists painting the walls of Latin America – but they’re out there. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most badass Latina street artists in Latin America, ranging from Mexico to Colombia to Panama and beyond.

Bety Avila


Avila’s murales are easy to spot. Her signature style distinguishes her from the rest. Large-scale black-and-white portraits created with ultra fine brush strokes can be see on walls all over Mexico.

Martanoemi Noriega


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#cindy #martanoemi #panama #arteurbano

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Hailing from Panama City, Noriega is one of the country’s most chingona grafiteras. Her murals range from the very political to comical and colorful. “The theme of doing art in public spaces is like an extreme sport. The setting isn’t controlled, like a gallery or in the theater… In the street, nothing is safe, and that’s the richness of the scenario,” she told Vía Plural.

Janín Nuz


Credit: janinuz / Facebook

Originally from San Luis Potosí, Nuz first got her hands on a bottle of aerosol when she was only 19. Femininity is the focal point of her work, and her large-scale murals typically feature portraits of women.



Credit: zurik / Facebook

Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Zurik has carted her aerosol bottles all over the world. Her loud and surrealist murals can be found in countries such as Australia, Italy, Denmark, and Spain.

Luna Portnoi


Credit: lunaportnoi / Facebook

Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Portnoi’s murals often feature rainbow-like elements. Her work is very reminiscent of the ’90s spirograph drawing toy.

READ: Here’s Some Girl Power Art to Make You Feel Strong and Beautiful… Because You Are

Dionicia Pegu


Dionicia Pegu is a muralist based in Mexico City. She studied art in the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and since then has been covering the streets of Mexico with her highly detailed and mystical paintings.

Ananda Nahu


Nahu is from Bahia, Brazil, but her work can be found all over the Bronx and Brooklyn in New York, where she has lead mural painting workshops for youth.



Meki’s main inspiration is cats and dogs, making it easy to spot her obras in her hometown of Lima, Perú.

Maria Antonieta Canfield


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#streetart #tepito #murals #mexico #love #ramos

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Canfield, the 29 year-old muralist splits her time between Brussels and her hometown of Mexico City. Her dream-like and vibrant murals mainly depict images from nature. She says that her art is influenced from her days in Catholic school as a kid, when a teacher once told her, “You’ll never be normal because you have too many birds in your head.”

Pau Quintanajornet


Born and raised and Chile, but moved to Berlin during high school, her murals demonstrate her unique cultural upbringing. She’s also a member of Turronas Crew, a widely-known group of Latina grafiteras.

Michelle Cunha


Cunha’s eclectic and playful murals can be found on the coast of northern Brazil. Just flipping through her Instagram will transport you to a different world.

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