Published On: Thu, Jun 13th, 2013

What Exactly Is A Jibaro… & What’s With The Straw Hat? #IamNotPunchy

UJThis blog post is inspired by those awkward moments that I introduce myself as George Torres, The Urban Jibaro and the person I am talking to has no idea what I am talking about.

It is a question I get quite often when I find myself in the company of Non-Latinos…  My friend and fellow #TeamCapicu member, Jennifer suggested that I write a blog about my name and the very special straw hat that I wear. She is from Costa Rica and she really did not understand the concept behind my brand.

I think this will help people realize that I am not Punchy, the lovable lil character from  the Hawaiian Punch brand. I do see the similarities and understand the reference, I even thought it was funny but I do not have plans at this time to make “Jibaro Punch” (not even if it’s Guayaba flavored).

Branding has become very important these days, and I did not really get the luxury of choosing my brand. Unlike other people who actually took time to conceive a concept for their branding, my brand chose me. When I started the (Latino) conversation online back in the late 90’s, the internet was only a few years old. Geocities and AOL Chat rooms were the go to places for me to connect with other Latinos and share stories and poetry. There was certainly no real serious thoughts of making it a business at first. I started really thinking about sharing my musings which led to curating other talent, creating open mic show concepts /cultural events and ultimately led to having an established cultural exchange platform.

I do want to preface the rest of the blog post by saying that I would not trade it for anything… I LOVE MY BRAND!

So for all of you who wonder about the name Urban Jibaro and the Straw Hat I so proudly wear in the craziest places (like Hispanicize or Latism conferences) I am going to break it down for you.


El Jibaro by Augusto Marin

Jíbaro is a term commonly used in Puerto Rico to refer to mountain-dwelling peasants,[1] but in modern times it has gained a broader and, specifically, a nobler, cultural meaning.[2] {source:Wikipedia}. In Cuba they are called Guajiros.

In Puerto Rico, the Jíbaro culture has its origins in the Native Taino culture and the term Jíbaro usually refers to “La Gente de la Montañas” (the people of the interior montainous regions of Puerto Rico) and emerged in the 16th century with the blending of the Pre-Columbian Native Taino and Spanish European cultures in the central mountains of the island of Puerto Rico.

To me, a “Jibaro” is a hard working, humble man that has a strong sense of cultural pride. I was raised between NY and Puerto Rico most of my life which really gives me a dual sense of identity. I have street smarts having grown up during the birth of the Hip Hop culture (ps. we did not call it that back then). I also have the experience of living on the island, experiencing life, education, culture, politics and learning the language first hand. As the Jibaro cultivated the land on la isla… I cultivate cultural stories and experiences online and sometimes market events that tie into that part of our cultural legacy to people looking to reconnect.

These elements in my life (as well as a rude cultural awakening) and how I carried myself, inspired my friend and mentor, the late Richie Perez to call me “Urban Jibaro”.

Now, no Jibaro would be complete without a “Pava”… The pava is the traditional hat used by sugar cane cutters, coffee pickers, and other agricultural workers. It is emblematic of thejíbaro (a Puerto Rican from the countryside) and the rustic traditions of the island’s folkways. The pava is so closely associated with the notion of authentic Puerto Rican culture that when Luis Muñoz Marín founded the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) in 1938, the party adopted the pava, as its symbol. (source: Teodoro Vidal)

My Urban Jibaro official attire would probably be me wearing a beautiful hand sewn Guayabera (also known as Mexican Wedding or Safari Shirts), a pair of blue jeans and some shell top Adidas for the urban touch. As is expected, A pava to make the look complete.

The biggest struggle is helping those that do not really understand the unusual pen name and straw hat to understand the strong symbolic value that shapes my communication online. Although much of this is rooted in Puerto Rican culture, ask anyone that knows me and they will tell you that my love for our culture has expanded to all of the Americas… I have a very Pan Latino soul. I guess this post will be shared with everyone that has that question… maybe the title of this post should have been Urban Jibaro: Demystified. I do discuss this in a deeper and more meaningful way when discussing how my mentor saved my life and my personal bio located in the About Me section of the blog.

Last but not least… I want to share a few other things that you may not know (por se acaso). Here are some common hashtags related to some of the things I do outside the blogging and social influence realm. These may also be difficult to decipher…

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#CapicuCulture: Refers to Capicu Cultural Showcase, an event management group I co-founded with PaPo Swiggity (The most prolific social influencer I know) that produces diverse poetry and performing arts events in New York City, formed using the philosophies of the most progressive intellectual and artistic movements of the last century (i.e. The Harlem Renaissance, the Beat Poets & most notably the Nuyorican Movement). The name CAPICU references the winning move in a domino game. This word is screamed when you slam the last domino on the table when you win. 

Want to attend some of our events… join our Capicu Culture Facebook page

#RadioCapicu is the first Latino online radio webcast that discusses Latino issues on the interactive Blog Talk Radio platform. Segments will include open mic poetry, in depth interviews and discussions with prominent people in our community about issues relevant to the evolution of our culture as well as the preservation of our heritage. We are like the Wu Tang Clan of Latino culture. Listen to some archived shows… 

#TeamCapicu is the team of mentors, artists, poets, filmmakers, radio personalities, social influencers and other talented people that help organize our initiatives.  This is my family and they are the ones that make almost everything my partner PaPo Swiggity and I conceive a reality… they have defined what #CapicuCulture means in our community.




Let’s Recap…


I am not PUNCHY

I will not create a line of Guayaba Punch

I do not sell Sofrito on my site (but maybe I should)

Capicu Cultural Showcase is not a Domino tournament

and I am not crazy…

I am a culturally eclectic Urban Jibaro who loves his culture, wears a straw hat, screams CAPICU!, hangs out with a guy named PaPo Swiggity  and tweets about it… alot

Any Questions?


(p.s. I cannot believe I even wrote this blog post)


George Torres
The Urban Jibaro
Cultivando Cultura since 1997…
Social Media | Branding | Event Management
Follow me on Twitter… @UrbanJibaro 






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What Exactly Is A Jibaro… & What’s With The Straw Hat? #IamNotPunchy