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Historical Figures

Click on the hyperlinked names (in blue below) for additional information about each of these important figures of bomba history.

Name Dates Regions Brief Notes (click on name for more)
Albizu Dávila, Isabel   Ponce   She was a singer from Ponce and the daughter of multiple generations of bomberxs. She co-founded the group Bambalue in the late 1970s and has a Bomba school named in her honor in her hometown. Her self-titled album was released in 2011. She was the mother of contemporary bombero Beto Santiago.
Alomar, Heraclio (or possibly Eraquio)   Ponce   Bombero mentioned in an old song. It is believed that he was from Santa Isabel (near Ponce).
Alvarado Ramos, Juan “Balao”   Ponce   He was a drummer from Ponce and distant relative of Isabel Albizu Dávila. He gave her his drums near the end of his life so that she may start a Bomba group.
Archeval, William   Ponce   Also known as William el “Indio,” possibly because he was known to straigthen his hair as a young man. He was a drummer and organizer of Bomba dances in Ponce. A significant body of photographs taken by Hiram Maristany in the early 1970s documented a bomba dance at William Archeval’s cafetín.
“Balao,” Juan       See Juan Alvarado Ramos.
Belén, Cico   Ponce   Drummer from Puerto de Jobos (Guayama). Husband of bomba singer María Texidor. Played with Pablo Lind.
Brenes Luzunaris, Petronila 1876-1945 Humacao

  Mother of Caridad Brenes
Brenes Caballero, Caridad 1914-1994 Humacao, Cangrejos   Matriarch of the current Cepeda family of bomberxs.
Cepeda (family of Bomba practitioners)    
Cepeda Atiles, Rafael 1908-1996 Cangrejos   Known as the “patriarca de la bomba,” and also the patriarch of today’s Cepeda family of bomberxs.
Cepeda Robles, Modesto 1876-1935 Loíza, San Juan   Father of Don Rafael “El Viejo” Cepeda Atiles
Cepeda, Manuel (Telesforo) 1850-1890 Loíza

  Grandfather of Don Rafael “El Viejo” Cepeda Atiles.
Cepeda, Claudina 1820-1885 Loíza   Great-grandmother of Don Rafael “El Viejo” Cepeda Atiles.
Cora, Domingo   Arroyo   A known dancer from the Cora family from this town.
Flores, Eustacio   San Juan-Cangrejos   He is credited with composing the song Alegria Bomba e’ and is one of the few bomberxs for which there is a photo. He is the father of Luis “El Madamo” (born to Flores and La Ponchinela, aka María del Carmen Ortiz Salomón).
Guilbe, Petronila   San Juan-Cangrejos-Cataño   Bombera known in the San Juan-Cangrejos-Cataño region. Petronila Güilbe: Petronila Guilbe is a historical persona in Bomba. Rafael Cepeda popularized a song titled “Yo no declaré” about her. A 1999 Master’s thesis by José Fernandez Morales identifies her as a dancer.
Lind, Pablo   Arroyo, Guayama   One of the greatest subidores (primo drum players) of Southern PR in the early 20th Century.
López, Ricardo Candelario “Chato”   Guayama   Also known as “Chato,” he organized Bomba dances at his cafetín in Puerto de Jobos, Guayama. This property was designated as a historic site by PROPA in 2019. He is a relative of Miguel Flores López.
Maldonado, Flor “el Patón”   Cataño   He was a singer. He was the nephew of drummer Yenye and the namesake for La Ponchinela’s grand nephew.
Náter, Sergio        
Negrón, Domingo   Cataño   Dancer and organizer of bailes de bomba at his home in Cataño which was designated as a historic site by PROPA in 2019. He is documented in the book La Musica de Puerto Rico, in different academic monographs and in Bomba songs. His daughter, Rosa Cándida Negrón, was interviewed by several bomba researchers who have documented her memories of the bailes de bomba hosted by her father and mother (see below).
Oquendo Rodríguez, María Blasina   Caraño   She was from Old San Juan but lived in New York and Cataño with her husband Domingo Negrón. She was the mother of Rosa Cándida Negrón.
Ortiz Cirino, Cruz “Chichito”    Loíza   Also known as “chichito de Loíza.” He was one of the last drummers of traditional Bomba from Loiza. The many groups he participated with included Paracumbe in the 1980s. He was documented in the early 1970s by photographer Hiram Maristany. 
Ortiz Salomón, María del Carmen   San Juan-Cangrejos-Cataño   A dancer from Santurce. She is largely credited with revolutionizing dance for women by being the first woman to shift from a dance that was purely figuras to one that included piquetes.
Ortiz Salomón, Julia Lucía   San Juan-Cangrejos-Cataño   The youngest sister of la Ponchinela. She too was a dancer. She told her descendants that she and her sisters danced for a US president. In 2021, her gravesite was defiled by the administrators of the  Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery in Old San Juan.
París, Carmen       She was a singer and organizer of bailes de bomba and Fiestas de Cruz. She and her ancestors were from San Mateo de Cangrejos, and she lived in Santurce with her husband Sergio Náter until her death. She is the great-grandmother of the bomberxs known as Hermanos Emmanuelli (Jorge, José and Victor “Vitito”).
Plaud, Simón c.a. 1860s-1951 Patillas   Bombero (tocador) of the of the Plaud (pronounced Plou) family from Patillas.
Ponchinela, la   San Juan-Cangrejos-Cataño   See María del Carmen Ortiz Salomón
Salomón Cooper, Isabel   San Juan-Cangrejos   She was born in St. Thomas before immigrating to Puerto Rico. She was the mother of María del Carmen Ortiz Salomón (“la Ponchinela) and her sisters, Julia Lucía and Esmeralda. She is documented in the 1948 book Puerto Rican Cookbook.
Sánchez Cora, Domingo   Arroyo   He organized bailes de bomba on his property in Palmas, Arroyo. This property was designated as a historic site by PROPA in 2019.
Texidor, María   Guayama   Bomba singer from Guayama (Puerto de Jobos). Wife of Cico Belén. Most likely the main singer in the widely circulaitng mp3 files known as the “Guayama Recordings.”
Tombé, Melitón   Loíza   Meliton Ramos, an African stolen from the Continent and, per his own testimony, brought to Puerto Rico aboard the slave ship the Majesty.
Soler, Francisco   Mayagüez    
Verdejo, Julia   Ponce   She was originally from Cangrejos but lived in Ponce with her husband William Archeval and she frequented bailes de bomba there. She was interviewed by several bomba researchers including Emanuel Dufrasne. An interview with her also appears in Jerry Ferrao’s documentary titled “Ayeres de la bomba.”
Villodas Vázquez, Salomé   Guayama   She was a dancer and singer from Guayama. She was the matriarch of a large Bomba family and referred to it as the Raza Villodas. Her children included bomberas Amalia and Julia Clavell.


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