Tag Archives: Leyendas

Balaguer and His Hat

Joaquín Amparo Balaguer Ricardo

Born September 1, 1906 – Died July 14, 2002. Balaguer was the President of the Dominican Republic from 1960 to 1962, from 1966 to 1978, and from 1986 to 1996. It was said that as long as Balaguer had his hat on that there would never be a major hurricane.

The story is told that he made a pact with the Virgen de la Altagracia. During all his times being president there was never a natural disaster that he had to deal with (the hat on could mean a real hat or maybe the proverbial hat meaning he was still in charge).

Interpretation of Balaguer and the mysteries surrounding him by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu
Interpretation of Balaguer and the mysteries surrounding him by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu

Once when Balaguer had a heart attack the island was hit with a small hurricane. The Dominican people believed he had died and they were not told as this is the only way that this hurricane would have hit the island.

I was told by friends of mine that the people were truly afraid when he did die in 2002. Many believed that soon after there would be a giant catastrophic event in the Dominican Republic. It is said that he was buried with his hat on so the island will still be protected until it rots in the grave.

There are a few other mysteries surrounding Balaguer. He wrote poetry and many works of literature. One of these books was called Memorias de un Cortesano. Balaguer, in this book stated that he knew the truth about the controversial death of the revolutionary journalist Orlando Martínez. This book had a blank page in the center. He said that when he died the page would be filled.

The page in the book is blank to this day…

Abad Alfau and the Skull

Abad Alfau y la Calavera/ Abad Alfau and the Skull

The legend of Abad Alfau y la Calavera starts at the Iglesia y Convento de los Padres Dominicos / Church and Convent of Dominican Fathers. This is where the wall was located that held the skull that changed Abad life forever.

Dominican Myth and Legend Abad Alfau y la calavera interpretation by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu
Interpretation of Abad Alfau y la calavera by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu

There was a wall near the church (torn down in 1905). In this wall there was a little niche. Inside this niche was a human skull. Written below this skull was this saying.

“Oh tú que pasando vas
Fija los ojos en mí
Cual tú te ves yo me ví
cual yo me veo tu te veras”

Roughly translated to mean
“Oh, you who are passing by,
fix your eyes on me,
the way you look I used to look,
the way I look, is the way you will.”

I have no idea why this skull was there or who it belonged to but it was there and it had been for quite some time. This eyeless white skull with its lifeless grin smiled at all who passed. No one paid it much attention until one evening. After the street lamplighters passed, lighting the lamps in the streets, this lifeless skull came to life!

A neighbor was walking by, as he did every night going to his home, when he heard a noise. He turned and there was the skull. IT WAS MOVING! The skull was nodding. Moving its body-less head to and fro. While it was grinning and making diabolical sounds.

As is common here in Dominican Republic, the news passed rapidly between all the neighbors. People would see the skull moving at night. Soon not even the bravest military personal would use that street after dark. All were terrified of this chattering skull.

After too many of the men ran in fear to the Fortaleza speaking of this frightful skull the 19 year old battalion sergeant Alfau Abad had enough. He was so disappointed and fed up with the actions of his military friends that he decided to take matters into his own hands.

The next night he had the men get a ladder and he went to the wall. These cowardly men held their distance while watching their friend in horror. Abad approached the nitch where the skull was moving and chattering. He bravely put the ladder against the wall and ascended. Alfau drew his trusty sword and whapped that nasty thing! The skull broke and fell to the ground. When it hit a group of mice scurried from the shards, running in all directions.

The next day the street sweeper cleaned up the broken skull. No one ever spoke of this skull again. The wall was torn down years later but the embarrassment of the people who ran in fear from a mice filled skull always remained.

Antonio Alfau Abad Baralt was Vice-President of Dominican Republic under President Pedro Santana from 1858-1861. (A little history of the real Alfau Abad).

Lolito Flochón

Lolito Flochón

This middle class plumber and mason Lolito Flochón has had a place in Dominican folklore since the late 1800’s.

The Go Santo Domingo Ciudad Colonial Carnaval mascot statue of Lolito Flochón
The Go Santo Domingo Ciudad Colonial Carnaval mascot statue of Lolito Flochón

The story goes that Lolito Flochón was a middle class laborer who was working of the reconstruction of the main altar of the first Cathedral of the Americas, Metropolitan Basilica Santa Maria la Menor in 1877 under the supervision of Padre Francisco Xavier Billini.

In his reconstruction work he came across what was thought to be the remains of the discoverer of the Americas, Christopher Columbus, in a casket under the altar. This fact was never really confirmed but it really did not matter. The President at that time, General Ulysses Heureaux was so happy about the find he offered to grant Lolito whatever reward he would like for this wonderful discovery. Lolito replied that he wanted to lead the Carnival celebrations.

The wish of the laborer Lolito Flochón was granted. This iconic and unique character was blessed by the City Council to authorize the opening of the carnival. Since then no one could start Carnival partying without Lolito Flochón giving permission and leading the way.

Lolito Flochón
Lolito Flochón

Before this time in history Carnival was divided into two different celebrations, the upper and lower class each had their own separate celebrations. With the reward granted to Lolita, it brought both classes together to make it one grand celebration for all people.

It was said, “Columbus discovered America and Lolito discovered Columbus.”

Lolito, a common man, laborer, mason, of humble social class found his place in Dominican history.

Lotito Flochón at the Carnaval in the Zona Colonial
Lotito Flochón at the Carnaval in the Zona Colonial

So when you see this nostalgic figure, a uniquely dressed silly looking man in big yellow glasses, try to imagine how happy he was dancing and partying in front of the carnival procession. All because he found a casket in the alter.