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I’m gonna tell you a little
bit of my personal history. (Interviewer) go ahead. (Tony) I’m… I’m the youngest of three, and… I was born… with speech problems. I couldn’t speak well until I
was six years old. And, I also had… have… epilepsy. And everyone in life has put up
barriers for me. My mom told me I couldn’t
speak… and now I’m bilingual. In fact, trilingual, because I talk in English, talk in Spanish, and talk shit. “From a super small island” (Interviewer) Your name? (Tony) Anthony Andrew Banegas
Barcelo Jimenez Mojica. I am the owner of a Puerto Rican
food truck, here in Portland,
Oregon. Number 1 in Boricua food in
Portland… I’m the only one. And it’s my dream… My dream and I’ve had a passion
for food… since I was a kid. I feel good, I feel very happy. It hasn’t been easy, because not many people know
what a Puerto Rican is in this
city of Oregon, Portland, because we’re so far away from
the island… we’re not very well known. It’s not like if we were in
Miami or New York, where everyone knows what a
Boricua is, everyone knows what a plantain, and a mofongo is. It’s been kind of an uphill
battle but… I feel proud and happy to be
able to represent my island. My favorite plate to cook is
mofongo. (Interviewer) Yeah? (Tony) Because when one is
mashing, you get the smell, and it brings back childhood
memories, and of being in Puerto Rico… a lot of garlic, the plantain… And it’s the most typical, when you miss the island, that’s
what you wanna eat. This is gold for Puerto Ricans. You don’t get this easily here. (Interviewer)
What has surprised
you the most here? (Tony) The amount of Boricuas, the amount of Puerto Ricans
that come, from all over Oregon, they even come from Washington. (Interviewer) they come over
to… (Tony) to eat… There’s people that come all the
way from Seattle to eat, or from Salem, from Eugene, from
Corvallis… And I’m shocked… that people appreciate and love
what I do so much. I work too much… I don’t stop… but, I’m happy. I’m doing what I love. I’m far away from the island but
at the same time I feel very
close, because of the food, and because of the clients that
come to visit, and even in a moment like when
the Hurricane (Maria) happened, they would come over… and we would talk… “Hey, did you get in touch with
your family?” – “No, not yet” I hadn’t heard from my family,
but a friend heard from his
family, and they lived pretty close by, and he sent his family to go
check on my family, and we communicated that way, and they’d say “look, you can go
to this place and you’ll get
some signal and that way you can
call” I didn’t hear anything from my
family for almost a month, and at least that emotional
support… we had it, and we
could help each other. You know, we represent in so
much. Puerto Rico has things in
movies, music, sports… Now we’re even in the
government, you know? And little by little we’re
representing… and Puerto Rico… (Interviewer) Alexandria… Yeah… Puerto Rico leaves its
mark. And that’s where the name “El
Coquí” comes from. The coqui is a frog, a really
really small frog, but it sings super loud. Puerto Rico… is a super small
island, but… it makes its presence
felt… all over the world.

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