Las mañanitas

Song by:
Manuel M. Ponce
Testimony by:
Beatriz Bataszew Contreras
Experience in:
Campamento de Prisioneros, Tres Álamos, December 1974 - May 1976

Normally we would sing when they locked us up in the barracks, from seven or eight at night until eight or nine in the morning. Sometimes the guards would come in but didn’t stay. It was our act.

I didn’t experience it as someone who joins a choir, but as a space for encounters, dialogue and de-stressing, as a chance to say something that would be heard. Once I met someone who lived a block away from Tres Álamos and said that she could hear us. For me it was never “right, let’s go to the singing workshop”.

To every comrade who had a birthday, before going out to formation, we would sing "Las mañanitas" and we would give them presents. The majority of the female prisoners would come together and sing to you. I spent one birthday in prison. Birthdays were important for everyone because we were alive. Because you have a birthday when you’re alive.

I see these stories as acts of dignity and integrity, as opposed to fragmented memories as an end to the story.

Published on: 08 November 2016

These are the mañanitas* that King David used to sing
today being your saint's day, we sing them to you.

Wake up my dear, wake up, see that the day has already dawned
the little birds are already singing, the moon has already set.

How lovely is this morning, when I come to greet you
we all come with joy and pleasure to greet you.

The day on which you were born all the flowers were born
and in the baptismal font all the nightingales sang.

It is already dawning, the day has already given us light
rise this morning and see that it's already dawned.