La Llorona legend still wails by the riverbank

By Tony Parra: PNT staff writer

The Hispanic horror tale of “La Llorona” has always been used by parents to scare their children and keep them from staying out late at night and for some eight- and nine-year-olds from Portales, the tale reiterated their fears.

“My mom told me that story first,” Andrea Ontiveros of Portales said. “My mom said she’ll hide behind a dumpster to make sure I don’t stay up late at night.”

Rosalia De Aragon of Albuquerque performed a solo act of “La Llorona” at the Becky Sharp Auditorium on the Eastern New Mexico University campus Thursday. She wore a black dress and in dim lighting, she put on a mask making her look face old, wrinkled and decayed.

“It was scary,” Rudianna Ornelas, a nine-year-old from Portales said. Ornelas attended the performance with her friends Ontiveros and Alysia Sotelo.

Sotelo, an eight year-old from Portales, said she first heard the tale from her cousin.

“My mom also used to tell me the story to keep us (girls) from staying out late at night,” Sotelo said. “I stayed out late playing basketball one night. I don’t do it anymore.”

Legend has it that La Llorona was a grieving mother who threw her sons into the river. She immediately regretted it but she could not save them in time. The next morning she was found dead. The first night Maria Gonzales, the grieving mother, was in the grave, the villagers heard the sound of crying down by the river. It was La Llorona crying. “Where are my children?” as she walked along the bank of the river looking for her sons.

Ontiveros is so interested in the folk legend that she said she wants to dress up as La Llorona for Halloween this year.

The Office of Hispanic Affairs and The New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities sponsored the event.

Aragon brings La Llorona to life through her performances and songs. Aragon’s mother, Rosa-Maria Calles directs two-hour plays of La Llorona. Aragon plays the lead role of La Llorona. Calles said they have been putting together the productions for five years.

Calles said a cast of 27 actors and actresses have put the play together at New Mexico Technology University in Socorro, New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas and in different Albuquerque locations.