La Rondalla Alisal

Richard Andrade: Advanced Guitar  Instructor


Guitar has played a big role in my life. My mother  insisted I give it an honest effort and try Armando Sarabia’s class which was under the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts. I instantly felt  warm welcomed and comforted in Mr. Sarabia’s class. His simplicity, enthusiasm, patience and heart for teaching had radically changed my feelings towards the arts in general.

I became hooked to guitar, music, and the theater arts (even though he didn’t teach theater arts). It was at the age of ten I became a guitar passionate. It was really tough for me to learn guitar though, and it wasn’t that I couldn’t process what I was learning, but for monetary issues. For families in the East Salinas, it’s really hard to own a guitar and for my family to take me to the guitar sessions.

Thankfully the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts offered these classes free, if not I would have never enjoyed guitar. I somehow acquired an old guitar that hardly worked (my mother surprised me with it, but she wouldn’t reveal the details) and . When ACFA found a home in the Salinas Recreational Bread Box. It was there where I lived my adolescence years.

Most teenagers in my community want to be part of something and belong somewhere. Unfortunately the easiest path is gangs. But I belonged in something that I always considered bigger, ACFA Rondalla Armonia de Armando Sarabia. The Rondalla not only taught me how to play the guitar but most importantly, to value and restore a lost tradition that it is hardly remembered today—the Rondalla.

We revived the songs our parents, grandparents and even great grandparents listened to. When Mr. Sarabia saw my interest in the group and music, he showed me something that I first didn’t understand but now I’m very grateful, he thought me how to teach and reach to the young ones. During my last years in the Rondalla I was his assistant.  He would have me teach the basics to the incoming students or while he was making copies of songs to handout, he would have me take over. He played the biggest role in my musical life. He pushed me forward to exploit my talent. I became part of the theater group and choir in my church and after that, formed a Spanish rock group with my friends from the Rondalla.

The Rondalla gave fruits to lots of the local musicians and even some who were able to strike a contract with record labels. Most importantly the Rondalla awoke my interest in teaching. I’m currently studying to become a high school teacher—something that would never have crossed my mind if I wasn’t part of the Rondalla.  I now have a clear vision of what path I want my life to take.

For one third of my life, I’ve benefitted from what the ACFA offers to young people like me. And now I want the kids from my community to have more of the same benefits that I had when I was growing up. These kids have a center where they could come and enrich their lives with culture, music, and heritage. They have the opportunity to get a free guitar. And if I am granted as part of ACFA team of instructors, they will have a devoted instructor who knows what it feels like to be a pupil learning guitar.

La Rondall Alisal

Danny Andrade: Beginner and Intermediate Guitar Instructor

Xochitli Ollin 

Carlos Cortez: Blossoming Movement Theater Instructor


Carlos L. Cortez was Born in Los Angeles is an artist in many mediums including theater, guitar and poetry. He has been a member of  Hartnell College’s Western Stage Theater for more than half of his career and now teaches a bi-weekly theater arts class at the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts.  He has a knack for imbuing his students with a passion for theater and performance. You can also find Carlos playing Guitar for local bands at many live music venues.

Emily Morales : Assistant Theater Instructor


 Emily Morales

As a Performer, Director, and Writer rose in the Salinas Valley, Emily Morales has been active in the arts for the past 16 years. As the founder of “Artists Ink”, (a Salinas based organization advocating for local up-and-coming artists) Emily has directed and produced projects such as; Artists Ink’s feature film “A Tree in the Valley” of which depicts the talent, potential and culture of young artists in Salinas.

Throughout her career Emily has had the privilege of working with great local companies such as El Teatro Campesino, The Western Stage, Alisal Center for Fine Arts, The National Steinbeck Center, CHISPA, Arts Council for Monterey County and the Arts council for San Benito County. Most recently, her energy and passion for the arts has become focused on teaching and developing young artists. Teaching and growing through the arts, Emily believes in its power and ability to break down barriers and bring communities together.

Joshua Alfaro: Alisal Percussion


From an early age, Joshua has been fascinated by music.  In elementary school, middle school, and high school Joshua excelled in a variety of musical instruments, such as the violin, french horn, mellophone, trumpet, euphonium, marching tenor drums, drumset and various latin percussion instruments.

 After high school he became a member of various world-class marching ensembles.  He has toured across the country and traveled tens of thousands of miles with these ensembles.  He played drum-set and marching tenor drums with The Black Knights Drum Corps, from Burbank, California.  He played marching bass drum and marching tenor drums with Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps, from Diamond Bar, California.  He also played marching tenor drums with the Santa Clara Vanguard, from Santa Clara, California.

 Over the years, Joshua has been fortunate to work with many great middle school and high school percussion programs, such as, Granada Hills High School, Leigh High School, James Logan High School, The James Logan Middle School Percussion Program, Mountain View High School, Blach Middle School, Cupertino High School, and Independence High School.

He has also been fortunate to work with several Drum Corps in Southern and Northern California, such as, The Black Knights Drum Corps, The Renegades Senior Corps, The Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets and Fever Drum and Bugle Corps.

 As a professional musician and music arranger, Joshua has several recordings that he played, and co-produced, on iTunes.  He currently plays percussion and sings lead vocals with a Salsa band, Salson, from Monterey, who recently performed at the San Francisco Salsa Congress with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. He has performed on music videos with famous pop artists like “Kid” from Kid & Play, Prince Damons, “E-40”, and “2-Short”.  He has played with the 49’ers Drumline, “Niner Noise” and has had many of his arrangements performed at numerous college football games and professional NFL football games.  He arranged music for the San Jose State University Marching band for five years and was also contracted to play with the drumline, and to teach it as well.  Joshua has also performed on American Idol, alongside with many of his past students.

Joshua is very passionate about teaching music.  He is a firmly believes that music has the power to change lives.  Throughout his 13 years of teaching he has helped many of his students become professional musicians and successful young adults.  Many have toured the country and the world.  Many have become music teachers themselves.  Many have recorded professionally in the studio and performed countless times on national television.

Joshua lives in Salinas, California.  He currently works with the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts  to focus on changing the lives of young people in the East Salinas Community through music.

Imagine Visual Arts

Edward Chavez

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Edward Benito Chavez Hin was raised in Mexicali, Baja California for 12 years. When his parents separated, his mother moved to Guadalupe, California carrying with her two other sons and Edward. He spent most of all his teenage years living in Guadalupe. It was very difficult for Edward to adjust to a whole new life style. Living in the United States was an entire different experience from his past life. He encountered a language barrier and cultural shock. He found art as his way to communicate the feelings and experiences he was forced to face. His life experiences ended up shaping his mentality. Art became his passion. The canvas and paintbrushes were his tools to expand his mind and reflect his life lessons.

While participating with the community throughout his art projects, Edward became connected with his community. Throughout his artwork, he was able to provide voice to the unheard voices of the community. He had encountered life experiences similar to many disadvantaged students just as he once was back in his neighborhood. He developed a strong aspiration for success.

After, graduating from high school, he attended Allan Hancock Community College, and then transferred to California State University Monterey Bay. While completing his academic preparation, he worked for California Mini-Corps. As a Mini-Corps student, Edward provided his services to the migrant student population. He was able to identify himself with the students he mentored; since, they had encountered the same struggles. Edward is one of the few Chicanos who were able to overcome the educational struggles enforced upon minorities. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Education in Art with a concentration in mural paintings. After college, Edward decided to follow the passion for social change in the community.

He wants to inspire students to get a higher education, and teach them how they can use their education to apply it in their own communities and pass it on.
Edward was blessed with the opportunity to work for RISE program. The program’s mission statement provided Edward with the desire he needed to implement his ideologies and become an effective counselor. As a counselor, mentor, and friend, Edward provides academic support to all RISE students in need to make college a reality and not just a fantasy. Currently, he is working with students from middle school up to high school. Working for RISE has become a tremendous personal satisfaction to his spirit. He wakes up every morning knowing that he makes a difference in the student’s lives. He acknowledges how every day is a battle and there is no victory without a struggle. Helping students brings Edward the motivation he needs to live a life, which creates change in society as well as within his own self.
Edward has used his motivation to help others at the same time he helps his own spiritual self. He has realized in life that one cannot enjoy personal satisfaction with out contributing to those who have share his same experiences. In his future, Edward pursues to continue participating in activities, which lead to a more equitable society.



Juan Gomez

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Juan Gomez is a Policy Analyst with MILPA a “collective” cadre of intergenerational stewards making change through critical advocacy , and culture. He is also a Senior Training and Program Specialist with The National Compadres Network. In addition while a Fellow for The California Endowment, Mr. Gomez focused on statewide grant making strategies for Boys and Men of Color (BMoC). Mr. Gomez was raised in Watsonville, CA where he grew up with his grandma Amelia and grandpa Ampelio.

Colectiva de Mujeres

Shi Cota

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Shi has been an advocate for the youth in east Salinas for 15 years. She enjoys facilitating cultural programs like Xinatchli and the Colectiva de Mujeres to guide young girls and women through rites of passage as they explore balance, advocacy and the roles of the female in community development

El Manifesto de la Comunidad

Juan Carlos Padilla

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El Manifesto de la Comunidad is a community based wall mural project that will engage the residents of east Salinas in designing a wall mural that highlights the rich history of the farmworkers while at the same time encouraging them to dream a collective vision for the future of their community. Three youth muralists from east Salinas have been identified to host a series of community gatherings at ACFA. The information gathered from these meetings will be used to inform a conceptual design for the wall mural. The Mural will live at ACFA and serve as ongoing inspiration, reflecting back to our community the rich history of their accomplishments and the vibrant and thriving community that they are part of dreaming and building.

El Joven Noble

John Pineda


John Pineda, is a 30 year old proud father of 6 children.  One of the original co-founders of MILPA he was born and raised in Monterey County.  Mr. Pineda currently serves as the Healing Informed Trainer for MILPA. He is also an alumni of the prestigious Health Career Connections internship program. John has been learning, designing and implementing curriculum and pedagogy that is relevant to this generations’ emerging leaders of color and consciousness. He is dedicated to his family, children and community and with great love he approaches this family oriented movement.