01/23/2013 04:11 pm ET Updated Mar 25, 2013

Puerto Rico Is a Homeland to 4.3 Million Boricuas in the States

I just returned from my vacation of spending Navidad in Puerto Rico. As a Puerto Rican born on the island and raised in the states I had never spent the Christmas holidays in Puerto Rico until I was an adult. Those vacations were usually one week or two weeks. I would leave right after Christmas here and spend New Years Eve with my folks in Guayama, Puerto Rico.

It was during that period in my younger life that I learned that Three Kings Day was the real gift-giving day in the island. As a struggling young man with a family of two young girls, I quickly learned the cultural and economic values of celebrating Three Kings. As such, I remember taking my daughters out of class every January 6 to go to El Barrio here in New York City and watch the Three Kings Day parade sponsored by El Museo Del Barrio and several community businesses.

Celebrating Three Kings was not only good for my daughters learning the customs of their culture, but it was a real help to me economically. In those days I was on a tight budget and buying my daughters the dolls and toys of the moment was a bit out of my budget. However, now celebrating Three Kings I was able to save a lot of money and always provide the toys that my kids wanted for Christmas. The fact that everything was 50 percent off the day after Christmas here in the states was a bonanza for me. Thus I would always buy my kids small modest gift for them to open on Christmas day and I would give them the more expensive gifts for Three Kings at huge savings.

I mention that experience because that is one of many benefits that we Puerto Ricans here in the states have by recognizing and staying connected to our homeland, our patria. I believe that we have to be like some Jews who no matter where they live always look to Israel as their homeland. The virtues of associating culturally to a piece of land, that you can feel and believe in, is more than a destination, it becomes part of your existence and has incredible potential.

I plan to write other pieces on this topic of how we 4.3 million Boricuas in the states and the 3.7 million on the island should be looking to work closer together to form a powerful Homeland on the island and a powerful community here wherever we find ourselves in. Its time we have our Encuentro Boricua.