Florencio Morales Ramos
Florencio "Flor" Morales Ramos (September 5, 1915 – February 23, 1989), much more better known as Ramito, was a famous Puerto Rican
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 singer, trovador, and composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 who was a native of Caguas, Puerto Rico
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Caguas , founded in 1775, is a city and municipality of Puerto Rico located in the Central Mountain Range of Puerto Rico, south of San Juan and Trujillo Alto, west of Gurabo and San Lorenzo, east of Aguas Buenas, Cidra, and Cayey....

. He is considered the king of Jíbaro music. His brothers Luis ("Luisito") and Juan María ("Moralito") also attained major recognition as jíbaro singers.

Early years

Ramito was born in the Bairoa subsection of Caguas (very close to where Bairoa Gym
Bairoa Gym
Bairoa Gym is a boxing gym located in the Bairoa barrio area of Caguas, Puerto Rico.El gimnasio Bairoa, as it is known in Spanish, is a famous boxing gym in Puerto Rico because of the list of world champions and top contenders who have trained there. World champions who have used this facility...

, headquarters for many Puerto Rican prizefighters and boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

 champions, stands nowadays); "Caguitas" (Little Caguas) was a boyhood nickname of his, used by his closest friends. He left school in fourth grade ("but an old-time fourth grade at that!", he mentioned whenever asked) to assist his parents, who were parenting twelve other children (including six of their own), and whose thereby economic situation was precarious. His mother had been an amateur singer and improviser and he would sing her favorite songs at the sugar cane fields where he served, first as a water boy and later as a messenger and sugar cane cutter. Regarded as a good singer by his peers, he was already singing for money at the age of thirteen. In 1932 he participated at a local trova
Trova is one of the great roots of the Cuban music tree. In the 19th century a group of itinerant musicians known as trovadores moved around Oriente, especially Santiago de Cuba, earning their living by singing and playing the guitar...

 singers contest in Caguas. That was the beginning of fame for "Ramito".

Musical career

Ten years later, in 1942, he inaugurated the WIAC
WIAC is a radio station broadcasting a News Talk Information format. Licensed to San Juan, Puerto Rico , it serves the Puerto Rico area...

 radio station, a station with national reach. He also sang in the inaugural broadcast of WKJB-AM in Mayagüez
Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
Mayagüez is the eighth-largest municipality of Puerto Rico. Originally founded as "Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria" it is also known as "La Sultana del Oeste" , "Ciudad de las Aguas Puras" , or "Ciudad del Mangó"...

, in 1948. Later he animated the radio show "La Hora del Volante", from Bayamón
Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Bayamón is a municipality of Puerto Rico located on the northern coastal valley, north of Aguas Buenas and Comerío; south of Toa Baja and Cataño; west of Guaynabo; and east of Toa Alta and Naranjito. Bayamón is spread over 11 wards and Bayamón Pueblo...

. His affable stage presence and reputation as a fast improviser and bright lyricist earned him a large following in Puerto Rico and growing communities of Puerto Rican migrants to the northeastern United States.

"Ramito" was featured in the short musical film "Truya" (1950), along the most reputed Puerto Rican jíbaro singers and musicians of the time, including Jesús Sánchez Erazo "Chuíto El De Bayamón", Ernestina Reyes, "La Calandria", Maso Rivera and others. He also appeared on television multiple times and he released a wide number of trova album
An album is a collection of recordings, released as a single package on gramophone record, cassette, compact disc, or via digital distribution. The word derives from the Latin word for list .Vinyl LP records have two sides, each comprising one half of the album...

s, of which many were best sellers in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 and other Latin American countries.

Between 1960 and 1972 he nominally moved to New York, where he worked on the radio show "La Montaña Canta" on the WHOM
WHOM is an American radio station which airs an adult contemporary format. It transmits from atop Mount Washington in New Hampshire and has a broadcast area of five states and Quebec. While the signal can be heard all over northern New England, the station broadcasts from and considers itself part...

 station. He maintained a constant presence in Puerto Rico, however, virtually living between both places.

"Ramito" became an icon to fans of trova music in Puerto Rico, specially those in the mountainside areas of that island. He toured intensely in Latin America and the United States, and had a particularly strong following among the Puerto Rican community in Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

, which he visited twice. He also visited Okinawa, where he entertained Puerto Rican troops of the United States military who were stationed there. He sang for president John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 at the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 on November 1961, in a showcase of Puerto Rican musical talent that complemented a visit by then governor Luis Muñoz Marín
Luis Muñoz Marín
Don José Luis Alberto Muñoz Marín was a Puerto Rican poet, journalist, and politician. Regarded as the "father of modern Puerto Rico," he was the first democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico. Muñoz Marín was the son of Luis Muñoz Rivera, a renowned autonomist leader...

 to Washington.

Musical work

Ramito influenced several Puerto Rican musicians and singers, not only within the canción jíbara realm, but also in other Puerto Rican music genres, such as plena
Plena is a folkloric genre native to Puerto Rico. Its creation was influenced by African and Spanish music.-History:The music is generally folkloric. The music's beat and rhythm are usually played using hand drums called panderetas, but also known as panderos or pleneras. The music is accompanied...

 and salsa
Salsa music
Salsa music is a genre of music, generally defined as a modern style of playing Cuban Son, Son Montuno, and Guaracha with touches from other genres of music...

. He is credited with inventing the seis de enramada, one of the many musical structures to which Puerto Rican country music is sung to (collectively named seises after a distantly related genre made popular in Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

n music). He also popularized the seis llanera, a variety of seis that incorporated musical influences that are also common to Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...


Willie Colón
Willie Colón
William Anthony Colón is a Nuyorican salsa musician. Primarily a trombonist, Colón also sings, writes, produces and acts. He is also involved in municipal politics in New York City.-Early years:...

 was so strongly moved by Ramito's work that he recorded Patria y Amor, one of Ramito's décimas, as part of his seminal Christmas album Asalto Navideño (1971). Héctor Lavoe
Héctor Lavoe
Héctor Juan Pérez Martínez , better known as Héctor Lavoe, was a Puerto Rican salsa singer. Lavoe was born and raised in the Machuelito sector of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Early in his life, he attended a local music school and developed an interest inspired by Jesús Sánchez Erazo. He moved to New York...

's interpretation of the song, renamed "Canto a Borinquen" for the album, is considered the definitive version of this patriotic song, which has since been versioned by José Feliciano
José Feliciano
José Feliciano is a Puerto Rican singer, virtuoso guitarist and composer known for many international hits including the 1970 holiday single "Feliz Navidad".-Childhood:...

, Lucecita Benítez
Lucecita Benítez
Luz Esther Benítez , better known in the music world as Lucecita, is a Puerto Rican singer.-Biography:Lucecita was a member of what is historically known in Puerto Rico as the New Wave, or Nueva Ola of popular music, created by Alfred D. Herger, alongside Lissette and Chucho Avellanet, among others...

 and other Puerto Rican singers.

Qué Bonita Bandera

Ramito's composition "Qué Bonita Bandera" -a plena homage to the Puerto Rican flag- deserves a particular mention. During the decade previous to the song's inception in 1968, waving a Puerto Rican flag in public was considered taboo in the island (during a brief period in the early 1950s, which coincided with the Jayuya Uprising
Jayuya Uprising
The Jayuya Uprising, also known as the Jayuya Revolt or El Grito de Jayuya, refers to a nationalist revolt in the town of Jayuya, Puerto Rico which occurred on October 30, 1950...

 and the United States Capitol shooting incident of 1954 it was actually outlawed). Ramito wrote the song to demonstrate pride for the flag. In its lyrics, he incorporated the names of José de Diego
José de Diego
José de Diego y Martínez , known as "The Father of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement", was a statesman, journalist, poet, lawyer, and advocate for Puerto Rico's independence from Spain and from the United States....

, Ramón Emeterio Betances
Ramón Emeterio Betances
Ramón Emeterio Betances y Alacán was a Puerto Rican nationalist. He was the primary instigator of the Grito de Lares revolution, and as such, is considered to be the father of the Puerto Rican independence movement...

 and Luis Muñoz Rivera
Luis Muñoz Rivera
Luis Muñoz Rivera was a Puerto Rican poet, journalist and politician. He was a major figure in the struggle for political autonomy of Puerto Rico....

, and manifested his wish to see it "floating freely over my beautiful Borinquen". It quickly became an unofficial anthem for Puerto Ricans everywhere, and was particularly popular among Puerto Ricans in New York City. Besides Ramito's original version, it has been versioned by multiple artists, including Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lynn Lopez is an American actress, singer, record producer, dancer, television personality, and fashion designer. Lopez began her career as a dancer on the television comedy program In Living Color. Subsequently venturing into acting, she gained recognition in the 1995 action-thriller...

, Ricky Martin
Ricky Martin
Enrique "Ricky" Martín Morales , better known as Ricky Martin, is a Puerto Rican and Spanish pop singer and actor who achieved prominence, first as a member of the Latin boy band Menudo, then as a solo artist since 1991.During his career he has sold more than 60 million album copies worldwide...

, Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger
Peter "Pete" Seeger is an American folk singer and was an iconic figure in the mid-twentieth century American folk music revival. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of The Weavers, most notably their recording of Lead...

, Yolandita Monge
Yolandita Monge
Yolandita Monge is an international singer and actress from Puerto Rico and the first Puerto Rican female singer to be nominated to the Grammy Music Awards. She is also Puerto Rico's highest selling female artist. She has been in the music business since adolescence, and has recorded over thirty...

, Tony Croatto
Tony Croatto
Hermes Davide Fastino Croatto Martinis, better known as Tony Croatto was an Italian singer and composer best known for his interpretations of Puerto Rican folk music. He was also a television presenter.-Biography:Born in Attimis, a comune in the province of Udine, Italy...

, José González y su Banda Criolla, and others. Salvadorean band La Fuerza used the song's chorus as the basis for a similarly named song honoring El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...


On March 19, 2009, "Qué Bonita Bandera" was played as part of the wake-up call for Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 Mission STS-119
-Crew notes:This mission was originally scheduled to bring the Expedition 9 crew to the ISS. This crew would have consisted of:-Mission parameters:* Mass:* Orbiter liftoff: * Orbiter landing: * Perigee: * Apogee:...

, in honor of Mission Specialist Joe Acaba
Joseph M. Acaba
Joseph Michael "Joe" Acaba is an educator, hydrogeologist, and NASA astronaut. In May 2004 he became the first person of Puerto Rican heritage to be named as a NASA astronaut candidate, when he was selected as a member of NASA Astronaut Training Group 19...

, whose ancestry is Puerto Rican.

Personal life

In his early years, Ramito was an agricultural worker; he later served as a prison warden and firefighter
Firefighters are rescuers extensively trained primarily to put out hazardous fires that threaten civilian populations and property, to rescue people from car incidents, collapsed and burning buildings and other such situations...

 before becoming a professional singer. In 1970 the government of Puerto Rico named him a liaison and goodwill ambassador to the Puerto Rican communities in the United States.

Ramito married six times and had eight children. His widow Irma Rodriguez is a jíbaro singer on her own merit, whose nickname is "La Jibarita de Salinas". Ramito relocated to her hometown, Salinas
Salinas, Puerto Rico
Salinas is a small municipality in the southern part of Puerto Rico located in the southern coast of the island, south of Aibonito and Cayey; southeast of Coamo, east of Santa Isabel; and west of Guayama...

, after marrying her. On February 23, 1989, Ramito committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his in-law's house, after learning that a cancer he was suffering at the time had metastasized
Metastasis, or metastatic disease , is the spread of a disease from one organ or part to another non-adjacent organ or part. It was previously thought that only malignant tumor cells and infections have the capacity to metastasize; however, this is being reconsidered due to new research...

. He was laid to rest in the town's cemetery.
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