Photo of woman wrapped in Puerto Rican flag is symbol of island's strength

Cindy Arboleda

In the wake of chaos left by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico comes an image of hope, resilience, and strength: a photo, captured by professional photographer Elias Nuñez, a week before the Category 5 storm hit the island. The image, of a woman wrapped in the flag of Puerto Rico and floating on a small river dock, has struck a chord with many in the community, leading it to go viral.

The Puerto Rican community identifies with this powerful image. (Photo: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/eliaspescadorphotography/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Elias Nuñez" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Elias Nuñez </a>)
The Puerto Rican community identifies with this powerful image. (Photo: Elias Nuñez )


Actress and singer Grizel Chachi Del Valle is the woman featured in the photo.

"PUERTO RICO SE LEVANTA" #CalmaPueblo #PacienciaYFe

A post shared by Grizel "Chachi" Del Valle (@chachination) on Sep 23, 2017 at 5:53am PDT


Nuñez tells Yahoo Lifestyle about his inspiration for the photo shoot.

He says he wanted “to [keep] the ‘jibaro’ [people] alive” and offer up “a representation of our roots.” The artist adds, “Our flag took a rest, but it will rise up with even more life than before.”

People have flooded the image with admiration on Instagram. One commenter wrote, “A powerful photo. So many emotions can be represented with this one photo,” while another added, “What a beautiful representation in this time of unknown in our Isla.”

Hoy marca una semana desde el Huracan Maria y seguimos de pie Puerto Rico DICEN LAS MENTES POSITIVAS DE MI ISLITA: EL LADO POSITIVO DE MARÍA y Mentes positivas en mi isla del encanto es. Puerto Rico (en su mayoría) en 7 días aprendió esto. 1. Guiar sin semáforos; cediendo el paso. 2. Hacer fila sin desesperarse; simplemente hablando con los demás. 3. Supimos quién vive al lado, arriba y abajo; conocimos a nuestros vecinos. 4. Aprendimos que “desayuno, almuerzo y cena” es un patrón que no necesitas seguir para sobrevivir. 5. Ahora sabemos rendir el peso… porque el cash que tienes en el bolsillo no dura para siempre y la tarjeta de crédito no te sirve de un k… por más GOLD, Platinum o Black que sea. 6. Que la botellita de agua se bebe hasta el final, aunque esté caliente ¡no se bota! 7. Que bañarse con agua fría en una Isla tropical hace mucho más sentido; el calentador de agua no es tan necesario como creíamos. 8. Aun sabemos jugar cartas, briscas, UNO y monopolio (entre otros) y que con imaginación, los cuentos de hadas, caballeros y dragones para nuestros hijos son interminables. 9. Que podemos pasar días sin recibir una respuesta en Whatsapp, sin ver el último update de Facebook, sin escuchar música… sin Plaza las Américas. 10. Que sobre el 70% de las cosas que guardamos en nuestras casas, no las necesitamos para vivir. Puerto Rico se Levanta y hoy seguimos de pie. #ChachiNation #TainasUnidas #PR #PuertoRico #IslaDelEncanto #WhenYouCantFindTheLightBeTheLight. : @mdollnyc

A post shared by Grizel "Chachi" Del Valle (@chachination) on Sep 27, 2017 at 6:46am PDT


The actress has used the photograph to raise awareness around what people can do to help Puerto Rico and how the community is surviving the crisis. Del Valle also shared a video of herself singing passionately to her native land.

The photographer says,  “Puerto Rico will not give up, although we are a small island our energy is gigantic. Our people are hard-working and we will restore Puerto Rico on its feet once again,” he says. “Puerto Rico fell but it did not die because it is immortal.”


Del Valle writes, “It’s hard not to feel the emotions when the world around us looks as if it crumbling right before our eyes. Today I don’t want to look at the images circulating the web of pure destruction.”

A commenter shared how the video affected her: “Power. Inspiration. Hope. Humility. Patriotism. Love. Community. The list of things these images and cry to the campo that this represents is immense. 5 days not knowing about my parents left me breathless most of those of the time … this … let me cry and it soothed me somehow. Thank you.”

The powerful images inspired visual artist Jeison Peña to create his own version.

He tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “I woke up that morning [of the hurricane] and that was the first photo on my timeline, and it touched me knowing how deep the meaning to the photo was and how beautiful it was. It inspired and motivated me to paint.”

Peña continues, “I have friends from there that have loved ones in Puerto Rico and it affects them so it affects me.


“I’ve meet Chachi before, and I know she’s a really beautiful person inside and out.”

Peña is not the only one using personal talents to pay homage to the image. Even children feel a strong connection to it. A 6-year-old girl did a fine job of re-creating the image.

@eliaspescadorphotography 6 añitos tiene este angelito que pinto nuestra photo ! ✊ Thank You Baby

A post shared by Grizel "Chachi" Del Valle (@chachination) on Sep 30, 2017 at 2:39pm PDT


Other artists have joined and shared their interpretations of the photo too.



Capturing the emotion behind all of these images, Del Valle writes, “Puerto Rico will rise up.”

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