LA HIJA DEL CARIBE

Photo: Portrait of La Hija del Caribe

Portrait of La Hija del Caribe, 1956.

Trinidad (Trina) Padilla de Sanz was a twentieth century Puerto Rican poet, writer, pianist, author, and social activist. Universally recognized as “La Hija del Caribe,” Padilla de Sanz’s impressive literary career spanned decades and consisted of poems, articles, essays, and short stories on a variety of topics including music, politics, culture, history, literature, and various social causes.

This exhibit highlights a defining feature of Padilla de Sanz’s long and illustrious career: her activism. She used her pen to actively speak on behalf of those in society who lacked a voice, tirelessly advocating for change in order to better society.  Although La Hija addressed issues of the first half of the twentieth century, many of her opinions would fit neatly into discussions of the twenty first century, bridging the gap between the past and present in the form of a very insightful and forward-thinking writer. While this facet represents only one part of La Hija's extensive and diverse career, it aptly demonstrates her progressive beliefs and illustrates the significant role she played in Puerto Rico's history. 

Read below for more biographical information on La Hija and continue on to the exhibit to learn about La Hija's activism. This exhibit focuses on Padilla’s writings relating to Puerto Rico, women's issues, and social causes.    

Padilla was born in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico in 1864 to the poet and medic José Gualberto Padilla Alfonzo, known as “El Caribe,” and María de la Cruz Otero Salgado. During her formative years, her education included a combination of private tutors, secondary school, and self-teaching. She then moved to Madrid, Spain to study music at the Real Conservatorio. She married Ángel Sanz Ambrós in 1883 at the age 18; together they had five children and eventually settled in the community of Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Padilla de Sanz published several books of verses including De mi collar (1926) and Cálices abiertos (1943), as well as edited poems written by her father. As a writer, La Hija penned articles for a vast array of magazines and newspapers, such as Alma Latina, El Mundo, El Imparcial, and Puerto Rico Ilustrado.

Trina Padilla died at the age of 93 in 1957, surrounded by her loving family, friends, and the devoted community of Arecibo. Her legacy as an accomplished poet and writer, talented musician, and passionate defender of Puerto Rico and a variety of social issues cements her place among the great twentieth century literary figures, as well as a treasured cultural and historical icon in Puerto Rico.