Jr. Daniel Alomia Robles 125, Urb. Los Alamos. Santiago de Surco, Lima, Peru

©2019 by Gonzalo Alegria 

GONZALO ALEGRIA: CHILD

Gonzalo Ricardo ALEGRÍA VARONA was born in Lima, Peru, on October 23, 1962, at the Clinic Delgado (Miraflores). He was the third child of the 4 of Ciro Alegría Bazán with Dora Varona: Cecilia, Ciro, Gonzalo and Diego. Being his father Deputy of the party of the Government at that time (First Government of the President Fernando Belaúnde Terry), Gonzalo lived in a beautiful house in Chaclacayo, with his two older brothers (Cecilia and Ciro). Their birthdays were celebrated with spectacular cakes, clowns and balloons that had their name engraved. His father (Ciro Alegría) liked to walk with Gonzalo by the hand through Chaclacayo and very specially, on the banks of the Rímac (they lived in front of Huampaní). Don Ciro loved him very much, for being a smiling and friendly boy, he said that Gonzalo "would put the world in his pocket". Unfortunately, Ciro Alegría died in 1967, leaving Gonzalo an orphan at an early age. As a good artist, Dn. Ciro had not been very far-sighted ... The Chaclacayo house was rented, and most of the furniture "borrowed" by a friend who later claimed them. They did not even receive a widow's pension from the Congress since the writer was not a member of the Parliament long enough ... Then, Gonzalo and his family experienced a severe stage of scarcity and, at times, even shortage ...

Fortunately, the parents of the congregation of the Sacred Hearts scholarship to their sister Cecilia in the Bethlehem School and the 2 males (Ciro and Gonzalo) in La Recoleta. With the help of Architect Fernando Belaúnde - who paid from his pocket the initial of a small apartment in Residencial Santa Cruz (Block C, 204) - they had a place to live.

Later, Dora, his mother, went to work as a teacher in triple hours at the Public School (day, evening and night), to pay the mortgage and get ahead, leaving the children in the care of the faithful Genaro. After three years, Dora Varona managed to become independent and create her own publishing label: Ediciones Varona. Then they took off economically, since Gonzalo's mother was collecting and publishing all the unpublished material of his famous husband, Ciro Alegria.

In the decade of the '70 they moved to a beautiful house in front of the Hipodromo de Monterrico (height block 40 of Javier Prado, now in front of C.C. Jockey Plaza).

Since childhood Gonzalo has been encumbered by diverse teachings of life: how uncertain everything is, how important it is to work hard and be proactive, how necessary it is to be intelligent (adapt to the environment and overcome the challenges that life imposes), etc.

From left to right: Three photos of Gonzalo Alegría. As a baby, accompanied by his older brothers Cecilia and Ciro. On his first birthday, with his dad, mom, his brothers, his Aunt Hilda Alegría (who made the cake and appears on the right, in black) and half a neighborhood (neighbors and cousins). Finally, with red pants, accompanied by his brothers, shortly before his father died, in Chaclacayo, the Sierra of Lima.

From left to right: Gonzalo (13), with his brothers Diego (9) and Ciro (15).

MY SCHOOL, SACRED HEARTS RECOLETA

The French priests of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts created there in 1893, an elite school in a small square in the center of Lima, Plaza Francia. They called it Colegio de La Recoleta (for the hidden part of the plaza) and in its origins, the wealthy families of Lima dreamed of sending their children to that cenacle of knowledge and intelligence. Among the most renowned alumni are Peruvian thinkers, heroes, politicians and professionals of the stature of José de la Riva Agüero and Osma, Francisco García Calderón, Ventura García Calderón, Juan Bautista de Lavalle, Alejandro Miró Quesada Garland, Francisco Miró Quesada Cantuarias, Fernando Belaúnde Terry (twice President of Peru), Mario Brescia Cafferata, Pedro G. Beltrán, Raúl Porras Barrenechea, Ricardo González Vigil, Luis Alberto Sánchez, Armando Villanueva del Campo, (who was changed into a primary school to another institution) José Abelardo Quiñones, Hernán Romero, Jaime de Althaus and a long etcetera.

The priests of La Recoleta were anything but cuculatos. They were extremely vital individuals, socially committed, with a great personality and charisma. To the French parents (like the beloved Armel Becquet who governed all my elementary school), or Hubert Lansiers (Belgian who was my tutor several years in high school), some Polish priests and several brilliant Peruvians, like the always close Héctor de Cárdenas and Gaston Garatea.

In my time La Recoleta was a school that had 3 classrooms per promotion, and 20 to 30 students per classroom. I always belonged to Classroom «A» where they made us study and compete to the extreme. I lived on the scholarship that French parents generously gave me and my obsession with good grades was also a matter of simple survival. In a classroom full of surnames like Arizmendi, Batistini, Galantini, Gold, Omori, Stewart, Watson, etc., being the son of Ciro Alegría and my daily effort as the second of my class (my friend Eduardo Espejo always beat me), they allowed complete all my scholarship, from transition, through 5 years of primary school and 5 years of secondary school. Demanding in the teaching of English, French, science and literature, Recoleta, however, was far from being a castrating school. On the contrary, he loved to teach you to think, to enhance your talent and ingenuity, to make you grow as a person and as a professional. In Quinto de Media I created a Weekly that was called "El Diluvio" and that we wrote among the students themselves. I pasted some little signs with adhesive tape ("scotch") in the columns of the central hall of the School that said "The Deluge is coming", "The Deluge is coming", "The Deluge is coming" ... and the advertising campaign was such a success, that the weekly turned out to be a round business. The publication included nice caricatures of the professors, jokes, reports on the problems of the day to day of the Cole, etc. They had to forbid us to sell after a year, because apparently, we had become something like "the fourth power" of the school.

I always liked my school, and I have great affection for my teachers. Starting first of secondary school, a classmate convinced me to get sodalite.

The Sodalitium Christiane Vitae was an even more conservative religious movement than Opus Dei, 100% Peruvian in origin. There I was a little less than a year and my best memories are the songs of the cult, always in Latin. I still complete the "Salve Regina". But obviously, I did not like the approach of their moral priorities (too egocentric), and in rebellion I went to the opposite side and from Second of Secondary onwards, I was part of the Base Ecclesial Community "Héctor De Cárdenas" in Ramón Zavala 243 , Miraflores. I worked supporting Young People, Prisons, etc. And sometimes, even the school awarded my Social Work. The "Liberation Theology" seemed much more realistic to me in a country like Peru, plagued by injustices and shortcomings. Who would have told me that on my return to Peru, I would be introduced to the Movement of Catholic Professionals (MPC) headed by Father Gustavo Gutiérrez, creator of Liberation Theology with whom I am fortunate enough to listen to Mass and reflect on talks and dynamics, about society, culture and the future of humanity ... God will give you health and keep it that way lucid and human for many more years. By the way, both Gustavo Gutiérrez and Gastón Garatea have been recognized with national awards as important as the National Culture Award, the Magisterial Palms, etc.

When I left La Recoleta (1981 Promotion), the School was immersed in a profound process of transformation. Now it is mixed and has 6 classrooms per promotion, although it still offers the option of the International Baccalaureate. To all my colleagues, teachers and Band-Aids of La Recoleta School in Lima, I can only say excited, thank you, thank you very much for helping me so much and making me feel, loved and supported so many fundamental years, in my personal and intellectual learning.

(1) Gonzalo, 5, in the Kindergarten. (2) He received a Certificate of "Excellence" because he learned to read and write his first letters. (3) Gonzalo making his First Communion in La Recoleta. (4) Gonzalo with 10 years. (5) Gonzalo in 1979, on an excursion in Chavín de Huántar (Ancash).