Ageo showed me the power of culture through music
To many he is known as Don Ageo or “El Músico,” but to me he is my hero. My father, Ageo Pineda, was born in a small ranch in Michoacan, Mexico in 1934. As a young boy, he learned to play the guitar and sing from his older brother as a distraction from the arduous physical labor that was expected of them; an escape from the challenges of growing up poor. Ageo sought to ameliorate his situation and a life out of poverty, so he participated in the Bracero Migrant Program during the 1960s, cultivating the U.S. lands we now live on, and found an avenue to pursue the American Dream.
He immigrated to California shortly thereafter and settled in Pomona in the 1980s, where his work ethic and culture followed. He formed a family, retired as a Sheraton bus boy, and continued strumming his guitar. At the age of 52, Ageo picked up the violin for the first time and taught himself how to play his beloved native music, “Musica Ranchera.” He formed a band, Alma de Huetamo, and soon flooded local quinceañeras and birthday celebrations with the music from “Tierra Caliente.” During the 1990s and 2000s, if there was a backyard party or a traditional mañanitas in the Inland Empire, you were very likely to hear my dad’s violin crying through the air. He recorded a dozen albums, starred in movies and television shows, and became the local Paganini of our time. Through the power of his violin and musical lyrics, my dad taught friends, neighbors, and my family lessons about the art of music, teamwork and leadership, patriotism and critique, and our Mexican history and heritage.
Now in his late 80s, Ageo continues to play his violin in the comfort of his blue house in the Wilton Heights district of Pomona. My father is my hero because, as a Spanish-speaking immigrant, he broke through many barriers and made a mark on this community through his passion for music and the preservation of our culture, bridging the past with the present. When I think about the sounds of Pomona, I think of my dad.