Written by Jeroen Jansen. Translated by Carolina Gomes-Casseres.
Our beloved Alex Alberto (qepd) passed away on July 5, 2013. He was a colorful man, a man who always had a story to tell. If you care to read his stories, simply check out his website: http://www.alexalberto.nl/ or browse his numerous YouTube videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/AlexAlberto. Alberto spent the bulk of his career working in Curaçao-related media: initially as news photographer (he was one of the few to report on the riots of May 30 1969) then as cameraman, editor and producer reporting on the majority of Curaçao’s most significant historical events. He moved to the Netherlands still working as a cameraman on Robbie Schouten’s immensely popular program ‘Leu fo’i kas’ [‘Far from Home’, specifically catering to the extensive Curaçao expat community in the Netherlands]. If you’d like to revisit Alberto’s career, just visit his YouTube channel or Facebook page. His enthusiasm is guaranteed to radiate through your screen. And he had a lot of pride in his work: Alberto could often be seen sporting t-shirts with printed statistics of how many millions of times his YouTube films have been viewed [at last count as many as 9,319,417 times!] The man lived for his camerawork and he was particularly passionate about immortalizing Curaçao history by documenting it on film [his most popular YouTube upload is a 10-minute historical synoposis: “30 di Mei 1969 Part 1” in Dutch, below]
Flight was his second passion. Alberto could spend hours on end waxing poetic about Boeings and Lockheeds, small Cessnas and large 747s. His day job as a reporter afforded him ample opportunity to gain priority access to Hato [Curaçao’s airport] and ALM’s [former Antillean Airlines] aircrafts, satiating his immense curiosity. His passion for flight led to a beautiful final chapter: he became the go-to guide for the Boeing 747 at the Luchtvaartmuseum Aviodrome in his new residence in Lelystad, explaining the ins and outs of the meters and dials to bright-eyed 9-year olds. Alberto’s passion for flight rubbed off on most who came in contact with him.
Alberto invested in and excelled at something others tend to complain about today: he documented Curaçao history. Many talk a big game about how awesome our island is, but more often than not, their statements are empty, lacking historical knowledge and understanding. And the institutions employed to research and educate tend to lead a meager existence. We seem to prefer talking. But not Alberto. He was deliberate and meticulous about uploading his extensive collection of footage on the internet, often combining them with insightful commentary, narrated in his iconic, soothing voice. Granted there’s certainly a twinge of ego embedded in his efforts. Alberto was proud of all the things he was able to experience and he wasn’t going to keep it to himself. Motivated by a sentimental longing for the past, he set out to immortalize his memory of ‘Curaçao’, a Curaçao of bygone years, and in so doing has simplified the work of present-day historians. The vastly significant value of Alberto’s work will likely materialize several years into the future.
But I also thought him an interesting man because he represented the yu di Kòrsou living in the Netherlands. The yu di Kòrsou who lacks a sharp lens on the present-day state of affairs in his home island, ripe with contrasts and tensions, perpetually wrestling with its political structure, legislative structure, past and so on. But this yu di Kòrsou doesn’t seem to need that level of sharpness. He prefers to long for the version of the island embedded in his memory. Naturally, an idealized version. Colored with beautiful anecdotes. An island where everybody helps each other, where folks experience unadulterated joy, where things flow naturally. In fact, the ‘Dushi Kòrsou’ that most of us use to summarize our island experience. He was an expert in that and it allowed him to bridge the [physical and emotional] gap between the Netherlands and Curaçao.
Alex Alberto cannot be replaced: his passion and enthusiasm for Curaçao are exceptional and inspirational. I hope we can learn from his example and follow in his footsteps. He deserves that much.