The Prince of Puerto Rico
On Dec. 16, 2012, in Naguabo, Puerto Rico, professional skateboarder Manny Santiago held the second annual Prince of Puerto Rico contest. Yariel Melendez was crowned the winner and took home $700 dollars, a trophy, a hat, a ring and a one-of-a-kind colorway of Santiago's "Mijo" shoe by Axion Footwear. Second place went to Robert Lopez Mont with Dovier Chinea coming in third.
Santiago said, "The contest itself was amazing. A lot of skaters came from all over the island and local people supported it. Skaters even camped out in the park the night before. Let's just say it was one of the most intense finals I've seen in a long time."
It all happened when Santiago was planning a trip to Puerto Rico and it developed into a lot more. "Well at first it was just an Ammo trip, then I talked about doing a contest and it turned into a five demo tour ending with one of the biggest skate contests ever in Puerto Rico."
Santiago spread the word about the contest and his sponsors, using the internet, his social media channels, face time with the kids and even local media to help spread the word. Santiago credits Fico Rodriguez for a radio station appearance he made, "Actually Fico made that happen, he's been working on all this [promotion] a whole bunch. He got us on La Mega, the biggest radio station in Puerto Rico." Santiago also came bearing clever "Yo Ammo Puerto Rico" tees by Ammo Skateboards. In Spanish it reads "I love Puerto Rico." The shirts were a hit with the locals, "Everyone loved them. They're wanted everywhere -- Felix [Arguelles] is a genius," Santiago said.
With the help of his childhood friend and professional skateboarder Dave Bachinsky, they fixed up Este Skatepark, where the contest was held, in just a week. Santiago thought of the idea earlier this year during the summer. "I came down to judge the Fejah Cash Money Cup contest. I stayed an extra week because Fico was getting married. While I was there I heard about a contest on the east side of the island and knowing Rey Davila, a resident of Naguabo, I went because Rey is the coolest. On his side of the island I saw how much love and passion people had for what he was doing. All these kids there wanted to skate. I knew I'd be giving back by fixing their park so I asked him if I could hold the contest there too. The next thing you know we're spending 13-hour days [fixing] the park."
Even with that kind of effort the Ammo crew weren't sure they could get it done in time for the contest. "It was a lot of work and we were wondering if we could finish it in time." It all worked out though and Santiago is thankful for it. "This was our second contest and I was so happy to be doing it again. Thanks to everyone that helped make it happen." On the subject of giving back through the Prince of Puerto Rico contest, Santiago sounded pleased yet humble, "I'm just happy everyone was hyped, if anyone is in the situation that they can help they should."