On The Ground: How Pina Records' Owner Helped Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria

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Courtesy of Raphy Pina
Raphy Pina in Puerto Rico.

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, it would have been easy for native Raphy Pina, 39, to leave town. The owner of seminal reggaetón indie label Pina Records and one of the island’s top concert promoters, Pina had quick access to charter planes that could take him and his family to Miami.

Instead, he stayed. “So many people needed help, and I could help,” he says. “My children [12, 11 and 9] could help too. It was important they understand that you can go from having everything to having nothing.”

Three weeks before Hurricane Maria, Pina had already assisted communities in the Caribbean. Along with friends, he took his boat to distribute water, food, diapers and other basic needs to neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands hit by Hurricane Irma.

With Maria, his situation was far more dire. His boat was demolished. His house and office, though intact, were without power and running water. But Pina, who also owns a gas station and a small ice factory, hopped in his truck in San Juan and navigated downed trees and electric wires to deliver ice to hospitals and public housing.

Pina’s efforts continue today, and he has enlisted others. Along with his client/business partner Daddy Yankee and artist friends like Tito El Bambino, he checks social media for messages from those in need and shows up with supplies. His factory, which has power, can make up to 100,000 pounds of ice per day.

Pina had scheduled to release new albums by acts like R.K.M. & Ken-Y and Plan B as well as put on several major concerts, including Bad Bunny and Daddy Yankee at San Juan’s coliseum, but now everything is postponed until 2018. “It’ll take a minimum of six months to start things back up,” he says, “and many people will face financial ruin, even if they have insurance.”


How To Help

United for Puerto Rico
An initiative led by first lady of Puerto Rico Beatriz Rosselló.
unitedforpuertorico.com

Somos Una Voz
Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez assembled this alliance of artists.
somosunavoz.com

Hispanic Federation
Lin-Manuel Miranda supports this nonprofit organization’s efforts.
hispanicfederation.org

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of Billboard. 


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