No me olvides

Juan Gabriel lives on in Mexico’s Day of the Dead altars

Rafa Fernandez/FUSION

MORELIA, Michoacán — Dia de los Muertos is a time of year for Mexican families to remember and honor relatives who have passed away. But it’s also a time for us to pay homage to our country’s most loved sons and daughters—the great Mexicans who were a part of all our families.

This year it was time for Juan Gabriel, the legendary Mexican singer and pop culture icon who died of a heart attack last August, to make his first appearance on Mexicans’ homemade altars to the dead.

In life, Juan Gabriel was one of the country’s greatest proponents of Mexicanness. So it’s only fitting that the legendary entertainer now assumes his rightful place on the altars built for our loved ones.

The singer’s family built a traditional altar that was decorated with some of his signature items, including several of the colorful folding fans that Juanga was known for flamboyantly pulling out during interviews and concerts.

But other Mexicans also paid tribute to “El Divo de Juárez.” In the southern state of Michoacán, artists, students and children created altars to honor their favorite singer, while Morelia’s House of Culture exhibited a mechanical altar featuring Juan Gabriel as a singing skeleton with an all-dead band:

On the island of Pátzcuaro, the heart of Mexico’s Dead of the Day celebrations, a boy and his father put together a simple altar to honor the man who rose from poverty to stardom:

p1060016Rafa Fernandez/FUSION

Juanga was also honored in a mobile altar in Mexico City’s James Bond-inspired Day of the Dead parade, and on other altars that popped throughout Mexico and the U.S.

Some people even dressed up as him for Halloween:

The man whose life and death touched a nation will live forever on Day of the Dead. Now it’s Mexicans who are singing his famous lines: tú estás siempre en mi mente, you are always on my mind.

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