Eric Cortes has always had a passion for writing. Throughout his childhood he wrote constantly, including his own comic books. This passion led him to his own blog, hisPANIC.
Cortes is from Plainfield, N.J., but moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University and has stayed ever since. His Colombian family provides him with ties to the Latino community. He primarily covers stories related to Philadelphia and the Latino community but occasionally will write about national issues.
Cortes’ blog promotes what he said he considers positive stories. He said he doesn’t want to write about crime and that he doesn’t like writing about politics.
Cortes said, “I’d rather promote good in the world.”
Cortes began his blog as another outlet to write. He said strategically tagging his articles contributes to his traffic, which can reach hundreds of people each day. One post, about the first Latino valedictorian at Reading High School, received lots of attention and sticks out in Cortes’ mind as a post he can be proud of.
When asked to comment on Latino bloggers, Cortes said, “I don’t think I’m the only one in Philadelphia.”
However, Cortes also said other Philadelphia Latino bloggers are hard to find. His exposure through his previous jobs, which include working for Taller Puertorriqueno and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., helped him develop skills that he uses on his personal blog and in his current job at Telemundo Philadelphia.
“I find him to be a very impressive young man and up and coming professional,” said Varsovia Fernandez, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “He is hard working and committed. He has unique knowledge about the Hispanic community from a marketing perspective that is just commendable.”
Fernandez was part of the committee which chose Cortes as the Professional Hispanic of the Year in Philadelphia in January 2011. He has also been named one of the Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latinos. Prior to these awards, he considered leaving Philadelphia but now has stronger ties to the city.
“I’ve always been humble. I mean I like attention, but a simple acknowledgement of appreciation is good enough for me,” Cortes said.
Cortes said he tries to avoid being stuck in the “Latino box,” where stereotypes sometimes define him as a person. He would like to be recognized as an individual who cares about Latino issues but whose career isn’t dependent upon his ethnicity.
To move away from what Cortes considers Latino stereotypes, Cortes surprised many with his dance choice for the upcoming Fourth Annual Dancing with the Philadelphia Stars, a fundraiser for sickle cell research. He will be dancing the hustle to Maroon 5’s Move Like Jagger with his partner from the Society Hill Dance Academy. People expected him to choose the salsa because of his Colombian roots.
Cortes’ dream job is to work for a news organization where he can continue to use both Spanish and English to write about Latino issues. In the mainstream media, he said he sees news organizations and companies making efforts to represent the Latino population.
Cortes said, “We’re all American in the end.”