Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Circumnavigations #2: Sumugo' yu giya Seoul...

My trip to Spain took me through South Korea, where I spent seven hours in the Incheon Airport in Seoul.

In the same way that Guam and Okinawa have been connected for years now because of US military plans, so too have Guam and South Korea become connected as well.

Guam has been a potential target for North Korea for many years now, as it is one of the most prominent US bases in the region.

But over the past year the danger to Guam has become far more pronounced, from both sides of the Pacific.

Late last year, North Korean rhetoric became more focused around Guam, far more than it ever had before.

The year before that, Donald Trump was elected President of the US, and his foreign policy approach hasn't been very ideologically based, but seems to be rooted in impulsive Twitter tirades.

Both of them combined mean that people on Guam have no idea what to think or even worry about next.

North Korea is portrayed as a tin pot regime, simply full of bluster one moment, and then the most serious threat to peace in the world today.

Trump gives off the same aura of insanity, albeit in a different way.

He exasperates Guam's already tenuous colonial status.

Where we on Guam don't know from one moment to the next if we are part of the US, and Trump, by being even more erratic than your average US leader, only makes us more cognizant of our lack of stable place in the world.

It doesn't help that when facing threats you don't want a "chaos president."

Don't want someone, for whom it seems, would gladly let your island be consumed in a sea of fire and fury in order to get over some poor golf scores or perhaps a badly cooked cheeseburger.

But one of the most frustrating aspects of the entire debacle is the lack of presence Guam has in the discussion and in the coverage.

I gave several dozen interviews with international and national media last year about the North Korean threat, and much of their focus was on how the people on the island were reacting or feeling.

But I and others, tried to push back on this idea, and assert that the real anxiety and worry comes not from the direct threat necessarily, but the fact that we have no place in the discussion or decisions about said threat. 

That they swirl around you, and even the basic idea that some amorphous government or military is making decisions on your behalf, doesn't feel quite right.

While in Seoul, I spoke to a few South Koreans (those that could speak some English), introducing myself as being from Guam and wanting to know their thoughts on the issue of North Korea.

This conversation will become more important in so many ways, not just in military terms, but in economic ways as well.

It is fascinating how a place such as Guam can be so integrated and connected to other countries, yet because of its political status be part of a globalized community, but feel detached from it.

Part of it is formal, as we don't get to sit down next to other countries and talk about our place in the world, but it is also because of our status, where we feel like those rights belong to the US and not to us.

Formally, Guam is supposed to be excluded from those discussions, but in what ways can we nonetheless force them or create those networks of power?

That is one thing that I will be thinking heavily about, while on this trip.


I will be in Spain this week for the conference "PRIMUS CIRCUMDEDISTI ME: Claves de la primera globalizacion." It is a historical congress being organized primarily by the Spanish Ministry of Defense that will discuss the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world by Ferdinand Magellan. I am attending the conference as the representative from Guam, where Magellan visited in March of 1521.

I will be writing about my trip and the congress under the title "Circumnavigations." Not only because of the trip of Magellan itself, but also because of the ways in which Guam and myself are navigating as well, working our way around history and around the global filled with independent nations.

Here is the description of the conference from its website. 



The Spanish Ministry of Defence –in collaboration with the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, and with the Junta de Castilla y Leon– organizes the International Congress Primus Circumdedisti Me. Keys for the First Globalization. This Congress will be held in the ‘Miguel Delibes’ Cultural Center in Valladolid, from 20 to 22 March, as part of the commemorative events for the 5th Centennial of the first circumnavigation, initiated by Fernando de Magallanes in 1519 and, after his death, culminated by the Spaniard sailor Juan Sebastian de Elcano in 1522.


This Congress –directed by Professor Carlos Martinez Shaw– aims to establish a thorough historical review of the first circumnavigation, taking as the starting point the Capitulations signed in Valladolid, the events under which the expedition took place that, definitely, opened the way to the first globalization, as well as to generate awareness on the Spaniard sailor Juan Sebastian de Elcano and his achievements.

Historic context

On 22 March, 1518, King Carlos I and Portuguese sailor Fernando de Magallanes signed the Capitulations in Valladolid, the settlement agreement through which the Monarch placed at his disposal a fleet of five ships to search and discover the Land of Spices, while being granted the title of Captain of this armada, Governor and Adelantado of the lands he could discover. 
According to the division agreed in the Tordesillas Treaty, Magallanes believed Molucas Islands were located within the Spanish part and not inside Portuguese domains, and, consequently, the monopoly of spices should correspond to the Kingdom of Spain.

Kinentos Trentai Ocho

During the 2016 election, I followed the website FiveThirtyEight on a daily basis.

I found the commentary to be very enlightening, as it wasn't just their reporting about polls, but also their analysis on what makes a poll informative or effective.

The media in general often times picks polls that fit the narrative they are trying to promote, or they have their own internal hierarchy over what makes one poll useful and another less so.

But these critical information points are rarely discussed openly, even if more astute media viewers or consumers can make their own best guesses.

Although after Trump's victory in the election, I stopped consuming that type of poll-focused news.

But as the US mid-term election season is starting up again, and we've ahead a round of very interesting special elections, I've slowly been drawn back to the website.

This type of coverage, in the form of a group chat around the recent apparent Democratic-victory, is what makes it such entertaining, but also educational commentary.

The part with Nate Silver and his caps lock button possibly being on, has to be my favorite part.


Mar. 15, 2018 at

Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s weekly politics chat. The transcript below has been lightly edited.

micah (Micah Cohen, politics editor): HEYO! When this chat publishes, we’ll be about 36 hours removed from the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District (apparently won by Democrat Conor Lamb). That’s been more than enough time for narratives and lessons and takeaways to take hold. I’ve chosen what seem to be the most ubiquitous or interesting ones, and we’re going to play a game of buy/sell/hold with PA 18 🔥 takes.
Buy = “I mostly agree with that.”
Sell = “I mostly disagree with that.”
Hold = ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
You all good to go?
clare.malone (Clare Malone, senior political writer): Yeah.
perry (Perry Bacon Jr., senior writer): Yes.
natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): Sure.
micah: OK, Take No. 1, from Vox: The Pennsylvania special election shows the 2018 House battleground is enormous — by one calculation, more than 110 seats could theoretically be in play.
Buy, sell or hold?
natesilver: Buy.
perry: Hold. I could have said “buy,” though — the range of seats that Democrats could win is fairly broad.
clare.malone: I’m a hold on this because I think not every district that President Trump won by 20 points or more (as he did Pennsylvania’s 18th District) is quite the same, and I don’t think Democrats can find a plausible candidate for every one of them. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t or won’t make a play for them.
natesilver: I would point out that it feels like buy/sell/hold is the wrong idiom here, but Micah might get mad if I said that. I think the Vox take is right, though. It’s a very, very broad playing field, and both Democrats and Republicans would be dumb as hell to ignore any of those ~110 seats.
micah: Yeah, I’ve seen this take bleed a bit into more like, “Democrats can win something on the order of 110 seats,” and that seems way out there. But if we stick to “in play,” then I’m on board.
clare.malone: Right. It’s really easily misconstrued.
micah: Yeah.
OK, Take No. 2, from Huffington Post: GOP blames “lackluster” candidate and his “porn stache” for Pennsylvania setback
(And yes, I just wanted to get “porn stache” into the chat.)
To summarize this one a bit — maybe we can’t read that much into the Pennsylvania 18 result because the GOP candidate was bad.
clare.malone: First off, LOL.
But crass wording aside, there was something of a Kennedy/Nixon thing going on here with the contrast of young, dewy Lamb to older, mustachioed Rick Saccone. That’s not to say it was a big factor, though.
So, sell, but I see what they’re going for.
“They” being Republicans.
perry: Sell. Saccone was a fairly standard Republican on positions. He won a primary, has been a state senator, didn’t have a big scandal break during the general election. In other words, he was no Roy Moore. Or Christine O’Donnell.
clare.malone: Yeah the blame-it-on-Saccone spin is more a testament to how well Lamb played the role he needed to play in that district.
natesilver: It’s not totally wrong to say the candidates played a role, but that’s missing the forest for the trees. The national environment does most of the work here. Democrats are outperforming the districts’ partisan baselines by an average of 16 or 17 points in special elections for the U.S. House and Senate so far. They did so by 22 points in Pennsylvania’s 18th. So maybe the candidates’ individual qualities got Lamb over the top, but it was the national environment that created the opportunity.
Also, Lamb and Saccone are well within the normal range of goodness/badness as candidates. There will be plenty of candidates like them on the ballot in November 2018. They’re not the second coming of Jesus Christ and Roy Moore, respectively.
micah: So I guess it’s fair to say this result shows the importance of the national environment and candidate quality — but that order (environment first) is important.
Take No. 3, from The Guardian: Why it’s time for Democrats to ditch Nancy Pelosi.
Lamb seems to have won, and he distanced himself from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
clare.malone: Buy.
I generally think there’s a solid argument for Democrats to do a little bit of a leadership purge.
natesilver: Hold.
clare.malone: It’s a take I agree with separate from this election, though. It’s not just Tuesday’s result.
natesilver: I mean, I think if we’re being really Machiavellian, Democrats would probably up their chances of taking the House majority in 2018 if they ditched Pelosi. But it’s like the eighth-most-important factor.
perry: Sell. The polling in this district found that most people neither knew nor cared about the anti-Pelosi pledge. There is a fine argument that Democrats need new leaders, but I don’t think this race tells much.
natesilver: Republicans can just demonize Hillary Clinton instead.
micah: That is sooooo true.
Can and will.
clare.malone: And she’s happily providing new tape for them:
perry: I would say, though, that — regardless of whether this made a difference or not in the 18th District — if 20 Democrats running in key races make the kind of anti-Pelosi pledge that Lamb did, then that becomes an issue for her.
If Democrats win the House majority in 2018 and have, say, 230 seats, but 15 people have pledged not to vote for Pelosi for speaker, that’s significant. And if they don’t win the majority, I think she will be out.
micah: Speaking of …
Take No. 4, from the NTK Network: Bad night for Pelosi, good night for Moulton and Biden.
That’s Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and former Vice President Joe Biden, both of whom campaigned for Lamb and both of whom are rumored to be potential presidential candidates in 2020.
clare.malone: It’s a good way to shoehorn in other white, male candidates, who Democrats are hoping will swing suburban Republican-leaning voters.
natesilver: Hold. The arguments about whether Democrats need progressives who excite the base or moderates who woo swing voters are pretty overdone in both directions — and it depends a lot on the districts.
clare.malone: I’ll buy.
perry: Buy. I don’t think anyone cares about Moulton. Even if Pelosi didn’t matter to voters, it’s a bad sign for her that Lamb won in a high-profile race while distancing himself from his party’s leader in the House. Every high-profile surrogate (Barack Obama, Biden, Bill Clinton) campaigns for some people who win and some who lose. But I think Biden is being brought into more conservative-leaning areas. (He appeared with Montana Sen. Jon Tester recently.) If some of those candidates win, and he is the top surrogate, that does help Biden with the case that he can appeal to Obama-Trump voters.
clare.malone: I mean, right, Biden’s whole presidential pitch is gonna be just that: I’ll win back the fabled “working-class white voter.”
micah: Take No. 5, from Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: The Trump/GOP agenda may be a big albatross for Republicans.
perry: Sell. I don’t think the GOP policy agenda is mattering that much. The tax cut doesn’t seem to be helping the GOP in these special elections, but I think that’s different from saying it’s hurting the party. Trump is a big albatross himself, but I’m not sure it’s the policy stuff.
Like, the tariffs didn’t help Saccone is my guess. I’m not sure they hurt him, though.
natesilver: I’m a buy.
I think health care hurts Republicans, and taxes are probably a wash.
clare.malone: Hmmm. I guess buy? The economy is good, so the Democrats would be left with running on health care and Trump’s ineffectuality.
natesilver: And tariffs were probably a wash in this district but are hurtful overall.
micah: So I’m gonna fold another take into this one — a sub-take, from ThinkProgress: Pennsylvania voters say the GOP’s health care antics cost Saccone their vote.
It sounds like Nate is buying that.
I might be a weak sell on this — I think it’s Trump more than his agenda, per se.
natesilver: That’s not what the question asked, though.
It didn’t ask whether Trump was more important — it asked whether the Republican agenda is harming the GOP.
perry: Do I think congressional Republicans would have been better off overall with either a popular Obamacare replacement plan or just not doing the repeal? Yes. I think Nate is correct about this.
micah: Well, I guess I’m quibbling with the “big” in “big albatross.”
perry: The gap between “Trump alone” and “Trump and the GOP’s agenda” is perhaps not the biggest distinction. I’m not sure it totally makes sense.
If Trump was tweeting about a health care plan people liked, that would be different than what he is tweeting about now.
micah: That’s a good point.
Trump sorta is the Trump/GOP agenda, and vice versa.
natesilver: It’s worth pointing out that Trump’s approval rating declined by several points while health care was being debated.
I’m not sure that the rest of the stuff matters, but I think health care moves the needle a bit.
clare.malone: What happens if the economy tanks in the next eight months?
Does that mean a sure Democratic wave?
micah: The GOP ceases to exist.
clare.malone: Right. The GOP is basically basing their campaign on the good economy and the promises of the tax bill.
micah: Seriously, though, the GOP is in really bad shape with a pretty-good-to-great economy. If that went south, they’d be toast.
Though maybe there are diminishing returns for Democrats. Republicans can do only so bad.
natesilver: #Actually, Micah, there might be accelerating returns for Democrats because of the way that districts are structured.
There’s a huge glut of (mostly gerrymandered) districts that are somewhere between like 10 and 20 points more Republican-leaning than the country as a whole. So if the wave gets really big and Democrats begin to tap into those, their gains just get larger and larger.
micah: OK, last one, Take No. 6, from CNN: “Donald Trump can’t save you.”
Buy, sell or hold?
perry: Buy. Trump is not going to help a lot of Republicans win key races in close states/districts. I suspect he will be like Obama in 2014: Candidates in close races may want to duck association with him. Although maybe in Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia — the big Senate races in fairly red states — he might help.
clare.malone: I’ll second that buy.
natesilver: Buy — except the premise is backward. Who’s saying that Trump can save Republicans? He’s the main reason they’re in so much trouble this year in the first place.
micah: I mean, I buy this too as it’s meant. But he could save Republicans somewhat, right? If he stopped doing a lot of Trump-y things.
natesilver: Yeah by staying off Twitter and going golfing for the rest of the year.
clare.malone: “Fox & Friends” is saying that Trump saves Republicans, to be clear.
They were saying this morning that Trump’s trip to Pennsylvania actually saved Saccone from a more embarrassing loss.
micah: Wait a sec!
natesilver: IT’S SO FUCKING DUMB.
micah: You have caps lock on, I think.
natesilver: I’ve seen multiple people making claims that “Lamb was up 6 points in the polls until Trump came in.” This is backwards in like two ways.
First, Lamb was leading by 6 points in only one poll, from Monmouth. Not “the polls”.
He was up by 2 points in the polling average, and the final result is going to come very, very close to that.
If you think the polls were off in this race, you’re a fucking idiot, full stop.
The same would have been true if Saccone had won by 1 point or something also.
micah: Is rant over?
natesilver: Second, the Monmouth poll was actually conducted AFTER TRUMP VISITED, or at least partially after it.
The polls BEFORE Trump visited showed a TIE, on average.
Then the Monmouth poll came out AFTERWARD.
micah: Is rant over?
natesilver: If anything, the Monmouth poll suggested that Trump made matters worse for Saccone, although it did overshoot the mark a bit.
I’m sorry to rant about this, I’m just really, really tired of people substituting saying “the polls” when they really mean “idiotic media narratives based on cherry-picked misinterpretations of the polls.”
Even on CNN last night, there was this notion that Lamb was a big favorite based on the polls. That’s absolutely false. He was a modest favorite, at best. It shows that people have learned nothing since 2016.
micah: Is rant over?
natesilver: It’s going to continue for the next three years, Micah.
micah: lol
Wait, though, on the podcast, Nate, you said something along the lines of, “We know Democratic turnout is going to be good in 2018. Republicans should be looking for ways to increase turnout among their base.”
Can’t Trump help do that?
natesilver: Maybe. I mean, it would certainly be valuable for Republicans to have high turnout among their base — they’re going to need it because the Democratic base’s turnout is almost surely going to be high.
But is Trump actually helping with that?
The base is not that enthused, at least not in a way that’s translating to them turning out in the elections. Trump riles up the Democratic base and turns off moderates.
clare.malone: To the point above, I don’t think you could really win the midterm with just Trump’s base, no matter how energized it is, right?
You would still need to build a GOP coalition to counterbalance the Democratic enthusiasm.
micah: That’s a really good point. It’s likely true that as long as Democrats are motivated, Trump’s base is not enough.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.
Clare Malone is a senior political writer for FiveThirtyEight.
Perry Bacon Jr. is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.
Micah Cohen is the politics editor.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Mensåhi Ginen i Gehilo' #26: Kao pau hånao ha' si Uncle Sam?

"Kao pau hånao ha' si Uncle Sam, anggen manindipendente hit?"

Fihu hiningok-hu este na chathinasso ginen i kumunidåt. Anggen mamindipendente hit, u fanmalingu siempre todu i kosas motdeno. U hånao ha’ si Uncle Sam, pau dingu hit ya pau laknos yan bo’ok todu i chinile’-ña mågi.

Ti magåhet este. Fihu ti ya-ña i Estådos Unidos umatmitde este, lao guaha obligasion-ña nu hita. Put i ha fitma i charter para i Unidos Nasiones, ha aksepta i responsibilidåt, este mafa’na’an “inanggokko sagrådu” a sacred trust. Na para u ga’chungi hit gi este na chålan mo’na. Guaha meggai na klasen ayudu na ha oblibliga muna’guaha, lao para este na kuestion, uno mås propiu para ta diskuti, i tiempon “transition.”

Este na klasen kontråtan, fihu masusedi gi taiguini na klasen tinilaikan pulitikåt gi otro na tåno’ lokkue’. Siña este na tiempon tinilaika tinaka’ uno año, tres años, dies años, pat bente pat trenta años. I inapmåm-ña ha dipepende gi håfa diniside ni’ dos na nasion.

Gi este na tiempon, mananegotiate i colonizer yan i nuebu na nasion, put i chalan mo’na, ya i colonizer ha guahåyi diferentes na fondo yan fina’profesionåt ni’ pau ayuda i nuebu na nasion tumutuhon yan na’lå’la’ i nuebu na ekonomia yan para u chule’ kabåles na podet gi gubetnamento yan i diferentes na ahensia.

Este ginen i Bradley Report, makumple este gi Dos Mitt, lao gaibabali ha’ para ta komprende este na asunot. Gi este na påtte ha diskuti i Tiempon Tinilaika pat Tiempon Tinahgue. 

“As a part of the negotiated provisions for Guam’s transition to independence, it is anticipated that the island will receive substantial economic development funding over a period of 15 or more years, partly in exchange for U.S. military access rights in Guam. This funding also includes amounts negotiated to remedy infrastructure and environmental issues that were left unresolved prior to the status change. The U.S. State Department will administer this composite funding program.”
- Economist Joe Bradley, “An Analysis of the Economic Impact of Guam’s Political Status Options (2000)” 

Guini giya Guåhan, debi di ta na’hasso i Estados Unidos put este na obligasison-ña. Debi di ta fanmanespiha otro ga’chong na gurpu yan nasion ni’ siña umayuda hit dumekka’ i Estados Unidos.

Friday, March 02, 2018

ARC and Me

Each March, UOG organizes an Annual Research Conference or ARC. This year is the 39th year there has been a conference such as this. I presented at this conference as an undergraduate student, a graduate student and now I present at it regularly as a professor. For this year's ARC, I am participating in a couple different panels and presentations, most of which are connected to Guam's decolonization or its current political status.

Here are the abstracts for two of the sessions to which I am most looking forward:


A Decolonial Analysis of Guam’s Media Landscape

The role of media in a society is not simply to report stories and investigate events, but to promote values and norms, usually on behalf of dominant classes or institutions. In a colonial context, such as that of Guam, these roles gain a colonial dimension, as both institutions and individuals will often be compelled to defend and naturalize the colonial status quo. As such, rather than conduct reporting that reflects Guam’s colonial relationship to the US, the media will valorize the US and promote a fantasy of political belonging that doesn’t exist. This panel will attempt to conduct a decolonial analysis of Guam’s media landscape, by discussing current hegemonic structures and attempts to develop decolonial counter-hegemony through independent media.


Manny Cruz
Independent Journalist, M.A. in English from UOG

Stasia Yoshida
Social Work Major, UOG

Jesse Chargualaf
Chamorro Studies/History Major, UOG

Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Assistant Professor, Chamorro Studies, UOG


 A History of Militarization in the Marianas

The Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific sometimes known as “Where America’s Day Begins” other times known as the “tip of the spear.” These islands have been home to the indigenous Chamorro people for thousands of years, but are considered strategic colonial and neocolonial assets to the United States military. As the US continues with its Pacific Pivot, preparing for future threats from Asia by militarizing its Pacific Island possessions, the fate of the Marianas Islands, due to their lack of standing within the US and in the international community, is something easily missed. The purpose of this presentation is to provide a historical overview of the history of militarization in the Marianas Islands over the past century. Special attention will be given to the close connections between the political status and strategic value of the Mariana Islands and how this manifested in terms of US policy.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Decolonization gi Fino' CHamoru


Decolonization gi Fino' CHamoru:
Future Status Options for Guam Discussed in UOG CHamoru-Language Panel

Mangilao, GU - On Thursday, March 1, 2018, 6:00-7:30 p.m., the Dean of the School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Guam will host a CHamoru-language panel from the Commission on Decolonization to discuss the status options for Guam/Guåhan: Statehood, Free Association, and Independence.     

The event is called "Decolonization gi Fino' CHamoru" (in the CHamoru language).  It will be held in Room 131.  It is free and all are welcome and encouraged to attend. 

The panel, co-organized with Commission Director Amanda Blas from the Office of the Governor of Guam, will include special presentations gi Fino' CHamoru (in the indigenous CHamoru language) from representatives of the Taskforces on Statehood, Free Association, and Independence.  Handouts and other educational materials in English will also be available. 

The taskforces are directed to conduct public outreach and education on issues of decolonization and self-determination.  Support and occasional funding for their efforts is provided by the Government of Guam and the U.S. Department of the Interior, with the invaluable work of dedicated volunteers from the community as well.

The past year and a half has seen increased public awareness and government funding for the pursuit of CHamoru self-determination, as well as court cases and community protests.  This panel offers an important opportunity to celebrate and perpetuate Guam's indigenous culture, language, and traditions, while also foregrounding the discussion of CHamoru decolonization. 

Mr. Eddie Duenas and Mr. Eloy P. Hara are the chair and vice chair of the Taskforce on Statehood; Mr. Adrian Cruz is the chair of the Taskforce on Free Association; and Ms. Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero and Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua are the co-chairs of the Taskforce on Independence.

This event is free and open to the public.  A question-and-answer session will take place following the panel.  

Na'lå'la' i Fino' CHamoru!  (Let's keep CHamoru alive!)

Monday, February 19, 2018

Fina'kuentos Chamorro #6: Si Yu'os, Yu'os...

I have not written one of these posts in a while, although the collecting of Chamorro sayings continues. Fina'kuentos Chamorro is where I post different Chamorro sayings or phrases, they are important in providing us a sense of the Chamorro worldview, both in history and in a contemporary context, and give us a sense of the Chamorro particular flavor to life. Sometimes this flavor can be very familiar to other cultures, sometimes it can be very Catholic, sometimes is can appear to be very tied to the land and people here themselves.

This saying "Si Yu'os, Yu'os. I taotao, taotao ha'" can be both very simple, yet also encompass very deep thoughts. It translates simply to "God is God, man is man."

On the surface it is simply that men should not worry about things that are beyond their control, as those things lie in God's hands and he will determine what happens. It is a simplified serenity prayer.

But it can also extend further into helping understand Chamorro fatalism and also traditional aversion to confronting authority or systems of power. It is possible that this saying was born after the arrival of Catholicism and its genesis is owed entirely to religious blunting of human potential, but it could have earlier origins in Chamorro values such as gaimamahlao.

I find this saying useful in terms of its critical potential in referring to those things that are supposed to be beyond our ability to affect or influence. To this end I have used this saying in my Pacific Daily News columns and even academic articles when trying to discuss Chamorro layers of epistemology.

For example, if you swap out "Yu'os" and "taotao" and replace them with nouns more familiar to political status discussions, you receive the division that animates much of Guam's decolonial deadlock, "Iya Amerika, Amerika, Guåhan, Guåhan ha'." The US is that which brings life, order, prosperity and possibility, Guam is just Guam, and that's it.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


By Jay Baza Pascua

Fo’na yan Pontan hu gågaogao hamyo
Chachalani i famagu’on-miyu

Ginen Pontan na gaige ham guini gi tano’-ta
Ma nå’i ham ni tahtaotao-ñiha

Fo’na yan Pontan hu gågaogao hamyo
Chachalåni i famagu’on-miyu

Ginen Fo’na na gaige ham guini gi tano’-ta
Ma nå’i ham ni’ lina’la’-ta!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Death of the Chamorro Language

Ti siguro yu' håyi tumuge' este, lao interesånte. Guaha meggai na hestoria put i Chamorro gi Islas Sangkattan gi este na ti gof anakko' na tinige'. Hu sodda' este na tinige' ginen i gasetan Saipan, annai manespipiha yu' infotmasion put Fino' Chamorro gi halom i kottre gi Islas Sangkattan. Ti meggai na infotmasion humuyong, lao hu fakcha'i este. Ti hu tungo' i kilisyanu na fulånu ni' tumuge', lao ya-hu i milalåk-ña i hinasso-ña siha. Frihon yan botlon.


The Death of Chamorro Language
March 31, 1999
The Saipan Tribune

For many years, we were active participants in the death of our local vernacular. It started with the golden days in grammar school when speaking your language lands you some corporal punishment, a fine of five cents, scribbling several pages of “I will not speak Chamorro”; picking up trash outside the classroom after school, among others.

Well into high school, there’s the student monitors or JPOs who were authorized to arrest students for speaking their native tongue. At Hopwood, we even had a student court where defendants are brought in to justify why they spoke Chamorro. More often than not, it’s a textbook case and we giggle when the sentence is issued.

But I noticed too that dependents of TTG stateside employees were never arrested for speaking the local language. Of course, English is their first language spoken both at school and at home. But the use of our local and new lingo is divided: we brave use of conversational English at school, scrap the whole bag as we leave campus in the afternoon, return the next day pretending we’re all real Amerrrrican kids bluffing other students with our “Dick, Jane, Sally and Spot” vocabulary.

There were graceful moments too as we struggled to learn the English Language. Our sixth grade teacher, Mr. Frank M. Sablan, once asked the class to name the fruit right next to our classroom window known in Chamorro as “laguana”. There was a moment of silence when a tiny hand in the corner was raised. Declared my classmate: “Legueners!” Man, did the class broke out in laughter. Our wonderful teacher finally volunteered that it’s called “sour sop”.

I remember another classmate who contracted rashes known in the vernacular as “loglug haga`” (rash). He was sent to the main office for attention. At the office, the clerk asked what’s wrong with him. He said: “I have boiling blood”. For nearly five minutes, the clerk disappeared behind the counter trying to tame her laughter for it was the first time she’s heard a new allergy–boiling blood. Well, we were learning English the hard way, yeah? Remember when every male stateside here is named “Joe?”

Then there was my dad who one day admonished me for failing to fulfill my house chores. He asked me questions when I decided to answer in English. The next thing I heard was the loud and powerful slam of his mighty belt in my behind. He must have been offended for my use of English and probably thought I was cussing him. Man, one had to remember when to roll and hold on one of two lingo. A Saina!

Remember the use of the word “fire” when local workers in the old NTTU were warned that anybody caught using the dump truck for lunch in Chalan Kanoa will be fired? The interpreter related to everybody that the entire Chalan Kanoa Village was on fire. So each driver jumped on his truck and headed to the old village. The American boss stood there in awe why the guys are headed out with NTTU’s trucks. Yeah, sometimes it’s good volunteering as an interpreter!

Although I’ve learned to speak, read and write Chamorro (which I sometimes use in this newspaper) just to keep new local recruits (students) learn how to read in their native tongue, it is really a language that is good to know as an indigenous. But it is a completely useless language in my professional career and business dealings too. And it is really shameful that indigenous kids are being taught their native tongue at school rather than at home. We would have turned our vernacular into complete irrelevance in the not too distant future. Think about it if you wish to perpetuate your native tongue.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Media Resolutions for 2018

Media Shouldn't Defend Colonial Status Quoby Michael Lujan Bevacqua
January 5, 2018
Pacific Daily News

As we crawl out of the dumpster fire that was 2017 for much of the United States and its territories, we inch cautiously into 2018 and hope for the best. As someone who has been working over the past few years to elevate the community consciousness about decolonization, I am most interested in what the coming elections and federal cases will bring in terms of changing the island’s political status.

What occupies my thought process is the role of the media in helping build that consciousness or impede it. The media institutions in any society don’t just exist to report or investigate. These institutions also, often in less perceptible ways, promote values and norms, usually on behalf of elite segments of society.

In a colonial context, these roles gain a colonial dimension. Both institutions and individuals often will be compelled to defend and naturalize the colonial status quo. In both explicit and implicit ways, the media will promote notions of the greatness of the colonizer and propagate a fantasy of American political belonging that may not really exist.

We see this in the media landscape in Guam. Guam isn't a state, yet the media functions in such a way as if Guam is just like any other part of America. You can replace certain words in your average story and suddenly it'll be set in Arkansas or Kansas.

This does a disservice to those who consume that media, as it promotes a mis-recognition of reality. It encourages them not to recognize the truth of our relationship to the U.S., but proposes patriotism and pride as appropriate responses to living in a contemporary colony.

The media isn't alone. We see the same inconsistency from both Adelup and the Legislature. One day there’ll be a press release condemning U.S. colonialism, the next day a resolution promoting the fiction that we are just like any other part of America.

The educational system is one of the most problematic sites for this type of intellectual framing. So much of what is taught is wishful American-centric lessons that range from stupid to harmful. There are many things that would overlap in curriculum on Guam and any corner of the U.S., but if the foundation of your curriculum is they are one in the same, colonial problems will emerge.

This can change, if only the media landscape of Guam take up resolutions like the rest of us. For instance, not every story has to highlight Guam’s colonial status, but this has to be a silent yet still fundamental fact. The media often portray Guam’s relationship to the U.S. as something we are failing to live up to, as if we are some rebellious and corrupt piece of American real estate.

We are owned by the U.S., a immoral relationship that shouldn’t be glossed over in today’s world. As such, the focus on decolonization not happening because of local leaders and problems misses the point. The U.S. has an obligation to assist in this movement, but for decades has largely been unhelpful or obstructionist. Any coverage of the delayed decolonization has to assign the karabao’s share of blame at Uncle Sam’s feet.

Let us hope that in the coming year the media resolves to abandon its role as defenders of the colonial status quo and work to become real guardians of truth.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Litraton Jupiter Siha

These pictures are from NASA's Juno spacecraft which has been orbiting the planet Jupiter for more than a year and a half. The images are stunning to say the least and make me wish I was painting again. The colors and the textures are so engrossing. When I finished sending out emails tonight I may actually break out some paints and canvas.


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