Saturday, October 08, 2005

Hayi i Santo-hu?

I'm planning on heading back home to Guam for the winter break, for a month or so, to spend time with my family and also do some research. I've been afraid for weeks to search for tickets, because I fear that what I find will be light years beyond my price range. Ai na'ma'ase sa' ti potpot i chi-na i salape'-ku, pues ti mappot para u ti sina. (ti potpot i chi-na, subres-ha! gof ya-hu este na sinangan, achokka' goffff lachi)

I was emailing a friend and mentioned that I'd be searching soon, and that I was praying to any saint who could lend a hand, to please lend a hand. Although I'm not Catholic and this was just meant as a joke, I realized that there is something to this in terms of creating oppositional movements or discourses in Guam, which contest the dominate way of thinking things and knowing things (America #1!).

I believe Anne Perez Hattori's work is touching on this in pre-war Guam, in the way that the Catholic Church helped foster Chamorro resistance to American colonization. I remember reading a speech that Archbishop Apuron had given in Chicago during the early 90's (when the abortion fight was being waged) that described the integral role that the Catholic Church has played in preserving Chamorro language in Guam. I had to agree with alot of his points, during the American period in particular, although the priests were always automatically closer to the Navy than most Chamorros (by virtue of their being whiter and more civilized), the tensions that took place between non-Catholic governors or officers and the Catholic Church in Guam did play a role in fostering identities for Chamorros which were at a minimum in opposition to the United States. They did sermonize in Chamorro, they did emphasis the use of Chamorro language. This of course a huge contrast to Naval desires for Chamorros, which was to rid them of that mental defect of their language.

More and more I'm seeing religion bashing become in vogue. The trashing of all religions, in particular older ones like Catholicism. Sometimes these critiques are justified, sometimes they are necessary, but often times they are the acts of forming an unaccountable ego (an ego outside of ideology, a person who has figured out "the way the world works" and therefore they miss the point that regardless of whatever we feel, religion cannot be expunged from our lives. Religion is a relationship to something beyond us, and given this, the argument that most give that they are against organized religion doesn't work, because it assumes that this relationship to something beyond us, is supposed to be between us and whatever that thing is (and no one else). So the basic acts of sharing thoughts, constructing shared beliefs and belief system and then the final sin of institutionalizing such things, are against all that religion is supposed to be.

In Guam, the Church can be a powerful tool for mobilizing and creating oppositional identities and narratives. It is not always so of course, but it can be. For example, when the Church pushed for the harshest abortion laws in the US and its colonies, we had an example of people asserting a Chamorroness, despite the fact that they knew this very much conflicted with their own conceptions of Americaness. This is rarity on such a big scale, for identities to be proposed and performed with do this with full knowledge of its meaning, is incredible. I of course, don't agree with it politically, but as a point for asserting Chamorro first and Guam first, it is an important moment.

When I seek a Saint whom can help me find a cheap ticket to fly home, hunggan umesitan yu', but I am also trying to make a political point, and not to abandon the Church as an institution for arcane beliefs and pedophiles, but also something which can be used to help decolonize the island.

Decolonization is of course a broad term, and those who conceive of it narrowly are of course those who fear it the most (this works for Chamorros on Guam, and as I learned recently, for people in the United States, who despite anything you say, will always assume that decolonization means, you want to return to your precolonial and pure roots and get rid of all modernization). Decolonization is an process of displacement, a process by which certain colonizing narratives, discourses, concepts, ideas, images, can be battled over and their meaning changed. Decolonization does not assume that we get rid of the Church and the government and anything else which wasn't here in 1521. But it very much means, using if we can the Church against the government, or the government against the Church. Using whatever means we can to focus ourselves to Guam first. Because colonization in Guam, is at its core the process through which the Chamorro is turned into an immigrant, the Chamorro is turned into a citizen, the Chamorro is turned into an existence which relies upon the United States for its existence. Decolonization as a basic move of contestation and displacement is an attempt to refocus things, whether it be economic strategies, designing educational models, writing books, making music, but to refocus them to Guam. To make Guam the thing which we imagine first, before we conceive of ourselves as some sort of clinging dependent appendage to the United States.

The cost of tickets to and from Guam is a very big deal and something which affects everyone. It was part of the strategy that got Jesse Anderson Lujan elected. But the question becomes, what do we do with this inconsistency that once again affirms Guam's status as a colony? Do we allow it to be used as it always is, as another ruptural point that must be either denied and hidden by asserting that we are lucky to be a part of the United States or be used as a way of implying that we must be more American (if only we were a state!)? Or do we invoke I Santon Tiket Guinagan? The Patron Saint of Expensive Tickets?

1 comment:

may said...

i'll chip in, miget. i want to support your trip to one of the blessed places that birthed you. if that makes me part of the saint you're seeking, then i'll be one of the saint's feet. the left foot, then, for the same reason that my sister has a tattoo on her left side...


Related Posts with Thumbnails