After finishing my first master's thesis earlier this year, its been a long hard road coming to terms with the limits of it. The most glaring problem is that the theory section in my first chapter was "faked." While I did read Roland Barthes Mythologies which I cite as what I will be using, in reality I merely used him as a screen to say whatever I felt like saying. Then there are the limits of my statements because I couldn't get to all resources I wanted. My descriptions of pre-war education in Guam could have been much more extensive, but at the time I felt like I had done enough research to make my points and needed little more.
Two things that have happened recently have helped me see things in a better light. First off a received an email several weeks ago from Mari, a Chamorro attending school in Hawai'i and getting her masters at UH. I knew Mari from my message board and we've emailed each other often different things such as Anime and Guam politics. She sent me an email I hardly expected, one about my master's thesis. She had gotten a copy of it from my ma'gas Masters from UOG, Anne Perez Hattori and although she hadn't finished it yet, she emailed me that she knew it would be of great help in her master's thesis. Occassionally I get emails such as these, which thank me for help I've given them in different forms, but this is the first time anyone had emailed me with my master's thesis as the object of conversation and gratitude. It was the first instance where I realized that my thesis might be of some value.
Second, I spoke recently on a panel (with Vince Diaz and Tina Deslisle) on the state of Chamorro studies at the American Studies Association conference. Because the majority of the panel could not attend, the initial discussion was limited and so me and Tina talked about our projects, past and present. In discussing my work then and my work now, I began to see the value in my master's thesis, both in terms of what it might offer others and what it meant to myself and my development.
For those of you unfamiliar with the thesis I'm talking about, its title is "These May or May Not Be Americans:" The Patriotic Myth and the Hijacking of Chamorro History in Guam. The title alone gives you a sense of its "radical" character in terms of Pacific and Chamorro scholarship. Its basic intent is to provide a historical geneaology of why Chamorros are so patriotic towards the United States today. Prior to World War II, Chamorros were largely uninterested in being American. Yet in the span of just three years, through a brutal occupation by the Japanese, somehow Chamorros became more American than Americans, and more patriotic than a million yellow ribbons soaked in the blood of every corn feed white boy who has died on foreign soil, with his woman who was supposed to wait, taken off by some opportunistic Jody. By analyzing the speech of Chamorros, how they relate stories of the war, pre-war and post war periods I attempt to show a particular myth at work, the patriotic myth. Which emerges after World War II when the distance between Chamorros and the United States is broken, and suddenly Uncle Sam is not that annoying white Marine who watches you carefully to make sure your clothes aren't dirty or that your lawn is well maintained, but now he is something in your heart, something you cannot get rid of even if you wanted to. Something that sits at the core of every attempt of yours to form your identity, your history, yourself.
In the spirit of my re-evaluation of the use of this thesis, I wanted to post here the promise I made in its beginning pages. I considered putting a translation in English, but I feel it loses its energy and too often when I translate Chamorro into English (we are all in some ways perpetrators of this) I unintentionally make it sound a certain way, an proud, strong, simplistic indigenous way.
Mananges hit put I katen I paluma, lao ni’ hayi tumanges put I haggan I guihan.
Manggaisuette siha ni’ manggaibosa, ni’ sina manmaoppan.
I Chamorro pa’go ti mano’oppan. Mamatkilu put I estao-ta ni’ manakpappa’.
Achokka’ bula matulaika desde 1521, 1668, 1898 yan 1941, meggai lokkue mamparehu.
Achokka’ ma kekefa’baba’ hit I Amerikanu na esta munhayan colonialism, sigi ha’ maninaffekta hit ni’ I binaba-na. Ya dimalas todu I nina’maloffan-na.
I tinekcha’ colonialism siha muna’maloffan na I Chamorro siha giya Guahan, ta hahasso na ti kabales hit na taotao sin Amerika.
I na’chetton-ta nu I US (achokka’ guaha minaolek) gof baba lokkue. Ya ti ta gof ripara I inaffekta gi I hinasso-ta, I kettura-ta yan I taotao-ta.
Ayu na chinatkinemprende (gi entre Hita yan Siha) sigi ha’ sumakke I estorian I taotao-ta.
Sigi ha’ muna’fannaibosa I tiguang-ta.
Sigi’ ha’ humohokka’ I espiritun I Chamorro, ya ti ya-niha muna’na’lao.
Este na dimalas maloffan put I irensia-ta colonial ginnen I mina’gasin i Espanot, I Chapones yan I Amerikanu.
Ni’ ngai’an u mafa’maolek (magom) este kontat ki manieniete hit patriotism nu I US.
Si Uncle Sam ti mismo I tihu-ta, ti tata-ta, ti ga’chong-ta.
DUENU-TA! DUENUN I ISLA-TA! DUENUN I ESTORIA-TA!
Kontat ki ta dimu pappa’ yan tekuni Si Uncle Sam, sigi ha’ ha manmasokka’ hit, yan sigi ha’ manmafa’ga’ga’.
Mangkabales hit na taotao desde I tiempon manmofo’na yan manggabales hit pa’go.
Ya HAMYO ni’ umusuni muna’fanaibosa ham, ya usuni sumakke’ yan muna’atok I tano’n-mami, yan I estorian-mami, tungo’ ha este.
Bai hu mumu hamyo todu, ya bai hu usuni mumumu esta ki manmapedde hamyo yan manobra ham ta’lo, I taotao Chamorro siha.
Adahi hamyo ni’ atkagueti-hu, maseha Chamorro, haole pat otro.
Adahi sa’ ti bai ketu ya ti bai famatkilu!