Friday, December 29, 2006

Håyi Yu’ Nu Hågu?

Ti mappot para un tungo' ngai'an na humalom nuebu na guinaiya gi lina’lå-hu.

Sa’ ensigidas yu’ mamange’ betsu ta’lo!

Yanggen un gof tungo’ yu’, pues esta un komprende siempre na sen fanahgue’yan i lina’lå-hu pa’go. Didide’ fitme pa’go, ya gi i mamaila na meses siha, tåya siempre siguru.

Kada nai hu hasso put este nuebu na guinaiya-ku, hu hasso lokkue i betsu “Fanatguiyan,” ni’ fine’nina hu fakcha’i gi un lepblon Tony Ramirez.

Estague i palabras-ña:

Fanatguiyan i ha’åni-mu
Chumachalek hao pa’go
Kumakasao hao agupa’

Desde i mafañågu-mu
Asta i finatai-mu
Fanatguiyan i ha’åni-mu

Gefhasso na tåya’ orå-ña
I minagof yan i piniti gi lina’lå-mu
Chumachalek hao pa’go
Tumatanges hao agupa’

Kao u ma’ok este na nuebu na guinaiya? Pa’go sa’ sen sinekkai yu’, hu diseseha na hunggan. Lao put i atdet na tiempo siha ni’ ma nanangga yu’ mo’ña, hekkua’, ti siguru yu’.

Lao para pa’go bai hu po’loñaihon este na chathinasso siha, ya gosa i chubaskon i guinaiyan-måmi gaige gi halom i pakyon i lina’lå-hu.

Ya pa’go, bai hu dedicate este na kanta para Guiya. Hu ayao i dandan yan i palabras ginnen i kanta
Hum Aapke Hain Koun ginnen i kachido ni’ kumayu. Bai hu na’chetton guini lokkue, i palabras Hindi.

Håyi Yu’ Nu Hågu?

Ti siña kumetu i inatan-hu
Este i hiniyong guinaiya
Mungga famåtkilu, sanyåni yu’
Håyi yu’ nu Hagu?

Kuantos biahi hu na’para yu’
Ya malago yu’ famaisen hao
Sa’ hafa gaige hao gi guinife-hu?
Håyi yu’ nu Hagu?

Ti siña kumetu i inatan-hu
Este i hiniyong guinaiya
Sigi’ ha’ chathinasso na ti un tungo’
Håyi yu’ nu Hagu

Taimanu bai hu na’tungo hao?
Taitai i tinahdong gi i matå-hu
Ya i minalago u sinangåni hao
Håyi yu’ nu Hagu

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun
Hum Aapke Hain Kaun
Bechain Hai, Meri Nazar
Hai Pyar Ka, Kaisa Asar
Na Chup Raho, Itna Kaho
Hum Aapke, Aapke Hain Kaun

Khud Ko Sanam, Roka Bada
Aakhir Mujhe, Kehna Pada
Khwaabon Mein Tum, Aate Ho Kyon
Hum Aapke, Aapke Hain Kaun

Bechain Hai, Meri Nazar
Hai Pyar Ka, Kaisa Asar
Hain Hosh Gum, Poocho Na Tum
Hum Aapke, Aapke Hain Kaun

Kaise Kahun, Dil Ki Lagi
Chehra Mera, Padh Lo Kabhi
Yeh Sharm Ki, Surkhi Kahe
Hum Aapke, Aapke Hain Kaun

Monday, December 25, 2006

Declaration of "Indigeneity"

Apologies to those who followed the podcast that me and my friends Madel and Angie started a few months ago. School's out for the next few weeks and so there won't be any new podcasts for a while. But Angie swore to me that once school starts up again we'll be sure to start recording them again.

In the meantime, for those who haven't seen it, I'm posting below the "declaration of indigeneity" that we drafted to kind of explain our position and the theoretical reasons for why we were saying so many critically unkind things on our podcast.

By the way, we plan on taking our little pacific islander/indian show on the road next year. We submitted a panel proposal based on our different projects and podcast discussions for the Indigenous Studies Conference to take place next May at University of Oklahoma. Check out the description and the steering committee, it looks to be a truly exciting/inspiring event.

Alii, el mor kemiu el rokui,
Hafa adai, mañelu-hu yan mañainå-hu,
Hello, friends and family,

Indigenous peoples and their struggles are often diminished or dismissed today as being either racist, parochial, essentialist or just too plain particular. As the majority of the world’s population is brought together in more and more tangible ways through ”international” and “transnational” narratives, it might be expected then that indigenous peoples, most of whom exist “intra-nationally,” or as nations within nations, might be dismissed as inconsequential or kind of distracting from the big picture and more universal concerns. In the United States today, terms such as sovereignty, decolonization and self-determination, which are common in the politics of indigenous peoples, are either completely foreign, or distasteful in the way they echo broken promises of failed revolutions and the dangers of modern utopianism.

In most academic disciplines we find a difficulty in seeing the importance of reckoning with indigenous struggles or epistemologies, except as just another ethnic group to be incorporated, an anachronism to be collected and catalogued, or colorful exceptions, footnotes on modernity’s journey forward.

We, the three “voices” of the Voicing Indigeneity podcast and blog are all graduate students in the Ethnic Studies department at the University of California, San Diego, and in different ways, both in and outside of our department often find ourselves entangled in the limits and resistances mentioned above. Over the past year, the three of us have had intense, inspiring and occasionally productive conversations about the difficulties and possibilities for articulating concepts such as sovereignty or decolonization in an Ethnic Studies framework.

Our decision to start to record and disseminate these conversations stems from our belief that indigenous studies and epistemological work, far from being racist, limited or essentialist, is in fact very global and holds important potential for reshaping academic disciplines such as Ethnic Studies. In our short time here at UCSD, we have already begun to see important of shifts of vision, and so we voice our critiques, precisely because we believe in the critical potential for the Ethnic Studies project. We feel that it is unfortunate that most potential indigenous scholars today do not see our Ethnic Studies department or the larger discipline as places where they can produce work which is relevant to issues of decolonization and sovereignty, and want to change this perception.

We therefore invite you to visit our website, and download our podcasts, which range from serious to silly, frustrating to therapeutic. We also welcome you to leave comments, or join our conversation by emailing us with critiques, questions, suggestions and support at

Struggles for sovereignty and acts of decolonization are taking place all the time, at multiple levels attached to different dreams and nightmares. Both with these conversations and within these conversations you will find a number of ours.

Ko meral mesulang
Si Yu’us Ma’ase para i tiempon-miyu
Thank you

Madelsar Tmetuchl Ngiraingas (Belauan – Beliliou, Orreor, Irrai)
Angela Morrill (Modoc-Klamath)
Michael Lujan Bevacqua (Chamorro, familian Kabesa/Bittot)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Kantan I Isla-ku Siha

I will be on Guam again very soon.

There are reasons that this visit will be incredibly exciting and stressful, lao I'm still not ready to discuss them on my blog just yet.

Anai hoben yu’, kada na bai hanao yan gupu åpmam, bei fama’tinas tep ni’ manmapo’lo todu i mas ya-hu na kanta siha. Gof ñateng este na fina’tinas, lao sen gaibali. På’go achokka; mas dongkålu iyo-ku “library gi kanta” mas chaddek para fuma’tinas tep mesklao, sa’ CDs siha tumatahgue i tep siha. Matulailaika i tiempo yan i technology, lao ti i kistumbre-ku. Kada na bei travel chago’, bai hu fa’tinåsi yu’ fine’ñina un tep mesklao.

I'm spending a week with my family in Atascadero before I fly out from LA right after Christmas and so before starting the six hour drive from San Diego, I decided to make myself a CD. Given that I'll soon be spending more than half a day riding various Continental Airlines aircraft in order to get home, what better theme for a CD then "kantan i islå-ku siha" or songs of my island.

When I say this though, I don't mean simply "Guam songs" or "Chamorro songs" only. My island isn't simply a rock on the ocean, or a geographically bound entity. Although the way I conceive of my island is derived mostly from a being or a feeling of being attached to that beautiful rock, it travels with me and constantly finds meaning in other places, which often times return me to Guam, but other times escape into other worlds.

So in my own winding, personal and very political ways, these are the songs I chose to literally (mientras ma'u'u'dai yu' gi i batkon aire) and figuratively take me back to my island:

My Island by Malafunksun
Un gof bunita na kanta, ni' gof ya-hu humungok yan kumanta. Gos maolek yanggen un na'dana siha yan este na betsu lokkue, Save our Island, Don't Sell Your Land!

Love the Island by Ami Suzuki
Ami Suzuki's first single, which was used to advertise Guam to Japanese tourists in 1998. The video was shot in Guam, most prominently in the Guam International Airport. This song means a lot to me, because as the singer sat in the airport, wandering around, waiting, feeling as if in transit, I felt that too when I first came back to Guam.

Doesn’t Remind Me by Audioslave
Not alot on the surface that would be related to Guam, except for the strange first line about "walking in Japan, til I get lost." I was listening to this song alot when a fourth Chamorro died in Iraq, and its confused and puzzling lyrics actually helped me think more concretely about the amnesia we constantly undergo in Guam in order to reconcile our colonial existence.

Could You Be Loved by Bob Marley
This song is not on my list simply because all islander are supposed to love Bob Marley. Its here because I heard it recently in the film Catch a Fire, which tells the story of a black man in Apartheid South Africa who is wrongly accused of sabotaging the power plant he works in, and after being tortured and his wife violated, actually ends up joining the African National Congress, the organization he had been accused of being a member of. These sorts of films allow me to live out my anti-colonial fantasies, for radical social change, which unfortunately never find traction when I'm living or thinking about Guam, so I have to enjoy them for Guam through elsewhere.

Dies Pasu Guatu by The Castro Boyz
An incredibly beautiful Chamorro song, taken from a country song or Hawaiian song or something about love being ten feet away. Sigi ha' na'puti yu' didide' este na kanta, sa' ya-hu kantayi i estaba na nobia-hu ni' este, lao sen mangge na kanta sinembatgo.

An Un Tulaika by The Cruz Family
This musical family performed for my grandparent's 56 wedding anniversary party over the summer, and they have so many songs that I love, such as the Fireman song, Inalahan gi Kanton Tasi, Siete na Sindalu, and oooh that killer Cha Cha medley from their second album. Their second album is incidentally titled Minahalang, and that song truly helped me get through my sadness when I left Guam to start graduate school three years ago.

Chagu Na Distansia by Dan Pocaigue
A song about the Chamorro diaspora, a sad song about family that is leaving Guam to try out life in the states, and how incomplete life feels without them.

Amerikanu Pao’åsu by Frank Pangelinan
A different sort of song about the Chamorro diaspora, which is less loving and more teasing about the changes that Chamorros undergo when they leave island and live in the states.

Blue Light by Hoonua
If you heard the silly lyrics then you would know why I like this song.

Ni’u Håyi Hu Kuentos by Joe Mccarrel
Un gof bunita na kanta, ginnen i lahin i mas ya-hu na danderu Chamoru.

The Hurt by Kalapana
An island staple. A song which I really really wish I could karaoke well to, but never ever seem to sound any good at.

When You Say Nothing At All by Kehaiwai
I was looking for the Walter Manglona version that I have from his Po'dang Chapnoes CD, but couldn't find it, so Kehaiwai's version will have to do. As an undergrad at the University of Guam so long ago, I remember a discussion about love and music in one of my poetry classes. It was one of those discussions where people's memories and experiences come together perfectly with the wisdom and timeless truths of popular music. I remember Extreme's More Than Words, was a much discussed piece as well in getting at what is truly deep or truly real in a relationship, in love? Is it the words? Or is it the silent acts? The touches, the kisses? I, being a punk of course took the position that it is the words that matter, and that you have to say that you love someone for it to be love.

Ti Hu Ta’lo Dumingu by J.D. Crutch
A song which will always have a place in my heart, for reasons, that asi'i' yu', I won't share on my blog.

Kantan Babui by Mike Laguana
This song is just really silly, but one of the few times as an adult that my extended family on Guam got together for something small like a birthday party, we sang this song to my grandmother.

Everyday by Da Udda Band
I first saw D.U.B. several years ago when they performed in San Diego. Although I wish they did more Chamorro music and songs, I still love their music.

Guam U.S.A. by K.C. Leon Guerrero
This song strands behind only "Uncle Sam Sam, My Dear Uncle Sam, Won't You Please Come Back To Guam" in terms of pure colonial force. Whereas the "Sam Sam" song makes no pretense (in the way it has been worked into the present, apart from its historical emergence) to an existence for a Chamorro apart from their yearning, waiting or being liberated by the United States, Guam, U.S.A. becomes a more clearheaded and truthful, but unfortunately just as vibrant celebration of Guam's dependent, invisible and colonial status.

I'm Cool by Reel Big Fish
When me and my brothers start our mythical and mystical Chamorro Ska Band, then this is one of the songs we'll play.

All Night by Damien Marley
When I first heard this song on island, I seriously thought Malafunkshun had made it. It definitely speaks to a number of dynamics that we find on Guam, which if I mention here I might ruin any chances of me having a political career or Guam. Or, as these things usually go, it might actually improve my chances.

Guinaiya by Tinapu
I had wanted to put on Koronan Flores on the CD but it was too long, but this song is nice too. When I think of Chamorro music, yes I think of synthesizers and country music, but I also think of all the acoustic guitar players, and how they play a huge role in keeping Chamorro musical creativity alive.

Sweet Island Girl by Hekkua'
I'm not sure who sings this song, I downloaded it from a random page on myspace, but right now it belongs to one girl in my life who I'll write about later. Lao ti pa'go.

Juliet by Sunland
I first heard this song during one of my summers in Hawai'i working in the Del Monte Pineapple fields. Although it doesn't really speak specifically to anything about working in the pineapple fields, its the song that brings me back to those summers the fastest.

Binenu by J.D. Crutch
A song about a Chamorro soldier who is returning from Vietnam, messed up and addicted to drugs. Binenu is a Chamorro word for "poison." I listen to this song alot lately because of all the rhetoric that is being trotted out in Guam about how we are ready for the tens of thousands of people which will be coming on island because of the latest barrage of proposed military increases, because we have had this many military on island before and been fine. Binenu is a song about one of those times when Guam was heavily militarized, and it is not a patriotic tune about how great it is to have so many bombs, planes, and military on Guam. It is instead a soulful, heartwrenching song about the pain of war and its effect on Guam and Chamorro families. It is important to remember how difficult and violent this time on Guam was, before we start celebrating the fact that thousands more military, dependents and support personnel will be coming again.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Why I Can't Take My Eyes Off of Sean Penn

Published on Tuesday, December 19, 2006 by the Huffington Post
On Receiving the 2006 Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award
by Sean Penn

Sean Penn received The 2006 Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award from The Creative Coalition on December 18, 2006, in New York City, where he delivered the following speech.

The Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award. For the purposes of tonight and my own personal enjoyment, I'm going to yield to the notion that I deserve this. And in the spirit of that, tell you that I am very honored to receive it. And for this I thank the Creative Coalition and my friend Charlie Rose. It does seem appropriate to take this opportunity to exercise the right that honors us all - freedom of speech.

Note for later:

The original title for the Louis XVI comedy called "Start The Revolution Without Me" was one of my favorites. That original title was "Louis, There's a Crowd Downstairs." But I'll come back to that...

Words may be our most civil weapons of change, when they connect to actions of sacrifice, or good will, but they have no grace or power without bold clarity. So, if you'll bear with me, borrowing a line from Bob Dylan, "Let us not talk falsely now - the hour is getting late."

Global warming

Massive pollution

Non-stop U.S. war in Iraq

Attacks on civil liberties under the banner of war on terror

Military spending

You and I, U.S. taxpayers, spend 1 1/2 billion dollars on an Iraq-war-'focused' military everyday, while social needs cry out.

Health care


Public transit

Environmental protections

Affordable housing

Job training

Public investment

And, levy building.

We depend largely for information on these issues from media industries, driven by the bottom line to such an extent that the public interest becomes uninteresting.

And should we speak truth, we stand against government efforts to intimidate or legislate in the service of censorship. Whether under the guise of a Patriot Act or any other benevolent-sounding rationale for the age-old game of shutting down dissent by discouraging independent thinking and preventing progressive social change.

The most effective forms of de facto censorship are pre-emptive. Systemically, we are encouraged to keep our heads down, out of the line of fire - to avoid the danger, god forbid, that someone in the White House, on Capitol Hill, or a media blow-hard might take a shot at us.

But, as a practical matter, most of the limits on creative expression and other forms of free speech come from self-censorship, where the mechanism of corporate clout offers carrots and brandishes sticks. We avoid a conflict before the conflict materializes. We reach for the carrots and stay out of range of sticks.

Decades ago, Fred Friendly called it a "positive veto" - corporations putting big money behind shows that they want to establish and perpetuate. Whether in journalism or drama, creative efforts that don't gain a financial "positive veto" are dismissible, then dismissed. We may not call that "censorship." But whatever we call it, the effects of a "positive veto" system are severe. They impose practical limits on efforts to bring the most important realities to public attention sooner rather than later...

We're beginning to see more revealing images of this war. But it's later now, isn't it? What we have to pay attention to are the results of these "practical limits." One, is that wars become much easier to launch than to halt.

I've got a feeling about how we can begin to change this process and I want to pass it by you. Children grow up in our country -- many by the way, under conditions of extreme poverty -- and are told from a very early age "You will be accountable!" "With freedom, comes responsibility!" And so the lecture goes...Democratic and Republican alike. Lie-cheat-steal, and there will be consequences! Theft will be punished. Actions that cause the deaths of others will be severely punished. The message, from leaders in Washington, news media, mom, dad, and church is clear. Criminals MUST be held accountable.

Now, there's been a lot of talk lately on Capitol Hill about how impeachment should be "off the table." We're told that it's time to look ahead - not back...

Can you imagine how far that argument would go for the defense at an arraignment on charges of grand larceny, or large-scale distribution of methamphetamines? How about the arranging of a contract killing on a pregnant mother? "Indictment should be off the table." Or "Let's look forward, not backward." Or "We can't afford another failed defendant."

Our country has a legal system, not of men and women, but of laws. Why then are we so willing to put inconvenient provisions of the U.S. constitution and federal law "off the table?" Our greatest concern right now should be what to put ON the table. Unless we're going to have one set of laws for the powerful and another set for those who can't afford fancy lawyers, then truth matters to everyone. And accountability is a matter of human and legal principle. If we're going to continue wagging our fingers at the disadvantaged transgressors, then I suggest we be consistent. If truth and accountability can be stretched into sham concepts, we may as well open the gates of all our jails and prisons, where, by the way, there are more people behind bars than any other country in the world. One in every 32 American adults is behind bars, on probation, or on parole as we stand here tonight.

Which is to say that, globally, the United States is number one at demanding accountability and backing up that demand with imprisonment. But, when it comes to our president, vice president, secretary of state, former secretary of defense...this insistence on accountability vanishes. All of a sudden, what's past is prologue. And we're just "forward-looking." But some people can't just look forward. Men and women stationed in Iraq at this moment, under orders of a Commander-in-Chief so sufficiently practiced in the art of deception, that he got vast numbers of American journalists and the most esteemed media outlets of this country, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and PBS to eagerly serve his agenda-building for war. And the process also induced vast numbers of artists and performers (probably even some in this room tonight) to keep quiet and facilitate the push for an invasion in Iraq.

I'm sure many people who I met in Baghdad, both in my trips prior to and during the occupation, now similarly cannot just look forward. With lives so entirely shattered by a violence of occupation - an ongoing U.S. war effort and the civil war that it has catalyzed. All on the back of a crumbled infrastructure, following eleven years of devastating U.N. sanctions.

And, where is the accountability on behalf of the American dead and wounded, their families, their friends, and the people of the United States who have seen their country become a world pariah. These events have been enabled by people named Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, and Rice, as they continue to perpetuate a massive fraud on American democracy and decency.

On January 11, 2003, I made an appearance on Larry King's show following my first trip to Iraq. I suggested that every American mother and father sit down with a scrap of paper and pencil and scribble the following words: Dear Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so -- We regret to inform you that your son or daughter so-and-so, was killed in action in Iraq. I then asked that those mothers and fathers complete that letter in whatever way might comfort them should they receive it. When one considers what a bewildered continuation of those words a parent might attempt to write today, it seems inconceivable that this country could've ever bought into this war. Who were those mothers and fathers believing in?! We know it's not the administration alone, but a culture at large, cloaking itself in self-righteousness, religion, and adolescent hero-dreaming machismo. Would they have believed Rush Limbaugh if they'd known he was high as a kite on OxyContin? Would they have believed the factually impaired Bill O'Reilly if they knew he was massaging his rectum with a loofah while telephonically harassing a staffer? Hannity, had they known he was simply a whore to the cause of his pimps - Murdoch and Ailes? Or the little bow-tie putz, if they knew all he was seeking was a good laugh from Jon Stewart? Maybe our countrymen and women were listening to Ted Haggert while he was whiffing meth and boning a muscle-headed gigolo? Or Mark Foley seeking junior weenis? Joe Lieberman, sitting Shiva? And Toby Keith, singing about how big his boots are?

"Oh, there goes Sean...he had to go and name-call. They say he can't help himself." Or, did I name-call? Maybe I just quickly summed up 7 or 8 little truths. Oh, no, you're right - I name-called. I said, "putz". I take it back. Or, do I? Did I say "whore?" Pimp? These are questions. But, the real and great questions of conscience and accountability would not loom so ominously -- unanswered or evaded at such tremendous cost -- without our day-to-day failure to insist on genuine accountability. Of course we'd prefer some easy ways to get there. But no easy ways exist. Not a new Congress. Not Barack Obama. And, not John McCain. His courage in North Vietnamese prison makes him a heroic man. His voting record in Congress makes him a damaging public servant. We have gotta stand the fuck up and show the world how powerful are the people in a democracy. That's how we regain our position of example, rather than pariah, to the world at large. And that is how we can begin to put up our chins and allow pride and unification to raise our own quality of life and security.

They tell us we lost 3,000 Americans on 9/11. Is that enough? We're about to match it. We're within weeks, if not less, of killing 3,000 Americans in Iraq. I ask Speaker Pelosi, can we put impeachment on the table then? Without former FEMA chief Mike Brown being held accountable, post Katrina (scapegoat though he may have been) we'd have had the same chaos and neglect when Rita hit Houston. Think about it. And, the same people who trumpet deterrence as a justification for punishment when we speak of "crime and punishment," will boast their positive thinking when dismissing the deterrent qualities of an impeachment proceeding.

What is impeachment? It's not a Democratic versus Republican event. Not if used responsibly. If the House of Representatives votes to impeach this president, is he thrown out of office? No, he is not thrown out of office. That is not what impeachment is. Impeachment is the opportunity to proceed with accountability and give our elected senators, democratic and republican, the power to pursue a thorough investigation. The power to put the truth on the table. Mothers and fathers are losing their kids to horrifying deaths in this war every single day. Horrible deaths. Horrible maimings. Were crimes committed in enlisting the support of our country in this decision to go to war? For the moment we're living the most spineless of scenarios; where the hawks abused impeachment eight years ago, now, the rest of us politely refuse to use it today. Let's give the whistle-blowers cover, let's get the subpoenas out there, and then, one by one, put this administration under oath. And then, if the crimes of "Treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" are proven, do as Article 2, Section 4 of the United States Constitution provides, and remove "the President, Vice President and...civil officers of the United States" from office. If the Justice Department then sees fit to bunk them up with Jeff Skilling, so be it.

So...look, if we attempt to impeach for lying about a blowjob, yet accept these almost certain abuses without challenge, we become a cum-stain on the flag we wave. You know, I was listening to Frank Rich this morning, speaking on a book tour. He said he thought impeachment proceedings would amount to a "decadent" sidetrack, while our soldiers were still being killed. I admire Frank Rich. And of course he would be right if impeachment is all we do. But we're Americans. We can do two things at the same time. Yes, let's move forward and swiftly get out of this war in Iraq AND impeach these bastards.

Christopher Reeve promised to get out of that chair. Well, I don't know about you, but it feels like he's up now and I wouldn't be standing here if it weren't on his shoulders. Let it be for something.

Georgie, there's a crowd downstairs.

Thank you and good night.

Copyright 2006 ©,


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy US Imperialism Day Guam!

I'm thinking about turning the posting of this article into a yearly thing for me. It was the first piece that I ever published in Minagahet Zine in 2003 and represented a huge shift in both my thinking and my ability to represent myself and my ideas publicly.

At the time I was in the states living with my then girlfriend Rita, writing my master's thesis in Micronesian Studies and also applying to graduate schools. I hadn't really been that active on Guam. I had done alot of research, alot of talking and listening, spent time with different activist groups and learning from them what was being done, what had been done and of course, what was still left to be done.

Coming to the states however, I found myself with so much information, stories and pain, most of which never seemed to find its way into public discussions in Guam. Disconnected, lonely, feeling malingu didide', I did what most people in this situation do, I started spending too much time on the internet, looking for the things that I couldn't find anywhere around me or the things I felt like I had deseperately lost.

Three years later I have this blog which gets on a good day 150 visits, and since I started counting hits last year has been loaded more than 35,000 times. I have two websites, one Kopbla Amerika which hasn't been updated in two years, but is nonetheless still a good source of information. Then there is Minagahet Zine which is a crucial source for alternative information and opinion for Chamorros both in Guam and in the diaspora. My subscription population for it was hovering around 1200 for a while, but only because I hadn't expelled all the dead or incorrect email addresses. I'll be putting out a new issue in a few days and so I got rid of most of the dead emails and its closer to 1,000 again.

In addition to this I run two listservs for the group Famoksaiyan.

Speaking of Famoksaiyan, a big stressful opportunity has fallen into my lap over the past few months. The website is one of the most visible and frequently visited Guam websites out there. Recently the owner, who has run it for almost ten years got in touch with me about the possibility of Famoksaiyan taking over the website and updating it and running it.

Although it is a bit simplistic to say so, but you could say that all of these different web based things which I am involved in or run, started because of this article and the first zine issue that it was featured in. When I was reading it through again though I realized that some of the stuff in it is out of date or wrong now, and so maybe if I am truly interested in keeping history and memory alive, I should update it every year to reflect the changing Chamorro place in American empire. Hekkua', buente otro biahi, pa'go na puenge, esta chatangmak yan yayas yu'.


Happy US Imperialism Day! Rethinking the Chamorro Place in the American Empire

by Michael Lujan Bevacqua

This December 8th will be the 62nd anniversary of the Japanese invasion of Guam, and coming next year in July, will be the 60th anniversary of the “liberation” of Guam. But before we unpack our American flags, or start practicing Uncle Sam won’t you please come back to Guam again, it is time for Chamorros to really rethink about what they are celebrating, which is far from a liberation, or reoccupation, or patriotism, but in actuality war, imperialism and militarism.

But how could this not be expected, really? Considering that our, and therefore Guam’s value to the US has always been military in nature. And the most influential and jarring event in Guam’s recent history was the second world war, and the Tiempon Chapones. And even after the war, the military became a ticket off the island, or a paycheck to find that better life, after so many lands were stolen/taken and even more livelihoods disrupted. Today, the idea of war is much closer to your average Chamorro, than it is to your average American, for three reasons; one: the impact of the sufferings of I manamko’ lives on in our daily discourse through regular constructions like “before the war” and “after the war.” Two: The fact that 1/3 of the island is held by the US military. Three: That every Chamorro has several relatives who are members of the armed forces. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the military is a big part of Chamorro culture.

When the United States was mobilizing for the “war” in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of men and women around the country shouted and protested “no!” Around the world, millions more echoed the same. On Guam however, while many may of felt that the war was wrong, there was no organized dissent, no shouts for "no war for oil" and so on (I only remember one protest, and it was small, organized by some UOG professors and mostly Academy girls). The loudest voices and the ones which ended up in the PDN or on KUAM all said it was our patriotic duty to support our troops, or that this was good news, because it would surely help our economy.

One of those arguments doesn’t make sense, and the other says the wrong things. “Support our troops?” I have always been of the mind that the best way to support our troops is to bring them home, and most people not standing underneath an American flag or attending a NRA meeting would feel the same way. What really scares me is the economic excitement over war that we all, not just Chamorros tend to get on Guam when we hear more troops are coming in, or maybe a ship will home port here. Are the hundreds of thousands of deaths in the Middle East, as well as the hundreds of US and Coalition deaths worth the construction contracts Black Construction gets for new hangars or readiness centers? Most people would say yes probably, as long as the war was just, or necessary or in the interests of our defense.

Good wars or just wars?

Most American justifications for wars or interventions in other countries come from their romantic memories of wars such as the American Revolution which was fought against colonialism. Or the Civil War which was fought to end slavery. Or the Second World War, which was fought to stop Hitler and save the Jews from the Holocaust. And besides, America's not bad, they only jumped in after they were attacked at Pearl Harbor. I guess if these justifications were all true, then Americans would have the moral high ground in terms of war, all the wars they fought were good ones, because they were for good reasons. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, and on Guam, the real nature of these wars and war in general is a vital distinction that we need to digest.

The Revolutionary War didn’t save the world from colonialism, as Guam and many others are still very much American colonies. The Civil War wasn’t fought to end slavery, as Lincoln very clearly said that if he could save the Union without freeing any slaves he would do so, and the racism that drove the slave trade, now ensures that some minorities and African Americans remain underclasses. And World War II? This is where Guam fits into the American picture, and this is the point with which we must begin.

Pearl Harbor is thought of as an unprovoked attack on the United States. And the US because of blatant Japanese aggression is brought into the war. At the same time Japanese planes from Saipan attacked Guam, bombing Hagatna and Sumay. A few days later the Japanese invaded and the occupation began. The US saves the world from the brutality of the German, Italians and the Japanese, and starts a new world order in which idea of freedom, liberty, capitalism and democracy are spread through the world, like the gospel. With press like that, it would be hard to imagine that war is a bad thing. In fact, it is because of this overwhelming propaganda effort that the US media has termed the Second World War, “the good war,” and refer to its soldiers who served overseas and helped keep the economy alive at home as the “greatest generation.”

Since the war has played such a large role in shaping our people to this very day, it is vital that we look at it with clear eyes and heads, and not become consumed by the patriotic propaganda. Because if we are to actually look back at the beginning of the war, with Pearl Harbor, and reread what unfortunately became our history, when we accepted the red, white and blue, we can see very clearly that the Untied States not only expected war, but actually forced Japan into war.

Books such as President Roosevelt and the Coming of War published in 1941 and more recently Day of Deceit by Robert Stinnett chronicle the steps that the White House and President Roosevelt took to force Japan, and therefore America into the world war. One step was the imposing of economic sanctions on Japan, others were ultimatums and demands to the Japanese that they rescind their treaties with Germany and Italy and pull out of China and Indo-China. In other words, capitulate to American economic and political dominance and stop your imperialistic activities. The Japanese unofficial response was classic. We’ll stop our imperial activities as soon as you do; we’ll pull out of China, when you pull out of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Faced with an uncompromising imperial power such as the US, the Japanese were either to surrender or go to war (in the face of resource shortages, such as oil, they decided to go to war)

In his text Dreaming War, Gore Vidal discussed at length the intentions of Roosevelt in bringing about the war. For instance, if Roosevelt had actually wanted peace, he had plenty of chances to pursue that route. In the year before war, there was a Peace Party in Japan, led by Prince Konoye, who repeatedly asked President Roosevelt that they meet and discuss a plan for peace. Roosevelt however, continually postponed their planned meetings, all the while meeting with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and preparing for the upcoming war.

As for the idea that the United States was taken surprise by the attack, it most certainly wasn’t. By November 1941, the US had broken the Japanese diplomatic codes, but also most of their naval codes. And on November 15th, 1941, General Marshall, the US Army Chief of Staff called in several Washington newspaper bureau chief, and informed them that the Japanese attack would come in the first ten days of December.

Even the stories of America valiantly saving Europe from Hitler’s grasp, or of the US rushing in to save the Jewish people needs to be rethought. Hitler was a monster yes, but much like Saddam Hussein, he was allowed to be a monster by other industrial nations. Men such as Churchill and Roosevelt (like California’s current governor, ARNOLD) admired Hitler for his skills in re-energizing Germany’s economy, and for whipping his country into shape, at a time when much of the world was hurting from the Great Depression. They did nothing to stop his preparations for war, did little initially when he began expanding his empire, and despite reports of atrocities against Jews for years before Pearl Harbor, the US did nothing, as American businessmen were too busy making money off his war mongering.

What does all this mean for Chamorros? First of all, our ideas about Pearl Harbor and the war need to be rethought with this information. If the United States people were set up to go to war, because of the agenda of the President, then that means that the Chamorros on Guam, were set up as well. And in actuality we have known this for a long time, but never really acknowledged it.

The idea that the US abandoned Guam was never really given the credence it needed, because Chamorros were so happy to be “rescued” in 1944, but it is something that we should always remember, especially at the most patriotic times of the year, such as now. Chamorros then knew it, even if they didn’t openly discuss it, or talk about it. Nowadays you will find it spoken of, mostly by younger Chamorros, but occasionally by I manamko’ who still can’t understand how “the greatest country in the world” would just abandon and leave people to die like that?
Let’s acknowledge this year what this anniversary truly represents. Yes, it is the day the Japanese invaded and attacked, but it is also the day the American’s left, and the day many Chamorros learned that to America they meant nothing. And although the roaring wave of patriotism of the last half century has washed away most of this dissent and discomfort (at least consciously), the old questions still persist. Why didn’t the US defend Guam? Why didn’t they tell us? Why didn’t they prepare us? If they evacuated their families, why did they not evacuate us? I was in the Navy, why didn’t they evacuate my wife, or my kids? These are all valid questions, from people who suffered so much, and unfortunately they can only be answered in a rough and difficult way, and that is that the US interest here have always had to do with the military and nothing else. The Chamorros on Guam were considered expendable during World War II, they were considered expendable during the Cold War (in case of a nuclear attack), and we are probably considered expendable today in case of any North Korean aggression or terrorist attack from Indonesia or the Philippines.

All nations become imperial nations and empire when they become large enough and the United States is no different. The US has dozens of army bases around the world, in Guam, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Great Britain, Japan, Germany (and now in Iraq and Afghanistan) and more. It has colonies in Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands and others. Through the CIA and other interventions it has installed or supported loyal dictators and puppet regimes in Congo, Indonesia, Chile, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, Haiti, Greece, Italy, Iran, Iraq, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, South Vietnam and others. The United States is a global empire, and we on Guam are just a piece of that puzzle, nothing more. In broad and general terms, we are a pawn on the imperial chessboard, and to prove that we should think of these two things: first, if another island had a bigger harbor than Guam in 1898, the US would of taken that. Second, the US “liberated” Saipan first, which was a Japanese colony, rather than save their loyal subjects at Guam. Pieces on the board, nothing more.
The forcing of Japan into the Second World War shows that the interests of nations and empires go beyond mere human concerns. They are governed by other less rational concerns like hegemony, geo-political theories about dominos and rogue states and so on. The United States stopped Japan, because it was forming an empire in Asia and the Pacific, similar to the one the US had in the Americas. The United States unofficially endorsed Hitler’s economic expansion and empire building, because of the economic benefits it brought, however they were forced to remove him, when it became apparent that he couldn’t be contained.

These are the true natures of war and of empires and governments. They care nothing for people, most especially people who don’t pay direct federal income tax, or have votes in Congress. And it is with this in mind that we must negotiate our place in America or our place outside of America. It is with this in mind that we must move forward into our future, not relying on the goodwill of a country that didn’t give us Constitutional protections because Chamorros were dark and spoke a different language, or won’t make us an equal part of the US because we are too small? But rather knowing full and well our history, and the fact that it is a colonial history and not one based on equality or altruism, but one based on exploitation and racism.

These are all things that you should remember the next time you wave that flag high. Happy US Imperialism Day!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Chamorros Decry US Military Expansion in Guam

Came across this while I was googling my name. While the first article below was very exciting, especially since it has circulated the internet on other leftist or alternative news websites, the second article which is the same article except in German, was mind-blowing!

Taitai, yanggen taotao Guahan hao gof impottante este sa' put i mamailan i isla-mu, yanggen taotao Lagu impottante lokkue, sa' injustice este na debi di un na'suha.

Natives of Guam Decry U.S. Expansion Plan
Aaron Glantz

SAN FRANCISCO, California, Dec 12 (IPS) - A Pentagon plan for a massive military build-up on the Pacific island of Guam is meeting with resistance by ethnic Chamorros who live there and the Chamorro diaspora in the United States.

According the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, the Pentagon has already moved attack submarines and cruise missiles to Guam, where it is forming a strike force of six bombers and 48 fighters that have been deployed from bases in the continental U.S.

In addition, earlier this year, the U.S. Defence Department announced plans to move 8,000 Marines and 9,000 of their dependents from Okinawa, Japan to Guam. Last week, the Air Force announced it plans to add 2,600 service members and their families to the island's Andersen Air Force Base beginning next year.

The realignment is currently undergoing an environmental review. Pentagon officials say construction of the new bases should begin in 2010, with troop movements starting in 2011.

Activists believe the redeployment will result in a total influx of approximately 35,000 people, a number they say will overwhelm their small island, which has a population of just 168,000 people. The southernmost island in the Western Pacific Mariana chain, Guam has been a U.S. territory since the United States won the Spanish-American War in 1898.

"Guam has basically no say," said writer Michael Lujan Bevacqua, a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego. "So the U.S. has the right to bring in whatever they want and there is no framework that Guam can make demands or negotiate with the U.S. military. The Pentagon and the United States Congress are the sovereign owners and they act like that. There is no relationship that says we have to listen to your feedback or we have to listen to your demands."

Bevacqua noted that the Pentagon's decision to redeploy to Guam comes after large-scale protests against the United States military presence in South Korea and the Japanese island of Okinawa. In both countries, the U.S. military operates under rules negotiated between governments called a "Status of Forces Agreement", or SOFA. But because Guam is a U.S. territory, no SOFA is required.

Indeed, the Japanese government is so keen to have the Marines leave Okinawa -- where a number of U.S. servicemen have made headlines by raping local women -- that Tokyo is underwriting most of the estimated 10-billion-dollar cost of the redeployment.

"Japan and South Korea make noises, the people there antagonise the U.S. military, so the U.S. responds," Bevacqua told IPS. "They say you don't want us there, we'll go to a place where people have no say over what we do, and that place is Guam."

Guam elects one non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. During U.S. presidential elections, citizens in Guam vote in a straw poll, but their choice for president is not counted toward the final outcome. Residents of Guam serve in the U.S.. military and can be conscripted when there is a draft.

Not everyone on Guam agrees with the activists. The territory's non-voting Congresswoman Madeline Bardallo is a big supporter of a stepped-up U.S. military presence on the island.

"When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor (in World War II), they invaded Guam at the same time," she told IPS. "We were occupied by the Japanese for three and a half years. Now you've got South Korea-North Korea, Taiwan-China. There's a lot of unrest. A lot of us remember the Japanese occupation and don't want something like that to happen again."

People from Guam are very patriotic, she added, pointing out that Guam has the highest rate of enlistment in the National Guard and Army reserves of any U.S. state or territory.

But the activists see the calculation differently. Though they grew up hearing horror stories of forced labour and mass murder under the Japanese emperor during World War II, they do not believe a large U.S. presence is in their interest.

"If there's a confrontation between the United States and North Korea, the Koreans won't look to bomb the U.S. mainland," Sabina Perez of the International Peoples Coalition against Military Pollution told IPS. "They'll look for a place that's closer and easier to hit, and that will be Guam."

It was in this political environment that a coalition of mostly young ethnic Chamorros traveled to the New York in October to address a special summit of the United Nations Committee on Decolonisation. They told the panel, which was originally designed to eradicate colonialism in 10 years but is now in its second decade, to come out in favour of self-determination for the people of Guam.

But they said that while they were greeted with a positive response from countries like Venezuela, the United States, which holds a veto on the panel, refused to listen.

"From where we were sitting, the U.S. representative had to turn his head in order to look at us," Victoria Leon Guerrero of the Guahan Indigenous Collective told the community forum in Berkeley. "He never turned, never looked at us. That's how the United States government relates to the people of Guam."


Inwoners Guam-eiland verzetten zich tegen militaire basis VS
Aaron Glantz

SAN FRANCISCO, 13 december (IPS) - De etnische Chamorros die op het eiland Guam in de Stille Oceaan wonen, verzetten zich tegen het plan van het Pentagon voor een grote militaire basis op het eiland. Activisten zeggen dat het kleine eiland de toevloed van zo’n 35.000 militairen niet aankan. Guam telt zelf maar 168.000 inwoners.

Nu al heeft het Pentagon duikboten en kruisraketten verhuisd naar Guam, zegt het neoconservatieve American Enterprise Institute. Eerder dit jaar maakte het Amerikaanse Buitenlandministerie plannen bekend om 8.000 mariniers en 9.000 familieleden naar Guam te verhuizen. De mariniers zijn momenteel gelegerd op het Japanse eiland Okinawa. En vorige week zei de Amerikaanse Luchtmacht dat ze 2.600 manschappen met hun familie begin volgend jaar op het eiland zullen stationeren. Pentagonfunctionarissen zeggen dat ze tegen 2010 willen beginnen met de bouw van nieuwe bases op Guam en dat in 2011 de troepen zullenvolgen.

"Guam heeft niks in de pap te brokken", zegt Michael Lujan Bevacqua, een schrijver-activist afkomstig van Guam die momenteel studeert aan de universiteit van California. Officieel maakt Guam nog altijd deel uit van de VS. Dat is al zo sinds de VS in 1898 de Spaans-Amerikaanse oorlog wonnen. Guam kiest één niet-stemgerechtigde afgevaardigde voor het Amerikaanse Huis van Afgevaardigden. Voor de presidentsverkiezingen telt de stem van Guam niet mee.

De beslissing om naar Guam te komen volgt op grootschalige protesten tegen de Amerikaanse militaire aanwezigheid in Zuid-Korea en het Japanse eiland Okinawa, zegt Bevacqua. In beide landen opereert het Amerikaanse leger onder een set afspraken tussen overheden. Omdat Guam deel van de VS is, zijn die daar niet nodig. Nadat Amerikaanse militairen de Japanse krantenkoppen haalden omdat ze beschuldigd werden van verkrachting van Japanse vrouwen, ziet Japan de mariniers zo graag vertrekken dat het bereid is het grootste deel van de verhuiskosten (naar schatting tien miljoen dollar) te betalen.

"Japan en Zuid-Korea sputteren, en de VS reageren. Als je ons niet wil, zeggen ze, verhuizen we naar een plek waar de mensen niks te zeggen hebben over wat we doen, en die plek is Guam", schampert Bevacqua.

De niet-stemgerechtigde volksvertegenwoordigster voor Guam, Madeline Bardallo, is echter wel een groot voorstander van het legeren van meer troepen op het eiland. “Toen de Japanners tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog Pearl Harbor aanvielen, vielen ze ook Guam binnen. We werden drieënhalf jaar bezet. Ook nu is er veel onrust. Velen onder ons herinneren zich de Japanse bezetting en willen niet dat zoiets opnieuw gebeurt."

De activisten bekijken hetzelfde verhaal uit een andere hoek. "Als er een confrontatie komt tussen de VS en Noord-Korea, zullen de Koreanen niet het Amerikaanse vasteland bombarderen. Ze zullen een plek kiezen die dichterbij en makkelijker te raken is, en dat zal Guam zijn", zegt Sabina Perez van de International Peoples Coalition against Military Pollution.

Met diezelfde overtuiging reisde in oktober een coalitie van jonge etnische Chamorros naar New York om er de speciale top van het Dekolonisatiecomité van de Verenigde Naties te vragen op te komen voor zelfbeschikkingsrecht voor de mensen op Guam. Ze kregen een positieve reactie van landen als Venezuela, maar niet van de VS.

"We zaten zodanig dat de Amerikaanse afgevaardigde zijn hoofd moest draaien om ons te zien", zegt Victoria Leon Guerrero van het Guahan Indigenous Collective. "Hij heeft nooit gedraaid, nooit naar ons gekeken. Dat is hoe de overheid van de VS zich verhoudt tot de mensen op Guam.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tragic Anniversaries

A sixth Chamorro has died in Iraq, US Army Segeant Jesse Castro. His death comes hauntingly close to two other tragedies in recent Chamorro history.

The first was just three years ago, at almost this exact time, when Christopher Rivera Wesley became the first Chamorro solider to die in this most recent Iraq War. His death came within days of December 8th, which has the dubious honor of being one of the holiest days in Catholic Guam as it is the celebration of the island's Patron Saint Santa Maria Kamalen, yet it also marks the day that Guam was bombed by Japan in 1941, setting the stage for their invasion, occupation and eventually the American re-invasion in 1944. When I first started the zine Minagahet in 2003, the first article I published there was one of mine titled "Happy US Imperialism Day: Rethinking the Chamorro Place in the American Empire!"

It was a piece about the true tragedy behind the Japanese Occupation on Guam in World War II, namely how the sins of the United States in starting and conducting the war are absolved through the rhetoric of "liberation." We know plenty about the brutality of the Japanese, how Chamorros suffered. We even know about the chinatli'e and emnity created between Chamorros from the northern Marianas and Guam from being on different sides of this imperial conflict. Every year a huge celebration/commemoration takes that ensures we remember this war in a certain way.

Official narratives of World War II have been since 1950 surprisingly non-negative. The celebration is a literaly whitewash, a marginalization of so many emotions, experiences and feelings which are directed at Japan, the United States or the Chamorros of the northern Marianas. There is though an abundance of local non-official negative or angry memories directed at the Japanese or the taotao Saipan yan taotao Luta, but these have been dismissed for the dual purposes of political and economic bonding amongst Japan, the CNMI and Guam as well as to insure that the focus of Guam's World War II experience is America and feelings of American belonging or dependency.

Although feelings of anger and sadness towards the United States were common after World War II and up until today, it is interesting the way they are sort of doubly editted or doubly excised out of public memory. Each Liberation Day and to a smaller extent Santa Maria Kamalen day or even Veteran's Day, the island because a huge historical classroom, where through the media, through speeches, through public institutions and events we are instructed in the basest and most colonial common sense notions of our history, our present and our future. The United State emerges from this colonial lovefest smelling fresher and more freedom loving than George Washington after a day at Mandara Spa. The negativity of the war, its brutal horrifying aspects, are not directed at the Japanese and certainly not ever at the United States, and therefore the meaning of the massacres, the forced marches, concentration camps, all the abuse is all re-worked to become a sort of necessary trial, a rite of passage that Chamorros had to endure to prove that they were truly Americans.

As we are told about the deaths in Tinta, Faha, Yigu, Fena caused by the Japanese, the abandonment of Guam by the United States in 1941 and then the destructions of Guam that both Japan and the United States brought down upon the Chamorro people, any anger, any political antagonism or action is immediately supposed to be cut off, truncated, gone. The United States is the means of Guam's survival, whether it be economic, democratic, political, educational, without the United States, we would not only be speaking Japanese, German, Spanish or Ai Yu'us goggue yu', Chamorro, but the daily nightmare of Guam possibly being a third world country, would immediately come true!. As for the Japanese we are in a less patriotic and loving bind with them, but a bind nonetheless. The anger over wounds of the war cannot be laid at their feet, wedding shuttles or gun clubs anymore, since their inability to afford tickets to the "real" United States or the real Pacific Islands (Hawai'i) is Guam's golden goose.

But this is at the official level, where the precarious and eternally dependent, unsustainable position of Guam means we cannot publicly demand anything, from anyone, for fear that the means of life will somehow be cut off. At a more private and informal level, there has been incredible resistance and anger towards the Japanese for what they did in Guam. You can even find "understandable" reference to this in public and formal discussions. Although it is understood that this anger and resentment has no place in real discussions, it can nevertheless be referenced to as being understandable, expected given the history of Guam, that some people might not feel so friendly or welcoming to the Japanese.

What I feel is an even greater tragedy today is the way, that despite the United States' colonial history in Guam over the past century, there is no "understanding" or intelligability for displeasure or distaste for the United States. Such feelings are meant to be doubly dismissed, first expulsed from the public world, and then further denied any meaning in the private world. It is always maladjusted, pathological, ridiculous, even when in some cases it is obviously very real, and very pertinent and relevant.


I have posted about the deaths of each Chamorro soldier in Iraq during this war, each post has been difficult for a number of reasons. I minatai siha, ma pacha yu', ma gof pacha yu', lao i piniti ti taiguihi kalang todu ni' ma sasangan na este na minatai siha maolek ha' sa' gaibali sa' manmatai siha mientras ma difefende i taotao Guahan. Ti hu gof siesiente este sa' hu guaiya iyo-ta colonizer, ya hu hongge i bolabola put "Chamorro American patriotism," makkat para bei sungon este, sa' ti hu gof guaiya i Amerikanu siha. Ya kada na matai un Chamoru taiguini, bula na malago yu' sumangan, ya umessalao, lao ti sina yu', sa' todu na masasangan put este, put i gaibali na sakrifisio.

I think its important to remind ourselves of the six that have died so far, but not for the typical patriotic rationale of naming half a dozen reasons why Chamorros are the best Americans or should be Americans, but rather to remind ourselves of the incredible tragedies that Chamorros are forced to shoulder because of who our colonizer is and what it has done to us and to others around the world.

Here are the links for the posts that I've made so far, and I'll be sure to come up with another one tomorrow:

Three Chamorros Dead in Iraq...
Christopher Rivera Wesley
Michael Aguon Vega
Jonathan Pangelinan Santos

Things we Remember If Only to Be Forgotten
Richard DeGracia Na'puti Jr.

The Tragedy of Tragedy
Kasper Allan Camacho Dudkiewicz

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

All in the Family

Over the summer, my family had a dongkalu na gupot giya Guahan for my grandparents, Elizbeth De Leon Flores Lujan (familian Kabesa/Kotla/Badu) and Joaquin Flores Lujan (familian Bittot/Katson). The rationale behind the gathering was to celebrate their 56th Wedding Anniversary.

The event was huge and so much fun. More than 300 people attended and dozens of family from offisland flew in. The Cruz Family played, the Westin Hotel in Tumon provided the food and the venue. Me and my cousins and my siblings provided the entertainment. Si Grandma yan Si Grandpa ma chule' halom i mas bunitu na rason para ta fandana.

On ocassions such as this it is customary for some sort of singing to take place by family members, and hopefully those who are doing the singing are somewhat skilled. Those of us who were responsible for the entertainment however could best be defined by those "who couldn't pay or plan" and therefore had to sing. All of us with the exception of i prima-hu Hope were not very good at singing, and the two short songs that I planned to sing were in Chamorro (Hagu i Flores and Nobia Kahulo'), and I was the only grandchild or great-grandchild who could speak the language.

With my poor leadership abilities, I knew that it would be futile to try to train ourselves to be better singers in just a few days, so my emphasis became not to sing good, but to instead sing cute.

To achieve this desired response, I prefaced our performance with a little warning that, although our family is very artistic, we are not really so in the singing or musical sense. The combination of this warning with the median age of the singers being like eight helped produce the cute atmosphere I was hoping for.

In order to take advantage of the artistic talents of our family, we set up another piece of entertainment, one dealing with paintings and trivia. Before the party, me and my brothers Jack and Cyrus as well as our nephew Dylan painted about a half dozen pieces which would be the prizes for a trivia game dealing with the lives of grandma and grandpa. Me being a sort of historian for the family I was able to come up with some interesting and very obscure questions.

Just for fun, I'll post a few of them here, alongside photographs of us painting the artworks we gave away. For those of you who don't know the history of my grandparents as intricately as I do, I will graciously provide you with the answers as well (umessitan ha' yu').

What was the name of the night club that grandma and grandpa owned in the 1950's?

Hafa na’ån-ña i nightclub ni’ eståba gaiiya si grandpa yan si grandma gi I 1950’s?

(The Sleepy Lagoon)

What was the name of the store grandma and grandpa had at the Gibson's Shopping Center?

Hafa na’ån-ña i tendan-ñiha grandma yan grandpa eståba giya i Gibson’s Shopping Center?

(Chamorro Land)

Where after the war did grandma and grandpa first meet?

Manu i fine’nina na lugat nai umasodda’ si grandpa yan si grandma despues di i Tiempon Chapoñes?

(at Grandma's brother's Bill's store in Tamuning, Bilmar Store, where grandma was working as a cashier)

It dawned on me the other day however that although the lack of musical talents might work in my case, there are several others in my family who are musically talented. Three of these talented beautiful people just happen to be my brothers. I was cruising around myspace today, checking out their pages as well as my other friends, and since all of them are in the early stages of their musical careers, having started both their pages and their bands either this year or the last, I thought it might be a good idea to help support them by posting their links on my blog.

If you're in the mood for some Ska, some Rap or some Indie Pop click on any of them below to check them out.

Pump Fake Nation


Freedom Fries

Sunday, December 03, 2006


I noticed several weeks ago that the Pacific Daily News on its website had started to add a comment posting option for its news articles.

At that point, few people were using the feature and so most articles were still blank, tataya' ha' sinangan guihi. Lao achokka' taya' comments, esta hu tungo' na ti apmam siempre u tuhuhon i kuentos O.O.G.

If you put a comment function on news articles about Guam, it is only a matter of time before you are flooded with people from all shapes and sizes, saying the most braindead things imaginable and punctuating their vapid conversation additions with the expression "Only on Guam" or O.O.G.

The phrase "Only on Guam" is generally attributed to the cruel genius of former editor of The Pacific Daily News Joe Murphy. Murphy has been a fixture on Guam since he arrived there in the late 1960's to work for the then Guam Daily News. His early columns are occasionally silly occasionally racist, bordering on insane.

For my research as a graduate student in Micronesian Studies at the University of Guam, I was fortunate enough to have access to every issue of The Pacific Daily News since it was the Navy News after World War II. One particular editorial scarred my mind because of its "innocent" racist assumptions. In this editorial, Murphy indicates that the biggest problem on Guam in 1968 is that Chamorros are still using their native language. For Murphy the choice is simple, since Guam is American soil, the Natives of that soil need to sh!t or get off the pot if they want to live up to the obligations of that progress loving soil, and therefore stop speaking their language! Most people I have told this to try to excuse Murphy based on the time that he was writing in, but even in 1968 this was still a racist statement for a plethora of reasons, ranging from its denial of the indigenous Chamorro to having ownership of Guam, to assuming an American monolingualism which has never actually existed, to basically assuming also that there is no option for Chamorros other than the United States and its way and that by speaking Chamorro they were just in denial of the inevitable.

But it wasn't all Chamorro bashing in his Pipe Dreams columns, alot of times he would tell funny stories. English language bloopers, his own surprises at the daily rhythms of Guam, restaurants being out of food, color primer cars and trucks, mind and wallet boggling Government inefficiencies and errors, what was completely unnatural for Murphy being completely natural and ordinary for people on Guam. From these tales Murphy supposedly coined the phrase "Only on Guam" of that only on Guam could such insane things not just happen, but be normal and the way things are.

I remember one story about a newspaper reporter on Guam whose job was the run the police blotter. At one point he was so tried of running around the island collecting information for his pieces that he actually made a request to criminals in his column to make his job easier.

For those of you who are industrious about these sorts of things, Murphy's old Pipe Dream columns can be found in very hard to find collections. The title of one of them Guam is a Four
Letter Word kind of keys in with the rest of my points.

But before I get to the idea that Guam is a four letter word or somehow chatfino', let's divide up, into different classes for easier reference and comprehension, the people who would invoke O.O.G. while posting their thoughts on the PDN website.

First there are those who have left Guam behind, far behind, and from their fantastic vantage being now in the states, resorting to an OOG reference, is meant to prove how sharp their vision is. It is meant to prove that even from their incredible distance away from Guam they can still see how pathetically corrupt and inferior Guam is. It is meant to give a positive meaning to the distance they have from Guam or from local Chamorro culture. Twin processes are taking place here. First, the status of the stateside Chamorro is enhanced by the recognition of how far away they are from such madness that they left long ago gi i isla siha, gi i sengsong siha, implying how much they have improved upon, seized, taken advantage of in their movement to the United States “mainland.” Second however is that this recognition of a pathological flaw, or a gruesome corrupting crack in the existence of Guam, reiterates the distance from Guam as a
self-supporting explanation as to why they left Guam.

Second there are the big fish in a small pond. Chamorros who are living on Guam, whose vision extends far beyond Guam itself and constantly acts as if the rest of the world is truly theirs while Guam lies beneath anyone wanting to own. For them OOG is invoked to represent the past, that which is "so last week" or "last century" yet also, that which is "past" the speaker, something which they are so over and beyond.

Third there are non Chamorros on Guam who jokingly refer to OOG in a way to make parochial Chamorros and Guam while at the same time trying to create a makeshift cosmopolitanism for themselves. For these people, saying that something is "Only on Guam" is only the first part of the equation, a simple, somewhat fun loving subordination of Guam. The next part is a so
metimes implicit, other times explicit elevation of another point outside of Guam, as a less parochial, more advanced, and therefore better place than Guam. And by virtue of the fact that I recognize this pathological problem in Guam, I become the local spokesperson for that better place, and in turn embody its betterness best in the way I recognize continually the crappiness of the local and offer the betterness of the other place as the salve to fix said crappiness..

Fourth, we have what you could call a Malafunkshun category of sorts. For them the OOG quality is something which is actually pretty darn cool because it carves out a unique place for Guam in the universe, which if we consider this from the smallness of Guam in relation to the rest of the world, in relation to the US, the sheer size of the ocean around us, and then the similar cultural traits we share with other places such as Mexico and the Philippines because of Spanish colonialisms, finding a place which is particular to Guam is truly exciting. Even if it says si
multaneously that Guam sucks.

There are other possibilities for categorization, but I am loathe to admit to any positive version of invoking because contrary to popular belief, the forms that OOG takes, while sometimes funny, are almost always brutally negative, and indict Guam as being what Murphy claims, as being some sort of "four letter word." A few months ago I wrote about Sherry, the haole lady who hated Guam and said a number of very disgusting things about Guam. If you check out the litany that she made of why Guam sucks, the rants on what makes Guam so horribly unbearable, she is basically creating an OOG list! Those exact same things are said by Chamorros and others on Guam practically every single day, and often said in such a way that this crappiness is limited only to Guam.

I should note here though that it is possible to flip these statements around, to reverse them so that they start to signify positive things as opposed to negative things, but this is much rarer than people might think. Part of the defining of a home is a reckoning with its aspects, an arranging of them in such a way that it becomes yours as well as those that you share it with.

For example, how do people on Guam reckon with its smallness, its insularity? For most it is something to complain about, and then complain about people who complain about Guam being large when its barely a dot on a map. It is something which must people use to make a place such as the United States so much bigger and so much fuller with life and possibility. A common OOG statement that even Sherry the haole lady makes is this:

OOG do people complain that driving two miles is too far.

What can we derive from this complaint? That people on Guam have little understanding about the rest of the world, don't know anything beyond their backyard, can't step out of their own shoes and into someone else's who lives in a place where driving two miles is like taking a breath.

But when I was on Guam I constantly used the silly universe of this statement to make Guam my home. Driving down to the southern part of Guam became an adventure of metaphor and description. When asked to come visit someone in Hagat, Malesso or Santa Rita, I would relish and teasing the incredible distance I would have to drive to reach them.

"Party in Santa Rita next week? Oooh, I better start driving now."

"Party in Malesso tomorrow? Sorry I can't make it, I'm waiting for Continental to start giving me frequent flier miles for the trip."

The fundamental problem I have with kuentos OOG is its heavy reliance upon the United States as the guarantor of meaning or social consistency. While kuentos OOG can take some positive forms, it is for the most part not just negative, but pathologically negative, meaning that the sigh or even smile which follows the declaration of OOG too often signifies that whatever characteristic or silly thing we just spoke of or shared is, it is far beyond our reach to actually do anything about it, and just enjoy the ride.

In the world of OOG, Guam is a cuss word, a social breakdown, a mistake, something lurid, something exceptional and not the norm, certainly not something which can function publicly or openly, even if it is something which is kind of quietly accepted or understood as being part of reality. Naturally cuss words can be hysterical and can be funny, an important part of life. But they are not real language. We find this interestingly revealed to us in the Chamorro word for cussing or swear words, chatfino’, which means literally “not quite speech” or “not really what is said.”

So is OOG speech then a cruel sort of way of saying that while life in Guam may be interesting, hilarious, ridiculous and stupid, it is ultimately not really life.

I often repeat this story because it truly represents the traps of commonsense inundated with colonization. Several years ago, I gave a presentation to a group of elementary students on Guam, where I asked them all to name the things that a Chamorro was or did. As expected, an ocean of Malafunkshun style representations surged forward: doesn’t speak English or Chamorro very well, is lazy, is on welfare, is on food stamps, has lots of kids with lots of people, is corrupt, takes lots of breaks. The sole positive traits mentioned were family closeness and military service. These two positive traits however were engulfed by the parade of negative ones, creating the Chamorro as something barely alive if alive at all.

I quizzed the students if these were the things that added up to a Chamorro, could a Chamorro survive in the “real world?” Most confessed, probably not.

So where then is “real life?” Where do we find i magahet na lina’la that OOG discourse depends upon for its solution to the silliness, chaos or disorder of Guam? If you are familiar with blog or with colonization in Guam, then the answer should be obvious.

Several years ago when Leo Babauta had a column in The Pacific Daily News he was often censored by the editorial staff. You can access his old editorials and thoughts of his times at PDN on the old Malafunkshun website.

At one point Babauta tried to refer to Guam as a colony and “metaphorical prison” and was informed by his editors that he could not because such a characterization is “misleading.” The logic for saying that this is misleading is a logic which is truly worthy of the title worst and limpest consciousness in the colonies. The pinikaru giya Guahu wants to say this his editor’s position is worth of an OOG award, but I will resist the temptation:

I was further told that my calling the colony of Guam a metaphorical prison was misleading, because we can all "fly 12 hours to the states and vote for president".

Here we reach, beyond i minagof put kuentos OOG, to my fundamental problem with it, namely how it assumes and actively produces the consistency and efficiency of this other scene, the “mainland,” the United States. “Guam” itself is meant to be understood as hopelessly colony, as pathologically inefficient, corrupt, backwards, and so on, and despite the historical and contemporary historical relationship between it and the United States, this negativity is not meant to or should not taint the glory of the United States. Because history or memory in Guam does not regularly connect the poorness of our economy to either the American economic underdevelopment of Guam or the massive displacement of Chamorros from their way of life following World War II, Guam itself is forced to shoulder the impossible burden of all that can and is negative, bad, wrong or poor in Guam.

Take for instance the response from Babauta’s editors. Note that their argument against calling Guam a colony or providing metaphorical texture (kalåbosu) to that situation is argued against in a curious way. In response to the negative/critical assessment of Guam’s status (US sovereign power over Guam without even token voting representation), we immediately leave
Guam in order to provide a positive, full, appropriate and proper image of what is supposed to be (that people in the United States do vote for those who are sovereign over them).

The problem of Guam sort of disappears in this counter argument, and appears to be solved not by anything actually related or having to do with Guam, but rather because the fullness of life and civic participation, political democracy already exists somewhere else! This is authentic, prototypical OOG speech because of the mixture of something problematic and pathological, puts it beyond solution or hope. The answer to Guam’s problems is never here on Guam, it always lies with or in the United States. It creates a doubly enraging nina’bubu na gesture where first, the ignoring or dismissing of any “local” problem or possible problem puts Guam beyond redemption or beyond change, and second, where the United States, whether it is openly stated or not, is produced as the place where that problem is solved.

The cruel secret of OOG discourse is a colonizing dependency upon the United States for everything imaginable. When you invoke a random negative, pathologizing OOG, you are actively participating in different forms of everyday colonization. We Guam are where the government doesn’t work, democracy fails and people don’t or can’t vote, ethics and morality languish, stores don’t carry everything we want or need and if they do have it the prices are insane, potholes the size of Fena Lake, people wouldn’t know marriage vows if they slapped them across the face, if a school teacher saw “funding” or “new textbooks” he or she would stare at it all lungga and mumble, “whoa…hafa enao?”

The United States by contrast is where the Federal Government is so efficient is practically runs i estreyas, i langhet, all of the universe, people can and do vote and therefore understand and embody their civic pride for the rest of the world, stores are fully stocked and carry more than you could ever want at prices which make the commissary look like Louis Vutton, roads are so smooth, well built and nicely paved that you could emergency land several commercial and single engine airplanes on it before even spotting a nick, marriage vows are sacred and defended and kept from subversive gay people, and the teachers are so well paid, well funded and well respected that everywhere they go people bow to them and drop rose petals before them.

The “answers” to problems on Guam are therefore simple and brutal. The answers either lie with the United States, or the answer is the United States. We find this manifested in multiple ways, whether diaspora, military service or faithfully following an imagined American lead.

While many may maintain that there are very real economic, quality of life differences between Guam and the United States, and that I am just overly being sarcastic and stupid, that defense doesn’t even touch what I am referring to. The quantitative gulf between Guam and the United States is never as vast or as insurmountable as it is discussed to be.

If we look at for instance the way political corruption is discussed on Guam in terms of both Guam and the United States we are confronted with an incredible distance. Guam is incredibly corrupt, almost dripping and completely soaked in it, you should loathe GovGuam employees as you drive by them because they are most certainly on ice or taking a two hour cigarette break, or making deals with their pare’ when you see them. The Feds on the other hand, despite the incredible array of corruption scandals which have rocked both the Democrats and the Republicans this year, remain almost completely untainted. Despite the fact that the Feds are swooping in to possibly retake land at Tiyan and through the military may retake some land in Finegåyan, they continue to appear on Guam as the infamous white doctor (cite) or the liberating Marine, fundamentally positive or progressive wraiths which are only colored with their cleanliness, benevolence and betterness than whatever is local.

Let me end here by noting that OOG talk can of course be na’chalek, funny. But, we should be careful of what this humor hides or depends upon. The uniqueness or linikidu particularity that Only On Guam statements produce relies upon a particular way of representing or imagining Guam which is at its core colonial. To describe, love or interpret Guam in this way is very limited and limiting, and must not be the only way we remake it as our home.


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