Monday, January 30, 2006

Guahu Si Miget

A photo of me at Sinanganta, a poetry slam I participated in while I was on Guam in December.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Minahalang and Temporality


In the time it took me to drive to work today
To drive twenty miles
Through thick sick smelling smog
Over overcrowded concrete lanes

I could have driven down to my great grandfather’s old farm, seen the piece of land they call Bubulao, which they say is haunted by some of the nastiest taotaomo’nas around, and where the soil is so rich it smells like a new moon, guiding a thousand more plantings and harvests.

I could have driven down to Si Ben Meno’s house and watched him fix his nets, or tunu I kinenne’-na. Talk to him about the strength of the Chamorro people during the war, facing off against Japanese bayonets and American bombs, having no one to rely on except themselves and their faith.

I could have driven down to Hagat and gone to visit Mr. Palacios. I could have sat with him and his guitar, and he could have played chords that Chamorros put together three generations ago, in order to endure the hardship of war. They strummed tunes and songs to make known their strength, their survival to all who would doubt it. And in the semi-still waves and the rippling splashing light of the setting sun I would feel alive, the only way one truly can, through the lives, the voices, the music of my ancestors.

In the time it took me to get to work, so much time was lost. So much life went up and turned into the smog that clouded my nose, clung to my lungs and threatens to turn my mind into little more than an idling engine, waiting stuck, stopped and going on a freeway.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Fun With Footnotes Mina'Dos!

Despensa yu', sa' ti fihu pumost yu' gi este na simana. Gof tinane' yu' put eskuela so hassan i tiempo-ku para este.

So what I thought I'd do is have another edition of Fun With Footnotes, where I share with everyone the sprawling, almost jaw shattering footnotes that I often put in my academic papers. There are several reasons for making footnotes of this size, but the one that has served me well most recently is that I use them, or the rambling discussions I start in them as the basis for my next papers. One footnote from an article that will hopefully get published this year, has provided me with the basis for an article I'm working on with a friend of mine Madel, for an article we plan to try and submit to The Journal of Contemporary Thought.

The following footnotes are from an article titled Everything You Wanted to Know About Guam But Were Afraid to Ask Zizek: Part 1, that I first presented at the Sovereignty Matters Conference April 2005 at Columbia University. After the conference, they announced a call for articles from the conference which might be published in a volume. When one person asked me to describe this paper, I gave the following description, "it moves from democracy to leprosy to corruption to family to radical resistance and then sovereignty." It was a pretty fun paper to write. Here are the highlight footnotes from it...

#3: In 2005 a small scandal arose when an article published on about cockfighting in Guam, represented Guam and its people as being in the stone age and willing to give up their daughters to any white Navy man who walks by. These moments of possible freedom are frequent, where the gap between Guam and the United States is put forth, the Chamorro again reminded of the colonial wounding, yet they are nearly always rejected. In June of 2005, a representative of ESPN called up the Tony Blaz Positively Local radio show on Guam to apologize for the article content. Confronted with the fact that both the article and this very apology created the people of Guam as an ethnic and national other, Tony Blaz rejected the revealing of the wound, or the chance to re-examine it, and went on to fulfill what are supposed to be the ideological commitments of every Chamorro towards the United States when he made it clear that “We are Americans too!” Thus not sealing up the gap, but using patriotic plaster to hide it from view, so that some sort of emotionational consistency could be maintained.

#13: Of all the names which I could drop here to illustrate this point, my (least) personal favorite has to be Joe Murphy. A white, retired military man, Murphy worked for years as editor of the Pacific Daily News, and has for decades been one of its most regular columnists. He is the most aggressive presence in the paper for ensuring that the naturalness of the military presence in Guam be questioned as little as possible. His pieces are written in straight forward prose, always professing to get straight to the point, which pragmatically lecture around how Guam needs the United States, whether in the form of military bases or as some ideal to emulate in order to survive. In 2004 I wrote a letter to the editor of the Pacific Daily News which discussed similarities of “sovereignty” between Iraq and Guam (namely lack of). Murphy responded a few days in a letter making it clear that Guam cannot survive without the United States. This is the skill of a seasoned ideologue, not just the ability, but also the desire to always return to the basic antagonism, regardless of the context. In Murphy’s case, that being that Guam is intrinsically dependent upon the United States.

#19: The subversive potential in attempting to occupy a position of impossibility can be seen in the learning plays of Bertolt Brecht (where an actor playing a ruthless exploitative capitalist, while announce to the audience that he is a ruthless, exploitative capitalist, and then will proceed to act as such) and even in Hollywood films such as Hitch starring Will Smith (where the main character Hitch, is able to court an otherwise uncourtable girl (Eva Mendes) by admitting to the impossibility of his own courting, while he is courting her).

#32: Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, (Vintage, New York, 1979), 30. I can only use this if I qualify it. The popularized perceptions about Foucault’s theories are of course that, power is everywhere, and no one can escape, personified in nearly everyone’s reaction to the first hour of the first Matrix film. Zizek’s take on the first film is instructive here in seeing what’s wrong with this interpretation. In Welcome to the Desert of the Real, he questions why the machines create the Matrix for the humans, if all they are after is the energy of the human body? Why not develop a means of just extracting it, instead of going to all the trouble of programming and policing something as sprawling as the Matrix? Simple, the machines aren’t really after the biological energies of humans, but instead something that is a part of the trauma of everyday life, namely joissance. Zizek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real, 96-97. But the price of this is that the interpolation must not be complete and that in the constant attempts to close the gap, to eliminate the inconsistencies of the Matrix (which are beautifully visualized in both the film and comics from the prequel The Animatrix), power creates its excesses. And it is in the moments and zones created through this uncontrollable excess or abundance that the resistance which is not necessarily presupposed by the power lies. Or if you prefer, a more simplistic incantation can be found in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince holds a similar lesson in J.K. Rowling’s explaination of Harry Potter’s and Lord Voldemort’s relationship through the prophecy revealed in Harry Potter and The Order of the Pheonix.

#45: Based on my productive misreading of Lacan and Zizek, my ideas of resistance follow the Lacanian ISR triad. Symbolic resistance can be seen in films such as The Full Monty or Brassed Off. It is an act which is designed to “deliver a message,” to ensure the existence of the Big Other and then do little else. Today the Left is preoccupied with symbolic forms of resistance, which are meant not to effect change, but instead to self inspire (to remind us that we are doing our part!). Imaginary resistance can be seen in films such as Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde, where the act is meant to reform, to make possible change that which is already understood to be possible. Real resistance as seen in Acts such as Jin’s final battle in Samurai Champloo or Kevin Kline in In & Out blurting “I’m gay” instead of “I do” at his wedding, relies upon an apparently “suicidal gesture.” An excessive expenditure that is neither merely a strategic intervention into the Symbolic order, or a crazy negation of it, is the impossible gesture which has the effect of redefining the rules and contours of the existing order. (A crucial difference between the Imaginary and the Real would be that the Imaginary is possible to happen, where the Real is impossible that happened. The radical shift is always negated in a certain way, so that what the Act has brought about might seem routine and normal. A clue for this might be the decision to include “of course” in such a descriptive statement. The tiny addition helping to cushion the trauma in the wake of the Act. (such as the final party scene from In & Out)) Rex Butler, Slavoj Zizek: Live Theory, (New York, Continuum, 2005), 145.

#53: As Chamorros saw in 2005 with their most recent attempt to get war reparations from the United States government for their suffering during World War II, the language of exclusion is severely limited. As a U.S. Naval base during World War II, Guam was occupied by the Japanese for 32 months, resulting in several hundred Chamorro deaths. The reoccupation of Guam by the U.S. military (which involved several weeks of sustained bombing) destroyed most of the island’s villages and structures. For over sixty years Chamorros have sought some sort of compensation for the death and destruction that was brought to their island. The 2005 argument for Chamorro war reparations evidenced well how the language of exclusion operates. Rather then claiming any wrong doing or accusing the United States of anything which would require restitution, the Chamorro claim was that they were not given equal “access” for reparations as compared with other groups (such as U.S. soldiers). Chamorros thus requested compensations based on first their understanding of assimilation (their die-hard patriotism and love for the United States which was illustrated through war narratives of Chamorro loyalty to the United States) and then a movement towards themselves as victims of exclusion (stories from Chamorros who stated that they had no idea after the war that they could seek compensation). The rejection of the Chamorro petition from both the United States executive and legislative branches made a similar move. For example, statements from the Bush administration on this issue, always began by qualifying that they respected and understood the depth of Chamorro patriotism towards the United States, but then would go on to reject their claim based on their misrecognition of reality (as Robert Underwood noted, what they are and are not owed because of their patriotism) and the potential approval of victimhood in giving in to such a request. The obscene force here, is the inherent glitch in the parallax, which sustains the exclusion at the level of enunciation which shall keep any fundamental inclusion from taking place.

#55: My work for the past year has been preoccupied with sinthomes and scenes in Guam. Sinthome being the image through which an ideological system or economy is run. Zizek offers as an example of a sinthome, “single unwed mother.” “It is a point where all the lines of predominant ideological argumentation (the return to family values, the rejection of the welfare state and its ‘uncontrolled’ spending etc) meet.” Slavoj Zizek, The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology, (London, Verso, 1999), 176. Scenes refers to the fundamental images and metaphors upon which people build their lives in Guam. These scenes delineate and stimulate fantasy and fantasy spaces, and are thus chronologically and teleologically rooted. At present I see two main types of scenes in Guam, both of which enact different forms of colonization. First, there are those which nationalize the local, or force what might be local or Chamorro to be re-imagined nationally. The US Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the gifts of modernity and the Enlightenment make common appearances. To give a concrete example, when Angel Santos passed away in 2003, the Acts of his life were filtered through scenes such as these. When his life emerged, he had been recast by many Chamorros and non-Chamorros on Guam as lina’la’ Amerikanu and not Chamorro. One such transformation went as follows: According to a radio-caller responding to Santos’ death, since Chamorro culture is a non-confrontational culture, his actions could only be American. The great stuff that he did, he did it all as an American. Bevacqua, Michael Lujan, “Nihi ta fan Agululumi: Inferiority and Activism Amongst Chamorros,” Galaide, (2:1), 2003. Second, there are scenes which force the local to confront its own non-existence, based on colonizing anthropological notions of cultural death and change. This influential effect on behalf of the colonizer remains outside the scene, giving the impression of autonomy or absolutely local. A good example of this can be found in the cliff at Two Lover’s Point. As evidenced in the 2005 text I Dos Amantes, it is here where the colonizing enjoyment takes place as the death of the “last Chamorro” (who proudly and nobly leaps to his death) is continually re-imagined alongside the epic Chamorro love story of two lovers, from different social castes who leap to their death together. What emerges from this intersection is an impossible inconsistency, (a scene upon which the self cannot build or fantasize) exemplified in the fact that rather then a rebirth or a resurrection of the Chamorro, as the tale might suggest, it instead becomes a static, too easily commodified, charmingly tragic tale for tourists. Baltazar B. Aguon, I Dos Amantes, (Self-published, 2005).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Gai Respetu

Originally published January 20, 2006 - Guam PAcific Daily News

-You would think that the Pacific Daily News, having been in our homeland forover 50 years, would by now evolve as an institution that works to achieve acollaborative atmosphere, promoting dialogue for a good vision for Guam'spolitical development and leadership in the Pacific rim. Instead, the line ofquestion to eliminate the Commission on Decolonization (Dec. 15 Sunday Forum),indicates an immature, agenda-setting, self-interest laden power sector of thecommunity. There is a law in the books addressing Guam's decolonization. Onedoes not eliminate a law.

What this island community needs is the encouragement for discussions regardingthis sensitive and complex issue. Sensitive and complex not because the Chamorro people made it out to be, but because Guam's non-status and lack of politicaldevelopment under the U.S. flag, as well as its economic circumstances, havebrought a difficult situation to the Chamorro people -- a juncture of now havingto defend their rights and find for themselves the best practices and policyresponses to exercise their legal and political right to self-determination.

A good medium seeks to enhance and deepen a community's understanding of complexissues, not instigate the trampling of a people's human rights by recyclingtheir offensive reference to a noble principle or by alluding to it as somethingoffensive to be eliminated. Promoting dialogue and discussions fosters acollaborative atmosphere, better education, bridges gaps and perhaps even goodnetworking among peoples who have made Guam their home. These should eventuallybring certain expertise about the various issues and can turn into good policy-- not just for the beleaguered Chamorro people of Guam, but for their goodneighbors as well. Gai respetu!

Former Senator

Copyright 2005 I Nasion Chamoru.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

B4K Breakdowns

Beneath is a hardly exclusive look at one of my chaotic breakdowns for B4K.

I'm back from Guam, so me and my brothers are staring work again on our comic. As far as the work is concerned, I'll provide a little update. Writing-wise: I have completed the first issues and am almost down with the script and breakdowns for #3. The breakdown from above is from issue #3. Art-wise: Issue #1 is drawn and inked, and Jack is on page 12 of pencils for #2. Lettering: Issue #1 is still being worked on.

When we first started I had originally wanted to just provide a script with some simple descriptions of the the panels I wanted, but it would be up to Jack himself, as to what he would draw. But Jack requested that I drawback some simple panel breakdowns for him to, which he could either use or ignore. The result is the barely visible sketches you see above, which probably look to some like the sketchbooks of Kevin Spacey's character in Seven.

The biggest update I can offer now is that we will be presenting our comic at the Alternative Press Expo in April of this year. I would prefer to self-publish this thing, but given that I am no longer able to get new credit cards, it no longer seems feasible. We'll be showcasing B4K there in hopes of getting a small publisher interested. I'll have more details on that in the coming weeks, and also more details on the comic itself. I've been dying to tell more people about it, and once we have things better finalized, I think I'll finally be able to.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Mas Ki Grass Skirts Ha'!

Estague Si Madel yan Si Alfred. Machule' este gi i ma'pos na sakkan gi i conference National Pacific Islanders Education Network (NPIEN). Manmama'nu'i ham guihi put i sinisedi i taotaogues Pasifik gi higher education gi lagu. Hafa na atkagueti sina u afetka i manhoben ni' ya-niha umeskuela gi colehio? Ya ginnen i sinisedin-mami yan i tiningo'-mami, hafa i inabisa na sina in efresi siha?

Gof magof hu na mandana ham put este na asunto, sa' sina manashare put i che'chon-mami siha. Pa'go na ha'ani, ma kattayi yu' i National Association of Ethnic Studies (NAES). Gi i ma'pos na mes, in fa'panel ham, ya in na'halom i tres na papet-mami gi este na Conference, ya bunitu sa' manmachule' todu. Siempre este gof maolek na chansa para u na'fanugo' i taotao sanhiyong mas put hayi mismo i taotaogues Pasifik. Mas ki mai tai ha'. Mas ki grass skirts ha'. Lao, mas ki Amerikanu siha ni' manananangga taihinekok para u fanamerikanu!


As a fan of http://www.peoplefromguam, I found this article interesting.

When I first left island in 2003 someone invited me onto this website. It was an interesting experience, because I realized then how my circle of friends at that time was very old and very low tech. I knew alot of people on the site, but very few of them did I consider my friends. I remember feeling very depressed because I would scour the site looking for people, and I would use any strange connection in order to add someone as a friend. ("I met your mother once!") creator looks back at highs and lows of rampant online growth
by Jason Salas, KUAM News
Friday, January 20, 2006

The best ideas, it's often said, are born of necessity. Hidden within the wealth of information that is the World Wide Web, it's difficult to grow an idea, being a virtual needle in the digital haystack of cyberspace. One local entrepreneur has coupled local pride and programming savvy to create one of the most thriving communities on the web for Guamanians all over the world,

Shah Amoui, originally from Sinajana, turned a lonely night missing his island home into an online project that's become one of the most popular for anyone connected with the island. "I built a web site for me and my friends, to communicate since I was back in Portland, Oregon and I didn't really know too many people out there. It was based on exclusive invites, but them after that word started getting around and e-mail invites started and that's how it grew," he told KUAM News.Perhaps most impressive about this project is that he's had rarely any mainstream marketing push, relying all on the viral promotion of his users.'s traffic load now boasts more than 4 million page requests per month from more than 36,000 registered users. "I invited five of my friends, who then invited five of their friends, and their friends kept inviting other peoples. And then in about a month or so we grew to about 1,000 people, we had a 1,000 members online," Amoui recalled.He's also faced with the daunting challenges of having to keep the site's infrastructure (i.e., bandwidth, memory, processing power) up to par to allow to scale properly in accordance with the huge traffic it now attracts. His site's ad-supported revenue model supports this expansion."We grow about 100 members a day," Amoui continued, "Our first problem was that we ran into was the space issue. We ran out of hard disk space because I started out with a very small server and once we hit, like, 1,000 people, pictures, the files we were supporting, our database grew huge so I had to upgrade that."And for devout PFG users, shah promises more content, more innovation, more fun, and more of what makes being associated with Guam so special. He proudly promised, "You'll see a lot more from us pushing Guam's culture, language, local businesses, local music, local products in our store. Lots to look forward to!"

Copyright © 2000-2006 by Pacific Telestations, Inc.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Liberation Reparations

I came across this on, its Congresswoman Bordallo's recent address to the people of Guam. I don't have the time or energy to critique it right now, so I'll just post it here with a few things that you should be reading for. First, note the popularity of politicians such as Bordallo or Felix Camacho and what they might possibility represent in a new level of Americanization on Guam, as evidenced through the way in which culture and history are unattached from particular groups or characteristics, and under the rubric of American multiculturalism, become things which we can all share and enjoy. Second, take note how our presence in the United States is always heavily drenched in the rhetoric of service, obligation and a fantastical opportunity. If we were really a part of the United States, would we need to punctuate this link that much? If anything this sort of talk emerges to cover over the fact that we are so not a part of the United States, and the hysterically determined emphasis in this speech as well as everyday speech in Guam and the diaspora arises as a performative hope, that if we say it enough, it will come into being, and the oneness that we have been taught to want for so long, might finally arrive. Third, pay close attention to the way that the current lobbying scandal in Washington D.C. is defused in Guam. The way that this "superscandal" of a "superlobbyist" is not used as it should be used, to show that the evidentiary screen upon which GovGuam becomes the most corrupt and inefficient thing in the UNIVERSE pales in comparision to what takes place in the United States. The lesson should be that the thing which we are persistently told to emulate in everyway, is hardly perfect and in fact if one wanted to find the source of political corruption on Guam, why don't we look at the US instead of favored spots such as Chamorro culture? But how is this scandal used instead? Instead of using it to reveal the world around us, people use it to reinforce that same old lie, and attempt to connect us intimately back to the United States! Fourth, just pay close attention to the discussions of the military. If anyone really wants to know why there is so much military on Guam, there are a few suggestions I'd like to make. First, read up on US imperialism and you'll see that the US has tended to get almost whatever it wants over the past century. Second, read different speeches and articles about military increases and Guam's relationship to the military and you'll see that whether its the Army, the Navy, the Marines, in Vietnam, in Desert Storm, in the 1950's, in Bush War II, the rhetoric never really changes, the sillhoutte of 'liberation" and therefore "obligation" is always present and just filled in by different bodies, by different people who are interested in having more military on Guam. The most recent round of rhetoric is exactly the same, but now that the 3rd Expeditionary Force is returning to Guam, its just makes it crystal clear for all to see, and can use history (duh) for its explaination.

Opportunities Within Our Reach
Congresswoman Bordallo
January 17, 2006

It is my honor to report to you as your Delegate to Congress on the progress of the 109th Congress and on the issues that are important to us. The first session of the 109th Congress ended just before Christmas as one of the longest Congressional sessions in history. The session ended with major issues on the forefront such as the war in Iraq, the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, the national debt of over eight trillion dollars, the budget deficit, and domestic surveillance. Budget pressures created by the war in Iraq and federal assistance for communities ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita make it very difficult to pass appropriations and tax relief measures.

It is against this backdrop and in this environment that we have sought to advance issues that are important to the people of Guam. While routine legislative business has not come to a standstill, it has been disrupted by particularly controversial and politically charged debates and recent controversies. The second session of the 109th Congress promises to be as contentious and as difficult as the first session, perhaps more so because of upcoming mid-term elections.

Our success in Congress is based on working closely with the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Legislature, and community leaders on our bipartisan agenda. We have been most effective when we have spoken with one common voice and one common purpose.

My first Congressional Address to the Legislature in February 2004, focused on the challenges ahead. In particular, I sounded the rallying call to prepare for the Base Realignment and Closure round, BRAC 2005. The Governor, the Legislature, and the Chamber of Commerce - in particular, the Armed Forces Committee of the Chamber - responded. Because we spoke with one voice, we fared very well in the BRAC 2005 process, sustaining only minimal losses to our military community, and we are now poised to see our bases more fully utilized.

I also reported in 2004 that we would be challenged in requesting the President to exercise debt-relief authority given to him by Congress as part of the Compact reauthorization legislation, House Joint Resolution 63. While we are all disappointed that the President did not grant the debt relief, this provision was the catalyst for privatizing the Guam Telephone Authority, and that has been a very successful initiative. However, as you know, we benefited in that same legislation from a substantial increase in Compact-impact assistance, which is now set at $30 million per year for Guam, Hawaii and the Northern Marianas for twenty years. Guam's share of that total for this fiscal year is $14.2 million. Progress on these fronts was made in large part because Chairman Richard Pombo and Ranking Member Nick Rahall of the House Resources Committee worked closely with us on Compact issues affecting Guam, and I thank them for their continued leadership and support. Now some may wonder if Team Guam fumbled the ball on debt relief...well, we don't have instant replay. But from my vantage point, I can say that Team Feds blocked a great play that Chairman Pombo, Ranking Member Rahall and the Resources Committee initiated and, more specifically, a certain line backer whose initials are "OMB" - the Office of Management and Budget - played a central role in blocking this play.

I also talked about the economic challenges we faced and the need to focus on these issues. We have made tremendous progress in developing initiatives to strengthen and diversify Guam's economy. Our Territorial Highway Program has seen a 30% increase in annual Federal funding to $106.5 million over five years, including $16 million in identified high-priority projects within the highway bill. These high priority projects include $6.6 million to replace three bridges in Hagatna for flood control mitigation, $6 million for an inter-modal facility at the port, $400,000 for new mass transit buses, and $3 million for road improvements in the north. These projects will help to stimulate Hagatna redevelopment and will help the port grow with our economy.

We successfully included in the budget reconciliation measure that passed the House last month a significant 70% increase in Medicaid assistance to Guam, an increase of $2.5 million in FY 2006 and an increase of $5 million in FY 2007. When enacted, this increase would, in effect, close the gap between the Medicaid cap in the territories and state-like treatment. Chairman Dan Burton, who visited Guam, was instrumental in helping us with our amendment and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, led by Chairman Mike Honda, gave us critical support. Chairman Joe Barton, who shepherded our amendment through this process in his committee, deserves our thanks for his leadership in helping the territories to address the Medicaid issue.

Over the past two years we worked to provide additional funds of $1.5 million to expand the Community Health Center in Dededo and $240,000 in FY 2005 to support the University of Guam's nursing program.

And we are making progress on a new Veterans Outpatient Clinic which will be constructed next year to improve services to our veterans. Our veterans deserve the health care that our nation promised, and along with our efforts to build the new clinic, we continue to hold Veterans Town Hall meetings to address other health and benefits issues, and we have been working closely with Senator Unpingco on these veterans issues.

To help our visitor industry, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus worked with me to encourage the U.S. Department of Commerce to focus a part of a $10 million "Visit the U.S.A." marketing effort on Japan, rather than just the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, increased military construction spending during the past two Fiscal Years and $89.5 million in spending in Fiscal Year 2006 are helping to stimulate our economic recovery.

The challenges ahead that I noted in my 2004 address to you laid the groundwork for the opportunities within our reach today. The recent announcement by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld - that the lion's share of 7,000 United States Marines that will be moved out of bases in Okinawa will be relocated to Guam - is the most significant of these opportunities. Marines of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force are the modern day successors of the units that liberated Guam in July 1944. We welcome them home.

We are forging a strong relationship between the Marines and Guam - between the liberators and the liberated - that will give meaning to the words "host community". I want to recognize Colonel Carl Matter, who is with us today at my invitation to represent Lieutenant General John F. Goodman, Commander of Marine Forces Pacific. Colonel Matter, it is with great enthusiasm and much optimism that we welcome the Marines back to Guam. I will paraphrase what our Chamorro elders - interned in concentration camps in 1944 - are reported to have said upon meeting the Marines liberating the island, "What took you so long?"

The opportunities within our reach presented by the re-location of Marine forces to Guam require us to plan for and prepare for these changes. It is up to us as a community to begin the preparations necessary for making the Marine re-location as beneficial for our island as is possible.

I can assure you that Colonel Matter is only the first of many thousands of Marines who will be the recipient of the warm, Chamorro hospitality for which Guam is famous. I am working with General Goodman to develop an orientation to Guam that emphasizes our culture and our community values so together we will live side by side as one community and as good neighbors.

We expect that the first Marine units will relocate as early as 2008, while the full relocation is expected to be completed within ten years. The military construction budget for Guam in future years will increase substantially to accommodate this growth. The impact this promises to have on Guam's construction and service industries is significant. We are ready to take on these challenges and work to realize the opportunities that are within our reach.

To realize the potential in new jobs, we should prioritize educational opportunities and vocational training programs for Guam's workforce. I will work in the months ahead to increase federal job training assistance for our island from the U.S. Department of Labor. These job opportunities are within our reach if we work together to better prepare our residents for the jobs that will be created.

The planned increases of federal investment in Guam to support the military build-up will result in service contracts and construction projects, and these are new opportunities within reach for our business community. I am working with federal agencies, such as the Small Business Administration and the General Services Administration, to provide training for Guam's small businesses, so that they can bid competitively on these new contracts. My legislation that designated our entire island as a Historically Underutilized Business Zone, or HUBZone, will help to achieve this goal. The Small Business Administration will soon provide a training program to help Guam businesses gain HUBZone certification. These efforts will help small businesses realize the contracting opportunities within our reach, strengthen our economy and improve the quality of life on our island.

The renewed utilization of Guam's bases is not limited to the Marine relocation. The Air Force has announced its intent to establish a Global Strike Force on Guam that will include Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, deployed bombers, tankers and fighter aircraft. The Navy has announced its intent to relocate a submarine to Guam to replace the USS San Francisco, and they may yet transfer other submarines to Guam or relocate ships in the future to support the new Marine presence. These issues are expected to be addressed in the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review, or the QDR. The QDR is on schedule to be transmitted to Congress by March of this year. The QDR may also make a recommendation for carrier presence in the Pacific. Guam remains central to new concepts under consideration for increased operational rotations of carriers in the Pacific and the possible stationing of a new carrier in the Pacific. Ultimately, regional security requirements drive these decisions. I look forward to increased utilization of and more port calls at Apra Harbor by the Navy.

We have an opportunity within our reach in the immediate future to significantly improve our infrastructure for the benefit of our people and to complement the increase in military forces and the economic activity that will be coming. Our tax revenues will increase, both indirectly from economic activity and directly from Section 30 increases.

We should prioritize improvements to water, power, roads and other essential infrastructure. I will continue to facilitate cooperation between our local leaders and military officials to leverage defense dollars for the benefit of our island. Opportunities to pursue joint civilian and military projects are before us and should be pursued, such as defense access roads. It is clear that off-base infrastructure is essential to our ability to host military forces and that we must take the steps necessary to prepare our island.

I will also continue our close work with the Department of the Interior to develop the bond bank for the insular areas for infrastructure that was proposed by Deputy Assistant Secretary David Cohen. Last year I used the legislative process to clarify that grants for capital improvement available under the Office of Insular Affairs should be prioritized for those territories facing court-ordered capital improvements, such as Guam's water system. This work has resulted in a $3.4 million CIP allotment for Guam this year, a $2 million increase over last year. These funds will be used to help close the Ordot landfill, refurbish the Hagatna boat basin, and construct a heat treatment facility to support an agricultural export market. We provided $14.2 million in funding for Guam in the Compact-impact legislation that is being used by the Government of Guam to finance the construction of five new schools. And we will continue the work that has begun on a $20 million project, financed with $18 million in FEMA funding that will bury the main power lines and enable us to better withstand the next typhoon. These opportunities to use sustained growth to benefit our whole community by improving our basic infrastructure are within our reach and will make a dramatic difference in our lives.

When Congress reconvenes, I will continue to seek legislative opportunities to advance our issues. The most important issue that I am working on is the war claims bill, H.R. 1595. Supported by 101 of my colleagues and reported out of the House Resources Committee on November 16, 2005, H.R. 1595, the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, will provide closure to the people of Guam who suffered atrocities - including personal injury, forced labor, forced marches, internment, and death - during the occupation of Guam in World War II. The substitute bill that I offered represents a good compromise and removes the provision that was most objectionable to many on our island.

The next step is for the bill to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee. Once this second committee has approved the bill, it will be ready for consideration on the floor of the House of Representatives, and if passed by the full House, it will be sent to the Senate for consideration. These steps in the legislative process are very difficult, especially so in this fiscal environment. We are a long way from closure for those scarred by the occupation. But further progress is within our reach and our mutual efforts to work for passage of this bill are more important than ever. Our progress builds on the efforts on this issue that my predecessors, Congressman Tony Won Pat, Congressman Ben Blaz, and Congressman Robert Underwood, have made and I recognize them for their work in the past. On this note I also wish to thank the Guam Legislature for Resolution 72 affirming support for the substitute bill and the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for their public statements in support of H.R. 1595.

There are other bills that I will work to move forward if opportunities arise. I hope that this is the year that Congress makes progress on radiation issues for the benefit of those who may have suffered exposure from radiation tests during the 1950s. I have supported the efforts of the advocacy group on Guam to address this issue, and while progress has been slow, it is an issue that should be addressed. There may be opportunities to use the new federal resources that will be given to prepare for an avian flu outbreak to strengthen Guam's health care system, most notably in regional reporting and preventive care issues. We must remain attentive to and poised to respond to this threat should it come to Guam's shores. The Guam Medical Society has been instrumental in focusing our medical community on preparedness. I have facilitated coordination between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials in Atlanta, Speaker Mark Forbes, Chairman Mike Cruz, Senator Lou Leon Guerrero and officials of the Government of Guam. Our legislative leaders have certainly recognized the need for a pro-active response to the avian flu threat and I commend you for your initiatives. The opportunities to address shortcomings in preventive care on Guam are within our reach if we continue to work together on avian flu preparedness.

As the 109th Congress returns for its second session later this month, I will renew my efforts to advance our issues. As your representative, I am committed to doing my part to ensure that we take advantage of opportunities within our reach. The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is an opportunity in this next session of the 109th Congress to increase funding for programs at the University of Guam and the Guam Community College. We also will work to fully fund the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act so that resources would be available to the Guam Public School System to raise our schoolchildren's test scores to meet federally mandated performance standards. Federal assistance for professional teacher development is an important part of this effort. I will also be working with the Guam Public School System this year to improve Guam's funding under the national school lunch program, as requested by the Guam Education Policy Board and Superintendent Juan Flores.

Next month, the Interagency Group on Insular Areas will meet in Washington. I will again raise issues that require a higher level of interagency response, including the Government of Guam's request for cabotage exemptions and improvements to the visa waiver program that will help our visitor industry. While the cabotage exemption has been placed on their agenda for the past two years, this issue has not received the positive response both in the IGIA and in the Department of Transportation that is necessary to make any progress at all this year. I will also be requesting IGIA endorsement of my bill to extend the Guam-only visa waiver from 15 to 90 days, so that it conforms to the same visit opportunity as the national visa waiver program.

Some opportunities don't seem like opportunities but seem more like obstacles. I share the concern of many regarding the status of land transfers to original landowners in Tiyan and the possible violation of the airport deeds due to these transfers. I believe that this issue requires careful review and I am urging our local leaders to be forthcoming with the details of the actions that have brought us to this point. At some point, the Government of Guam will have to propose its remedy to bring Guam back into compliance with the transfer deeds. This is an opportunity to clarify land use policy on Guam for our community and to engage appropriate federal officials on how we can resolve outstanding disputes, such as the northern high school land deed issue. The Governor, the Attorney General, the Legislature and I have important roles in this dialogue, and I hope we can find the common ground for solutions to this issue.

As we look down the road, we should re-focus on issues of self government and new opportunities to advance Guam's political development. My amendment to the Organic Act to create a unified Judiciary provides a greater measure of local self-governance and ensures a co-equal third branch of government. There have been some good ideas lately about how to move forward, and I am open to these ideas. In the past year, some have advocated changes to the Organic Act, others have advocated moving beyond the Organic Act to a Guam Constitution, and there is even a promising proposal by Senator Klitzkie on a new approach to amending the Organic Act. It is important that we develop a consensus and that we consider the far reaching effects of these proposals. The opportunity for real change is within our reach if we work together to further the cause of self governance for our island.

We should make the most of our opportunities, however great or small they are. I have hosted six Congressional Delegations to our island, and just this past weekend I hosted Congressman Mike Honda, the Chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. These visits, whether for a few hours or a few days, are opportunities to tell our story, to enlighten Members of Congress about our issues, and to forge enduring friendships. Many of you have participated in these events, and we have all made a positive impact for our island. In this regard, I also want to thank the Governor and Lieutenant Governor and their respective spouses and their staffs for the gracious courtesies they have extended to the visiting delegations. These small courtesies really make the most of these visits.

I use every opportunity to promote Guam, both on island and in Washington, and to help advance our issues. We have promoted our island with our annual Liberation Celebration on Capitol Hill. Last year's event was attended by 33 members of Congress, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, and over 700 guests.

Both in Washington and in Guam, my staff and I are dedicated to making the most of any opening to make progress on the many issues that we are working on. This is the hard work of representation. There is no magic bullet or secret formula. There is no super lobbyist whose influence can substitute for honest and hardworking elected representation.

When we return, Congress will probably be consumed by a growing lobbying scandal that has far reaching consequences - even to our shores. My report to you today would not be complete without a word about Guam's missed opportunities because the corrupting influence of "big money" and the "big deal" made its way onto our island. There is one more opportunity within our reach that I sincerely hope we take - an opportunity to make a fresh start, to disavow unethical practices, and to renew our commitment to our people that our work on their behalf is driven by honesty and dedication not by deception and greed. As elected officials, we have choices - whether to govern as public servants or as politicians; whether to seek consensus or to seek division; whether to work together or to work against each other. I believe that the people of Guam want us to choose the higher path and I am willing to walk that path with you.

In this, my second term in office, I have had the distinct honor to represent the people of Guam in Congress, and not a day goes by that I am not deeply grateful for this honor. If there is one thing that stands out as I recall my experiences of the past three years, it is my deep and profound gratitude to our men and women who serve our nation in harm's way today. In my five trips to Iraq and three trips to Afghanistan, my trips to the Horn of Africa and even to a carrier deployed in the Middle East, I have seen the face of selfless dedication and I cannot even begin to express my pride in our men and women from Guam who are serving everywhere in every capacity. They inspire me to work harder for our island. They embody the words "duty" and "honor".

Whether the perspective is from Guam or Washington, we are far removed from the reality of the sacrifices of those who are deployed in the Global War on Terror. Earlier this month I was on a Congressional Delegation that shared the Christmas and New Year's holidays with our troops and I again visited Afghanistan - imagine that, winter in Afghanistan. I was so impressed by two young Chamorro soldiers, Sergeant George Mateo and Sergeant Pete Santos, who were assigned to drive our convoy to an air base. I recall thinking that while I am fortunate to be leaving in two days, these young men, far removed from their families back home, have months left to serve. These soldiers represented the selfless dedication and professionalism of all the men and women in our Armed Forces, both active duty, National Guard and Reserves.

They serve for the noblest ideals, and they are an inspiration to all of us. My work in Washington is dedicated to our sons and daughters in uniform who serve, and to all those quiet heroes in our community whose dedication to public service make our island a great place to live -- our veterans, our police officers, our fire fighters, our nurses, doctors, teachers, and all of our public servants. To all of you, from all of us, Dankulo na Si Yu'os Ma'ase. God Bless Guam, and God Bless our Great Nation, the United States of America.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Tragedy of Tragedy

I already know that I do not have the strength for the post I want to write right now.

Another Chamorro soldier has died in Iraq, this time, Army Spc. Kasper Allan Camacho Dudkiewicz a military police officer.

My life for the past 48 hour has deprived me of the energy to write want I know I must.

I haven't slept very much lately. I was up all night Friday night writing a conference paper I had to give Saturday morning in Honolulu. I gave the paper, packed my bags and then flew to Los Angeles that night, arriving in California Sunday morning at 5. I then waited until 8:30 for a train to take me down to San Diego.

All I have the energy for right now is raw emotions, I can't find the strength to turn them into something constructive or something beautifully written.

All I can come up with now is that I'm pissed as hell. (I'm trying to be careful now not to use chatfino' in my posts after extensive use of the f word kept many people from viewing my blog at their workplaces)

I was on Guam for when Richard Naputi was killed and then brought home. I left before the funeral, but I had a chance to attend a rosary and also speak to some of his family members. It was a tough loss, because he was on his way home. Within a month some say he would have been back and he would have been done with the military.

A tragic death many would say, and although part of me wants to agree with this characterization, part of me resists, because I know that too often the term "tragedy" is invoked, in an attempt to localize something, to cut if off from larger concerns and make it this contained, terrrible and tragic thing.

This is the shell through which the ghosts of Chamorro soldiers are confined to. A tragic death, a tragic loss. The term "tragedy" and its more determined form "tragic" covering the death, tragic ghost traps like those of Ghostbusters making sure that this ghost, this loss and what we might make of it doesn't wander far. Doesn't wander towards economics, politics, issues of culture, colonization, militarization, etc. That these apparitions don't unexpectedly appear beside another one of George W. Bush's pathetic (are their any men and women in uniform that I haven't been filmed in front of yet?) speeches. This appearance throwing into question not just the flimsiness of his rhetoric, but also the character of his administration and those who put that soldier into war, and why. How even more horrifying would it be if these spectres suddenly began to haunt the military industrial complex itself?

But tragic narratives we tell ourselves and each other are often the front to keep these hauntings from taking place. Through the sometimes unthought decision to use this rubric to articulate the meaning of this death, we are led to so many incredibly powerful ways of keeping the potential meanings this death might produce very narrow in nature. The expected response is that this death is full of meaning, full of sacrifical value, that this death was not useless or pointless because he or she was serving their country, and that they were defending important things like freedom and SUV's.

The only critique that is easily available here is that the social redeemables (hero status) are not worth the loss, but the assigned of "tragic" status to this often ends up reinforcing the banal things we say about war (its hell, you never know what's gonna happen), that keep war war and often prevent us from seeing war as not just something that happens, but something that happens for very specific reasons, and usually on behalf of certain groups.

To get caught up in how tragic this death is, usually keeps us from making the connections that the film Syriana for examples attempts to make clear. A suicide bomber does not just happen, and speech over how tragic and sad it is, generally exists in order to prevent any concrete connections of any decent understanding from taking place. Why? Because most generally if you did make those connections, then you might be forced to act, to do something about it. Why? Because the underside of globalization, that which is so forcefully disavowed is complicity. The true tragedy of us viewing a massacre in Africa is that we can consistently disavow our complicity with it, at the level of the gaze, but also in terms of economics, politics, race, and strategy. The obscene danger of globalization is that for those, in particular in the First World, who want to deny their (and their country's) role in making the world a more violent and dangerous place, they must work even harder than usual, because globalization of technology through television, film and internet, means that the violence exported on behalf, the violence upon which your comfort and complacency is built can be easily found or stumbled upon.

Do we then emphasis the tragedy of things, in an attempt to do away with this anxiety? To push away this object which reflects me in ways I cannot control and cannot confront.

On Guam, this "tragic" emphasis takes on a whole new level because of the colonial relationship. The deaths of 5 Chamorros and then seven others from Micronesia in the Iraq War are not connected to larger frameworks, not made to mean based against our colonial relationship to the United States. Instead, too often we bring out of the language of tragedy in order to deny the impacts that that relationship has in our everyday lives. While in the United States someone might invoke this in order to keep themselves from questioning the role of the military in terms of their nation, in Guam there is at least one extra level of questioning that must be hidden as quickly as possible. Is this nation that I am fighting for my own? Or is this nation that this person who died fighting for, even my own?

This for me is the real tragedy. That even after five Chamorro deaths, as a people we still cannot see these deaths as anything other than unavoidable casualties of war, and not see how terrifying it is that these Chamorros are dying for a country who has done nothing more than use them and their islands for more than a century, and at present shows little sign of doing otherwise.

Where Do Comics Come From? Part 1

We here at Pump Fake Nation/ Panopticomix are working hard to produce mid to low quality comics which will not only make you chuckle, but also make you confused and make you question your commitment to independently produced and run comics.

Our latest title B4K will be out in the trunk of our vehicles sometime later this spring. Prior to that we'll be showcasing it at the 2006 Alternative Press Expo (APE) in San Francisco, where we will be providing a number of free hurriedly photocopied ashcans to snotty little 25-35 year old comic fans, with highly concentrated buying power, that only want it however by virtue of it being free. In the meantime I'd like to introduce all of you to our creative team. Today's focus will be on Jack Lujan Bevacqua, our belabored artist and inker.

Jack Lujan Bevacqua.

Jack got his start in comics at the tender age of 4 when he was offered a position in Stan Lee's shirt pocket as the writer for the Spider-Man daily comic strip. After several weeks of experimental storylines involving Spidey taking down monsters under his bed and being rewarded with a life-time supply of Nintendo games, it was realized that Jack's real talent lay in drawing. After being promoted to the position of Jim Shooter's hairpiece, he marvelled the folks at Marvel with his inventive use spaghetti for Spidey's webbing. His creation was later attributed to the Canadian artist Todd Macfarlene, because child labor laws prohibited Jack from taking credit for anything other than breaking wind and being "cute." During the mass exodus of artists from Marvel during the 1990's to found Image, Jack was offered a position of holding the dam of Erik Larsen's ego in place with just his finger. He heroically braved several years of this position before being chosen to run the elementary school voting drives for the Gerald Ford presidential campaign in 1999. When asked by the media what the campaign's strategy was for influencing voters who won't be able to vote for at least a decade, Jack's thoughtful response was, "Oops." Never one to rest on his laurels after being publicly humilitated, Jack returned to the political scene the following year, running as the presidential candidate for the Fanboy Party, with Whilce Portacio's intern Art Vandelay as his running mate. In 2000 Jack made history as being the first presidential candidate in more than a century to create a short comic during a presidential debate, instead of actually debating. The comic titled "George W. Bush is worse for America's economy than Rob Liefeld" received mixed reviews from regular people everywhere. Experts attributed this primarily to the lack of knowledge over who exactly Rob Liefeld was. Later that month however after Rob Liefeld was elected as America's Poet Laurette, the polls showed sudden and overwhelming support for Jack's anti-Rob Liefeld agenda. Jack's team quickly followed their success up with the release of another comic, "Alex Ross covers are the key to America's military superiority!" which only pushed Jack's soaring numbers higher. A month before the 2000 election tragedy struck the Fanboy Party, as it was revealed that by virtue of being born in Oregon, Jack was not eligible to be President. After exhaustive appeals, in 2003 the United States Supreme Court apologized to Jack and overturned this ruling, claiming that the eyes of justice must have been a little fuzzy that day and missed Oregon on the map. Justice Clarence Thomas for the majority stated that "Even though we don't feel like justice has erred too wrongly here today, I mean Oregon is not Texas or New York, we nonetheless want to say, 'our bad.'" His political life over, Jack decided to settle down and give up the celebrity life he had become accustomed to. He currently lives in Atascadero, California with someone who might be his wife, with several children who might be his.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

10 Reasons to Oppose Privatization of the Port Authority of Guam

10 Reasons to Oppose Privatization of the Port Authority of Guam

Tinige' Si Sabina Perez.

1. Privatization will lead to a monopoly of a vital economic resource. Monopolies lead to rate hikes, which will have devastating effects on Guam's import based economy and cost of living.

2. Privatization will endanger security of our food supply, since 95% of imported goods come through the port.

3. Privatization is not necessary. According to the 2005 Public Auditor's report, the Port has operated in the black for two years in a row, with net revenues of $1.9 million in 2005. Thus, the revenue created could be reinvested back into capital improvements and the purchasing of a new crane.

4. A private monitor will be difficult to monitor and keep in check because of the lack of a strong regulatory framework, and companies can be exempt from Sunshine laws.

5. Privatization will result in a loss of funding for COLA for retired Port Authority employees.

6. Privatization of the Port under Public Law 27-60 will replace government jobs with casual employment with no job security or benefits.

7. No termination clause exists, in case of company malfeasance.

8. Privatization will be difficult to reverse. When the lease is complete, the cost to buyback equipment may be too expensive.

9. Privatization serves special interests, namely those heading the Guam Chamber of Commerce, who want to profit from government monopolies at the expense of the community.

10. Privatization of a vital economic asset is a violation of the indigenous rights of the Chamorro people, who have yet to exercise the right to self-determination. It is the administering power's duty, the USA, to ensure the economic, social, cultural well-being of the Chamorro people, until such time as that right is exercised.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Sin Kulot

Guaha una na tano', ni' sina ta tungo ginnen i litratu ha'
Un tano' sin kulot siha
Manu i trengko yan i mapagahes parehu ha' na kulot
I tasi yan i iani, taya' lao un inanakko' na apu
Taya' sonedu
Na'ma'a'nao na silensio
Anai i taotao siha, manotoghe sin siniente
Taya' minagof
Taya' piniti
Taya' linalalu, kulang imahi siha

Este na tano', kulang malingu
Ti sina ta taka'

Lao guaha pudera
Guaha estoria siha, lihenden siha, fubulus siha
Ni' sina ha dura i manmaloffan manmafnas na litratu siha, yan mambihu na papet siha
Yanggen ta sangani yan na'i i estoria-ta
Ya yanggen sina ta ekungok para i manamko' put i tiempon antigu pat hagas siha
Pues sina ta penta tatte i kulot siha gi i manmaloffan na tiempo ta'lo
Enao ha' sina ta kontinua yan ta po'lo mo'na i manma'pos na bosa siha
I kilot siha, i paguan siha, i fina'pos, yan i siniente siha
Pues ayu nai sina hit manla'la'
Ya sina ta satba i fina'pos-ta ya ta kontinua gi mamamailla.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Why I will always love Michelle Branch

I talk often about Chamorro language and the limits of it, and I often kase' pat keha people for their re-affirmation of these problems. People who talk about how its sad that we only use or language to make jokes or tease each other, lament this gi fino' Ingles! People who talk about our dying language often do not use it to complain or make depressing predictions, even amongst those who can understand. They instead of course use English, how fitting.

Naturally given the content of this post, I fall under this category as well. There have to be some Chamorros on the internet who can speak and read our language, who are trawling for anything they can find out there, to stimulate that piece of their mind and memory. Actually I know that those Chamorros exist because I am one of them, I constantly search for certain Chamorro words on the internet and often use different spellings to see if I can find it.

When I first started this blog, I was using Chamorro more. I had just left Guam and so the language was so fresh and alive in my mind. I was calling grandma and grandpa on Guam every week and speaking to them, sometimes for an hour or two. For those of you who were here during the first weeks of my blog you might remember a small disagreement taking place in the comment section of one of my posts. Several Chamorros shared their thoughts on whether me speaking in Chamorro about certain issues was useless or not since the majority of Chamorros as well as the rest of the world's population doesn't speak the language. I continued to receive emails about this, many of them saying it was great to see the language being used, but that if we really want to change our people it has to be in English!

A depressing thought, "if we really want to change our people, then we must speak English?" This sounds suspiciously to me like another one of those fake-change-scenarios. Something like the Organic Act, where things only appear to change a great deal in order to cover up the fact that they actually changed very little. Remember what Ricky Bordallo said in one of his more lucid moments, the Organic Act of Guam instead of providing more autonomy for Guam, actually enhanced the authority of the United States over Guam. You can see this politically, but more so discursively, in terms of what prevails as hegemonic in Guam.

Analytically we can see things very clearly at this point, but all the insightful and beautiful analysis in the world may not make anything happen. If the message of change I am pushing for only comes out in English, then the change that we all say we are hoping for will never come about. It cannot come about, because it is only through the critique another language, another imagination can provide that the sovereignty we say we want, whether at the level of politics, culture, economics or even just everyday existence, can truly come into being.

Without that commitment to work, to endure, we will be stuck like the fellowship of the ring, in the film of the same name, before an object, a realm, a door, which we can describe til our hearts content in glowing or glowering terms, which we can hiss at, boo at, charm, khanayi, but no spell can seem to open. Only in the proper language can this door open. Only then can the change which we speak endlessly about around it, of it, for it, only then can it truly come into being before us. Until we can take that step, that radical leap into something different, breaking of course the chains that bind us as well as our language, we will remain hopelessly outside of that door, covered in the inscriptions of our ancestors as our descendants as well. The future that might lie there will remain always there, never here a part of us.

But I should be careful when I speak of this, not to keep myself out of this discussion. Although I try my best to speak Chamorro as much as I can and use it often times even if people don't understand me, I still find myself bound and gagged in so many ways.

Take for example poetry. Along the right side of this blog you'll find links to all the poems that I've posted on this site as well as a long poem I wrote in 2003 titled "I am Chamorro." The majority of the poems that I've posted on this blog have been in Chamorro, many of them short, simple, sweet, like song lyrics. Alot of them are written to the tune or rhythm of songs. They are a huge contrast to the "I am Chamorro" poem which is written in English, and is long and winding, complex and erratic.

Although I complain often about other fluent and mampos kalamya Chamorro speakers who don't try to speak in Chamorro about complex or important issues, I find it hard myself sometimes, even when I am alone and writing poetry. When I try to write in Chamorro it always returns to silliness, romance, love sick ballads, I find politics difficult to focus on, colonization even harder, and militarism occassionally impossible. I can write on these things, but never in the way that I want to, which would be something similar to the way I write in English. Meaning, crazy and creative, with intense imagery and language.

Does this mean that a Chamorro critique, meaning rooted in the language, cannot take the form a critique that one of mine would in English? While I might agree with this in some way, I also know that it has a cruel colonial edge to it. While I would very much be an advocate of English not being able to contain things from other languages, the reverse has a very colonial dimension, and the kind which keeps it so that languages such as Chamorro are not used for everything, while English is. People do not say that Chamorro language is dying, because they are merely reflecting that fact through their speech. But in fact the language is dying because people say it is and act based on this, even in their rhetoric to defend or protect it.

The fact of the matter is, people know what it would take for Chamorro not to die, but are they willing to take on the personal commitment to make that so? Are they ready to learn the language, not from the comfort of some anthropological chair or classroom, but actually in their lives, as they move and exist, actually understand that the language will only survive when we remove it from the museum that it has been placed in, and make it ours, everyday in everyway.

This does not mean not speaking English, but lana, debi di un na'setbe i fino'-ta lokkue! Na'achaigua i dos, pat na'mas takhilo hafa mismo i fino'-ta, lao lana, fino' Chamoru fan put fabot!

Returning to the issue of serious and non-seriousness of our language, we seriously need to let go of that shit. Many of you when you read my confusion over what a critique in Chamorro would be, probably felt like the issue was simple, Chamorro just isn't like that, its not supposed to be used for those types of things.

The route that you might go based on that thinking is a terrible one. You might return to the anthropological assumptions about native peoples and that they don't have serious bones in their bodies, that their lives were simple without complexity, just relaxing in the sun and occassionaly eating coconuts or fish. That sort of mental route needs to stop right now. Because that is the type of thinking that continues to colonize Chamorros, albeit now ourselves doing the work. What colonizes us now are particular ideas and certain assumptions about certain images, peoples, words, etc. The vicious circle of Chamorro containment persists because of this idea that Chamorro language isn't to be used for serious issues, that Chamorro culture isn't anything serious just parties and fokkai, that Chamorros themselves are ancient native people who continue to exist in minute form in the dark and light complected Guamanians of today.

Are we just going to allow that stupid stereotype of the native as non-serious to continue to dictate our lives? Is this why people love malafunkshun so much, because political and social critiques can be consumed in hardly serious form, and therefore not really felt to mean anything?

I for one am working my best to break out of this, but it is hard. No matter how hard I try and push myself, until I can become more fluent in Chamorro language, meaning use it more and more on a daily basis to make its use more natural and fluid, then I will continue to write poems in it that sound like Michelle Branch songs.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Some of you might remember that for almost two years I ran a message board for leftist, indigenous activist and culturally radical Chamorros called Fanahgue'yan. The link is on the right side of this page, but if you try clicking on it you'll probably be disappointed, I closed down the site a few months ago.

I won't go into the details of why it closed down, a number of incidents took place that I probably shouldn't go into. But the incidents that eventually happened, were preceeded by a mass exodus of the boards starting members. Fanahgue'yan came about largely because Chamorros such as myself who are less than magof that we are a colony and that our history has turned out this way (where we are patriotic pawns of the United States military) grew tired of being tossed around or dismissed on other boards and felt that there should be a place on the internet where our ideas could be shared and discussed without someone telling us, "if you don't like the way things are! Go back to wherever you came from!" These people too stupid to realize that they were proving our points almost too well with their brinedie na sinangan, it is precisely because the United States controls our island that we can be told to go back to where we came from, even when we are on OUR ISLAND. Can anyone explain to me why something that incredibly fucked up can continue to exist? (okay okay, its rhetorical, I can explain why, but I get asked this so often, so I just felt like asking someone else it for a change).

Fanahgue'yan emerged because a number of us who couldn't find anywhere in our real lives or on the internet to discuss the way we perceived Chamorro problems, both in the states and in the islands. It also emerged as a vital place for Chamorros hoben yan amko' to learn from each other and share information. Remember, us who started this were called the Chamorro Information Activists, and so our primary goal in life was to distribute and increase the flow of critical and radical information, so that the coordinates of perceived possibility might somehow be changed in a more progressive, critical and Chamorro direction.

Things ran very well for a while. Our numbers grew, and soon we had more than 70 members to the board, more than a dozen or so who posted regularly. Occassionally a coconut or patriotic American loving Chamorro would wander onto the board thinking that he was on the K57 message board, and they would usually be debated off the board. The intent was not to personally attack these people and outright call them niyok or manha, but instead to engage with them at the level of their rhetoric, and deconstruct it, reveal it to be patriotic nonsense.

Around the middle of 2005 however we started running into problems. The people who had started the board and were its most dedicated members were often young Chamorros in the states who knew very little about their history, culture and language, but were eager to learn more. As time passed however, a number of fluent Chamorro speakers and people better versed in Guam/Chamorro history began to appear. They began to post very authoritatively, in particular about language, and began to disdainfully criticize alot of the younger less knowledgable members. Members such as these presented a far difficult problem in terms of debate, and so many young members became afraid, angry, embarassed or frustrated. No longer were you dealing with some dumb flag waving Chamorro who says to love Uncle Sam because that's all there is in life, now you had to contend with Chamorros who were in ambiguous terms telling you that you are wrong for thinking certain things, wrong for speaking certain ways, and instead of engaging with you on these matters, would make it clear that they knew what they were talking about and that, that's it. How can you argue with someone who is probably older and isn't speaking out of their ass because of a lack of knowledge, but more so because of an ego on the verge of going super nova?

More and more regular members stopped posting, despite my pleas to continue debating their points, continue to make it clear that these people were not the almighty authorities on everything Guam and anything Chamorro. Even some of my close friends began to break their ties with me as I tried to convince them to stay and keep arguing, pleading with them not to abandon my board. After a while it became too much for myself to monitor, both in terms of time but also in terms of energy. It seemed ridiculous for myself alone to try and argue with five people at once, across five different threads.

We had come full circle, our message board had somehow become like those that we were trying to escape. It was an extremely depressing moment and one which was only compounded when I received word about harassment incidents which had been taken place through my board, which might soon involve the police. It was when I was emailed about this that I decided to shut to down for a while.

Other than chronicling this horrid tale, there is another reason for posting on this.

I've received a few emails from people who want to start the board up again or people who heard about it and want to make use of it. I am willing to put it back online, with a fresh start, if I can find someone who will moderate it. Who will be willing to post everyday to keep the conversations going and moving, but also be there to make sure that what took place last year, where young Chamorros who just wanted to learn, felt that they were being looked down upon and thus pushed away from the board, doesn't happen again.

If you are interested in running the Fanahgue'yan board, please let me know.

Monday, January 09, 2006

American Original Sinlessness

Published on Friday, December 9, 2005 by The Nation
'Never Before!' Our Amnesiac Torture Debate
by Naomi Klein

It was the "Mission Accomplished" of George W. Bush's second term, and an announcement of that magnitude called for a suitably dramatic location. But what was the right backdrop for the infamous "We do not torture" declaration? With characteristic audacity, the Bush team settled on downtown Panama City.

It was certainly bold. An hour and a half's drive from where Bush stood, the US military ran the notorious School of the Americas from 1946 to 1984, a sinister educational institution that, if it had a motto, might have been "We do torture." It is here in Panama and, later, at the school's new location in Fort Benning, Georgia, where the roots of the current torture scandals can be found. According to declassified training manuals, SOA students--military and police officers from across the hemisphere--were instructed in many of the same "coercive interrogation" techniques that have since migrated to Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib: early morning capture to maximize shock, immediate hooding and blindfolding, forced nudity, sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep and food "manipulation," humiliation, extreme temperatures, isolation, stress positions--and worse. In 1996 President Clinton's Intelligence Oversight Board admitted that US-produced training materials condoned "execution of guerrillas, extortion, physical abuse, coercion and false imprisonment."

Some of the Panama school's graduates returned to their countries to commit the continent's greatest war crimes of the past half-century: the murders of Archbishop Oscar Romero and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador, the systematic theft of babies from Argentina's "disappeared" prisoners, the massacre of 900 civilians in El Mozote in El Salvador and military coups too numerous to list here. Suffice it to say that choosing Panama to declare "We do not torture" is a little like dropping by a slaughterhouse to pronounce the United States a nation of vegetarians.

And yet when covering the Bush announcement, not a single mainstream news outlet mentioned the sordid history of its location. How could they? To do so would require something totally absent from the current debate: an admission that the embrace of torture by US officials long predates the Bush Administration and has in fact been integral to US foreign policy since the Vietnam War.

It's a history that has been exhaustively documented in an avalanche of books, declassified documents, CIA training manuals, court records and truth commissions. In his upcoming book A Question of Torture, Alfred McCoy synthesizes this unwieldy cache of evidence, producing an indispensable and riveting account of how monstrous CIA-funded experiments on psychiatric patients and prisoners in the 1950s turned into a template for what he calls "no-touch torture," based on sensory deprivation and self-inflicted pain. McCoy traces how these methods were field-tested by CIA agents in Vietnam as part of the Phoenix program and then imported to Latin America and Asia under the guise of police training programs.

It's not only apologists for torture who ignore this history when they blame abuses on "a few bad apples"--so too do many of torture's most prominent opponents. Apparently forgetting everything they once knew about US cold war misadventures, a startling number have begun to subscribe to an antihistorical narrative in which the idea of torturing prisoners first occurred to US officials on September 11, 2001, at which point the interrogation methods used in Guantánamo apparently emerged, fully formed, from the sadistic recesses of Dick Cheney's and Donald Rumsfeld's brains. Up until that moment, we are told, America fought its enemies while keeping its humanity intact.

The principal propagator of this narrative (what Garry Wills termed "original sinlessness") is Senator John McCain. Writing recently in Newsweek on the need for a ban on torture, McCain says that when he was a prisoner of war in Hanoi, he held fast to the knowledge "that we were different from our enemies...that we, if the roles were reversed, would not disgrace ourselves by committing or approving such mistreatment of them." It is a stunning historical distortion. By the time McCain was taken captive, the CIA had already launched the Phoenix program and, as McCoy writes, "its agents were operating forty interrogation centers in South Vietnam that killed more than twenty thousand suspects and tortured thousands more," a claim he backs up with pages of quotes from press reports as well as Congressional and Senate probes.

Does it somehow lessen the horrors of today to admit that this is not the first time the US government has used torture to wipe out its political opponents--that it has operated secret prisons before, that it has actively supported regimes that tried to erase the left by dropping students out of airplanes? That, at home, photographs of lynchings were traded and sold as trophies and warnings? Many seem to think so. On November 8 Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott made the astonishing claim to the House of Representatives that "America has never had a question about its moral integrity, until now." Molly Ivins, expressing her shock that the United States is running a prison gulag, wrote that "it's just this one administration...and even at that, it seems to be mostly Vice President Dick Cheney." And in the November issue of Harper's, William Pfaff argues that what truly sets the Bush Administration apart from its predecessors is "its installation of torture as integral to American military and clandestine operations." Pfaff acknowledges that long before Abu Ghraib, there were those who claimed that the School of the Americas was a "torture school," but he says that he was "inclined to doubt that it was really so." Perhaps it's time for Pfaff to have a look at the SOA textbooks coaching illegal torture techniques, all readily available in both Spanish and English, as well as the hair-raising list of SOA grads.

Other cultures deal with a legacy of torture by declaring "Never again!" Why do so many Americans insist on dealing with the current torture crisis by crying "Never Before"? I suspect it has to do with a sincere desire to convey the seriousness of this Administration's crimes. And the Bush Administration's open embrace of torture is indeed unprecedented--but let's be clear about what is unprecedented about it: not the torture but the openness. Past administrations tactfully kept their "black ops" secret; the crimes were sanctioned but they were practiced in the shadows, officially denied and condemned. The Bush Administration has broken this deal: Post-9/11, it demanded the right to torture without shame, legitimized by new definitions and new laws.

Despite all the talk of outsourced torture, the Bush Administration's real innovation has been its in-sourcing, with prisoners being abused by US citizens in US-run prisons and transported to third countries in US planes. It is this departure from clandestine etiquette, more than the actual crimes, that has so much of the military and intelligence community up in arms: By daring to torture unapologetically and out in the open, Bush has robbed everyone of plausible deniability.

For those nervously wondering if it is time to start using alarmist words like totalitarianism, this shift is of huge significance. When torture is covertly practiced but officially and legally repudiated, there is still the hope that if atrocities are exposed, justice could prevail. When torture is pseudo-legal and when those responsible merely deny that it is torture, what dies is what Hannah Arendt called "the juridical person in man"; soon enough, victims no longer bother to search for justice, so sure are they of the futility (and danger) of that quest. This impunity is a mass version of what happens inside the torture chamber, when prisoners are told they can scream all they want because no one can hear them and no one is going to save them.

In Latin America the revelations of US torture in Iraq have not been met with shock and disbelief but with powerful déjà vu and reawakened fears. Hector Mondragon, a Colombian activist who was tortured in the 1970s by an officer trained at the School of the Americas, wrote: "It was hard to see the photos of the torture in Iraq because I too was tortured. I saw myself naked with my feet fastened together and my hands tied behind my back. I saw my own head covered with a cloth bag. I remembered my feelings--the humiliation, pain." Dianna Ortiz, an American nun who was brutally tortured in a Guatemalan jail, said, "I could not even stand to look at those many of the things in the photographs had also been done to me. I was tortured with a frightening dog and also rats. And they were always filming."

Ortiz has testified that the men who raped her and burned her with cigarettes more than 100 times deferred to a man who spoke Spanish with an American accent whom they called "Boss." It is one of many stories told by prisoners in Latin America of mysterious English-speaking men walking in and out of their torture cells, proposing questions, offering tips. Several of these cases are documented in Jennifer Harbury's powerful new book, Truth, Torture, and the American Way.

Some of the countries that were mauled by US-sponsored torture regimes have tried to repair their social fabric through truth commissions and war crimes trials. In most cases, justice has been elusive, but past abuses have been entered into the official record and entire societies have asked themselves questions not only about individual responsibility but collective complicity. The United States, though an active participant in these "dirty wars," has gone through no parallel process of national soul-searching.

The result is that the memory of US complicity in far-away crimes remains fragile, living on in old newspaper articles, out-of-print books and tenacious grassroots initiatives like the annual protests outside the School of the Americas (which has been renamed but remains largely unchanged). The terrible irony of the anti-historicism of the current torture debate is that in the name of eradicating future abuses, these past crimes are being erased from the record. Every time Americans repeat the fairy tale about their pre-Cheney innocence, these already hazy memories fade even further. The hard evidence still exists, of course, carefully archived in the tens of thousands of declassified documents available from the National Security Archive. But
inside US collective memory, the disappeared are being disappeared all over again.

This casual amnesia does a profound disservice not only to the victims of these crimes but also to the cause of trying to remove torture from the US policy arsenal once and for all. Already there are signs that the Administration will deal with the current torture uproar by returning to the cold war model of plausible deniability. The McCain amendment protects every "individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government"; it says nothing about torture training or buying information from the exploding industry of for-profit interrogators. And in Iraq the dirty work is already being handed over to Iraqi death squads, trained by US commanders like Jim Steele, who prepared for the job by setting up similarly lawless units in El Salvador. The US role in training and supervising Iraq's Interior Ministry was forgotten, moreover, when 173 prisoners were recently discovered in a Ministry dungeon, some tortured so badly that their skin was falling off. "Look, it's a sovereign country. The Iraqi government exists," Rumsfeld said. He sounded just like the CIA's William Colby, who when asked in a 1971 Congressional probe about the thousands killed under Phoenix--a program he helped launch--replied that it was now "entirely a South Vietnamese program."

And that's the problem with pretending that the Bush Administration invented torture. "If you don't understand the history and the depths of the institutional and public complicity," says McCoy, "then you can't begin to undertake meaningful reforms." Lawmakers will respond to pressure by eliminating one small piece of the torture apparatus--closing a prison, shutting down a program, even demanding the resignation of a really bad apple like Rumsfeld. But, McCoy says, "they will preserve the prerogative to torture."

The Center for American Progress has just launched an advertising campaign called "Torture is not US." The hard truth is that for at least five decades it has been. But it doesn't have to be.

Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (Picador) and, most recently, Fences and Windows: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (Picador).

© 2005 The Nation


Social Indigestability and Friendships that Consume

Just thought I'd share this with anyone. If you're on sites like myspace or peoplefromguam maybe you're familiar with the "fake friends" phatic post. Its a posting mechanism meant to weed out who amongst the dozens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of people that you have as your friends are your "real friends." The post is often a generic, "this is to see who is really my friends or not, if you do not repost this you will be deleted."

Often times people truly get into the concept and start drafting their own "fake friends" posts, which lash out at the people who are adding people left and right like this site is a popularity contest, and not using it properly to keep in touch with people or meet new people.

What these people who like me add people left and right forget is that crucial lesson of high school, and that is that being cool is completely dependent upon no one realizing that you are trying to be cool. The moment the strings show, the moment the special effects are that apparent, you are completely not cool at all. We find this all over, not just high school, the people who can keep their secrets secure and their insecurities tightly secured are given auras of charisma, charm, personality, etc. The rest are instead given varying degrees of social indigestability, and in some cases refused human being status because its so obvious to people that they are trying to be human. Like, can you believe that? She was like trying to talk to us. How lame is that!

There is something to be learned in all of this, and that is that the emphasis on "real friends" is of course a cover for the fact that very few of us actually have any friends, that we go through life covered in "fake friends." At least one reason for this is that real friends are risky, real friends are dangerous. Listen carefully to the definitions of "friendship" that people email to each other, give each other in card form and post on each other's pages, how many people actually fit those definitions in an meaningful way?

Real friends are either people with whom friendship is easy to resume, or they are people with whom you find your life consumed. They are either the people with whom your intimacy can not just survive the test of time, but also the test of not being thought about or being cared about for the longest time. Real friends are those with whom a 45 car ride after not seeing or speaking for several years can be easily resumed without one of you shooting a person driving by in order to create something meaingful to talk about. We work hard to create these friendships and maintain them, even as we lose them. Notice when these things take place, how much emphasis is placed on a description of how close we once were, or what people used to say about our friendship. Sometimes this is because its all we can talk about and say over and over without sounding silly, but more so it is because of a hope that we can re-create that moment although time seems to have washed all of it away except for this phrase, this description. Can I make it resume, by talking about how easy it should be to resume?

The other form, that which consumes is why people obssess about fake friends, because its easier than being real friends with people. I have several people in my life that I can call my real friends today, and although it is beautiful it is so stressful, because contrary to popular belief, real friends are no those that you need not think of, they are those that you must constantly think of. They are those which you know so much about, or share such a fundamental connection with that they never really disappear, and therefore never really suprise you when they appear in your mind. These are the people in whom you are privileged to know more than they do, whether about their whole lives or some small piece. It is an honor to have this narrative knowledge, this special place in someone's life, but with all things honorable come a measure of discomfort, and this is why although we may all say we want "real friends" we are too often not willing to take the risk or pay the price for them. It is, as I said far easier to displace your lack of real friendship onto someone else in the form of fake friendship.

What started this post was the following that I posted on following a number of "fake friend" posts. Before I go though, I should note that there is nothing wrong with fake friends or real friends, the real tragic problems arise when we misinterpret each other's positions, when we think that those who are real are actually fake and vice versa.

Why is everyone getting pissed at "fake friends?" I have too many friends in real life, I don't need that many "real friends" in my virtual life. I already spend too much time on the internet for work, and besides it’s like my grandfather said, “the more you’re on the internet, the more chance they have to identity theft you.” Fake friends not only save my eyesight, my time, but according to the world’s foremost expert on internet security, my identity as well.

I for one don't mind fake friends. Its nice to know that when I come home after a long day of school or work, even if I don’t call my real friends up, my fake friends will always be there on my page, smiling, sometimes fully clothed, sometimes half naked, but nonetheless smiling. To them our friendship was created and resolved through a couple of mouse clicks and that’s it. Nothing more is required unless either of us wants it, and it probably wouldn’t go over so well if one of us tried, “What the hell do you mean “Happy Liberation Day?” you’re not my real friend or anything! Go back to that grainy digital camera image I have of you on my page!”

If you don’t repost this then I’m going to assume that we will continue to be fake friends, ya maolek ha’ todu! If you want to be real friends, taka’ ha’ yu’, or if you want to stop being fake/real friends, pues funas ha’ yu’. If you don't do anything, taya' guaha, mungga chathinasso, ti bei lalalu, because that's what friends are for, no?

Biba Manatga’chong siha!

Sahuma Minagahet ya Na'suha Dinagi


Friday, January 06, 2006

Marine Drive

Hu tuge' este gi 2003 nai fine'nina mana'tungo' yu' put i nuebu na tinakpangin Marine Drive. Ya-niha na u mafa'dibin dongkalu Marine Drive, ya na'ma'se sa' manggana'. Pa'go mismo "Marine Corps Drive" sigun i gubetnamento. Kalakas este na tinilaika, sa' mas mappot para ta puni yan na'suha ayu na gof mappot na dibi-ta nu I Amerkianu siha, ni' fihu muna'fambachet hit ya muna'fangga'ga' hit lokkue.

Rename Marine Drive after natural resource
Pacific Daily News

For indirectly saving the lives of my grandparents and relatives, any of the soldiers who fought to retake Guam in 1944 are welcome in my home, and have my sincere gratitude.
But if we can be honest for a moment and think with our heads and hearts, rather then with the flags in our front yards, the Marines who fought and died in the retaking of Guam were not fighting to save the Chamorro people. Why should we rename anything after them?
The military cared nothing for Chamorros when they first came, and little has changed to this day. In both 1898 and 1944, Guam was taken and captured because of military strategy and security. We must remember this just as much as we remember those who sacrificed for liberty.

Why was Guam separated from the other Mariana Islands in 1898? Why were Chamorros denied citizenship until 1950? Why was (so much) of Guam taken/stolen after the war? All of these reasons have to do with military strategy.

Let's celebrate next July 9 as what should have been our 60th Liberation Anniversary and ask this question: "If the U.S. military cared so much for their loyal Chamorros, then why did they 'liberate' Saipan first?" After the fall of Saipan, Japanese atrocities increased at a horrifying rate. In the last month of the war, more Chamorros died than in the previous 31 months. If the United States had thought first of saving their suffering subjects rather then some abstract military tactic, then hundreds of Chamorros might still be with us today. Rethinking our relations and obligations to the military is becoming more and more vital if we are to negotiate with them as partners. The renaming of Marine Drive doesn't instill me with patriotism; instead it fills me with sadness, for on Guam we have prized war and militarism for too long.
I would rather Marine Drive be renamed after the ocean that surrounds us and has supported us for millennia, long before we ever had commissary privileges and American flags.

San Diego


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