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.