I haven't posted for several days and there is a very good and very incredible reason for not doing so.
Over the weekend, more than 60 Chamorros, Guamanians and other allies, from around the country and from Guam gathered together at the Sons and Daughters of Guam Club in San Diego, to discuss the future of their people and their islands. The title of the gathering was Famoksaiyan: Decolonizing Chamorro Histories, Identities and Futures.
The energy of this event was incredible, and so I'm still kind of hungover from that many people getting together working towards similar goals, as well as the 25 people that were playing Apples to Apples in my house the last night of the conference.
What did we discover from this event? First and foremost, and most important in getting people activated, out there moving, working and organizing, is "ti maisa yu'" or "ti Hagu ha' na maisa." "You are not alone." Meaning, you are not alone in the way that you think, whether it be you not wanting 7,000 more Marines coming to Guam, whether it be you thinking there should be more laws protecting the rights of Chamorros on Guam. What people learned in the spaces of the conference was that these thoughts are hardly errant and random, but they persist in the minds of nearly all of us, but always seem to be ungracious or radical when we discuss them.
But on top of this, we all learned that we are not alone in moving on these very issues. Gathered together were people sharing common interests and wanting to do similar things, for rewriting our history, for preserving our culture, for reworking our visibility, for reimagining our relationships to each other, the US and the US military, but we also saw in each other, different skills. Chamorros and allies working in different state agencies, different non-profit groups, working towards different educational degrees whether in history, business, law. At this gathering we found the makings of a movement, which could make possible, a different future for Chamorros in the United States and their islands.
I'll have more concrete things to say as time passes, my mind is still swirling from all the excitement, all the energy. I'm putting together an email list for the participants right now, and there is already a Famoksaiyan page on Myspace (http://www.myspace.com/famoksaiyan).
I guess I was the lead organizer for this event, but it never could have been such a huge success without the contributions of the following individuals:
Miget (who spoke with such passion and love throughout the conference, leading discussions, singing and facilitating activities)
Josette and Destiny (who helped with logistics, registration, the program, and sang a song at the close of the conference which brought tears to people's eyes)
Alfred and his sister Queen (who raised the money to pay for most everything)
Jack and Kuri (who were the workhorses for the conference, getting the food table ready, driving to pick people up and running to store)
Hope Cristobal (who facilitated the improvised work groups we formed on the second day)
And to the many others who seeing how poorly organized the conference was, lent a hand or donated their time, money or anything else to make it a success.
I Manma'gas i Dinanan Chamoru Famoksaiyan (todu i tiempo taiguini ham, gi me'nan i Latte' (gairespetu) yan mama'bababa (mamikaru)):
Michael Gumataotao Tuncap
Josette Lujan Quinata
Jack Lujan Bevacqua
Alfred Peredo Flores Jr.
Jeremy Lujan Bevacqua
Michael Lujan Bevacqua