Appearance would seem to play a larger role in me frequent harassing. Take for example this photo, which I took several years ago for a passport renewal, which was actually rejected by the passport office, and I was told to provide a new photo. I wasn't told what was the matter with the photo, but the humor of my grandfather would probably get us the closest to the logic of rejection, "adahi boy, matan Taliban hao!"
I had no idea that dishelved individuals represented a threat to airport security and airline integrity, but apparently poorly dressed and bearded men such as myself are dangerous. Who knows what secrets we hide in our beards, our weapons we conceal in our fros?
Since 9/11 I have been consistently stopped at airports sometimes for more than an hour. I remember one time when travelling through Honolulu from Guam on my way to the United States, I was the only person from the flight stopped at immigration, and not only was I stopped and questioned, I was put into a room by myself for nearly an hour. What happened at the end of that near hour? I was just let go and told nothing about why I had been stopped in the first place.
In the states I'm stopped too, but its interesting because, even though I'm "Pacific Islander," it is in the Pacific Islands where I am stopped the most frequently and for the longest priod. In the United States proper, I get stopped and searched for short periods, but in Hawai'i and Guam I literally get interrogated sometimes. That annoyingly retarded haole Dave Davis whines about the "special rights" we Chamorros get on Guam which makes someone like poor little Davis second class. Forgetting for the moment that Davis belongs to what Tom Tomorrow notes, is most likely the most privileged group in the history of the world, white men, these special rights don't seem to apply to me at customs in Guam's International Airport. One might assume that as a "local" person, I would get a pass at customs and they wouldn't give me a hard time. Unfortunately, this is never the case. Since 9/11, I get stopped the most when coming into Guam from the states and most recently in January of this year, I was literally the last person again to walk out of the gate to meet my family. Even the two haole guys who were caught with Marijuana coming in from Belau/Palau left the custom's area before I did.
When I came back to Guam earlier this year I was determined not to get stopped at customs again. Whereas I usually dress fairly shabby when I travel, puru ha' bahakke, this time I decided to dress up, in this instance meaning dress white. So this time no aplacha pat gaipintura t-shirt with fatigues, but instead some nice board shorts with a Hawaiian print shirt. With any luck, the the custom's guys would be proud to be patriotic semi-Americans and think I'm military and then let me pass because of how I'm defending their freedom, their families, their pitbulls and their trucks.
As I've already let you know, this little deception on my part did not work. I was told to step to the side with around a half dozen other people, mostly men, only one woman. An officer proceeded to go through my stuff and continued to do so for nearly an hour. You're probably asking yourself, why did they go through your stuff for so long? What were you carrying? "Hafa i kinatga-mu Miget, na ma na'paranaihon hao gof apmam?"
That is what makes this story so interesting, the past three times I have flown into Guam, my detour through the customs tables has been significant, but not because I am carrying with me Fundamentalist Islamic Oppression, but because I am carrying the history of Guam in my suitcases.
No, I am completely serious, whenever I travel, I take a crapload of books with me, and when I travel to Guam, I'm still doing work and so I have a number of Guam books with me. This last time, I had with me some very interesting shit, an old Johnny Sablan LP, a romance novel set on Guam called Reason Enough, my Chamorro dictionary, Spoken Chamorro, Chamorro Reference Grammar, some Guam history books, A Pictoral History of Guam U.S.A., some Hale-Ta books, the Chamorro Mormon Bible, and a bunch of others. At one point, three customs agents were going through my stuff, flipping through the books and asking me questions. One agent actually asked me if he could borrow a book from me.
So my delay wasn't just simple because of my matan Taliban, at least it had an interesting and inquisitive reason for it. All of this though makes the Antonio B. Won Pat Guam International Airport a less than exciting but very ambivalent place for me, because of this mixture of teaching, curiosity and surveillance.
For me though, the most exciting thing to come out of the Guam Airport is still and will probably always be Ami Suzuki's career.
Sugite yuku chiisai mainichi ga
Kimagure to zutto asonde itara
Konna ni toki ga sugite ita
Love the island wasurenai
Hajimete yozora no shita de dakiatte itai
Anata wo omoidashisugite iru
Yukkuri to shizuka ni kizukarezu wasuretai