Thursday, December 21, 2006

Kantan I Isla-ku Siha

I will be on Guam again very soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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