Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Adios, isla-ku


I'm leaving Guam in three hours and so I just thought I'd share the last painting I did on Guam this summer.

Sen triste yu' na bai hu dingu Guahan, taya' palabras sina kubre i siniente-ku, puede ha' un komprende yanggen un atan i pilan gi i pinenta-ku.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Simple Act of Decolonization #1

When I first began writing my most recent master's thesis, I toyed around with using the term "act of decolonization." I was at that point reading way too much Zizek and was engrossed in his conception of authentic political act or the Act. Although I didn't end up running with the notion of "act of decolonization" because it became too cumbersome to define and demarcate what exactly it meant, but you can still find traces of it in the way I discuss how to break the decolonial deadlock in my last chapter.

Throughout the writing of this thesis, people often asked me the obvious question which I can answer anecdotally, conversationally and everyday prescriptively, but not theoretically in any systemic way and that is "why is an act of decolonization." What I mean by this is that in writing out my ideas about decolonization in an academic text, it was too too easy to second guess myself and perform my own unproductively self-deconstruction page after page. But if someone asked me what decolonization was, I had no problem coming up with an instance when it has happened, movements that are doing it, or other things which I would consider either making the space for it, or better yet, it itself.

What I've decided to do with all these half ideas and barely baked schemes is to post them on this blog as "simple acts of decolonization," or simple ways that you can engage in this important process.

You are free to criticize them, pick and chose from them, ignore them, or better yet do them and alter them in such a way that they go beyond what I could even imagine.

Simple Act of Decolonization #1:

The period between the end of the Spanish Chamorro Wars and the American take over of Guam (1698 - 1898) is often thought of as being a boring barely historically important time in Guam, save for the facts that this is when Filipinos marry Chamorro women and when Chamoros start adopting Spanish ways, providing more evidence as to their extinction. Such is hardly true in the case of Jose de Salas, a Chamorro soldier and Chamorro patriot serving in the Spanish Army on Guam, who in 1884 just happened to kill a Spanish Governor.

According to Spanish documents, the killing of the current Spanish Governor was only the beginning, a revolution on Guam was the intention of Salas and others he was working. After the Governor was dead, the rest would begin the slaughter and expulsion of the remaining Spanish on the island. The rest of the plan however, never took place and Salas and several others were executed on the beach in Hagatna.

This act of Chamorro nationalism is naturally largely forgotten today, this type of radicalism almost completely removed from Chamorro representations and Chamorro perceptions of themselves. In fact, most that I speak to about this, don't believe that it could have happened. The people who Malafunkshun portrays, getting off their food stamp fed daggans and doing something like this? No way!

The names of those executed in 1884 for this act of attempted decolonization are, Jose de Salas, Manuel Mendiola, Vicente Acosta and Manuel Aguon. Your simple at of decolonization for today is to go to MARC, your elder relatives or any genealogy notes for your family and find out if and how you are related to any of these men.

Only one note of advice for this, and that's that your reward, the decolonization is not in the goal (finding the link parientes) but in the process and the historical journey in getting their, what you do to find or miss that goal.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Peace and Justice Petition

SINANGAN I CHAMORRO INFORMATION ACTIVISTS SUMOPOPOTTE I PEACE YAN JUSTICE PETITION NU GUAHAN:

Gi I Tiempon Chapones, i Amerikånu siha, ma sumai hit gi hafa mismo i geran-ñiha, ya todu i Chamorro siha (kontodu I Chamorron I San Lagu na Islas Siha) mamådesi. Yanggen un atan i kinalamten i US yan Valiant Shield, ma pepega hit ta’lo gi piligro, ma guaguahi ta’lo i guafin gera! Ya håyi pau tachuyi hit? Håyi siña tachuyi hit giya Washington D.C.? Tåya’! Taotao-hu, annok na esta måkpo’ i tiempo na ta atan i US para todu.

Yanggen un atan i finitme gi i Tinige’ Ginagao Put Pas Yan Hustisia Para Guahan, meggai manmåtto ginnen i US lao meggai matto ginnen otro na tåno’, otro na nasion siha lokkue. I mafana’gue-ta ginnen i Tiempon Chapones, na yanggen ta hagu’i i US ha’, manmaisa hit ya taibos! Debi di ta hagu’i yan aligao i allies-ta gi i otro na isla siha, i otro na nasion siha ni’ manmesmesngon mo’ña lokku kontra colonialism, kontra militarization, ya manmumuyi justice! Meggai pau sangåni hamyo na i irensia-ta ginnen i gera, taihinekkok na guinaiya nu I Amerikånu siha, lao bai hu gof aguguati este. Yanggen un gof hongge put i inina gi halom kada na taotao gi hilo’ tano’, hongge este: I irensia-ta, ginnen i sinesedin I Chamorro duranten I Tiempon Chapones dipotsi unu na kinemprede put i dinimalas gera, ya unu na minalago na tåya’ mas! Tåya’ mo’ña!

FITMA FAN I PETITION GI ESTE NA LINK: Peace and Justice for Guam Petition

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hayi i gayu-mu siha?

Para hamyo ni' malago tumungo' hayi bei suppote gi i mamaila na botasion, bai hu pega guini i na'an-na ya buente bai hu na'chetton lokkue sa' hafa este siha i gayu-hu siha.

Maga'lahi

Robert Underwood yan Frank Aguon

(tres na rason na gof ya-hu Si Unda'ut yan Si Aguon. Fine'nina, mampos malate Si Unda'ut yan i tinige'-na gi i 1970's yan 1980's, muna'masmenhallom put i estao i taotao-ta. Yanggen en taitai i bibliography-niha todu i tinige'-hu siha, fihu Si Unda'ut i mas ma gaige guihi. Sen manopble hit put i kottura-ta yan i lenguahi-ta yanggen taya' bida-na Si Unda'ut ya ti sumaonao gui' gi i meggai na kinalamten Chamoru.

Mina'dos, i tihu-hu Si Unda'ut, primumu yan si nana-hu. Ti brodie yu' taiguihi ayu na sumasangan na debi di u taigue parientes gi politics. Todu i tiempo sinangan-hu na yanggen i parientes-hu i mas anggokuyon pat i mas kapas, pues siempre bai hu bota ya suppote gui'!

Mina'tres, i fine'nina nai hu cho'gue fina'nu'i pinenta guini giya Guahan i asaguan Frank Aguon muna'i yu' noskuantos boteyan bino para i giput.)

To learn more about the Team Guam Platform head to their website: http://www.voteguam2006.com



Maga'Abugao

Hekkua'

(dipotsi humanao yu' para i Attorney General Forum gi lunes lao ti humanao yu' sa' taya' salape'-ku. Ti bai dagi hamyo, taya tiningo'-hu put i dos na nuebu na gayu Si Alicia yan Si Vern, lao bai hu sangani hamyo este, ga'o'-ku i taplerun-niha kinu i tapblerun Si Doug. Hafa kumekeilek-na Si Doug ni' i tapbleru-na siha? Cowboy gui'? Ga'mumu? Lao yanggen en atan i advertisements Si Doug, sina en li'e i minagahet put sa' hafa fihu ha mama'yinaoyao.)

AG Limtiaco - http://www.limtiaco4ag.com/

Doug - http://www.guamattorneygeneral.com/

Vern - http://www.vernforag.com/


Senadot Siha

Jose Chargualaf (D) malojloj@msn.com
Vicente Ulloa Garrido (D)
Angela Santos (D) http://www.myspace.com/poohnani
Robert Benavente (D) r.benavente@yahoo.com
Trini Torres (D) trinitt@netpci.com
Jesse Anderson Lujan (R) jesseandersonlujan@hotmail.com
Ben Pangelinan (D) ctzenben@ite.net
Elwin Champaco Quitano (D) http://www.quitano4senator.com/
Jose Terlaje (D)
Judi Won-Pat (D) wonpat2006@yahoo.com
Antonio Unpingco (R) http://www.tonyunpingco.com/

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Soundtrack Lachadek


I was supposed to finish up my master's thesis for my program in San Diego over the summer while I'm in Guam, but for reasons why were completely expected, I've barely worked on it.

There are too many important things to do on Guam to worry about finishing up a silly master's thesis whose only direct effect on people will most likely be paper cuts. There is injustice to fight, dominant narratives to contest, consciousness to build and yes absolutely, errands to run, relatives to kiss or visit (or in my case paint things for) and put i matan i eriyan i gima'n i grandparents-hu, there is plenty of weeds pull and trees to trim.

As my summer winds down, I am looking more frantically at the lists I always make for myself, and seeing the many things I have crossed off already as esta munhayan, as well as the things, which are less in number, but nonetheless insist more persistently that are trabiha munhayan.

The thesis is by far the largest and most cumbersome ti munhayan na item.

With only seven days left in Guam, a 12 hours layover in Osaka, and then a week in Hawai'i before getting back to the states, I think its about time dust off my secret weapon: anime soundtrack music.

Each person who has had to do extensive writing should know this feeling of arcane secret system building, whereby we create the lore through which we can re-create our best writing environments and moods.

For some there must be no noise. For others, no smells. For some, nothing to look at. For others there must be activity or else they'll go mad and end up not writing anything. What are the things that relax you, make your brain click together in such a way that writing doesn't feel like taking an ice cream scoop to your grey matter? Pets? TV? Incense? Food? A new friend of mine, who is a anti-base activist and an ultimate fighter says that blowing bubbles is what gets him in the right frame of mind.

Most people like to work with music, but what kind of music? Is there a particular genre that makes you write faster? One person in my cohort always writes to music with lyrics she doesn't understand so she can't get distracted by them. One of her favorite writing aides is Urudu poetry set to music.

That leads me to my secret music weapon for writing, which I intend to use to get this blasted thesis done before my third year of school starts. In nearly every soundtrack there is at least one song which is faster paced than the rest. It moves faster and is intended to get your blood pumping, flowing, spraying. Right now, I putting together a CD of a number of these tracks, most of which don't have words, but are just instrumental, and plan to play it over and over while I'm writing. For some reason these fast paced songs get me to write faster than usual. Take this post for example, look at how much I've written and I've only been writing for five minutes.

Here's a list of some of the songs I'll be using:

"Katayoku no Tenshi" (One Winged Angel) - From Final Fantasy VII
"Decisive Battle" - From Neon Genesis: Evangelion
"Katana Suite" - From Samurai Fiction
"Vagrancy" - From Samurai Champloo
"Terra's Theme" - From Final Fantasy III
"Kaneda" - From Akira
"Fumoffo Theme" - From Full Metal Panic! Fumoffo!
"What Planet is This?" - From Cowboy Bopeep/ Cowboy Bebop

Saturday, August 19, 2006

July's Least Patriotic Ghosts

A few weeks ago I emailed out a list that me and i ga'chong-hu Nicole had put together a few years ago and had intended to mass distribute as a leaflet or flyer of some sort. Our intentions however were never materialized. There's actually an interesting story about how it never materialized, but its also a bit embarrassing. Most learning experiences are.

The list was ten points that we should all who are Chamorro and who are on Guam should remember every July. Although it was made two years ago, it still has the same impact this July and most likely several more to come, since it is the same lame rhetoric of freedom and liberation that is trotted out for us to consume.

You can find the list here...
Its an important list because these are the points of justice and the sites that when forgotten produce silent injustices and the memories that foster dependency without end for us on Guam.

Forgetting injustice is actually not an easy thing to do, it takes alot of work, as ghosts must be stripped of their ability to haunt and shrines for them must be made far off beyond the eye of the nation. You could find this work of exorcising ghosts taking place last month on Guam. As members of the Nasion Chamoru and Guma' Palu Li'e marched in protest in the Liberation Day parade, there were angry whispers meant to dispel the ghosts they forced into the bright beaming lights of America's freedom bearing properties. These whispers refused to acknowledge the claims of these ghosts, and instead reformatted them in such a way that deprived them of their claim to something else, something lost, something wounded and something that persists in forced silence. As these ghosts shouted demands that the wounded possibilities, pasts and futures they represent be recognized, in sui generous, in differend defined existence, the response was a sneering Americanization, "What those protesters think they represent, even in their crazy defiance and anger is nothing without the United States. The fact that they are protesting the lack of a liberation only proves that they were liberated."

Then there is the shrine making, the banishing or entrapping of voices in such a way they the voices are understood as those which must be ignored. In the general media for example (as well as everyday discussions on the internet and on the island), why is it that those who advocate military increases always do so on behalf of the island, and are thus stamped with th authority of universality, the authority of their voice, their interest being that of all else. But, for those of us who critique the military and who don't advocate with trembling, nervous, love sick palms that more military be sent to Guam, why are we stamped with the greasy mark of particularity? Why is our voice limited most notably by the conjunctions that indicate diminuatively that whatever voice that comes in the following paragraph does not represent very many people. Or is reduced in scope by associate with mata'pang na na'an siha, such as "Angel Santos types" or "Nasion Chamoru types."

In these ways, you and your voices are chained to these signifiers, in hopes of neutralizing whatever you have to say, such as when Ben Blaz in a debate attempted to shoot down Robert Underwood's campaign in 1992 just by claiming that Angel Santos was in his "inner circle." Unfortunately, following Renan, with all the work that goes into the nation's forgetting, the work of remembering in terms of justice and injustice is even more difficult. As a nation or a society works to forget its violent origins and also protect itself from the disenchantment of encountering the violations its has committed against others, justice becomes quickly lost, since its cost appears to be far too much.

I watched the preview for Oliver Stone's World Trade Center tonight and had to chuckle cynically. In the preview the narrators says that there comes a time for each generation where they must take a stand, prove what they are made of (or something to this effect). The implication is that with the firefighters who went into the WTC on 9/11, we find the best symbolic point (along with those on United 93) where this generation proved what it was worth, made a stand. As a noted a few weeks ago, such a position is truly laughable, American exceptionalism is more prevalent than ever, so obviously the current generation did not notice the rest of the world when they were supposed to be "making their stand," and basically just followed the lame nationalist path of every generation before. As the United States was faced with a "third world" moment of violence, it strayed far far from the path of justice, and instead wrapped itself up in its cloak of exceptional victimhood.

The true test of "this generation"was not 9/11, itself, but what happened afterwards, what would that event mean? Would it be the moment whereby the United States understood following Derrida and Zizek, that the true ethical stance against this sort of violence is not "this shouldn't happen here," but rather, "this shouldn't happen anywhere!" If anything Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon show that this particular test was failed miserably.

The difficult path of justice, is something we find primarily in fiction, rarely in real life. Its position in an instance such as this would be something similar to the Yes Men Hoax on Dow Chemical two years ago. The Yes Men started up a phantom Dow Chemical website, which got them invited to send a rep to the BBC when the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal massacre came around. After 20 years of providing no reparations to the thousands of deaths and tens of thousands who continue to need medical care after the chemical spill there, the Yes Men rep went on the BBC and said that the company responsible for the massacre, Union Carbide would be sold and the money from the sale, $12 billion would be used to provide medical care for all those injured and provide damages. After the interview Dow Chemical had to embarrass itself by forcefully denying that any reparations were going to be paid, which necessarily forced into the open the issue that no reparations had been paid ever.

Although sadly untrue it is in a story like this that we see what the realm of justice and restitution is most likely supposed to look like. The platitude that the past is gone and that the clock cannot be turned back, implying that nothing can be done, is incredibly false. It is precisely this inability for time to be turned back, for those previous moments to be revisited that justice is so incredible, and so necessary. The fact that the clock cannot be turned back indicates that life does not fit into simple, easy pieces, there is no simple calculus to determine what amount of restistution or reparation must be done to "fix things." It cannot be simply based on "need" either, since rational need is more about comfort and ego than actual need. It must be beyond any calculation and strike at the core of he, she or it who gives. It must necessarily cost too much.

Take for instance the troubles over Chamorro war reparations from the United States. The debate over what is enough is ridiculous, and it is just rationalist calculations to prevent any fundamental change from taking place. And when I say this I mean it both on Guam and in the United States. When those in the United States haggle over this, it is definitely connected to national defense in so many ways (rewarding a "patriotic" people, remembering the histories of American wars, yet at the same time defending the US nation from remembering its colonies or even encountering them for the first time). On Guam the poisoned speech of reparations being disgusting because it puts a price on human life and suffering is just as disingenuous, and just as interested in defending the United States, protecting it and not Guam. It is the ethical limits of the United States (defined by strategy, national insecurity and desire for global hegemony) that pushes this issue into a narrow reparations based on money. Justice is today's world is defined largely by money since it is the easiest for those in power or those with means to provide. Would not the ideal reparation for Chamorros be the return of their island and a transition process similar to those in the other Micronesian islands, to help them on the road to economic sustainability and greater independence?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Marines Blowing Up Tamuning

Recently the Marines on Guam decided to practice detonation tactics in Tamuning! For those of you who don't know Guam, Tamuning is hardly the place that you would commonly associate with military training exercises, its an urban area right beside Guam's tourist district Tumon.

After hearing the explosions echo from nearby the old Guam Memorial Hospital, which is near the current Guam Memorial Hospital, a member of I Nasion Chamoru had this to say:

At around 3:00 PM or a little after, my watch, today August 13, Sunday, there was a tremendous explosion coming from the direction of Tumon Bay. I was at the Harmon Cliffline. I was about a mile away from the explosion, but it was loud. I can imagine the noise it made at the GMH with all the people at the hospital. I understand the explosive training by the Marines was to take place at the old GMH area with all those old buildings still there in disrepair.

My question is who in the hell permitted the Marines explosive training to take place there? The GMH and the residential areas are so close to the old GMH area, you have just got to bean idiot of a leader to have approved this training there.

The area belongs to the Chamorro Land Trust. Was there a permission from CLT for the Marines to use the area? Did the Mayor of Tamuning know and approved the training explosion to take place? Did the Marines submit a Section 106 compliance notification, as required by federal law, to Guam Historic Preservation Office for this training?

The Military here on Guam has a lot of areas under their control to accommodate the Marines for such training. They control 1/3 of Guam, for crying out loud. This is a health and safety issue. An environmental issue. People could have been hurt by the very loud explosion. This explosive training could have taken place at Andersen South, or at South Finegayan, or at Northwest Field, or at Orote, Naval Station. Why Ipao Point? To show off?

If this administration have anything to do with this, it was a really bad decision, for lack of a better word. The people of Tamuning and GMH is owed an apology. If it was the fault of one of the directors, it's indicative of the lack of intelligence and common sense of some in this administration. If the HomeLand Security's knew and allowed this training to take place to show off to the public the capabilities of the Marines, they are so naive and irresponsible.

From "Invasion of Guam" to "Liberation of Guam"

I wrote a week ago briefly about Jose Camacho Farfan.

He was truly an interesting person in Guam's history, but sadly one which has been largely forgotten as a larger than life figure in Guam's history. I was first introduced to him in an article from the Guam Daily News in the 1970's, which discussed his meticulous note-taking about historical events and village happenings. Later I found an article, pieces of which I will share today, that he wrote for the Guam Tribune insert Panorama, published in the 1980's under the editorship of Chriz Perez Howard.

In his article titled "Guam Notes and Remembrances of Wartime" Farfan provides one of the most clearest and well balanced accounts of the pre-war and war periods on Guam. When I say clear and well-balanced, I mean that the ridiculous patriotism that often fogs the lens of everyday history in Guam is largely absent. This does not mean that Farfan is a raging anti-American communist, although this is precisely what he was labelled in postwar Guam.

To repeat the sad story, Farfan dared to question a group of visiting American dignitaries on the lack of rights and equality for Chamorros, and was vicously smeared for speaking up, by being called a "communist."

After arriving at this theoretical point, we encounter an interesting paradox. Any clear and balanced re-telling or interpretation of the history of Guam over the past century, will most likely be labelled as "anti-American" or "troublemaking" by the majority of the people on Guam. Why? Because any balanced account of the last century will put the conduct of the United States into a very poor light, making its status as a colonizer undeniable and unable to be covered up by any number of welfare checks or the addition of Guam to the North American Numbering System.

One of the main reasons for this can be found in the following comic strip, which has obviously allusions to Liberation Day:










But furthermore, any position which positions itself as balanced in the sense of impartial or disinterested is most likely the most active possible positions. Me and i che'lu-hu Si Kuri were discussing this a few days ago in the context of patriotism on Guam. I was talking to Kuri about my master's thesis and my discussion about Chamorro patriotism and I guess what you would call a critique of those who provide indigenous explainations for why such excited and gushing outbursts of devotion to the United States exist.

In my master's thesis defense in Micronesian Studies, this very issue came up between me and Robert Underwood, whose work I did not directly critique in my thesis, but whose work my thesis nonetheless constantly brushed up against and utilized several dozen times. In his seminal article "Red, Whitewash and Blue: Painting Over the Chamorro Experience," Underwood discusses how the expressions of uber-patriotism that take place on Marine Drive each July, where Chamorros appear to be patriotic beyond belief, aren't really celebrations of America and its greatness, but really celebrations of the Chamorro, and its endurance, its survival.

While I recognize the important truth in this position ya hu tatangga todu tiempo na magahet este, based on what I deemed important in my master's thesis, political engagement and activism working towards the decolonization of Guam, it was meaningless to me what these Chamorros were celebrating. The division between their thoughts and actions, their inwardly indigenous celebration combined with their outwardly pro-American spectacle created a balance, a middle ground, through which political engagement was irrelevant, since the position itself, becomes the post-ideological award. This middle ground that the Chamorro persists in, rational to the core and therefore not fooled by the rhetoric of liberation that the United States trots out each year, may have the game figured out, but is politically useless if this realization is to be the end result of one's analysis or of one's actions.

This middle position, this position of balance is already skewed far on behalf of the United States despite its obvious passivity. To act only in your head, to figure things out there alone is just fine with the United States, its military and the Federales. They win this battle of Guam's exploitation by our inaction, by our inward enjoyment. To wrap this up very simply, whether or not the Chamorro waving the American flag truly believes or loves the United States is irrelevant to me, what matters is what that consciousness does and moves. If it becomes nothing but a source of secret indigenous enjoyment, and its own end, then it is not resistance and it is nothing to celebrate.

Returning again to Tun Farfan his article that I will share with you is definitely of the first balanced forms. The rhetoric of American civilizing did not sway this particular bihu, as he very clearly points out the flaws in American rule on Guam and their colonial character. As he states in his article under a section titled "Invasion,"

Guam was invaded on 10 December 1941 by the Japanese, the third nation to violate the sovereign rights of the Guamanian people. The Spaniards were the first and the Americans the second.

Similarly, the war is not whitewashed and American not cleansed of all its sins, as it is for most Chamorros. Instead Farfan recounts the sins of the Americans just as clearly as he accounts the sins of the Japanese. He provides in a section titled "Manifestation of Loyalty" one of the many moments which have almost been expelled from Guam/Chamorro history, this particular instance being the retaliation against Chamorro sailors on Guam who in 1941 had petitioned the Naval Governor of Guam for the opportunity to support the United States in other locales and in other forms then merely serving on Guam. For this expression of loyalty from more than a hundred sailors who were paid less than their white counterparts and considered an inferior form of human life by US law, the Chamorros were actually punished for submitted this petition of overzealous loyalty. Here is an excerpt from Farfan's article:

“On 3 March 1941 most Guamanians were prompted with a desire to serve beyond Guam in the war efforts, 128 members of the “Irregular” Navy petitioned the Governor-Commandant, volunteering to be transferred anywhere in the event of war. Instead of praise of their action, they were black-listed for violating Section 65 of the Naval Courts and Boards…Some of the leaders and instigators were punished by reducing their proficiency rating in seamanship, mechanical ability, ability as leader of men and conduct. In retaliation, since Navy Yard Piti had the maximum members of Insulars signing the petition, their work routine was drastically changed…When the Japanese invaded Guam the work routine was intolerable, much worst. This generation of men were not old enough to taste the Spanish lashes so evaluation analysis could not determine which was more severe. The right to petition was 768 years old, as old as the Great Charter of Liberties, the Magna Carta. The U.S. Congress had no power to curtail people from petitioning the government for a redress of grievance…"

What Farfan creates through his text is that position which is constantly lost on Guam, but always sought to be remade and maintained by those such as myself, the position of the Chamorro, politically independent.

When a number of Chamorros and non-Chamorros of the patriotic persuasion read an article such as Farfan's or even some of mine, their most common response to this sort of gentle critique of the United States is as follows, "Would you rather be under the Japanese?"

(One of my most common responses to this vapid and pointless point is, "Sure, they were much much better at economic development in Micronesia than the US was.")

What should be obvious to anyone who takes this ultimatum seriously is that it assumes that regardless of the time, history or circumstances, the Chamorro must be ruled by someone! That the Chamorro must be under the authority of someone, never standing on its own!

That is the simple beauty of Farfan's position, is that the Chamorro he represents and the Chamorro he writes from, the history he creates through his writing, is a Chamorro who stands between empires, and who sees them not as liberators but as they are, as they have treated us for so long, whether it be Spain, Japan or the United States, as empires, as colonizers.

The history that Farfan represents is such a crucial one for the future of Guam, and one which must not be hidden or renounced. It is a history which produces a Chamorro who can see through the rhetoric of liberation. I am reminded here of a letter to the PDN editor from Brandon "Kaluko" Cruz during the whole Marine Drive renaming mess. In his letter Cruz tells us readers that he has a copy of a photo from World War II with Marines on the beaches of Guam holding up a sign that says “Invasion of Guam." His response to this sight was a casual but obvious, “Doesn’t that sound awkward to you? I mean if they liberated us, then they should say “liberating of Guam?"

From the history that Farfan proposes, the truth "Invasion of Guam" remains, and is not reformulated and reworked to become "Liberation of Guam." The crass strategic intentions of the United States military remain in the history of Guam and are not replaced patriotically with rhetoric of care and concern and desire for liberating loyal Chamorros which cannot be found anywhere in any military planning documents from the day.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Landscape Painting

Ever since I came back to Guam I've been painting landscapes. Its a very strange feeling, since for years as an artist on Guam I loathed landscapes. Mampos ti ya-hu sa' puru ha' tourist art ayu.

My art was primarily abstract or expressionistic, and that sort of stuff sells poorly on Guam, where the sensibilites of both tourists and locals tends to desire historical representative work or charmingly inoffensive tropical landscape art. So for years I basically survived off students loans, constant extensions on my work study contract and by flirting with middle aged gay men to get them to buy some of my work. I'm not a household name by any means, but I do take some small pleasure in the fact that you can find my work hung in hundreds of homes on Guam (or maybe they are tucked away hidden in closests, or forgotten fallen behind couches). Even though I never could have survived on my art alone, I still do cherish those years when I was actively producing work and actively reading about art, talking and thinking about art. Desde matto yu' tatte duru hinassosso-ku put manu'uyu fina'nu'i ta'lo, or about having another art show.

My last solo exhibit was more than five years ago, and I'm kind of itching to have another one. But this begs the question, what type of work will I exhibit? For the first time in my life I'm actually considering having a landscape show, I have no idea why, but I just keep painting them. This could be a sign of my maturing sensibilities, or it could be related to the two grey hairs that my nephew found the other day (buente kumekefatta yu', no?)

Here's one a just finished a few days ago:

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Agondumana, pat Dependency Taifinakpo'?

Here is the text from a radio interview I did at KPRG for students in Peter Onedera's Chamoru 102 class. The topic was something I know very little about, but I was a last minute replacement for the students, the reunification of the Marianas Islands. Sorry, to those that can actually read and understand the questions, my MS Word spell check messed up alot of my sentences, by turning Chamorro words into similarly spelled English words.


What does reunification mean?

Mandañata’lo, pat agondumaña kumekeilek-na na I islas Marianas u marikohi gi pappa’ un gobietno yan un politiku. Yanggen maloffan este na kinalamten, u na’magahet I guinefin meggai na Chamorro gi meggai na tiempo siha.

Explain the Government of the Marianas Islands before the separation.

Antes di manhalom I Espanot, manggaige I Chamoru gi todu I isles Marianas, ya achokka’ unu ha I lenguahin-niha yan hinnggen-niha, taya’ kapitat, taya’ sagan I maga’lahi para todu I islas yan todu I sengong. Manmacha’gue I political power I Chamorros gi kada na klan yan kada na singsong.

I sisteman pulitikat gi kada na clan gof interesante na yinalaka democracy, sa’ democracy fina’tinas respetu. Gi kada na familia guaha un maga’lahi yan maga’haga’ ya siha muma’gasi I kosas I familia, I tano’, I sakman, I galaide, I gumuagualo, etc. Guaha che’cho’ maga’lahi yan che’cho maga’haga. Tenga I mas a,ko’ na haga I maga’haga ya I mas amko’ na che’lu-ña I maga’lahi. Lao yanggen I chine’guen este na dos ti maolek, ya ma na’annok na ti kapas siha muma’gasi I familia, sina I pumalu gi I familia uma’go I dos ni’ otro na taotao.

Parehu didide’ I sistema gi kada na songsong. Maseha hayi na familia I mas marespetu, Guiya I mesgaipower, ya I mas la’mon put I kosas i sengsong. Este na respetu ti mana’I ha’. Kada na familia, tumakhilo’ pat tumakpappa’ gi I gua’ot sosiat dipende gi I bidan I taotao gi I familia. Yanggen masasangan na I bidan I familia-mu matatnga yan geftao, siempre tumakhilo’ I respeta I familia-mu manana’i. Yanggen baba hafa masasangan, put hemplo na mangga’chumekle, mangkubatde, pat mañatao, pues mapoddong siempre I respetu-mu.

Guaha na biahi manmumu I sengsong, ya manachanda, lao taya’ na ma’gas taiguihi giya Hawai’I yan Si Kamehameha. Lao ti hu kekesangan na manacha’metgot pat manparehu todu I sengsong siha. Gi I sistema nai i bidan I familia muna’kahulo’ pat muna’tunok I familia gi I sengsong, parehu para I sengsong siha gi I isla. Yanggen I sengsong-mu umikak I iyo-mu rival gi minimu pat gi kinalamten komo, mumari, dumaggao, umacho’ atupat tumakhilo’ iyo-mu power gi entre todu I singsong gaige gi enao na isla. Gof ya-ñiha I Chamorron antes manachanda taiguihi. Bidan matatnga gi minimu mas gaibali, gaibali lokkue I sengsong ni’ gof kalamya nu kumakanta ya umestotoria. Gi ayu na tiempo taya’ tinige’ papet, pues I hinekka’n I estorian I sengsong pat I familia gaige gi I tintanos I mas menhallom, malate’ yan creative na taotao siha.

Achokka’ manakomprende todu I Chamorro siha, gi todu I islas gi ayu na tiempo, ti manhahasso siha na manacha taiguihi. Manhahasso fine’nina na manunu gi halom I familia ya mina’dos gi halom I sengsong.

I Espanot mismo muna’fanunu todu I Chamorro siha, lao ti maolek I intenson-niha.

Nai manmumu yan manggera I Chamorro siha yan I Espanot ma li’e na guaha minetgot yan piligro gi este na china’gue, sa’ mas mappot para u ikak I Chamorro siha nai manmacha’gue gi todu I sengsong yan I islas. Mafa’na’an hafa macho’gue I “recollection,” sa’ ma konne’ todu I Chamorro giya todu I isles, ya ma hokka’ todu giya Guahan. Ti optional este na hinanao, ma fuetsa I Chamorro giya I San lagu na islas. Lao nai matutuhun ha’ ayu na gera, meggai na Chamorro mandaña yan manunu kontra I Espanot. Ma li’e na achokka’ ginnen diferentes na sengsong yan familia, manmaagodde’ todu siha kontra este na taklalu na taotao sanhiyong siha.

Later, gi I diesinuebi na century, nai esta munhayan I yinaoyao I gera, mana’fanhanao tatte didide’ na Chamorros para I San lagu na islas siha. Lao I dano’ esta annok, esta tahdong. sa’ mineggai na Chamorro manmatai put minalangun sanhiyong yan gera, ya kana’ mafunas lokkue I kinapas I Chamorro para u fansakman.

Guaha possibilidad inestoria na yanggen mangganna’ I Chamorro siha ayu na gera, na manunu I islas ya mandana I Chamorro gi pappa’ un gubetnamento Chamorro. Lao sa’ ti bumira I milalak estoria taiguihi, puru ha’ sinesedin colonial desde ayu.


When did Guam and the Northern Marianas seperate?

Fine’nina bai hu sangani hamyo ni’ didide’ na estoria, ya para u na’lakabales i tinigo’n-miyu yan kinempreden-miyu put este na tiempo. Gi I mina’diseinuebi na century, gumof dongkalu I interests cometsiante I mankahilo’ na Amerikanu. Ma li’e I nuebu na Nasion siha giya Latin America, yan I gof dongkalu na Nasion siha giya Asia, ya puru ha’ markets para u maplunder lini’en-niha. Fine’nina ma fuetsa I Chapones para u babayi i Amerikanu siha, ni’ I markets Hapon. Pues ma cho’gue parehu giya I Chino siha. Giya the Philippines parehu hinasson-niha yan minalagon-niha. Manggai to’la I kometsiante siempre nai ma li’e I meggai na tano’ nai sina ma guaddok para minerat ya meggai na taotao lokkue ni’ para u facho’cho’ baratu ya pau fahan lokkue fina’tinas Amerikanu.

Nai matutuhun I Geran Espanot yan Amerikanu esta ma disidi na I PI para u machule’. Lao gi ayu na tiempo taya’ batkon aire, batko ha’. Gof umachago’ I States yan I PI, ya in order to na’chetton este na tano’ siha debi di un chule’ tano’ gi entre siha. Esta machule’ Hawai’i gi 1893, pues esta mataka’ lamita. Guahan I mas dongukalu na isla gi I Marianas yan Micronesia, yan mas dongkalu lokkue iyo-na harbor, pues yanggen ma chule’ Guahan kana’ kabales I chalan ginnen Amerika asta Asia.

Pues gi I geran Espanot yan Amerikanu, matto I opportunidat para u na’funhayan este na chalan. Ma chule’ Guahan gi 1898, ya desde ayu iyo-na colony hit.

Lao sa’ i hinasson yan I minalagon US gi ayu na tiempo ti put tano’ yan resources, lao put strategy, kalang mantaibali I otro na islas siha. Pues gi 1898 I Espanot ma bende I Aleman siha, I tetehnan na islas Micronesia. Ya gi duranten I Fine’nina na Geran Mundo, I Chapones ma chule’ I islas ginnen siha.

Do you think the division of the islands was a good decision?

Gi hinasso-ku I inayek para umafa’sahnge I islas Marianas gof baba. Ha na’gof dano’ I Chamorro siha gi todu I islas. Gi 1898 ma fa’sahnge este na taotao siha ya humuyongña na manenimigu, sa’ manmumu I dos na klasin Chamorro gi duranten I Mina’dos na Geran Mundo. Asta pa’go na ha’ani guaha binibu, minala’et yan chinatli’e gi entre I Chamorro siha giya Guahan yan I sanlagu na islas Marianas. Siña manmagof hit didide’ sa’ pinat mafnas este na minala’et, lao siempre bai hu sangani hamyo gi un otro ineppe-ku, na guaha irensia-ta put este na binibu, ya I irensia na tribiha manadaña I islå-ta siha.

I Chamorro siha manmasapit sa’ I Nasion siha ni’ dumespoponi I tano’n Chamorro siha,
Muna’fanakontraio siha, ya ma tago’ unu para u ana yan na’lamen I otro.

Have there been any recent attempts made to try and reunify the islands?

Despues di I mina’dos na geran I Mundo, ma chagi para umana’fandaña ta’lo I islas siha, lao mappot sa’ put I sinienten I manafanlamen yan I binibu ginnen I gera. Gi fine’nina na botasion para umanafandaña I islas Marianas, I Chamorron I sanlagu na Marians manbota para dinana, manbota hunggan. Ayu na tiempo I sanlagu na islas, ti meggai na adilanto gi ekonomia yan ineskuela ya mansiguru na siempre lumamaolek I estao-niha yanggen mandaña ta’lo I islas siha. Lao I Chamorron Guahan, ti manmaleleffa ni’ che’cho’ I taotao Saipan yan I taotao Luta ni’ manintetpeti para I Chapones ya ha na’fanmakastiga yan mapuno’ I Chamorron Guahan. Put este na siniente ni’ pa’go ti gof atdet lao gi guihi na tiempo sininilo’, manbota I taotao Guahan, ahe’ put agondumaña.

Lao ti bai hu puni na I Chamorron I sanlagu na islas manmasapit lokkue. Achokka’ manmas hihot I Chamorrona Guahan nu I Amerikanu siha nu I Chamorron I sanlagu na islas, madestrosa yan mabomba Guahan yan Saipan. Manmasapet todu I Chamorro. Despue na I Amerikanu ma hatme Saipan ya ma ikak I Chapnoes manggaige guihi, ma ko’lat ya ma pongle todu I Chamorros, sa’ hinasson-niha na siña manloyal nu I Chapones. Pa’go todu i islas manhihot nu I Amerikanu siha, unu colony I pumalu commonwealth, lao ginnen I inentalon I Espanot, I US, yan I Chapones, ti manunu hit.

What type of government do you think these islands will have, if they ever unify?

Siguru yu’ na siempre madalalaki I modelon gobetnon Amerikanu. Lao yanggen mandaña ta’lo I islas I Marianas, taya’ rason para u makopia I Estado Unidos. I dinaña ta’lo siempre ha na’I hit todu opportunidat para ta fa’tinas I gubetno-ta, ko’lo’lo’ña guini giya Guahan. Gof impottante na Hita giya Guahan, ta hasso na I gobietno-ta macho’guiyi (mafa’tinasi), Ti hita muna’fanhuyong. Manmana’I hit ginnen I Kongresun Estado Unidos yan I Maga’lahi guihi, ya siempre ta cho’gue I tinagon-niha ya ta osge I chin-niha. Yanggen maloffan este na dinaña ta’lo, u matto lokkue I opportunidat para ta na’lamaolek I gubietno-ta para I nisisidat I islas Marianas, I Chamorro siha yan ayu siha ni’ umalok este I sagan-niha.

Do you think that both sides will benefit from reunification?

Siempre, teneki guaha minappot yan chinatsaga’ gi fine’nina. Este I dinaña I islas impottante ma u macho’gue fine’nina para umafotma kooperasion ekonomia yan politikat gi todu I Islas Micronesia. Siempre este na dinaña u nina’metgot Micronesia gi todu, ti I Marianas ha’.

What are some of the bad effects of reunification?

Impottante na ta hasso este, sa’ fihu gi sinangan publiko annok na manmaleleffa. Yanggen matulaika I estao-ta pulitikat, ti ma’pos ha’ I US. Ti para u ma dingu hit “overnight.” Ya siña ma dingu hit “overnight.” Sigun I tinagon I UN, siempre guaha tiempon transition, nai ma ayuda hit gi I nuebi na chalan-ta. Yanggen mana’menggua I salape’-ta put este na tinilaika, I obligation-na I US, na para u ayuda hit, esta ki manbalanced I tano’-ta ta’lo. Ilek-niha I chuleguagua siha I US giya I UN na ti colonizer I Estados Unidos. Taya’ iyo-ña colonies hun. Siña I Amerikanu siha ma apreba este yanggen ma ayuda colonies-niha gi este na klasin kinalamten yan inadilanto. Lao debi di ma kopbla siha, sa’ manmeskinu nu Hita I Amerikanu giya Washington yan I militat. Ti ma guahahayi hit para lina’lan maisa, ma guahahayi hit para dependency taifinakpo’.

How will the reunification effect the governments or laws of the islands?

Guaha siha punto ni’ ha nissista edukasion, maestudiayi yan madeskuti. Put hemplo, hafa I hiniyong nu I lai tano’ I Sanlagu na Marianas? Diferentes I lai tano’ guini yan guihi. Giya I Sanlagu na Marianas I siha ni’ mannatibu sina ha’ manduenu ni’ tano’, sina manggaitano’. Taya’ lai taiguihi, guini giya Guahan. Hafa I humuyongña gi este na inevitable yinaoyao? Manu na isla u tulaika I lai-ña? Pat kao todu I dos? Pat kao taya’ u ma tulaika?

What efforts has our government done about the reunification?

Guaha interesante na lepblo ni’ todu I taotao Guahan debi di u ma taitai para u ma komprende iyo-ta estao pulitikat. Este na lepblo na’an-ña “I Sekreto na Estudian Guahan” or “The Secret Guam Study,” Tinige’ Dirk Ballendorf yan Si Howard Willens. Ma tuge’ este ginnen I dokumento siha ni’ ginnen I Department Estado Gi Estados Unidos. Ha diskukuti put gi I 1970’s, annai tiempon President Ford, I estaon Guahan politikat para u mana’lamolek para taiguihi I Commonwealth na estao ni’ I sanlagu na Marianas ha risibi. Lao annai machocho’gue este, mumalingu I papet siha, ya taya’ taotao giya Guahan humungok put este. Ti maloffan este, sa’ cocolony ha’ Guahan.

Impottante na umhasso na gi I 1970’s, I Estados Unidos manchathinsso na u falingu Guahan, pat I taotao Guahan sina manmalgo independence pat ayu I ufandaña yan otro na Nasion giya Asia. Put este siha na rason, na ma hasso para u ma ofresi Guahan ni’ Commonwealth na estao, yan para u masmanhihot yan manafamaolek Guahan yan I Estados Unidos. Lokkue este na estao para u na’I Guahan mas liberty yan nina’sina gi I gubietno-ña.

Pa’go na ha’ani siha giya Guahan, todu tumungo’na I estao CNMI maolekna kinu I estao Guahan, ya yanggen mandana ta’lo I islas Marianas, sina lumamaolek I estao Guahan ya sina taiguhi I iyo-ña I CNMI.

Lao guaha didide’ na problema nu este. Guaha repotte siha ginnen I Kongresu, I US media yan I departimenton Defense na manchathinasso I Estados Unidos put I CHMI ni’ ha disponi iyo-ña immigration yan mampos podet-ña gi I lai siha. Anggen para u mamta I militat gi todu I isla, siempre ti malagu na I CNMI u desponi I immigration sa’ ilek-ña na peligro ayu para I seguridat I Nasion US. Este asunton chathinasso I politiku siha gi I CNMI sa’ esta guaha baba kinentos put I sweatshop guihi, ya esta guaha giya Washington D.C. ma sasangan na para u matulaika I estao CNMI ya rumibabaha iyo-ña “autonomy.”

Para I politiku siha gi CNMI, na’ma’ñao I para umana’fandaña I isla siha, sa’ siempre gui’ opportunidat I Estados Unidos para u tulaika I estao para taiguihi I estoa Guahan. Impottante na un ma hasso na anai ma na’I I CNMI ni’ commonwealth, taya’ bali-na militat fuera di “strategic” yan “potential.” Taya’ bases taiguhi un sodda’ giya Guahan, pues manegotiate este Convenant ni’ i hinasso na I CNMI na este pau chomma’ I CNMI humihot yan otro na Nasion siha. Yanggen un atan I pekkat estoria desde I 1970’s, magahet I hinasson I militat, sa’ gaige i chalan mo’ña para I islas Marianas, Amerika ha’.

Guahan apmam na tiempo di ha fa’chuchu’I para u chule’ I commonwealth na estao, lao taya’ kontrata sa’ hagas ma tungo’ I US na ma nisisita Guahan para I militat, esta esta ma fa’military base kana’ 1/3 gi I islan Guahan. Gi I hinasson I militat yan I federales I I nisisidat I isla-ta taya’ yanggen ma akompara yan I dinifendin I interes I militat. Achokka’ siempre i fina’adilanto I estao-ta maolek para Hita, I estorian I isla-ta esta muna’annok na taya’, taibali i lina’la’-ta yan I nisisidat-ta yanggen umachanda yan I interes-niha.

Have there been any local groups actively pushing for the reunification here on Guam?

Siha ni’ manchochonek para I agondumaña I islas Marianas pinat grassroots activists yan estudiante siha. Achokka’ meggai kumakatga este minalago gi I korason-niha, ya esta ma tungo’ na debi di u macho’gue este, kada ha’ani yan gi I sisteman politiku, mappot ma sangan pat ma deklara este siha na punto. Este mas mappot na patte, hafa taimanu ta fa’kinalamten pulitikat hafa pa’go siniente ha’ pat tinangga’ ha’.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Chalan Guinife

Para i nobia-hu Si Madonna, gof mahalang sin Hagu...

Ti hu tungo' sa' hafa, lao ya-hu i kantan "Moon River," gof simple ya kalang brodie, lao sinembatgo ya-hu. Kao guaha un hungok i kanta ni' mainspired nu "Breakfast at Tiffany's?" Na'an-na "Breakfast at Tiffany's" tinige' Deep Blue Something. Malago yu' umayao ayu na dandan ya fa'tinas i kanta "Atmotsan Shirley's." Na'chalek siempre.

Chalan Guinife
(Maayao i dandan ginnen i kantan "Moon River" ginnen i kachido "Atmotsan Tiffany's."

Chalan i pilan
Fedda’ña ki tasi
Lao Guiya pau chalani
Hagu

Empen guinife
I amot piniti
I ma’lak i chalan-mu
Bai hu dalalaki hao

Un pokkat
Ya pon krusa i tasi
Sa’ fina’tinas este tasi
Guinife

Masumai gi i ma’lak
I sumåhi
Hagu nai nene
Gof bunita na nene
I chalan-hu guinife

Monday, August 07, 2006

Two Filipinos Die in Lebanon

Two Filipinos die in Lebanon
By Christine Avendaño, Cynthia Balana
Inquirer, INQ7.net
Last updated 02:57am (Mla time)
08/04/2006

THE FIRST FILIPINO deaths since the war broke out last month in Lebanon were reported yesterday by Vice President Noli de Castro, head of the task force formed to oversee the emergency repatriation of overseas Filipino workers from the war-torn country.

Although confirming the deaths, the reports of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the labor department differed as to circumstances surrounding their deaths.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday continued her appeal to Filipino workers in Lebanon to heed her call for a mandatory evacuation, saying the window for their safe departure was getting narrower each day.

De Castro said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) reported that one domestic helper was killed while trying to escape from her employer to join the evacuation, while another fell while reportedly cleaning the window of an apartment.But the DFA said the two Filipinas died when they jumped from buildings to flee employers who apparently refused to let them go.

Rafael Seguis, foreign affairs undersecretary for special concerns, who is on his way from Syria to Lebanon, said the information was relayed to him by consul Marlon Miranda of the Philippine embassy in Beirut, which was also confirmed in GMA Network’s Flash Report.

De Castro last night identified the OFWs as Mary Jane Pangilinan and Michelle Tomagan, who fell on July 26 and 28, respectively, from the apartments of their employers.

The labor department said the falls may have been accidental.

Manuel Imson, labor undersecretary for international labor relations, told INQ7.net that “initial verbal reports” received by the department said the two “were cleaning windows when it happened. We're still waiting for the official police reports to tell us if they fell, jumped, or were pushed.”

Citing a report by Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon Al Francis Bichara, De Castro said the embassy first received unconfirmed reports of the two deaths only on July 29 due to “dilatory factors attendant to the current crisis situation in Lebanon.”

These factors included the closure of certain roads due to Israeli air strikes, the congestion of landlines/mobile networks and the highly erratic schedule of local authorities.

He said the embassy arranged for the transfer of the bodies to the Baabda Government Hospital Morgue and the documentary requirements for the repatriation of the remains through Harb Est, the mortuary regularly commissioned by the embassy.

Based on the medico-legal reports of the Directorate General of Internal Security Forces, a copy of which was furnished the Inquirer, Tomagan, who was in her 30s, fell from the apartment when she tried to escape from her employer to join the mass evacuation of OFWs.

Pangilinan, 24, fell from the balcony of the home of her employer, Richard El Hajj, in Masourieh, while reportedly cleaning a window.

De Castro talked to the parents and families of both Pangilinan and Tomagan last night at the OWWA office.

He said Tomagan had been complaining to her family that she was being maltreated by her employer and that she wanted to get out. He said that when Tomagan’s mother informed her of the evacuation effort of the government, Tomagan probably saw it as an opportunity to escape.

“We must have a mandatory evacuation if we are to expect a zero-casualty rate in a war that is increasing in breadth and tempo,” the President said in a televised roundtable discussion on Lebanon a day after she ordered all 30,000 Filipinos there repatriated.

“The window for safe evacuation becomes narrower for each day that battles ensue on land,” she added.
Ms Arroyo said the government had enough funds to bring home all the OFWs. Some of them have refused to leave Lebanon despite the violence, citing poverty and the lack of opportunities at home that has driven 10 percent of the Philippines’ 85 million people to find work abroad. Their dollar remittances are helping keep their country’s economy afloat.

But the President said it was better to evacuate now than to wait until the fighting had worsened.

Supermaids’

“I want to assure our countrymen who come home from Lebanon and whoever is forced to leave for work overseas, it is our policy to allow our citizens to work only in safe places,” she said. “Our country is always ready to put you out of harm’s way and to help you find work and recover.”

She said that through the National Livelihood Support Fund, P100 million would be provided to help the OFWs take part in livelihood and microfinance programs, including the “Tindahan Natin” project in impoverished communities.

Ms Arroyo promised the OFWs, many of them domestic helpers, that the government would help them find work either at home or in the Middle East, like Dubai. This included upgrading their skills so that they would become “supermaids.”

“They should (be able to) find jobs with families who will offer them high salaries,” she said.
Augusto Syjuco, head of the government’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), said the “supermaids” program includes instruction in first aid, evacuation from high-rises in case of fire and other skills to help maids get higher pay.

“They are not just maids. They are really very well trained now,” he said. “If there is someone injured among the family they work for ... how to get out of a fire in a high-rise building, all these are part of our upgrading program.”

House-to-house calls

The President directed government officials to ensure that they would be able to locate all the OFWs in Lebanon, including by making “house-to-house calls.”

Marianito Roque, OWWA chief, told the President that labor and diplomatic officials were calling the OFWs by telephone.

Roque said 2,372 OFWs had registered with the Philippine Embassy in Beirut their desire to be evacuated once a mandatory evacuation was ordered. The figure did not include more than 2,000 OFWs who had been repatriated upon their request.

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion told Ms Arroyo that upon returning home, evacuees would be provided with, among other things, airport arrival service, temporary shelter, domestic transport to their provinces, pyscho-social and medical assistance if necessary.

As for employment services, Brion said the evacuees would be entitled to livelihood and entrepreneurial assistance, skills training for work scholarships, job search for local employment and reemployment for overseas jobs.

All the evacuees have to do is sign a registration and assistance form upon arrival and submit this to officials, Brion said.

Only soap, shampoo

However, one returnee told the Inquirer that when she arrived at the airport, all she got was soap and shampoo.

In Congress, a bill creating a P500-million standby fund for the mandatory repatriation of the OFWs from Lebanon passed in the House appropriations committee yesterday morning -- 24 hours after it was introduced.

With reports from Leila B. Salaverria, Philip C. Tubeza, Jerome Aning, and Associated Press
Copyright 2006 Inquirer, INQ7.net.
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Colony

As I mentioned a few days ago, I'm working on a letter to the PDN editor while I'm on island. Here's my draft so far, there's just a few things I need to check on first at MARC and then I'll send it out this week.

Should issues of Guam’s political status become more prominent in public discussions?
The answer to this question should be an obvious hunggan. With thousands of new military looming on the horizon, a common sense confrontation with Guam’s colonial status is more necessary than ever.

A classic psychological defense is to over-support things which we have no control over, and we see that very much at work with many of Guam’s leaders. While their cheerleader-like positions in support of whatever the US military wants and the lack of any serious discussion of the inevitable negative impacts, might be a simple strategy to get more money from the Feds, it is just as likely linked to their powerlessness in this transition. With their power in this matter reduced to suggestion box optimism, their best bet seems to be to wave the flag and hope for the best. Talk about being a partner, in order to cover up the fact that when it comes down to it, you are absolutely not a partner.

Believe it or not, but in addition to Guam’s geographic location, it is this political powerlessness that creates some of the more unmentioned aspects of Guam’s strategic value. In 1969, Richard Nixon during a press conference on Guam laid the rhetorical groundwork for this value. These statements became The Nixon Doctrine, which among other things, supported the relocation of American troops from “contested” sites throughout Asia (Okinawa, South Korea and Vietnam), where local governments or people loathed the military presence, to “uncontested” sites in the Pacific, such as Guam.

“Uncontested” could mean an understanding local population (US military here is treated liked “liberators”) and flexible political situation (according to several Naval Commanders, there aren’t political restrictions on the US military in Guam, like you find in other countries). Another version however is less discussed, and therefore far more relevant, we can find it in the statements of an Air Force Captain in 1993, “People on Guam seem to forget that they are a possession, and not an equal partner…If California says that they want to do this, it is like my wife saying that she wants to move here or there: I’ll have to respect her wish and at least discuss it with her. If Guam says they want to do this or that, it is as if this cup here, expresses a wish: the answer will be, you belong to me and I can do with you as best I please.” During an NBC report on Operation Valiant Shield, this reality was accidentally revealed, when we were referred to as “the US owned island of Guam.”

One lesson which America claims to have learned long ago, remains unlearned in the case of Guam, and we are thus forced to live that convenient ignorance. No matter how comfortable it may feel to be a footnote of the American Empire, there is no equality and no freedom when someone “owns” you. It is this harsh lesson in political status that we must take with us when we “negotiate” the benefits and damages of this incoming barrage of military increases.

Why is the grass greener and the houses better painted on the military side of the fence?

Several years ago when I first began what I refer to as my "information activism" there was a Chamorro living in the states who would often email me and respond to the things I would in my zine, Minagahet.

One of his statements which stayed with me and profoundly influenced the thesis in Micronesian Studies that I was writing at the time, dealt with the patriotism of our elders. In one piece I wrote about the colonial nature of the American rule of Guam prior to World War II. The wife of a Naval Governor referred to this period from 1898-1941 as a "dictatorship American style," making the autocratic rule over Chamorro lands and lives by the US Navy sound like some 1970's variety show. The list of injustices against Chamorros of this time are many, albeit banal, and therefore often forgotten or excused. Chamorros were kept almost completely out of the governence of their island, yet subject to all the mandates of the US Navy. The health and bodies of Chamorros were controlled, especially in schools and hospitals, the tongues they could speak, the layout and make up of their yards, the lengths of their skirts, the types of plants and animals they could have. Guam during this period was run like a military base.

(if you consider the impact this type of controlled life would have on Chamorros, it explains alot of the annoying complaints about how civilians on Guam and government on Guam can never keep things as nice as the military can. Recently for example, as we were driving by Tiyan (a former Naval Air Base, but since the early 1990's returned to the Government of Guam, and in the past few years, some of the land has been returned to the original landowners), my grandfather upon seeing many of the rundown former military housing, with paint chipping away, mold, tall kala'u na cha'guan, remarked about how beautiful Tiyan once was, when the military had it, but once they returned it to the Government of Guam, it becomes like this...)

(To me, the "beauty" of militay bases, and their neat and tidy yards and glimmering houses, holds no sway. I kustumbre-ku kalang babui, pues taya' minalago'-hu para ayu na klasin ginasgas. But for grandpa, who had grown up into the restrictions of the US Navy on Guam, the appropriate matrix of cleanliness and value was clear. To keep things ridiculously sparkling and clean, even up to the point of wasting huge amounts of money on it and not to mention water and other resources, was incredibly important. For those looking for answers as to why people are the way they are on Guam today, this fact is key to the ways we live and breathe militarization daily, even if we aren't in the military.)

Returning to my initial point, life in a "dictatorship American style" was for the most part tolerable, because the Department of Defense (just like the Spanish Government before them) never truly put any significant amount of funds for development into Guam, to force any massive change. So in pre-war Guam, you could go most of your life without seeing an Marine or a sailor, except for when you entered into the two centers of US military power on Guam, Sumai and Hagatna, or if you entered what I refer to as "spheres of Naval influence" or zones such as schools, hospitals, public offices where you would be persistently combarded with civilizing lessons and techniques of control. A few families encountered trouble with the Navy, having land stolen, being discrminated against, racism, fights with military, one family reported their house being demolished by the Navy for one of their members criticizing the Naval Governor at the time.

It was these methods of surveillance and control combined with the blistering hypocrisy of the Navy (preaching freedom and democracy, lao taya' giya Guahan...), that kept most Chamorros from believing the civilizing lies of the US.

The war would of course, as I've written many many times, would change all of that, transforming a people who, save for a few Chamorro elites, could care less about being "American" into people who were desperate to be American and in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and elsewhere, willing to die to prove it.

The Chamorro that I mentioned thought my litany of Naval sins was insane, and his weak commonsensical counter-reasoning contained the standard point, the liberation of Guam. According to this Chamorro, if things were so bad under the Navy, why don't Chamorros talk about it? Furthermore, all the Chamorros who lived during that time, are incredibly patriotic, and speak nothing bad about the military, but only good, for helping Chamorros, in particular for liberating them in 1944.

The simplicity of this point, is one of its most frustrating problems. In my research I found so much rage against the United States, whether in writings, articles, interviews, so many people upset and angry at the way Chamorros have been treated. The problem always seemed to be though, bringing that disaffection out, talking to people about it, sharing it. Most manamko' would list their gripes against the military, present and historical, but then ask me not to tell anyone what they had said.

In 2003, I wrote an article, which was partially published in The Galaide, from the Guam Communications Network and can also be found on the Minagahet/Kopbla Amerika website (http://www.geocities.com/freeguahan/agululumi0). The article tackled this problem, the idea that there is no critical consciousness amongst Chamorros, or that there is no legacy of disaffection or disgust with the United States. My lens for doing this was by discussing the legacy of Chamorro activists throughout history.

It is truly depressing the type of filter that World War II and the crass, ridiculous patriotism that emerges from the war as the most natural expression of a Chamorro, creates in terms of our history and what we value from the past and what we see as important for navigating the future. Following the war, through complex, occassionally intentional occassionally unconscious processes, the gloriously uplifting things about the United States and its military become public knowledge and common sense (liberators, civilizers, keepers of order and justice). On the other hand that which casts the US in a more colonial and less benevolent light, is to be cast on the cutting room floor of history.

So, the way things are supposed to work now is that the US should be remembered as the beacon of democracy who valiantly brought it with them to Guam and shared its wonders with us (positive). We are not therefore to remember how in 1899 the United States revoked the indigenous democracy which had formed itself in response to the power vacuum left by the removal of the Spanish and the indifference of the Americans. Nor are we to remember the tokenist and empty democratic gestures that characterized the pre-war and immediate post war years, where Congresses were created for Chamorros which basically had no actual power (negative).

In the whole of Guam history over the past 100 plus years, we find enough historical material for your average Chamorro to either love or loathe the United States. The coconut Chamorro whom I mentioned, weakly attempts to show that I have gotten reality wrong, that because his elders have never spoken a word of hatred for the United States, my history is inaccurate. He is incorrect however, because he cannot actually question my sources, he can only call me wrong, because my points don't reflect the levithan which has become reality, the common sense frameworks of meaning/history/identity which make the Chamorro a constantly pathetic depedent American in waiting.

For example, if the grandchild of a Chamorro who participated in the Guam Congress Walk-Out in 1949 does not know that his ancestor spoke out and acted out against the United States, does that mean that it never happened? I have encountered so many grandchildren of these brave solons, and few of them had an inkling of this act by their ancestors. The same goes for Chamorros who protested or went on strike after World War II, demanding better wages and an end to the Navy's policies of discrimination. Do the children of these men have any idea about these actions?

The injustice happens, it is felt, it creates a wound, it is remembered by those who cannot deny it and cannot forget it, but what is to be done with it beyond these few? What can be done with it, when the world around you seems to be built upon it remaining unspoken? These acts helped shaped the world that Guam is now, yet why is it that they are passed down in timid and often whispered ways?

History is a process which we take part in making at every single moment, most especially in our inaction, in our self-censorship, in our anticipation of our statements and ideas being rejected and the pragmatic silence that follows. Following the war, as the voices of those closest to the United States rose to deafening levels, the voices of those who didn't care about the United States or did not trust or like the United States were forced into silence.

Sometimes, such as in the case of Jose Camacho Farfan they were threatened into silence, but most of the time, Chamorros chose to silence themselves, to sungon ha', sa' i mesngon u manggana'.

The case of Jose Camacho Farfan is an interesting one, and I'm thinking about posting some of his writings on my blog, because they are one such voice which has almost completely been forgotten. In 1949 Farfan questioned a group of US dignitaries visiting Guam, about the political mis-treatment of Chamorros by the United States. For this question he was labelled by the delegation as a "communist."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Suggestion Box Optimism

Since I got back on island this time, its interesting how many people think of me first, not as an artist, a scholar or as Tun Jack Lujan's grandson, but as someone who writes letters to the editor of The Pacific Daily News.

Sometimes these comments come from those I would fully expect, such as radicals, activists, cultural artists, some what Robert Underwood once referred to as "the maladjusted" and what some in my family refer to as "crazy people." Other times however, the response will be from someone completely unexpected, such as military people or Filipinos. The one that really jolted my system was from Vid, who works at the KAHA/Two Lover's Point Gallery as their curator and gallery coorindator. When I saw Vid last week while visiting the gallery, he mentioned how much he enjoys reading my articles in the PDN, and is looking forward to my next one. It was definitely a pleasant surprise, unless he looks forward to them so he can laugh at them or set them on fire. Most people if you ask them, consider issues of decolonization and political status on Guam, the realm of the fringe element such as myself, but its obvious from some of the responses I get, that this isn't the case. These issues are being considered by many people, and should be considered by everyone, but one difficulty with this is the lack of support for these issues in the media and in the Government of Guam. For The Pacific Daily News for example, political status issues seem to get mentioned (other than letters to the editor) only in the context of GovGuam bashing.

This is part of the letter to the editor that I'm writing right now. I figured I should write one while I'm here, for two basic reasons (other than the communication of the information in the letter). The first, so I can have my village under my letter so that I can't be dismissed by some as a coconut Chamorro from San Diego who doesn't know crap about Guam. The second reason, is because instead of San Diego, I'll get to put Chumalamlam as my village again. (Chumalamlam, is Chamorro for "blink" and after a story that my great grandmother's sister loved to tell about Mangilao, I decided to refer to where my grandparents stay as Chumalmalam.)

While writing this letter, I wrote this phrase, "the sovereignty of our leaders in this matter (the incoming Marines, as well as military increases in general) is nothing but suggestion box optimism."

I thought that the concept of the suggestion box was an interesting way to think about Guam's lack of power and sovereignty in the movement of what now appears to be more than 10,000 Marines from Okinawa and South Korea.

The rhetoric of partnership is one often invoked by Guam's leaders in order to basically cover up their lack of power in relation to this move. I speak glowingly of Guam's partnership with the United States military in order to cover up the fact that we are not partners at all.

Its important to remember to all of us who will be extremely affected by this increases, that our only power in this matter is to provide input. We have no mechanism or process by which we could reject this increase. And even if every single person on Guam (including John Gerber) sent letters with sad emoticons to the Department of Defense begging them not to send the Marines here, it would probably have little to no impact, except for the creation of a "Good News" PR person for the military, who will yell at Press Conferences and next to the "Mapresu Guiterrez" guy at the Kephua statue, "10 BILLIONS DOLLARS! Did you not hear me? I said 10 BILLION DOLLARS!!!)

(If Guam was more attuned to its own history, then this would echo the tokenist and colonial institutions that were created for Chamorros prior to World War II and immediately after. The legislative bodies created by the US Navy in 1917 and the 1930's as well as 1946, were all advisory only. Meaning their sole political power was to advise those who were in charge, with no actual authority to revoke or reject the acts of those truly in charge of Guam).

Given this political situation, the suggestion box seems like a good concept to discuss the illusions of our equality and our sovereignty, as well as provide an everyday and familiar concept to ridicule our status quo. If we are to believe, the rhetoric of Governor Camacho and others, then our providing input (putting a suggestion in the suggestion box) makes us a partner in running the organization. Unless businesses on Guam spontaneously combust and are reconfigured based on anarchist principles and worker's collectives, then anyone who has worked in a large company can tell you that this is crap.

It seems I have left this post in a poor position, one of almost intractable powerlessness (even if we speak out against this increase, it'll still happen). This isn't the case though, our speaking out can have a difference, and the position from which we demand things from the military makes a difference. At present, Guam's leaders seem determined to do whatever the military says, and therefore live drunk off of the illusion of partnership. They negotiate with the military as if we are the lucky ones, when in reality they should be negotiating based on the United States' fortune, in being able to control 1/3 of Guam for practically nothing.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails