Sunday, May 20, 2007

To A Young Filipino American Guamanian Activist

Over the past few days I’ve gotten two very interesting comments on my blog which I thought would be instructive to share with everyone, at yet another two layers in dire need of decolonization, the relationships between Chamorros and Filipinos and the relationships between Chamorros on Guam and those in the diaspora.

They are both from the same person, who has an interesting way of posting comments that have nothing much to do with the posts he’s commenting on, but which simply function as a vehicle for him to say what he wants. By the way, the person is anonymous so I really don’t know if it’s a man or woman, boy or girl, but from the way it writes I’m assuming it’s a young boy.

Its entirely possible though that the person commenting is completely made up, since the ideas the person is proposing and the way he’s sharing them are very silly. The person professes to be a “Filipino American Guamanian Activist living in Guam” which sounds almost too perfect to be an actual person. It sounds much more like someone pretending to be a real person. Almost like those bland, vapid and dumb emails that you get from people telling you they are horny and online, or trying to get you to give them your bank account number.

When I first read the comments, my first thought was, “damn, whoever makes those silly spam mails about Viagra and free Ipods has gotten really personal and local when it comes to Chamorros and Filipinos on Guam. Really angry too.” I completely expected the comment to start off with “You are not a Guamanian, I am a Guamanian. Stay out of Guamanian Affairs, and by the way I know where you can find mortage rates that will make you orgasm!”

Anyways, here's his comments, with the numbered notes to my responses:

Comment 1:

You are not a Guamianian [1]. Your a Californian[2]. I'm a Filipino-American born, raised, and currently living on Guam. I have this to say to Chamorro Racist Supremists like you: STAY OUT OF GUAM'S AFFAIRS!![3] YOU ARE NOT A GUAMIANIAN!![4] In the very near future the Filipinos of Guam will out number the Chamorros of Guam. And as such, we will run the show. You best stay out of Guam's affairs and stay to your California affairs. After all, your a Californian, not a Guamianian.

Filipino-American Guamianian Activist living in Guam

Comment 2:

I am a PROUD "Guamianian." A "Guamianian" is someone who currently lives in Guam. I'm also a Filipino-American who was born, raised, and currently living on Guam. I have many Chamorro friends and I like Chamorros.[5]

But I want to make one thing clear: just because your race is "Chamorro" that does not mean that you are a "Guamianian" or that you know anything about Guam.[6] Knowledge is gained from experience and studying and not from your genes.[7] After all, how many African-Americans know anything about Africa.[8]

The folks who live here -- "Guamianians" -- regardless of our races (Filipino, Micronesian, Chinese, Korean, White, Chamorro, etc.) know more about Guam than the Chamorros who have had very little experience or no experience at all of living on Guam. Period.

Filipino-American Guamianian Activist Living on Guam


Where to start with all the problems with this person’s thinking? There are just too many places, I feel like I’ll never finish my dissertation, but just end up circling around this person’s ridiculous logic. But before I actually start making real arguments, I should probably vent out a lot of my frustrations at being forced to read this person’s terrible terrible ideas...

Hoi, ekungok nu Guahu. Taya’ direcho-mu para un sangåni yu’ hafa siña hu sångan put i islå-ku! Chamorro yu’. Filipino hao. Kao hu keketago’ hao put i chinetton-miyu yan i tano’-mu giya i PI? Laña, kao mababa i ilu-mu? Kao brodie hao? Gi magåhet lai, gof ti hu komprende hafa hinassosso-mu? Gi un sentensia ilek-mu “ya-hu Chamorro siha, meggai ga’chong-hu siha ni’ Chamoro” ya gi i sigente sentensia ilek-mu “Ti apmam meggaiña i Filipino kinu i Chamorro guini, pues ti apmam, Hami i manma’gas!” Na’tunas i hinassosso-mu put fabot, antes un tugi’i yu’. Na’siguru na ti taitiningo’ i tinige’-mu, sa’ annok gi este na dos ni’ na na’chetton gi i blog-hu, na taya’ kumalamlamten gaige hulo’ gi halom i ilu-mu.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to some productive points and problems:

[1]: Given the changes that have thankfully taken place over the past few decades whereby the majority of Guam’s people (including Chamorros) can at least recognize that Chamorros are the indigenous people of Guam, and therefore can, must and should have a different claim or relationship to the island, what this person is suggesting amounts to the re-colonization of Guam.

Guamanian is a concept which emerges through the meeting of the desires of both the United States to remake Guam as their perfect forwarding operating base, “America in Asia” and also the desires of elites and manakhilo’ on Guam primarily, who were interested in appearing loyal and devoted to the United States. The usage of the term Guamanian for Chamorros who started using it before and after World War II, stems from their need to show linguistic devotion to the United States, by joining the great chain of linguistic being, by adopting an “ian” suffix to their social and political existences. Remember how many Chamorros decided that they would prove their Americaness by scrapping the language from the tongues and minds of their children?

The emergence of the term “Guamanian” is linked to the same desire to prove oneself as ready, willing and literally dying to be American!

The way that this person is using the term Guamanian as the category by which social and political in life should be understood, meaning the way belonging, home, and identity should be understood is basically recolonizing the island by continuing the longstanding colonial project of destroying the indigenous people.

[2]: The ideas of belonging that this person is advocating are flat out simple and stupid. He makes a glaring contradiction in the way he rejects me from ever saying anything about Guam, but makes his argument for why he can say whatever he wants, including keeping me out. For him, all sense of place is attached simply to wherever you are, and is not multiple, is not contested, but is apparently always singular. Because I am currently in San Diego, I only have the rights to speak about California issues.

This makes no sense, because as this person’s own comment attests, the places you are “from” are multiple. Just take a quick look at the name he signs twice with, we find three distinct places, which his identity straddles, the Philippines, America and Guam. According to his prescriptions he cannot have these three, he must pick one. If he wants to be American, then he must relinquish his Filipino identity and leave Guam, since Guam is a place for only second class Americans or semi-Americans. If he wants to be Filipino, then he needs to go back there. If he wants to be Guamanian, then he needs to give up his claims to being Filipino and American, since Guam is a colony of the United States and a place where many people from the Philippines have migrated to, it is neither of those places.

[3]: This is a stupid contradictory point, but one that should still be brought up. If this person is correct, in that we only have the right to speak out on the things which are directly connected to where we are staying, then what right does this Guamanian have to tell me what I can and cannot say when I’m in California? What is he doing reading my blog which is about California things? Also, what right therefore does he have to say about what I count as California things? What if I as a Californian decide that I have every right to speak about Guam because so many Chamorros live here? By his framework for belonging and regional identity, he has no right to say anything to me anyways.

[4]: This is just plain stupid, I am proud to NOT be Guamanian. How little can this person know? Did he just learn the word “Guamanian” the day he posted on my blog? Did he just discover that this category of being and community existed at all, and is now seeking to assert through it, that Guam belongs to him? Does he have any idea where the word comes from, and why Chamorros have stopped using it?

[5]: This person, in the first comment is basically anticipating the demise of the Chamorros, dancing figuratively on what will be their grave when Filipinos become more populous on Guam. Interestingly enough, in the second comment, he retreats from this aggressively, racist and pathetically masculinist position, to the familiar mantra of “I like Chamorros and I have some Chamorro friends.”

[6]: The real proof that this guy is an idiot is the fact that he assumes that simply because my blog says that I live in San Diego, California, that I know nothing about Guam or have never lived there. Both of these comments were attached to posts which in someway mentioned me being in California, or mentioned the tension between on-island and off-island Chamorros, but did not in any way connect to the content of the discussions of those posts. This person was completely oblivious to the fact that I regularly post on Guam issues, and have lived more than half of my life on Guam. Furthermore, my story of migration back and forth from Guam to the United States is not uncommon, it is the norm. Most Chamorros my age have stories of moving back and forth, and so this person’s argument is particularly dumb when he position it in relation to the realities of Chamorro movements.

[7]: As I’ve already mentioned his notions about how we should make or limit our identities is pretty simple and pretty stupid. According to this person’s logic, the moment we leave a place, we are no longer attached to it. That be leaving a place, one should have no relation to it since one stops gaining the experiences and knowledge about that place the moment they leave. Once they end up somewhere else a different process starts up, whereby they start becoming attached to that land.

This argument is ridiculous because those breaks never happen. When you leave a place, it never stays behind. It follows you to your new home, whether in the stories, voices, bodies, possessions of your parents and relatives, in the way those in your new home treat you, talk to you, recognize or misrecognize you.

Even if Guam is something very “small” in relation to the rest of the world, it nonetheless follows Chamorros as they migrate, just as the “Philippines” follows Filipinos to Guam, to the United States and everywhere else. If this person’s theory of diaspora and belonging were correct, as I’ve said before then he shouldn’t refer to himself as a “Filipino-American.” The fact that he does, proves that the Philippines is a place he does not live in, but still has a connection to.

Why should Chamorros not have the same right to stay connected to Guam as other people have?

In his second comment by attempting to support his argument, he actually ends up contradicting it. He states that “Knowledge is gained from experience and studying and not from your genes.” This point is of course true, but also ends up destroying his argument, because “knowledge” is something which people not on Guam can have plenty of, and can develop through stories, readings, watching, listening, and studying. By defining this sense of belonging in these terms, he at last, although unintentionally opens up the category of those who have the right to talk about Guam, to those who do not simply live there, but those who love and care about it as well, but may be living elsewhere!

[8]: This point is just plain stupid. African Americans in the United States are haunted by Africa whether they know anything about it or not. It is very much present in their life,

This is the problem with theories of assimilation or equality in the United States. Certain people are always racialized as to come from somewhere else, and can be treated with impunity or racism because they really belong over there whether it be in Africa, Asia, Central or Latin America or the Pacific. White people in the United States get to be exempt from this, because there are rarely any mobs of people, burning crosses or insane politicians who demand that they return to Europe!


Tomorrow, or a few days from now I'll post more, making some concrete points about what all of this means, especially in relation to decolonization, but for now I've got some other stuff to work on this weekend.


theislander said...

Hu guiya iyo-mu blog.
Gof interesting iyo-mu blog.
And this guys comment are gof baba yan gof lachi.
He seems like he wants to just cuz trouble when he can't even make a good point.
Chumalek yu' gi gui' sa ti ha tungo hafa ilek-na.
He shouldn't tell you those things.
You are Chamorro and you are proud and you care and that what matters.

Karelin said...

Hu goflalalo' kontra enao Filipino na låhi! Umi'imsutto guenu tano'ta yan irensia-ta. Yanggen ti nafmabanidosu gue' Chamoru, taya derecho gue' mangaige gi tano'ta!

Karelin said...

Guahu, Nafambanidosu yu na chamoru yu. Magahit na Chamoru. I'm proud to be a Chamoru. I hate to become filipino, Asian or Worldians!

chamorrita guam said...

First, I would like to thank Mr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua for his hard work and activism. Many Chamorros are ignorant or in denial with the issues on Guam and the roots of the Chamorro people, culture. Now to the earlier comment "You are not Chamorro.....and stay out of Guam..." is an example of this ignorance. Michael Lujan Bevacqua is more Chamorro, educated and civil than most Chamorros. Thank you again Mr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua for your excellence! We need more Chamorros like you. From your Chamorro sister Sonia Leon Guerrero from Yona, Guam.


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