Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chule' I Amot Tata, Yettek Si Nana, Tuge' I Press Release Tata...

I always feel very strange and honored to be one of those kids who come back home to Guam, and amongst all the errands and tasks that they are required to do for family members (manyayabao, mañuñule’ åmot, manyeyettek, manhuhungok estoria siha put i tiempon åntes), I am also asked to write press releases. For those of you who don't know, my Grandfather, Tun Joaquin Flores Lujan (familian Bittot/Katson) is a bit of a celebrity on Guam, as he is the last traditional Chamorro blacksmith. I will post later I'm sure more details on what exactly this means, what tools he makes and what his many accomplishments are.

For the moment however, Grandpa is finishing off year long grant with Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency (CAHA) to train two students, one of whom is i che'lu-hu Si Kuri. In compiling his final report for CAHA Grandpa, wants to include some news coverage of his teaching and passing on this trade, and so he enlisted me in getting some news coverage for him.

I'm pasting below the "press release" that I wrote, ya i nobia-hu Si Rashne Limki gof umayuda yu’ i gi tumutuge’-ña este.

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Hafa Adai,

My name is Michael Lujan Bevacqua. I am writing on behalf of my grandfather, Chamorro Master Blacksmith Tun Jack Lujan, to bring to your attention his life and accomplishments in the hopes that KUAM might be interested in raising awareness about the art of traditonal Chamorro tool-making.

A third generation Chamorro blacksmith, Tun Jack Lujan has been making traditional Chamorro survival tools, such as machete, fosiños, si'i, tiheras pugua' and kamyo for over 80 years. He has received numerous local and national awards for his efforts to preserve this important aspect of Chamorro culture and history, including Maga'låhi Art Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Governor of Guam, and the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington D.C. He has also traveled around the Pacific Rim, representing Guam at different cultural fairs and events in California, Australia, Japan and New Caledonia.

Tun Jack learnt blacksmithing from his father, beginning at age 9, but spent most of his adult life as an immigration agent in Guam. However, as his father's health began to fail, Tun Jack became a full-time blacksmith hoping to pass the trade along to his children, thus keeping it alive for Guam.

With the assistance of grants from the Council on the Arts and Humanities (CAHA), Tun Jack has been able to fulfill this dream by training fourteen students in this traditional art. In fact, this year has proved to be historic for Tun Jack's teaching career - he has been fortunate to train his first female apprentice Natalie Pereda (22), as well as Jeremy Lujan Bevacqua (19), the first of his grandchildren to undertake this art.

Once again, I invite you to help raise awareness about the history and importance of traditional Chamorro blacksmithing, and hope that you will be interested in doing so...

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Fortunately for Grandpa we received a quick response from KUAM News and last week they interviewed him here at the house, and filmed Kuri doing some light forging. The piece was aired on Sunday night, fortunately when most of the family on island was gathered together here at Grandma and Grandpa's house for the birthday of my nephew Kinboy. I'm pasting the article below. For those interested in the preservation of Chamorro traditions, it is important to remember the centrality of blacksmiths to the lifestyle of Chamorros prior to World War II.

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Blacksmith Jack Lujan keeps Chamorro heritage alive
by Ronna Sweeney, KUAM News
Sunday, August 26, 2007

Born in 1920 and going on 88 years old, Tun Jack Lujan says under the guidance of his father he first began to learn the blacksmithing trade at the tender age of nine. But the art of the blacksmith goes back far beyond when Lujan was first starting out - he says the tools he makes first arrived to Guam in the 1500's along with Magellan. Six traditional survival tools are his signature pieces, such as machete, fosinos and kamyo.

Said Lujan, "The six tools that they created are for the needs of the family because most of them before the war spent their lives on the farm." With forging, hammering and firing, Lujan says his craft is not for the faint of heart, noting, "You have to love it because it's time consuming. Number one, when you're forging the metal it's hard. It's hot and dirty and it takes time to make quality tools."

So far Lujan has taught fourteen other men blacksmithing, and for the past nine months his grandson, Jeremy Lujan Bevacqua from California has come to learn the trade that has been passed on from generation to generation. He explained, "Tradition is meant to be carried on by family. Every family has a tradition. If you're linked to that tradition it is very good to know about it and if you can to do something about it so I feel that's what I should do."

Lujan's grandson isn't the only person currently apprenticing with him. For the first time, he's teaching a woman, Natalie Peredo, the craft as well. "I want the public to know that the reason why I continue preserving this is because my father asked me to preserve this and to keep it alive because it's a history that the Chamorro people survived when they created these tools to use," he said proudly.

Lujan has been recognized internationally for his tremendous skill, winning the National Heritage Award in Washinton, D.C. back in the mid-nineties as well as the Maga'lahi Art Award for Lifetime Achievement from the governor of Guam. Further promoting the island's heritage and through the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency (CAHA), Lujan will be conducting educational presentations in island schools on blacksmithing until September 28.

1 comment:

WingsOfGold said...

Tonight I bought a killer knife with sheath at auction in Delaware of all places made by Mr. Joaquin Jack F. Lujan "Master Blacksmith"
Opposite side says President W.J. Clinton September 1996

NICE knife, I wonder what it originally cost

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