This blog is dedicated to Chamorro issues, the use and revitalization of the Chamoru language and the decolonization of Guam. This also blog aims to inform people around the world about the history, culture and language and struggles of the Chamorro people, who are the indigenous islanders of Guam, Saipan, Tinian, Luta and Pagan in the Mariana Islands. Pues Haggannaihon ha', ya taitai na'ya, ya Si Yu'us Ma'ase para i finatto-mu.
Hafa Na Liberasion? #9: Manenggon Memorial
In the hopes that my daughter Sumåhi will grow up to be someone who is clear-eyed and well informed about the history of her people and her island, and not someone who speaks of yellow ribbons or tiny American flags as her most prized cultural artifacts, I took her to a number of historic sites around the island today. Although she is young and as many have told me, she won't remember anything that happens to her now, I think its more important that I get myself into the habit of communicating to her, no matter how old she is, issues of history and issues of what must be done, no matter hard or difficult it seems. I've realized that when we have kids, no matter who we are, we have a literal world of dreams of what we will do for our new baby, and what we will do to help her grow as a person. On Guam over the past few decades, so many new parents have made plans that their children will have a different life then they did, and often times make these promises to the universe in economic terms but also in cultural and languge terms. The economic promise is one which is rarely forgotten, as each generation in some way hopes to make things better for the next. In terms of culture, history and language however, these promises are quickly forgotten or cast aside, because of the difficulty in teaching children Chamorro language today, fear that they will turn into "activists" or simply fears that if they are "too" Chamorro, it will hurt their economic or social chances in life.
Although I've only been a father for a few months, I'm doing my best not to give into this logic, doing my best to ensure that they better life I am trying to prepare for Sumåhi involves her loving her island and her people, regardless of whether or not it or they are the tip of America's spear, and also using the language that she has inherited from grandparents, great-grandparents, great great grandparents, yan todu i mañainå-ña desde i tinituhun i hinanao i taotao-ta.
Here is part of the text for the panel which stands in front of the Manenggon Survivors Memorial Monument in Manenggon Valley in Yo'ña, Guam, one of the sites which I brought her to:
Ta honra yan rekoknisa i Manchamorro ni' manmaså'pet yan manmåtai guini na lugat iya Manenggon, duranten i gera. Inasi’i fumufunas i lagu gera. Mungga hit ta fanmaleffa.
On my last full day in South Korea, after traveling north to hear about the struggles against the expansion of the Mugeon-ri training areas, I had a few hours to myself, to do whatever I wanted with. After five days of tightly scheduled trips, visits, meals and transportation adventure, I really appreciated being able to explore on my own for a bit, the area I was staying in Seoul.
I did not know my way around Seoul at the start of the trip and I still don’t know much about its geography, except for the little area near downtown that I was staying in. In my little area I could tell you where almost anything was (so long as its signage contained some English letters or images which indicated what was inside). I could tell you how many Dunkin Donuts were in the area and lead you to all of them, and could show you were the three music stores that I had found were, and even the chick place, which has a sign where a friendly looking chicken invites you to come in and partake of the flesh of…
For the past two years now I've been speaking to i hagga-hu Sumåhi , almost entirely in Chamorro. For a long time I wasn't sure if this was paying off, and if she was retaining anything, as more and more of the words she started using or started understanding were either English or Cantonese. Fihu estaba annai hu kuentusi gui' gi fino' Chamoru, ha atan yu' kulang langga' yan taikinemprende. In order to make sure she understood me sometimes, I would even resort to using certain Cantonese words.
In the past few weeks however all of this has changed, and at last she is starting to both use and understand some basic Chamorro words. At this age, learning words for Sumåhi is actually an exciting activity, because while all around her live to see her face light up and smile, she is actually always on the search as well for ways that she can make our faces light up. Using certain words is one of the ways that Sumåhi can get everyone around her laughing or happy. Which i…
At the Guma'famoksaiyanconference last month, I organized a session on Learning Chamorro Language Through Songs, which went very well. Songs is one of the most fun ways through which you can learn a language, and so while most Chamorros who don't speak the language, might have some knowledge about Chamorro music and songs and may even enjoy listening to it, its unfortunate that there isn't more effort being put into using music as a medium through which we can revitalize the language.
For this session all those present divided into three groups, and each group had a song leader who would teach one Chamorro song to those in their group over about forty minutes. When time was up, all the groups would gather together and present the the rest of the conference their song. It was decided during the session that there should be judges too in order to select which group was the best. The session went very well and people incorporated different performaces and dancing into their pr…