Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kuentos Guahan

A few years ago, me and i atungo'-hu Josette Lujan Quinata recorded a "Guam Talk." For those of you who don't know who Josette is, she is a Chamorro raised most of her life in the states, who for the past few years has been looking for different ways to connect to Guam. She wrote her senior thesis as an undergrad on Guam, and later worked in the Department of Interior as an intern. Lola Sablan Santos from the Guam Communications Network first introduced us over the phone, since according to Lola, Josette had plenty of questions about what's going on in Guam and what's happening to Chamorro language and culture, and I could probably help her answer them. We emailed back and forth, at one point Josette giving me a list of I think 12 questions and me responding with 12 pages of answers. Sen magof yu' kada na mamakcha'i yu' mangge na Chamoru taiguini, pi'ot gi lagu. Hassan gi entre i manhoben pa'go este na guinaiya yan minalago para u ayuda i taotao-ta.

Josette was very interested in what we, out here in the states can do for Chamorros in the diaspora, but also what we can do for Guam. As all Chamorros know, Guam has alot of problems, but unlike the majority of diasporic Chamorros who use Guam's problems to justify their leaving of the island (because the island as more than one Chamorro out here has told me "is beyond hope"), Josette was determined to find ways that she could help "fix" Guam and not just sotta' ha' sa' malamas gi corruption.

One incredible thing that came out of our meeting was that she became an integral part of making the first Famoksaiyan conference, Famoksaiyan: Decolonizing Chamorro Histories, Identities and Futures a reality, along with her friend Destiny Tedtaotao and my cousin Alfred Peredo Flores. Last year, I had Josette, Destiny, Alfred, along with Migetu Tuncap from UC Berkeley nominated and awarded Tan Chong Padula Medallions for their work in making the conference an success.

But prior to our planning of the conference me and Josette had recorded a "Guam Talk." One of the initial 12 questions that Josette asked me was the simple and obvious, "hafa sina ta cho'gue?" or "what can we do?" One of my responses in terms of revitalizing Chamorro language and also raising consciousness amongst Chamorros, was the creation of media with the intent to do either of these things. Given the lack of knowledge and interest that young Chamorros have today with regards to their language, history and even just the state of affairs of their island, one would expect an avanlanche of media would exist or be in the works to help fix this dangerous lack. Sadly, there is not a lot out there. There is a scattering of Chamorro language learning aides, books and tools, but it is very very rudimentary and aimed primarily at small children, and not for adults or even teenagers who want to learn. There are not alot of books out there, which are aimed at non-academic audiences, to tell them about where we have come from, where we are going, and how we exist today. And even on the internat, where space and websites are so cheap and easy to create, there is practically nothing there. A few websites here or there which are critical in focus and intent, and I run or started probably half of them. Bloggers have been touted recently as a political force in the United States and around the world, in creating networks of alternative information and activism, yet for Chamorros and for Guam, there is practically nothing productive about the blogs that are out there.

So what me and Josette decided to try and do was record a conversation between ourselves, which touched on issues of language and cultural loss, decolonization, diaspora, identity and so on, from a Chamorro perspective. We met in March of 2005 at the apartment of my brothers Cyrus and Aaron in Los Angeles, and recorded an hour long talk, and then a song and a poem. We were both incredibly excited about the recording, and the energy we derived from it eventually pushed us to work with Alfred to start planning the Famoksaiyan conference.

Unfortunately however, we never did anything concrete with our recording. Cyrus over time cleaned up the recording, but we never actually looked into distributing it or finding a way to get it out to the larger audience that we first intended. That is of course, until now. If you would like to listen to an excerpt from our recording, just click on this link below.

Guam Talk - Track 5
To save the file, right click on the link and then click "save target as"

This section of the recording deals with the trauma of the World War II on Guam, and how that affected Chamorro identifications, perceptions and just generally feelings towards the United States

The reason that I'm discussing this now, is because me and Josette are attempting to make another Guam Talk this weekend while I'm in Los Angeles for the UCLA Pacific Islander education policy meeting on the 16th and NPIEN on the 17th. Some of what we said in the first Guam Talk will still have relevance today, but at the same time there is a need to say more and not simply discuss what can be done, but also inform people about all the things that we already have done! Hopefully this time we will be more serious though about sharing our thoughts with others in hopes of making an impact.

I'll keep you posted on the new Guam talk, and also if people enjoy this segment of the old one, then I might post more.

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