Monday, December 24, 2007

Guam's History Through Ginger Cruz

Guam and the Marianas Islands don't get much respect, especially in terms of the media in the United States, which consistently forget that these islands belong to the United States or are attached to them. This amnesia is of course very convenient for those wishing to avoid having to refer to the United States as "colonial" in a very ordinary and regular sort of way. Its possible to give the United States labels such as this in extreme cases, but even for some of the most critical people, such labels have to be kept from Guam, since their is nothing extreme about its relationship to the United States. The colonialness of it, is always there, and never really mentioned or dealt with. Guam basically proves that the United States is not an "extreme" or rare case colonizer, but an everyday one.

Interestingly enough though, the Marianas Islands do however make regularly appearances in what I guess you could call the world wide web of American progressive/liberal websites or the liberal blogosphere. The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands in particular receives disdainful mentions for its garment industry there and the "unAmerican" treatment of its foreign workers. Guam, gets much less mention save for when its local corruption reaches national levels, such as during the Jack Abramoff scandal or when former Governor Guiterrez used local fundraising to sway President Bill Clinton into getting Guam's agenda "heard" in Washington D.C.

One such incident took place last week when former Guam news reporter Ginger Cruz was caught up in one of the numerous Bush Administration corruption scandals. I swear, it really makes no sense to me that people on Guam can complain about the terrifying forms of corruption on Guam everyday, and act as if Guam is responsible for creating corruption, when the corruption of entities such as the Bush Administration is destroying countries and threatening the entire world!

I knew of Ginger Cruz primarily as a narrator for the local documentary Guam's History In Songs. For those of you who don't know about this film, but are interested in learning more about Guam's history, this documentary is essential. Guam already has alot of histories out there, written and recorded in different forms, but in terms of creativity, or more diverse and interesting ways of thinking about, remembering or transmitting our history we are sadly truly lacking.

As I was talking to my friend recently, Guam has little to no tradition of literature, poetry or art. This doesn't mean that Guam has no writers, poets or artists, but rather that those who do these things don't see themselves as part of a larger movement, or see their work as tied to a people, a place, or any real ideas that bind people together beyond simple geography or the making of money. The idea that history is alive, living and open is hardly present in the consciousness of people on Guam, a fact which is attested to in the acceptance of history, its writing, its telling and the legitimacy of it, as being something "academic" and "objective." Therefore, as we find for instance in the case of Chamorro war stories, the "history" or the "presence" of the event that was World War II in Guam is reduced to the same strucutre and skeletal narrative that we find in the Liberation Day insert from the PDN each year. We can see this even more clearly in how personal narratives often eventually take on the form of that larger structure, as people feel obligated to shift and change themselves and their memories and feelings in order to become "objective," meaning in order to fit into that structure and therefore count as something "worth remembering" and "worth repeating."

What this documentary reminds us is that even just a generation or two ago, history was told primarily through songs. When I say history here, I don't simply mean in a bland sense of "events that happened," but history as a more organic process of dialogue and contestation amongst members of community as to not just what has happened, but what is important to be learned from the past, and also how the telling and communicating of these ideas can be important in further linking and binding a community together.

Songs would be used to communicate the reputation of one's family, but also to sully or ridicule the reputation of another. It would be used to pass on pieces of wisdom or even just information, albeit in a lyrical form. Lastly since singing was such a central part (gi este na tiempo, taya' nai telebishon yan didide' na rediu) of life on Guam, it would be something that made people feel connected, whether through the sharing of songs while working, while traveling or even when just passing by. Songs would be thrown to each other, and the meanings between friends, enemies, amongst a family, a village or even a people would be influenced and decided.

The documentary, which is a testament to the work of the late Carmen Iglesias Santos, features songs from the past century on Guam, which all highlight different sections and different historical events/conditions. Life under the Japanese, life under the Americans, Chamorro family and village life. The creative aspect isn't simply in the fact that the history of Guam is told in this documentary through songs, but rather in the way that we can hopefully take the more creative aspects from this way of thinking and "singing" history, and bring them into our lives today. If we simply memorize these songs, then we've missed the more important point of the film and the way Chamorros thought for centuries. That history is not a song to be memorized, but rather a song which is thrown back and forth amongst people, with verses repeated, changed, added or forgotten.

So again, before returning to Ginger Cruz, I recommend to anyone interested in Guam's history, to try and get a copy of the film, you won't regret it. Meggai na u nina'tungo' hao, siempre.

As for Ginger Cruz, it was interesting, because even though she was regularly referenced by people on the web discussing and research this scandal as a former news reporter and employee of Carl Guiterrez, it wasn't Guam that made her something people had to discuss. In fact, her constantly being mentioned in the press was the fact that she's a member of a particular relgious group, a wiccan, which makes her a modern day witch.

Don't believe me, read more below for the KUAM article, and also apparently i paguan-na of her corruption has led her to be nominated for a 2007 Golden Duke Award for "Corruption Chutzpah" because of her blending of "corruption with witchcraft." Sigun i reports na hu taitai, manthreaten Si Cruz taotao gi i che'cho'-na, na para u kahnayi siha!

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Former Guam broadcaster Ginger Cruz implicated in investigation
by Sabrina Salas Mantanane
KUAM News
Monday, December 17, 2007

Former Guam broadcaster Ginger Cruz implicated in investigation
by Sabrina Salas Matanane, KUAM News
Monday, December 17, 2007

It seems the tables have turned for the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, tasked with investigating allegations of waste and fraud related to the United States' effort to rebuild in the Middle East. According to the Washington Post and the Associated Press, inspector general Stuart Bowen, Jr. and former Guam news anchorwoman Ginger Cruz are under investigation on allegations of overspending and mismanagement and snooping into employee e-mail messages.

Cruz was formerly spokesperson for former governor Carl Gutierrez.

According to the Washington Post, current and former employees told investigators that she threatened to put hexes on employees and made inappropriate sexual remarks in the presence of staff members. The article also cited Cruz as being Wiccan - a member of a polytheistic religion of modern witchcraft.

Cruz reportedly denied making comments of a sexual nature and noted that she was cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal investigation by her office.

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2 comments:

CarbonDate said...

Charged with overspending and mismanagement? That sort of thing got our officers medals in Iraq.

Have you seen this?

http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/12/lakota-withdraw.html

Thought you might find it interesting. I lived in South Dakota for a few years and saw first hand the dire straits the Lakota live in.

Mean time, I'll check out Guam's History in Songs. I've always been fascinated in learning the local culture and history of the many places the military has taken me.

Keep writing, and I'll keep reading.

Michael Lujan Bevacqua said...

Hafa Adai! Si Yu'us Ma'ase and thank you for your comment. I'm glad that you've found my blog interesting and I will keep writing. Thank you for the heads up on the Lakota Independence issue, I'll be following it closely and hoping to get more people in Guam aware of it and the status of Native Americans. Because sadly, the status of Chamorros isn't very different, but because our island is named "Where America's Day Begins" we tend to think that our exceptional status, means "special" in a good way. Si Yu'us Ma'ase ta'lo for your comment! Email me at mlbasquiat@hotmail.com if you have any more questions or comments.

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