Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Procrastinating Student's Dream

I’ve had this blog No Rest for the Awake – Minagahet Chamorro since 2004, and one of the coolest obsessive technological gadgets that you can use nowadays, is that you can track (in some way) just about everyone who visits your website. You can see where they are surfing from, see what link or what search brought them to you. Although I am still several thousand light years away from Leo Babauta’s Zen Habit’s web traffic levels, I still get a decent amount of hits, a couple hundred per day. And because of all these cool new programs, I can divide up those hundreds of hits into several different groups.

The largest group per day are people looking for raw scans of Naruto comics or images of Naruto characters such as Hatake Kakashi or Hoshigaki Kisame. The second largest group are people googling “Guam” and “sex” and are directed to an article I reposted on my blog from the PDN titled “Guam: Sex Capital?” The third largest are people who want to know how to say “I Love You in Chamorro.” To meet this shocking demand I once wrote a post which listed two dozen ways to say “I Love You” in Chamorro.

And finally, before it appears like there is no point to this post, the fourth largest group of web travelers who end up on my blog, are those writing papers on Guam or Chamorro related topics for school and are desperate for resources to cite.

In his Guamology piece “In 0s and 1s We Trust” Jayton Okada asked “How often do you rely on WikiPedia or Google, rather than going to the local library or bookstore and finding research the old-fashioned way?” This is the trend nowadays, the internet makes it far easier to do “research” for your work, and it makes it more fun and interesting too, especially for those multi-tasking. You can be looking for articles on Spanish colonialism in Guam while you are also looking for Spanish style backgrounds for your Myspace page (I would make a PFG reference here, but it has been offline for so damn long, I don’t think anyone remembers it anymore).

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, the internet and Google can be legitimate places to conduct research activity. But there are limits, and that’s one of the problems with doing internet research. Just because there is an overwhelming sea of information, websites, pages and blogs out there, in no way means that they have anything to do with what you are looking for. The internet is great for generic, general crap, but if you have anything specific in mind, such as good, solid information on Guam, Chamorro or Pacific things, good luck.

Just like with a physical archive or a book, you are limited to what has been placed there, stored there or written there, when scavenging the internet, you are limited in terms of what someone took the time to scan, copy, type up or upload. So the problem with people writing Guam or Chamorro based papers relying solely on the internet is that there frankly isn’t very much out there.

I’ve often lamented the poor presence that Guam and Chamorros in general possess on the internet, and I will do so again right now. Scanning around the net, we see a sprawling graveyard of dead blogs and sites, a dozen or so portal pages each of which claim to be the ultimate website for all things Guam, and haven’t been updated for three to seven years. And don’t get me started on the Guam pages which were started in the 1990’s and are still around. They load like a horror movie, teeming with viruses and bugs which have mutated and become sentient from lack of updating, and even feature –please ask the kids to leave the room – soothing island MIDI files in the background. I swear, the machine apocalypse that is chronicled in the Matrix and Terminator universes will start from one of these pages, which is bitter at humankind for never returning to update or even just erase them!

So, amidst this sea of wrecked, poorly updated or never finished websites, my blog has somehow emerged as a place that people end up getting directed to for their projects. This leads to a lot of comments or emails to me from high school students, college students and even grad students who ask me if I’ve ever written about this, or if I can help them find sources for that. I do my best, but it’s hard. Anyone who has access to MARC (Micronesian Area Research Center) at UOG can write a fantastic well cited and sourced paper or thesis on Guam, since there is so much that you can dive into there. If you don’t have access to MARC though, let’s say you’re one of the close to 100,000 Chamorros who don’t live on Guam but live in the states, then if you don’t have money to buy stuff, or don’t have friendly relatives to photocopy or mail them to you, then you don’t have many options.

This aspect of my life though was made so much easier in April of 2008 when the website Guampedia was officially launched. For those of you who don’t know what Guampedia is, you should. For those of you who already know it and have visited it, you should go back, there’s probably more to see now. Guampedia is Guam’s first online encyclopedia, and features close to 500 articles right now, with plans for hundreds more all of which deal with various aspects of Guam, Chamorro history, culture and current events. Each entry is written by scholars, journalists or writers, and is reviewed by experts in the field, to ensure accuracy and quality. The closed writing format of Guampedia also ensures that there’s no Wikiality fights or that some random person can’t go onto Felix Camacho’s Guampedia page and insert the line “Dongkålu i daggån-ña Si Felix.” (Someone told me that they did this once to Camacho’s Wikipedia page).

This makes my life easier and students’ papers much better. Nowadays, for most things I can just direct people to an entry on Guampedia, and they’ll be able to cite a for reals encyclopedia for their paper and not just cite “Crazy Activist Person with Bad Hair. Email Communication, February 13, 2009” Plus, all of this is easily available the night before any paper is due. MARC and libraries tend to close early, people who might have the knowledge in their heads go to sleep, but if you procrastinated on that research paper until just twelve hours before its due, Guampedia is here to help you!

But even for those who are just looking to increase their knowledge of Guam, Guampedia is still a great place to spend a few hours, reading through random entries. They don’t have the random entry button yet, but I wish they would get it. The entries range in size and depth depending on who the writer is and what the topic is. For some entries there simply isn’t much to say or write, but for others there is far too much. A lot of it all depends on who is doing the writing and how much time they put into the entry or how extensive their own knowledge of Guam’s archives is.

For me through the true gift of Guampedia is that there are so many things contained there in its entries, that I never would have imagined would be available online, that would be so easily accessible. It goes far beyond any other Guam or Chamorro based website in terms of providing good, critical information. For instance most websites gloss over the colonial side of Guam’s history, in particular over the past 110 years. Guampedia however supports those sorts of writings and ideas, because while they may make us uncomfortable by revealing the less pleasant side of our relationship with the United States, it is the truth, and it should be communicated to us in all its unpleasantness.

Another exciting aspect of the site that they are just starting to really capitalize on, is the making available of archival video and audio to the public. You can watch the late Tun Jesus Crisostomo play the belembaotuyan. You can watch segments of that old show Guam Paradise Island from 1984. Or how about checking out this video of Johnny Sablan from 1992 singing “Si Sirena.”
There’s even a Shiro’s Head mention, and so hopefully someday they’ll upload the trailer for it.
Guampedia is truly a wealth of information, which goes far beyond anything else on the internet in terms of providing historical and contemporary information on Guam and Chamorros.

Just to give you a taste, here are 10 random things that you’d learn by wandering around Guampedia:

1. That the Lujan House in Hagåtña was once a school that prominent figures such as Judge Joaquin Perez, Governor Ricky Bordallo and Archbishop Felixberto Flores all attended prior to the war.

2. Maga’låhi Kephua got a velvet hat and some iron hoops when he welcomed the Spanish to the island in 1668. He is also reported to have said, “You please us, Fathers and you bring us good news which will cause joy to our entire nation for we have wanted you here for a long time.”

3. You can listen to what the chachaguak sounds like. The brown tree snake destroyed the Guam populations of at least 10 native bird species. One that has survived but can only be found in a few caves at Naval Station is the chachaguak.

4. On the origin of the village name for Dededo: “Dedidu in Chamorro, may come from the practice of measuring using fingers. The Spanish word for finger is dedo. It can be theorized that someone measured out the original village this way. Another possibility is that the word “dededo” is a version of the word “dedeggo,” which means “heel of the foot,” or that it comes from the word “deggo” which means to “walk on tiptoes.”

5. A 1936 law guaranteed that Chamorro pattera or midwives had the right to be paid at least $10 for their services. Most however accepted produce or livestock in lieu of cash.

6. The six types of canoes that Chamorros made at the arrival of the Spanish were from biggest to smallest: sakman, leklek, duding, duduli, panga and galaide.

7. According to one Chamorro in 1602, there were “nearly 400 villages” and “more than 60,000 people” on the island of Guam. Rota, he reported had 12,000 people living in fifty villages.

8. In the interrum period, during the change of the colonial guard from Spanish to American hands from 1898-1899, Chamorros established their own legislature and selected a Chamorro to be Guam’s first governor. All of these advances were later revoked when the American colonial military regime was officially established.

9. Henry Metzker and Bob Beckett were the two American servicemen who helped bring the Seventh Day Adventist religion to Guam following World War II. While searching the island for a church to worship in on Saturday, they came across the Ulloa family, which soon opened their homes to the soldiers to have their services.

10. Ancient Chamorros believed that how you died dictated what would happen to your spirit in the afterlife.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Academic Freedom Under Attack at UCSB

For more info and updates head to the blog: Committee To Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB.

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Dear colleagues,

UCSB has become the latest front in the war against Academic Freedom.

Professor William I. Robinson, a Sociology and Global Studies professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been attacked by the Anti-Defamation League and two of his former students. In January of this year, he forwarded an email condemning the Israeli attacks on Gaza. The email contained an editorial by a Jewish journalist condemning Israel's actions in Gaza as well as juxtaposed images of Nazi atrocities with congruent images of Israeli atrocities against Palestinians. The email was an optional read for students, intended to spark conversation by relating contemporary events to conceptual ideas discussed in class.

One week later, the ADL wrote him a letter charging him with anti-Semitism and sundry violations of the Faculty Code of Conduct (none of which were coherent claims). Another week passed, and the Academic Senate Charges Officer then notified him that two of the students in
the class to which he circulated the email had filed complaints against him.

The complaints are that 1) critique of Israel is evidence of anti-Semitism and 2) the Israeli-Palestinian issue should not be discussed in a class on Globalization.

This case has already escalated way too far. Throughout the process, the Charges Officer violated several elements of the charges procedure, shirked his responsibilities, and ultimately acted as a co-complainant by fabricating charges that were not raised by the students. The charges have reached the Committee on Committees, which is now in the process of convening an ad hoc Charges Committee to assess the complaints against Professor Robinson.

Based on patently absurd and malicious claims, the charges should have been dismissed out of hand from the beginning. Further consideration of the charges by the Academic Senate serves only to sanction politically-motivated attacks on academic freedom. The longer this case is pursued, the worse its chilling effect; it will spread fear among those who wish to present controversial and critical subjects.

Even though the original complaint is regarding Israel/Palestine, the rights at stake extend beyond this specific topic. Academic freedom is a right that enables scholars to express diverse perspectives over contentious topics, free from the intimidation of political repression
campaigns. If the case against Professor Robinson continues to go forward, it will lead down a slippery slope that may expose academics to repression tactics for addressing controversial issues such as stem cell research, evolution, feminism, LGBT rights, etc. It is incumbent
upon members of the UCSB campus and the broader academy to roundly oppose this silencing campaign.

This is an obvious attack on Professor Robinson's academic freedom, one that ominously recalls similar campaigns against other critics of Israel across the nation. This is part of a broader campaign to automatically vilify and attack any and all critiques of Israel's policies and practices through unfounded use of the term "anti-Semitic." A critique of the Israeli state, its policies, and the leaders responsible is not and should not be considered an affront to Jewish people as a collective, the Jewish religion, or Jewish heritage. In fact, conflating the state of Israel with the Jewish people essentializes the assorted political opinions of a diverse religious group by reducing them to the set of policies espoused by the prevailing regime.

We need your help! Please scroll below and follow the instructions to

1) email the UCSB Chancellor and responsible authorities on campus to express your outrage and register your protest, and 2) sign the petition [http://www.petitiononline.com/cdafsb/petition.html].

Please visit our website for more information on the case, including continuing updates, at: http://sb4af.wordpress.com/

If you wish to contact the student campaign, please email:
cdaf.ucsb@gmail.com


Thank you for your time,
Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UC Santa Barbara

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why I'm Not a Shiny Happy Native

I'm writing a section of my dissertation right now on the narrative that Guam "has no culture." This has led me around the internet looking for different articles from travel magazines and the notorious Lonely Planet guide that discusses Guam as a horrible place to visit, with nothing on the island of interest except the world's largest K-Mart. As I often tell people on Guam, you may feel all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings for the United States or for Americans, but stroll around the internet for a bit and visit the blogs or pages of people sent to work on Guam or stationed on Guam and you'll find an aircraft-carrier-load of negative and nasty comments.

If you think that Sherry from Myspace was bad, or that Mike Ogle's trash from ESPN.com was racist, then you have to read the comments and testimonials below from the website, Virtual Tourist. The section was "Guam Warnings or Dangers" and is full of people who call Guam "hell" and think of it as the most corrupt and backwards place in the world. Here's some of the more nasty recent comments. One you can click the link to read all of them, one of the more interesting ones was left in 2002 and it said "DON'T MESS WITH A DRUNK CHAMORRO, YOU GET your ass beat down!!" Not sure if the person who wrote this was a drunk Chamorro who was in the process of beating someone down, or someone who had been beaten down by a drunk Chamorro.

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OMGLOL: April 7, 2009

I've chosen to make my home on Guam for personal reasons, but this is the worst place I've ever lived. I've been to many islands, and most island people are welcoming, friendly, and charming. This place is almost hostile. No concept of hospitality, and the worst waiters and service people I've ever encountered in my life. Try taking care of business at the department of revenue and taxation - you may need a drink or a shoulder to cry on afterward.

Everything costs double, not just because goods have to be imported, but because local business have monopolies on certain industries and charge as much as they can. When first apartment hunting, I was shown $1,500-$2,000 per month apartments so run-down and nasty that I've seen better section 8 housing stateside. This is because all property owners automatically set their base rents at military housing allowance, which is a ridiculously high $1,700. Try renting a decent (one that isn't filthy and will not get broken into) apartment on a regular salary - yeah, not gonna happen. Oh, and if you like air-conditioning (who doesn't when it's 90 degrees outside 90% of the year?), prepare to pay $400 or more per month for a single family home.

I've lived in big, major metropolitan areas, cities people associate with crime. I had never been robbed - until I got to Guam. I was robbed on Guam twice in two years. And when I say robbed, I mean "inside jobs." Staff at the hotel and apartment where I stayed had access to my rooms (duh, they're staff). One day, after a short stay off island, I came home to find everything gone - even my freaking tennis shoes. When the cops came, I pointed out empty beer cans that weren't mine (yeah, the thieves made themselves right at home). Perhaps they should take them for prints....they LAUGHED. The police LAUGHED AT ME because GUAM HAS NO FINGERPRINT DATABASE OR FORENSIC LAB OF ANY KIND.

People still abuse/ignore stray animals and enjoy cock-fighting here. The island's only pound is disgusting and in disrepair (have you been to the SPCA on Oahu? It's like a hotel). Guam's situation with animals is 40 years or more behind most developed nations.

If you get sick on Guam, you are screwed. Basically, if you go into Guam Memorial Hospital for an emergency, chances are you won't come out alive. The GMH emergency room entrance looks like a triage unit for an army doing ground warfare in the middle east. The parking lot is packed 24/7 (when I say "packed" I mean, cars have to park all the way down the street and into a residential area). Why? Because people who have no money or insurance use it as a clinic - because they know they can't be turned away. That's right - they just don't give a damn. They don't care that people with real emergencies may suffer because they caught a cold and don't want to pay for the treatment. Oh, did I mention the hospital is not approved by stateside medical organizations? And that some of its former directors have been accused/convicted of theft and selling prescriptions?

And based on news of late, it looks like our next governor will either be a nepotistic thief of a murdering thief. No, I am not speaking in metaphors - the locals will know what I'm talking about.

Most locals will start getting a rope ready to hang you if you spoke of any of this (elephant in living room stuff) in public. It's because most have never lived any where else for an extend period of time, although more Chamorros live off island than on island (gee I wonder why). And they're really sensitive. Anyway, I'm here to stay, for a while anyway. And I smile and welcome everyone and try to be good island representative and try to pretend like this place isn't going to hell in a hand-basket.

Advice: Shop at Cost-u-less; Other grocery stores, especially Payless, charge double or triple cost-u-less. Kmart may be the only place you can find what you need, but it's not like stateside k-marts - they are (I can't believe I'm saying this about Kmart) EXPENSIVE. They take advantage of us because they're the only place. If you have access to the stores on base, go. Get an ebay account if you don't already have one. Use it, love it, and never let it go. I saw something at Micropac (electronics store that RAPES its customers because they are sole distributor for certain popular electronics products) selling for $400 that I got on ebay for $75!!!!!! THE SAME DAMN THING - only mine was a NEWER MODEL!!!! If people here think they can separate you from your money, they will. You must demand lower prices everywhere you go - including the power authority, phone companies, cell phone companies, etc. Don't be ashamed. The service is so damn bad, we should get discounts for that alone!

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seawithfromsaipan: March 28, 2008

Hi After spending six months on Guam I learned a lot. First of all, behind the facades of the beautiful hotels hygiene is terrible. I saw the feast displayed on buffets for Sunday brunch from behind the scenes, cooked food was placed on the floors in the halls for servers to pick up to place on trays, dishes are wiped clean with dirty rags because the water pressure is low. So beware of where and what you eat.

Guam is populated by very poor people, this is a slum island most people have slum or ghetto mentalities but if you are not from their culture you won't recognize it until you realize your girlfriend steals ashtrays from peoples houses and will eventually teach your children that stealing is ok. Girls from the slums make men feel great and the islanders have no respect for marriage. They see a man from The Mainland through eyes with dollar bills signs ringing up their best financial opportunity.

The architecture is 60's slums, the hotels are pretty but it is true that one or two were not earthquake or typhoon proof. Standard of living is so low that lower middle class homes look really good on Guam. Not many good shops if you want anything other than perfume or designer scarves.

The police on Guam are notorious for being very brutal. Excessive force is common. Divorces on Guam will favor locals so if you and your spouse want a divorce don't divorce on Guam, the adulterer usually has a local squeeze and the judge favors the party with a local adulterer.

Forget law, I attempted to withdraw money from a joint bank account before my divorce on Guam and the bank refused to release the money. Women on Guam are very jealous and devious.

Health care on Guam is quite poor, if you are very sick leave the island to be seen in a hospital at Hawaii or St. Lukes in Manila or go to Tokyo.

Military Wives on Guam live in misery, mucho gossip, no privacy, dog pile politics, dirty laundry, crime on base, few activities available and it is a long way home.

The schools on Guam are inferior to any in any part of the world, so are the teachers and the principals. Jobs are awarded to relatives of the politicians and for those who make large campaign contributions.

There are few friendly people on Guam.

Transmitting STD's seems to be the local sport. I was lucky to get away from my spouse before I contracted the health problems his girlfriend gave h im. Another big trick is for women to get pregnant on Guam then get married or to conceal children they had when they were teenagers from a future spouse.

The beaches are polluted. Raw seage is dumped into the beach area from hotels, the roads aren't banked, there are frequent power outages, tap water from the fawcet might not ever be more than a trickle, don't drink it, garbage pick up is usually non existent and there are many burglaries.

Culture is non existent on Guam, there are not any museums, the Chamorro culture on Guam is not Chamorro, the most authentic Chamorro culture are on Saipan on Rota. There are no theaters, no concerts, no art galleries, no good newspapers (free speech is limited by publishers who have other priorities), the beaches are seriously and dangerously polluted, single women are not safe, single men will be approached by very available partners (at least in Amersterdam they are tested). Children will have no educational stimulation or activities.

Guam is Great for Loosers who can't make it in the Mainland USA.
It is better to visit Saipan

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Petersamforsally: February 8, 2008

DANGER!!! Guam is a place for cheap ass holes that think they are saving their family a little money for a bunch of Chamorro that do not appreciate ***, hell they smell like ***. They are rude and think they are better than “actual” Americans. I lived there for a couple of year and they would wine like little pussy babies about how they wanted America to leave. I would tell them all the time they would get over run by Japan or something and they would get angry and try fighting. I would have to beat their asses and the wining would start back. Trust me. Avoid Guam at all cost.

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Whater11: December 30, 2007

Guam is a third world ghetto. I have NOT found the locals to be the least bit nice to non-islanders. This island is about 15-20 years behind any modern country. There is graffiti, abandoned cars, abandoned buildings and trash almost everywhere you go. If you are coming here for two weeks to stay on the "strip"( where the hotels are) then you might enjoy yourself if you enjoy shopping at high end stores and staying on the beach the entire time.(Caution for the beaches-they are, for the most part, polluted.) I would highly recommend Bali or Bora Bora over this place any day.
Caution to those of you who are thinking about moving here or PCSing here, this place is a NIGHTMARE! keep in mind its 15+ years behind modern times....Anyone who has very positive reviews has either stayed here for less than two weeks, came to Guam from a less fortunate country, or enjoys the lazy, "laid back", I don't care attitude of the locals.

Not all of the locals are this way... just 95% of them......

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Guam Sucks: March 11, 2007:

DANGER ! Guam Sucks ! Guam is the worst place to visit. The pictures of Guam look pretty, but Guam is really a third world ghetto! The beaches are polluted with sewage ! The local sewage treatment plant is badly neglected. The raw sewage flows right into the water and down to the tourist beaches. Sometimes you can even smell it and see the toilet paper in the water.

The locals hate the tourists and will do anything they can get away with. There are plenty of beatings, robberies and rapes on the tourists. The whole economy is geared towards fleecing the tourists. The obvious hate that the locals have poisons every human interaction with them.

If you come to Guam, you will feel it too. The locals consider the abuse on the tourists as a joke, and something to brag about. You will sit in a restaurant and wait and wait and wonder if the rude waitress is doing something really bad to your food. As you groan on the dirty toilet in your overpriced hotel room, you will know that she did do something bad to your food ! Don't go to the hospital, it is the worst place to go, you are sure to die there ! The word nightlife really means strip clubs, which are also whorehouses. There is very little to do at night except strip clubs, and you better go with a buddy. AIDS and all other diseases are very common here. Most local people refuse to get tested, and don't get treatment, it's a denial thing. The Guam government is very corrupt and the American taxpayer's money is going into some politician's pocket. Very little of the money is actually spent on it's intended purpose. The local schools are a nightmare. The police force is very corrupt. Drug use is common even among the police and school bus drivers. The locals appear friendly, but that is so they can take advantage of you!

I have lived in Guam in the local community for three years. I know many of the locals and interact with them daily. I beg you to please take my advice and visit someplace better. I can honestly say that my life on Guam has been pure HELL !

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dissertation!

I apologize, I won't be blogging much for the next week or so. I'm in the final stages of my dissertation writing and so I'm trying to put all my energy into that so I can actually finish this June.

I might at least post some articles in the meantime, but for today I'll leave you with this video of Sumahi dancing to her new favorite song, Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

GYC on the Military Buildup

The 27th Guam Youth Congress was in the news last week after their passage of a bill supporting the legalization of same sex civil unions on Guam. For those of you who don't know, the Guam Youth Congress is a legislative body made up of Guam's youth, who are elected every two years and actually operate as a part of Guam's Legislature. They establish their own rules, can form committees, pass resolutions, and can even pass bills which are then transmitted to the Rules Committee for the Guam Legislature.

The Youth Congress is like any other democratic body or community, it is whatever the people, those in it and those that it is meant to serve, make of it. It can be useless, it can be effective, it can just be a platform for higher office, or it can be a true vehicle for positive or necessary change. On the subject of same sex civil unions, I for one am glad to see this body taking the lead on progressive and social issues.

This coming week, on April 15th, the Guam Youth Congress is taking the lead on another important issue for Guam, the military buildup. The Vice Speaker of the Guam Youth Congress, Derek Sablan is inviting any and all to come and give testimony at a Public Hearing on "the potential impact on the Youthof Guam with regards to the Military Buildup." The hearing will take place this Wednesday, April 15th, at 9:30 am in the Legislature's Public Hearing room.

Unfortunately this is taking place in the middle of a school week, during school hours, and so not alot of youth will probably be able to make it. But still, for anyone who can make it, this will be an important opportunity to address aspects of the military buildup that the media and most of our leaders aren't acknowledging. And so many of these unacknowledged aspects are the environmental, economic, social and political legacies that the island's young people of today will inherit in the near future.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Guam Film(s) News

Shiro's Head: The Muna Brothers (Kel and Don) are trying to raise money in order to fly to Los Angeles next month so they can screen their film "Shiro's Head" as part of the 25th Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, from April 30, 2009 to May 7, 2009.

A fundraiser will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. on April 21 at Ralphy's in East Agana. Proceeds from the event will pay for the Muna brothers' travel and accommodation expenses.

For more information on their film Shiro's Head which premiered last year head to the its website: http://www.shirosheadthelegend.com/


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I Fuetsan I Taotao: The film's Director Alex Munoz has just received word that two NFL players, brothers Brandon and Femi Ayanbadejo are on board to play minor roles in the film, which will begin filming later this year. Munoz released the first issue of a mini-comic series to help build interest in the film and support Guam non-profits earlier this year. The second issue of the mini-comic is on sale now at Bestsellers and Baby Joe's Fight Shop. The comic book includes a cd featuring three tracks from local band Operation code 671 - a percentage of proceeds will be give to spoken word group SINANGAN-TA.

For more info and updates check out the film's website: http://www.ifuetsan.com/

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The Insular Empire:

The film's director Vanessa Warheit received finishing funds for the film in two grants last year from the NMI Humanities Council and Pacific Islanders in communication. She's had three screenings of the film this year, in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Seattle. As the film is meant to be an introduction to the political statuses of Guam and the CNMI, she's been working to get feedback from Chamorros and Pacific Islanders, and also see what the response is from those the film is intended to educate, namely people who don't know anything about these islands.

Unfortunately the finishing funds aren't enough to cover the costs for the film's completion and so the director is still looking for any help in raising money.

You can find more info on these screenings and how they went on the film's blog: http://theinsularempire.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Lunch with Inoue Satoshi

A few weeks ago I had the honor of meeting a current and a former member of the Japanese Parliament that were on Guam for a fact-finding trip. They were on Guam in order to gather information about how Guam will be affected by the transfer of Marines from Okinawa, for which construction is scheduled to begin next July and the whole transfer completed by 2014. While here, they met with community members, activists and local leaders.

The current parliament member is named Inoue Satoshi and he is a member of the House of Councillors, and a member of the Japanese Communist Party. A small mini-scandal was created after his party sent out a press release following his visit, which quoted that the Speaker of the Legislature Judi Won Pat stating that the majority of people on Guam are against the military buildup. Won Pat's response was that her words were taken out of context or that there was a glitch in the translation, and that in fact provided a balanced portrait of Guam, where many people are for it, but people still have reservations or apprehensions.

(I'm sure that Won Pat was afraid of being labelled a communist for meeting with them or appearing to sympathize with them. I wonder if she knows that the United States Navy labelled her father a Communist in 1949?)

I and other activists met with Councillor Satoshi and his crew for lunch, and the discussion was fascinating and very illuminating. Our media on Guam is truly pitiful when it comes to this issue, truly unable to do a decent job on really discussing what this buildup means, what is going on with it. Only able to handle it in small pieces, tiny little fragments of it.

Earlier this year freshly appointed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Japan signing an agreement which had already been signed several years ago, committing both Japan and the United States to a re-alignment package, part of which is the movement of 8,000 Marines to Guam from Okinawan. Although in the United States media and in Guam the signing of this already signed agreement was heralded as a sign that this buildup will happen, that it is a done deal, that this should be interpreted as a sign of the buildup's strength and inevitability, in truth the fact that Clinton had to go to Japan and make this gesture, reveals the fragility of the whole process. That in truth, there are a number of factors, some in the United States, but most in Japan which point to this whole re-alignment either being significantly delayed or being sent back to the drawing board completely.

For those who don't know much about this issue, my post might be hard to follow, but I'll do my best to bring in the relevant background as I write.

The transfer of Marines from Okinawa to Guam, is as I stated just one aspect of as many as 19 separate agreements which make up this whole realignment process. All of these 19 separate agreements were turned into a single package by the United States, so that they must all take place at the same time and that if a single one is snagged or disagreed upon, it could potentially ruin the whole process.

The main impetus behind this whole realignment process is WTDWO, or What To Do With Okinawa? Okinawa is a former colony of Japan, former colony of the United States military, and today shares a similar heavily militarized and quasi-colonial status to Japan, that Guam does to the United States. Okinawa posses the majority of the American military presence in Japan at present, and since World War II this has been the cause of numerous conflicts, and even resulted in large sums of money from the central Japanese government being pumped into Okinawa, as sort of hush money, or payments meant to pacify the population and keep the US military there.

If you look over the realignment agreements, the core of the whole roadmap is the closing or partial closing of a handful of bases or service areas in southern Okinawa and the relocating of them to a new and existing facilities in the north. The main snag now is the building of the Futenma Replacement Facility. Futenma Base is currently in a heavily crowded urban area of Okinawa and the replacement plan would take the base out of the city and locate it over the waters of Henoko Bay in the north. Environmental concerns, court cases over the protection of endangered species, and resistance by some local Okinawan officials have all threatened to stall the process.

Another potential sticking point is the fact that part of the roadmap is a commitment by the Japanese government to pay approximately $6 billion of the total $10 - 15 billion that it will cost to build the facilities on Guam necessary to house the 8,000 Marines and 9,000 dependents that will becoming from Okinawa. This might seem like a ludicrous thing, that the Government of Japan would be paying for the movement of the United States military, but part of the rationale was that all of this $6 billion would be going to Japanese companies and so it would actually be a way of stimulating the Japanese economy. Right now however, there is serious resistance and resentment amongst the Japanese public that Japan is expected to pay for the building of a foreign country's military facilities on foreign soil.

One further dimension that could change this entire game is that there will most likely be a change in political leadership in the Japanese Government very soon. According to Councillor Satoshi, when the power shifts, this whole process will be re-examined and elements of it renegotiated. Okinawa would be the main focus and also the billions of dollars that Japan is expected to pay to move someone else's troops, but there is also a promise that the Guam section of this realignment will be reconsidered as well.

During the first few months after the transfer of Marines from Okinawa to Guam was announced, a group of legislators from Japan came to Guam and hoped to meet with Felix Camacho, to discuss what to expect and how they can cooperate to make sure this transition happens smoothly. Camacho distinguished himself early on in this process that he was going to basically massage the necks of the military and the Feds and not going to provide much leadership or resistance on this issue, by actually refusing to meet with these legislators for fear that it would upset the United States!

Former Senator Jesse Anderson Lujan put it so well in his article "Where Have Guam's Leaders Gone?"

After setting several meetings which were postponed, the Governor
eventually insultingly cancelled the meetings outright. This indecision
and rebuke of important Japanese legislators has had a huge negative impact
on our credibility in Japan – the source of most of our private investment and
our tourists, not to mention the cash that will be spent to accomplish the move.
The Governor’s meek excuse was that he did not want to interfere in Japanese
politics even though we are already indirectly involved in Japanese politics
just by being involved in this move. But more likely the Governor was attempting
to be unnecessarily meek and polite to our military, deferring to them all
access to information and coordination, even though we were not even offered the
courtesy of an observer on the Okinawa negotiating team.

But this is the way things work isn't it? We look to the United States for everything. If they say that all is well and all is good, we believe them and just hope and pray its all true. We share such a similar relationship with Okinawa and now our destinies have been bound up in a more intense and dangerous way, and yet we still know very little about what is going on there, what is happening in Japan regarding this move.

For those who would like to know more about Japan and Okinawa and the climate there, since now even beyond just the Japanese economy and tourists, we are bound up by their decisions and political mood, you can check out the website Japan Focus. One my friends Miyume Tanji, a Japan scholar teaching in Australia, recently forwarded an article that she wrote for the site on two communities in Okinawa and their different strategies for dealing with militarization and sustainability.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Famoksaiyan on Youtube 2

Everytime I go to an event on Guam, I always see so many people with cameras running around. Filming everything, taking pictures. But then as I go around the "Guam" corner of the internet or the "Chamorro" corner of the internet, I don't see any of these things. I don't see the pictures, the videos, nothing. What do people do with the hours and hours of video they have? What do they do with all the pictures they take? Its s a real shame since most of these people have way better cameras than mine.

For me though, there are so many things happening on Guam, and often times so little attention is given to them, even from people here. Often times, huge historic things will be taking place and people here will have no idea that they are going on. I guess when I upload my crappy videos of things happening on Guam, I'm doing my best to try and get the word and the visuals out to people.

Here are some recent videos that I've uploaded onto either my Youtube account or the Famoksaiyan Youtube page:



The concluding remarks of the lecture Islands Forced: The U.S. Marines Relocation Plan, Okinawas Anti Base Construction Movement and Its Implications for Guam and Okinawa, given by Hideki Yoshikawa, on March 9, 2009 at the UOG CLASS Conference.



Aaron Tamayo opening up the Sinangan-ta Outreach Program's Last Word Slam, on March 27, 2009



I inetnon (danderu) i che'lu-hu "Table For Five" dumandandan gi i 2nd Isla Art Festival giya UOG.



On February 17th, 2009 representatives of the Government of Guam Civilian Military Task Force, the Guam Legislature and representatives from different community groups gave presentations at the University of Guam Lecture Hall, highlighting what is currently being done in terms of ensuring that Guam is treated fairly by the proposed military buildup to the island which is scheduled to be completed by 2014, and also what isn't being done and what should be done. In this video scholar Nicole Santos is presenting and reading an excerpt from Lee Perez's article "Inside Out."



Human Rights and Peace Exhibit at the Agana Shopping Center, provided by the Soka Gakkai of Guam.



On January 30th, 2009 the remains of 88 Ancient Chamorros which were discovered and unearthed during the remodeling of the Fiesta Hotel in Tumon were re-interned at a small monument near the hotel's parking lot. A ceremony was held in their honor, asking forgiveness for the desecration and also to honor them in their reburial. In this video Ron Laguana is saying a prayer.



Introductory remarks of John Jackson at the January 2009 Agat JGPO community meeting. JGPO or the Joint Guam Program Office is the office responsible for the planning and implementing of the transfer of military forces from Okinawa, Japan to Guam by 2014. Most prominently this increase is the movement of 8,000 Marines and their families.



I Fanlailai'an chanting at the First Lunar Calendar Festival, held at the Fishermen's Co-op in Hagatna, Guam in January 2009.



"Mina'dos na Huntan Manamoru: Huntan i Manamoru ni' Pumetsisigi Dinitetminan Maisa." In this video Dr. Lisa Natividad is speaking at the Chamoru Summit II, held on October 25, 2008 at the University of Guam Lecture Hall. Dr. Natividad was one of the main organizers for this gathering.

In this video she is welcoming everyone to the meeting and providing some background on the first Chamoru Summit which took place in January of 2008.



Este na mubi ginnen i mina'dos na ha'anin i Tetset na Konfrensian Chamorro, masusedi giya Saipan, CNMI gi September 26-27, 2008. Gi este na mubi, Si Doktora Rita Inos kumuekuentos.



On November 20, 2008 representatives of the Government of Guam Civilian Military Task Force as representatives from different community groups gave presentations at the University of Guam Lecture Hall, highlighting what is currently being done in terms of ensuring that Guam is treated fairly by the proposed military buildup to the island which is scheduled to be completed by 2014, and also what isn't being done and what should be done.



On September 20, 2008 a historic event took place on Guam. For the first time in over two centuries a Chamorro made sakman canoe could be found in the waters around Guam.

The canoe and navigation tradition of Chamorros was intentionally wiped out by the Spanish in the early 18th century following the Chamorro-Spanish Wars. The creation of this sakman canoe, by a coalition of navigation groups called TASI, represents the exciting return and revival of a cultural form that colonialism deemed dangerous to its interests. This canoe and the revival it represents is decolonization in action. A refusal to let this form which was once so integral to Chamorro life, languish in archives, but become part of our contemporary existence.

The canoe which has been named Saina is set to make its maiden voyage to Rota sometime in the week after it was blessed.

In this video, Senator Ben Pangelinan is introducing the crew of the Saina.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

When Saying "I'm Sorry" Really Means "Lakis Hao"

Taitai hafa pinost yu' guini.

Para i mannatibu ni' sumusungon i "colonialism" ginnen i "mas maolek na nasion" hun, este i minagahet. Yanggen natibu hamyo, ya ma sakke' i tano'-miyu, i direchon-miyu yan kontodu i guinifen-miyu siha, ya i Amerikanu siha, ma sangani hamyo na "I'm sorry." Mismo kumekeilek-na "Lakis hao." Achokka' ma sangani hamyo "despensa ham," atan hafa i hiniyong yanggen en gaggao tatte i tano'-miyu pat un gaggao tatte para i direchon-miyu. Humuyongna este na na'ma'a'se na eskareng.

Para i mannatibu ginnen Hawai'i, hafa sina hu sangani hamyo put este iyo-ta colonizer, na ti esta en titingo' pat siesiente?

***********************************
Native Hawaiians Lose Claim
By JESS BRAVIN
Wall Street Journal
April 1, 2009

WASHINGTON -- A unanimous Supreme Court rejected native Hawaiians' claims that a congressional apology for an American-instigated 1893 coup should block the state government from selling public land until a property dispute is resolved.

The 12-page opinion, by Justice Samuel Alito, overturned a 93-page decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court. Last year, the Hawaii court found that the Apology Resolution recognized native Hawaiians' claim to lands taken from the toppled kingdom. The apology, made in 1993, acknowledged a conspiracy by American financiers, sugar planters and missionaries to overthrow the indigenous monarchy.

The U.S. Supreme Court found that the state justices had committed an error by reading the preamble of the congressional resolution as legally binding. The preamble included 37 "whereas" clauses detailing "the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii." Justice Alito wrote that the resolution had only two "substantive provisions," and neither one clouded the state government's ownership of the 1.2 million acres of public land at issue, 29% of the state's area.

Justice Alito said one of the two provisions -- an apology to native Hawaiians for depriving them of their rights to self-determination -- was "conciliatory" and didn't represent an effort by Congress to create substantive rights. In contrast, he observed, other congressional apologies for federal wrongs included specific remedies, such as $20,000 to each Japanese-American interned during World War II.

The second substantive provision stated that the resolution had no effect on claims against the federal government. The Hawaii court inferred that the resolution did recognize claims against the state government. Wrong again, Justice Alito wrote. A disclaimer of claims against one government couldn't be implicitly read as "an affirmative recognition of claims against another," he wrote.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision isn't the end of the land dispute, which has roiled the Aloha State for decades. While the federal apology is now off the table, Hawaii state law has its own provisions for addressing indigenous peoples' claims, and those now are likely to take center stage when the case returns to the state courts.

Meanwhile, Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris unit lost a final chance Tuesday in the Supreme Court to overturn a $79.5 million punitive-damages ruling over an Oregon smoker's death. The high court dismissed the Philip Morris appeal without issuing an opinion, ending the third appeal the company had secured before the court.

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