Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chamorro Public Service Post #15: Pues Adios, Esta Ki

A lot of people end up visiting this blog because they are searching around the internet for lyrics to Chamorro songs. Over the years I’ve pasted a couple here and there, but haven’t really kept up with it as much as I should. I complain all the time about there not being enough internet presence for the Chamorro language and for Chamorro thoughts and so I feel bad when I inadvertently contribute to that absence.

På’go, gaige yu’ gi i gima’ iyo-ku grandfather. Desde i ma’pos’ña na mes, kumakatre gui’. Kana’ hineart attack gui’, ya sumaga’ gui’ gi i espitåt para tres meses. Mana’huyong gi i ma’pos na mes, ya sumåsaga’ gui’ gi i gima’, lao ti ha hulat tumohgue sin ayuda. Kada na puengge måtto yu’ gi i gima’-ña para i tetno-hu pumulan gui’.

Gi este na tiempo, tåya’ internet, pues siña hu usa este para bai hu fanhasso. Manhasso yu’ put i lina’la’-hu pat i guinife-hu. Buente i chinathinasso-ku siha lokkue’.


Tonight, I was trying to figure out what would be the best song to share the lyrics for on my blog. Things have been so emotional lately and crazy politically because of all the public hearings and activism surrounding opposing and critiquing the military buildup on Guam. Part of me wants to pick a song which is fiery or loud, bold and assertive, but unfortunately Chamorro music doesn’t have (in my opinion) enough of those. There are a few, but considering were one of the few people left in the world who can claim to be colonized in the formal sense of the world, we should have a lot more kicking and screaming and speaking/yelling to power songs.

I decided to pick a song which was simpler, quieter, but no less profound, and on which has also been significant in the recent history of Chamorros. The song is “Pues Adios, Esta ki,” and is a song about longtime friends who are saying goodbye to each other. There are a number of people to whom the original writing of this song have been attributed to, and I really have no idea who did write the first version. It is most likely a Chamoritta song, whose tune was taken from a song which arrived in Guam during the American era. Some say it’s a prewar song, others a postwar, some say a man in Saipan wrote it, others say a man from Guam. Regardless of who wrote it, its still a very beautiful and as I said, simple song.

There is no deep imagery to the song, no real vivid metaphors or even language. The version that I’m providing the lyrics for below is from a version which students at school would sing to each other when the year would end or after graduation. But even though the verses may be meant for this specific situation, there is another image which this song evokes for Chamorros, especially those who came of age in postwar Guam and that is of gathering together at the airport to wave goodbye to a family member or a friend as they leave to head lågu, or to the states.

As a historian, pat un taotao ni’ gaimeggai na tinigno’ put i estorian islå-ta, I sometime experience an interesting sort of social vertigo on Guam. Although we might assume that knowing a lot about your history, would help anchor you into the world, and make secure your place, your identity and your vision of it. This is not always true. The majority of people in any community are not knowledgeable, it is simply the way the world is. Those people understand the world around them through very small soundbytes, historical snippets and generally conveniently simplistic answers to most questions of life. To these people, the complexity of history is actually pretty scary, and is something which tends to be resisted and they seek to dismiss. As a result, having a more nuanced idea of history and the present, and having more evidence or knowledge at your disposal in understanding it can actually make you feel less secure, less normal, less bound to reality, since so many appear others appear to be impervious to what you know.

So for instance, Guam has, since the mid-1990’s I would guess, settled into the state of being a comfortable colony. This comfort is not defined solely by things on Guam being better than things elsewhere, although this is how people tend to interpret something like this (as a way of saying that Guam, because it’s a colony of the United States is far better off than those who are neo-colonies or independent third world basket case nations. When I say comfort, I mean that the shared memories of society were pared down, especially in terms of the relationship between Guam and the United States. Liberation Day was carried through, but so many other events were lost or their meaning in society diluted to the point where they are either forgotten or empty signifiers, only of use to maladjusted activists. The colonial difference between Guam and the United States has slowly appeared to have shrunk to the point of meaning nothing anymore. The ways in which, prior generations, because of the way they were treated or excluded from the United States, always had this form their identities and their lives around these massive bones that stuck out and ruined most attempts at Americanization, these ways have slowly disappeared. And their disappearance has been so effective, for those who are born into the world without them already in place, have no idea that the world could have existed without them.

Today, we on Guam can travel freely to the United States (achokka’ guaguan) and so the smoothness of the travel gives us the impression of being just as American as everyone else. Nevermind that most carriers consider Guam to be an international destination and trip, or that last year I was not allowed to travel from California to Guam because they deemed my US Birth Certificate from Guam to not be a recognized American birth certificate. These are small, little things, which just detract our eyes from the smoothness, easiness and Americaness of our travel.

Things were not always like this however. The first decade after World War II on Guam, saw a massive exodus of Chamorros to the United States. They settled in areas with plenty of Navy bases, or locations which (mainly because of the plenty of Navy bases) had become enclaves for Chamorros making the trip to the land of the colonizer. Until 1962 however this migration was largely unidirectional. As part of the new strategic importance of Guam, the Navy had established a security clearance requirement for the island, meaning that anybody who wanted to travel to Guam had to get permission and be cleared by the United States Navy first. This requirement ended up being a significant factor in helping lay the foundation for the Chamorro diaspora of today (which outnumbers the Chamorro presence in the Marianas Islands). It deterred Chamorros who were leaving island for school, for work, or simply to see a different part of the world, from returning to the island.

So when a Chamorro made the decision to leave island in those years, it was assumed that this might be permanent. It was assumed that you, like so many others who had left as whalers or sailors, might never be heard from again. As such, the gatherings to say farewell, whether at the docks, or later at the airport, became a huge moment. A final time to say goodbye to someone and wish them well, and also come together and silently pray that (whatever the world’s empires decide to do to Guam again) you will indeed see each other again.

As you can see in the lyrics below, it is indeed, a very simple song. But when I think back on my own comings and goings from Guam over the years, even though I didn’t know this song or couldn’t speak Chamorro then, I can still think back, and imagine this song as the soundtrack to my travels. As I left Guam so many times to come out to the states, as I said goodbye to so many family and friends, this hope and wish that we will see each other again, all of us as well, as myself and this island was always there.

**************************

Pues Adios, Esta Ki
By Hekkua’

Gi todu i lugåt, maseha månu
Guini gi, hilo’ tåno’
An manakhihot hit, pat manachågo’ hit
U ta fanagofli’e’

In all places, anywhere
Here, on earth
If we are close to each other, or we are far apart
We will still care for each other

Pues adios, esta ki
Pues adios, esta ki
Manali’e’ hit ta’lo adios
Pues adios, esta ki
Pues adios, esta ki
Manali’e hit ta’lo adios

So farewell, until then
So farewell, until then
When we see each other again, farewell
So farewell, until then
So farewell, until then
When we see each other again, farewell

Gi todu i tiempo, na manhihita
Guini gi eskuelå-ta
Manafa’maolek hit
Managofli’e’ hit
Sin akuetdo di rasa

All the time that we’ve been together
Here in our school
We’ve helped [made things good] for each other
We’ve cared for each other
Without any thought of race [or family/clan]

Pues adios, esta ki
Pues adios, esta ki
Manali’e’ hit ta’lo adios
Pues adios, esta ki
Pues adios, esta ki
Manali’e hit ta’lo adios

So farewell, until then
So farewell, until then
When we see each other again, farewell
So farewell, until then
So farewell, until then
When we see each other again, farewell

Pues put uttimo adios, i manhanao todus
Buen biahi adios
In diseseha na en fangefsåga’
Mungnga hit, manmaleffa

So this is the last goodbye, to all who will go
Good voyage farewell
We are hoping that you will be prosperous
Please don’t, forget about us

Pues adios, esta ki
Pues adios, esta ki
Manali’e’ hit ta’lo adios
Pues adios, esta ki
Pues adios, esta ki
Manali’e hit ta’lo adios

So farewell, until then
So farewell, until then
When we see each other again, farewell
So farewell, until then
So farewell, until then
When we see each other again, farewell

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