The dreaded DEIS public comment period is finally over.
I made the blog banner above (at the top of the page) to help highlight the importance of the past three months. For those of you who can't tell, the image is a drawing of Sumahi, while she is struggling to read through the many volumes of the DEIS, and sitting next to her is a timebomb, whose clock indicates that the amount of time left during which Sumahi has to defuse to bomb is simply "not enough." Annok na ti magof i mata-na, ya gi este na halacha na tiempo, dipotsi todu i manmata-ta (giya Guahan) taiguihi.
The past few weeks and months have been crazy, literally too many things happening for me to keep up. As I've been writing about in my "Buildup/Breakdown" posts, the island has changed significantly since last November. The urgency of the deadlines for DEIS comments, generic fears over what sort of negative impacts the buildup would bring to Guam, and the everyday sentiments of colonial frustration and feelings of disrespect, have all combined to move this island from being one where the overwhelming majority of the people openly supported the military buildup, to around half openly not supporting it.
In the final weeks of the comment period, being against the buildup or being at least critical of it was somehow cool. Students in my class were doing it (on their own, without me prompting it). Government agencies and elected officials were going farther than every before in speaking against the buildup. When I would meet with friends we could ask each other not only "hafa tatatmanu hao?" but also "kao esta un na'funhayan iyo-mu comment?" did you already finish your comment?
But, as in any moment where a radical sea change is taking place, one wishes that one could simply sit back and observe as things move from one place to another and most people have no idea that they've changed or the discursive terrain beneath them has changed as well. But instead, you tend to find yourself caught up in the moment, moving with it, struggling to build some new power or carve out some crucial space as the flood of indeterminacy cascades over everything. And so, while the end of this comment period does force me (and so many others) to reflect on what happens next, I'm also grateful its over, since these past few weeks have been full of intense writing and organizing. I helped organize people who had been reading the DEIS to write short columns for the Marianas Variety. I helped write dozens of comments, both for individuals and groups. Gave dozens of formal and informal talks and was interviewed by both international and local media. I along with other professors at UOG organized our students to write hundreds of comments about the DEIS. Gi kada diha gi este na tiempon DEIS, kalang sigi mapugao i patten i tahtaotao-hu. Mabitatangga yu' guatu, ya mabatsasala yu' guatu lokkue' achagigu.
I'm considering for the next week or so, sharing some of the better comments that I've either worked on or that people have shared with me during this critical time in Guam's recent history.
But, as we've seen in the past few days. Despite the fact that the military did not (and most likely will not) extend the comment period any further, there is a very good chance that they may need to either start the DEIS all over again, or at least re-write it and then undergo another public comment period. When you produce something of that size, the obvious strategy you are using is massive, engulfing, paralyzing obfuscation. You concoct something so mampos dongkolu that no one would even bother reading it, and even if they tried, they would never find any of the gotcha or "buena" stuff anyways. But, as I've said alot in the past three months, creating something that big can also be a horrible weakness. Sure, the larger the haystack the harder it is to find a needle. But, since the DEIS doesn't work like a haystack and needles, the larger you make it, the greater the chance of not just some errors, but numerous errors. And in the case of this DEIS, the errors are just as overwhelming as the size of the document itself. Some sections are so grossly inadequate, you have to wonder if like a desperate college student, they simply threw this thing together on Nov. 19th 2009, hoping that no one would read it carefully when it went public the next day.
Hekkua' ti hu tungo' hafa para ta fafana' gi este na banda, lao bai hu fa'sahnge este pa'go. But for today, bai hu deskananaihon, I'm going to rest a little bit, and focus on other, less serious things.
There's a Test cricket match between South Africa and India that is in its fifth day today and looks like it will be a very close finish (with India possibly winning, unless South Africa can hold out for a draw). I'm hoping to not watch this match, since I have no idea how I would ever be able to ever get to watch any international cricket matches, unless one of them takes place in Agat or Tamuning. But I'm hoping to at least follow the commentary on Cricinfo.
I'm also hoping tonight to play some Rock Star Band: The Beatles tonight. Playing and singing along to the songs in that game, help me relax. Its also nice, because Sumahi is finally learning to memorize and sing songs a little bit more complex than when she accidentally mashes up together "A-B-C-D..." and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." So for a handful of songs such as "Don't Let Me Down" featured in the video below, Sumahi will try and sing along with me.