Sunday, October 31, 2010

Makmata' Si Che'lu

Kada puengge kalang umafulo' este na dos gi i katren-mami.

Fihu i dos gumalilek, bumira, yan gumaddon taiguini gi este na litratu.

Lao ai adai, guaha na biahi, annai fine'nina makmata' i lahi-hu, ayu na fine'nina na noskuantos na minutos, i mas mangge'. Put hemplo gi i mubi guini gi pappa'.

Dear Jon

Even though I wish I was at the Rallies for Sanity and Fear today in Washington D.C., that desire to be there is more for the fact that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are funny shows and I enjoy watching them, and so a rally based on them, will most likely be ridiculous and hysterical. My desire to go isn't much of a political desire, after all, even though The Daily Show is about politics, it is not really supposed to be about politics, but about making jokes. Jon Stewart has shown regularly over the years, that he is a comedian and he has no political loyalties. Even though it is obvious he is more liberal than conservative, more Democrative than Republican, the worst thing you can do is approach him as if he should be on one side of the issue or the other, because then the comedian in him will want to irk you by completely bashing the things you thought he should respect.

I can understand Jon Stewart not wanting to be reduced to a liberal fire-thrower or water-carrier, but one thing that makes me frustrated is his and much of the mainstream media's "false equivalency" thesis, where both Left and Right are the same, and both have their extremists and since they balance each other out, neither can have any real truth to their claims. Stewart regularly does this, by showing the insanity of Tea Party activists against globalization or neo-liberal and CODEPINK activists. He pretends, like so many others that MSNBC and Fox News are the same thing just for different parties or ideologies, which an objective analysis shows is far from the truth. Jon Stewart always complains that he has to watch so much Fox News each day, and so if that is true, than he should know that while both channels have their ideologues and have their commentators who are more about starting fires than showing evidence, Fox News, as a much better propaganda machine is far less interested in either "the country" or the "truth" than MSNBC. But that is one of the interesting things about Stewart which irritates liberals. Because Fox is almost too obviously partisan and cannot be anything but partisan, and can't even put up the appearance of being antagonistic to those they are supposed to valorize, Stewart claims that they are at least more "honest" about their propaganda, at least they don't have any pretense to being anything else but a Republican conservative tea party free back rub machine. The problem with that of course is that Fox News still clings to the name "fair and balanced" and still pretends to be a real news organization and so while this is an interesting talking point, it isn't much an analysis.
All of this shows why Jon Stewart might admire Barack Obama, because of the centrism and pragmatism of both of them. Although Stewart has regularly attacked Obama for the past two years for not coming through on his promises for "hope" and "change" Stewart must enjoy Obama's rhetoric which he and his administration use against the more liberal and critical elements of his base, namely that he is not the President of the Liberal United States or of the Democrats of the United States, but of everyone, and so he cannot simply take one side of the issue, but has to evaluate and compromise. I think Jon Stewart sees himself in a similar way, feeling, in the most serious bone he has in his body, which he often keeps hidden for obvious reasons, as someone in the center of a crazy, political pundit world. Someone who might feel the pull to be more partisan, to just talk about one side, support one side and demonize the other, but as someone who is watched for several million people regularly, he just can't. It is one of those political disconnects, the feeling of responsibility to not just those that love you, but those that you are supposed to serve. Of course, it's weird for him to take on that role, since he is not at all a serious news person, but literally a fake-news-person, but I guess he figures (ironic Jewish reference coming) that such is his cross to bear.

I'm posting below a letter to Jon Stewart from CODEPINK organizer Medea Benjamin, who was on his show for a few seconds last week before the rally, as an implicit example of the kind of people they don't want at the Rally this weekend.


by Medea Benjamin

When Jon Stewart was on Larry King's show talking about his Rally to Restore Sanity, he likened himself to Alice in Wonderland and the rally as the Mad Hatter Tea Party. But is Jon Stewart really Alice, trying to find sanity in an upside-down world? Or is he the March Hare, the ultimate "slacktivist" who thinks it's always teatime -- time to sit back and jibberjabber?

The 10-30-10 rally on the capital's mall is looking more and more like a celebration of "slacktivism." Stewart is courting people who do not want to open their window and yell, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" As he says in the Rally for Sanity website, he's looking for the people who've been "too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs)."

So let's get this straight: people who were so horrified when the U.S. invaded Iraq that they joined millions of others to protest are not sane? We shouldn't speak out against Wall Street bankers whose greed led to millions of Americans losing their jobs and homes? It's irrational to be angry when you see the Gulf of Mexico covered in oil because BP cut corners on safety? Don't get upset when the Supreme Court rules that corporations are people and can pour unlimited funds into our elections?

Stewart often roasts the warmakers and corporate fatcats on his show, but he seems to think that his viewers should be content to take out their frustrations with a good belly laugh.

When Jon Stewart announced the Rally to Restore Sanity, he included CODEPINK among the "loud folks" getting in the way of civil discourse. He also equated progressives calling George Bush a war criminal with right-wingers calling Obama Hitler.

So we started a facebook page asking Jon Stewart to invite us on the show to set the record straight. Beware of what you ask for. We did, indeed, get a call from the producers but it was not for a live interview with Jon Stewart. No, it was for a taped session with myself, a Tea Party organizer and a tear-gas dodging, anti-globalization anarchist "giving advice" to Daily Show's Samantha Bee about how to organize a good rally. It was clear they wanted to portray us as the crazy folks who should not come to their rally for reasonableness.

I consulted with my CODEPINK colleagues. Some said, "Don't do it. It's a trap and will only further marginalize us." We'd already been ridiculed several times on the show, like when we stood up to question General Petraeus at a Congressional hearing or when we organized protests at the Marine Recruiting Center in Berkeley. But the majority of my colleagues thought it would be crazy to decline the chance to get an anti-war message out to millions of viewers.

The producers told us to come to the New York studio "in costume." The anarchist, Legba Carrefour, was all in black, including a black bandanna covering his face. The Tea Partier, Jeffrey Weingarten, came in patriotic red, white and blue. I decided to "go professional," with a CODEPINK t-shirt and a gray suit. The producers were disappointed. They had wanted me to appear in one of the wild outfits we have worn in Congress -- like a hand-lettered pink slip accessorized with a hot-pink boa and a glittery "no war" tiara.

But my attempt to look professional was thwarted by the fourth guest who suddenly appeared and was positioned right behind me: A huge, scary puppet head of Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

So there we were, four "crazies" being quizzed by Samantha Bee for over two hours. She started out with softballs -- what did we stand for, what activities did we engage in. Then the questions and the antics got sillier and sillier. By the end we found ourselves spinning a blind-folded Samantha Bee around, then watching her swing a baseball bat at Ahmadinejad's head to see if it was really a pinata.

I'm sure that with over two hours of tape, there will be plenty of footage to turn into a four-minute segment showing us as a bunch of nutcases. After all, it is a comedy show.

But it's too bad that Jon Stewart, the liberal comedian, is putting anti-war activists, tea partiers and black bloc anarchists in the same bag. And it's sad that he's telling his audience -- many of whom are young progressive thinkers -- that activism is crazy.

An anonymous assistant on the Daily Show's blog chastized CODEPINK on line. "Dipping hands in fake blood or screaming over everyone just makes you look crazy and then the rest of the country ignores you." He said that we should, instead, focus on solutions.

CODEPINK has been proposing solutions since the day we started. We risked our lives meeting with UN weapons inspectors in Iraq right before the U.S. invaded to see if war could be avoided. We have repeatedly traveled to Afghanistan to push for reconciliation. For the past eight years we have been posing solutions about how to deal with terrorism, how to extricate ourselves from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how to make us safer at home. Whether under Bush or Obama, our voices of sanity have been drowned out by a war machine that makes billions selling weapons and hiring mercenaries.

Meanwhile, we've witnessed the agony of mothers who have lost their sons in these senseless wars, the unspeakable suffering of our friends in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the lavish spending on war while our schools and hospitals are gutted.

It was because of this insanity that we began to interrupt the war criminals during their public appearances, shouting -- yes, shouting -- for an end to the madness. It was because of this insanity that we put fake blood on our hands to represent the hundreds of thousands of innocents who died as result of their lies. In our post-9/11 24/7 news cycle, we learned that the more audacious and outrageous the action, the more likely we were to get our anti-war message into the national conversation.

For this the Daily Show calls us crazy!
Don't get me wrong. CODEPINK women love to laugh and we try not to take ourselves too seriously. But we do feel that it's the sane people who protest crazy wars, who cry out against the dangers of global warming, who rail against big money in politics, who implore our politicians to spend our resources rebuilding America, not bombing people overseas.

So let's celebrate the people who walk the talk. Slacktivism did not end slavery, activism did. Slacktivism did not get women our rights. Activism did. Slacktivism won't end war or global warming. But activism just might.

Jon Stewart says he wants to restore sanity to Washington; so do we. We'll see you out on the mall, Jon.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange. CODEPINK will be organizing a Mad Hatter Tea Party at the Rally to Restore Sanity.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Marianas Hubris

Since I started teaching at UOG, I've noticed a lot more students who come from the CNMI, than I can recall from when I was an undergraduate ten years ago. Perhaps I just never noticed them before, or nothing ever came up in discussions in class which would help reveal their identities, but I'm often amazed at how many people I'll have from Saipan, Rota and Tinian in my Guam History, World History and English Composition classes.

I guess it might be part of the decline of the CNMI's economy, that families up there can no longer afford to send their kids straight to the states for college, but have to go to the best, cheapest, nearby option which is Guam. This new mix can make things interesting, just as having people from the other Micronesian Islands can. It can help challenge the dominance that local, Guam students feel, being the biggest and most American island in Micronesia. It can either help show them that there is another side or two to how islands can exist and how islanders can live, and not everyone need to be a pathetic territorial appendage to the United States. Even if the sovereignty that the CNMI was able to negotiate through their covenant with the US has been significantly eroded and will most likely continue to be eroded by the US, it is still an important lesson for people on Guam, to show them, at the minimum, that the helpless dependent possession relationship to the US is not the only possible way that Guam can exist in relation to them.

But there is one thing which students from the CNMI often bring into my classes, which frustrates me, and that is when they bring in the hollowed out, useless husk of a narrative of their linguistic and cultural superiority. These narratives are not brought out in anger, jealousy or rage, but always with a quiet sadness to them, a looking down on the tragedy of Guam not having any language or culture anymore. The most common way in which this narrative is phrased goes like this, "Wow, I never realized that Chamorros on Guam had lost so much and have these problems with their identities, I'm so glad that in Saipan we still have our language and our culture."

For decades after World War II, the new Battle of the Marianas went as follows. Chamorros on Guam had the clear tactical advantage in terms of Americanization, modernization, technology. Guam was like the mecca of Americanization for all of Micronesia in the first few postwar decades. If you wanted a small taste of America, you had to go to Guam. Chamorros in the CNMI had the clear tactical advantage in terms of language and culture. While the language and parts of the culture were rapidly being lost or intentionally cast aside by Chamorros in Guam, they still remained vibrant in the northern islands. By the 1970's, if you wanted to hear children speak in Chamorro, you had to go the to northern islands, since they were an endangered species on Guam.

But after the CNMI signed its covenant with the US, obtained US Citizenship and a whole host of other things, they began to follow Guam down the path to endangered language and devalued culture-town. The CNMI of today is the Guam of three decades ago when it was just on the verge of the language becoming technically dead, where the youngest generation could no longer fluently speak it, but only retained small bits and pieces, often times able to understand, but never able to articulate themselves in it.

If I was teaching classes at UOG 40 years ago, and students from the CNMI came, telling me that narrative, I would have to admit that they were absolutely right. The language and culture was much more vibrant in the northern islands, because Guam was too busy finding every-moronic-way it could to be more American. But today, the CNMI is in some ways slowly and in some ways rapidly following Guam in terms of losing the language. When I attended the Tetset na Konferensian Chamorro in Saipan two years ago, I was shocked first at how many young Chamorros there did not speak the language, and second, at how many Chamorros were now willing to admit that they were losing the language. I remember when I was first learning to speak Chamorro, I would meet so many people from Saipan who wouldn't be able to speak Chamorro, but still constantly judge the way I and people from Guam speak, as being inferior to the way they use the language. I could not fathom how they could feel such bravado and pride in something they were not actually able to prove or embody in their own lives, but they were somehow able to keep up that pretense without their brains exploding.

One reason why this is an issue for me, is that for almost all of the Chamorros from the CNMI, in particular Saipan that I have had in my classes who somehow someway whip out that narrative of their linguistic superiority, none could comfortably speak Chamorro. All could carry on a casual conversation of one or two word sentences, but if they were asked to give a speech in front of the class in Chamorro, none had the fluency to do it or felt comfortable doing so, because the language was something they only used for a handful of people, such as their parents or close relatives. Others say they can't really speak Chamorro in a school setting, or their not used to it and can't get used to it. When I asked one student, why she couldn't speak Chamorro back to me even though she claimed that she could speak Chamorro fluently, her answer was that, she spoke Chamorro fine back home in Saipan, but Guam wasn't where you were supposed to speak Chamorro and so she just couldn't bring herself to use the language here.

The point however is that none were as fluent as their rhetoric made them and their islands out to be. For people to try and claim that hyperbolic superiority, they would have to be able to back it up in some way, and with so many students from Saipan and Tinian who just can't speak the language, it is only a matter of time before people from the CNMI can't pretend anymore. Rota is sometimes an exception to this, as I have had several students from Rota who appear to be pretty comfortable speaking Chamorro.

To conclude all of this ranting, what makes this the most frustrating is that this hubris can very easily kill a language. You are too busy taking credit for how your island, your community speaks such great Chamorro, that it is so easy for it to slip away, it is so easy to forget to speak Chamorro and simply continue to boast in English. Guam has had its own problems with its developmental hubris since World War II. Massive changes have been allowed to take place, with no planning and without any real thoughts to sustainability of what is best for Guam, but carried out primarily because of quick short term profits or because of the impression that that is what America would do. The hubris that Guam has long felt, being drunk of its close association to the US has destroyed much and trapped us in ways we barely perceive in our lives, but is no less frustrating or dangerous that the hamaleffa wine of the CNMI.

I should point out here, that you should not interpret my comments as me gloating that in a generation or two, the CNMI, especially Saipan will be at the same level of poor Chamorro fluency that Guam is at now. My point in being irritated and frustrated at this, is because those empty narratives can do so much damage, especially when you cling to them instead of seeing what is so obvious in front of your eyes. This cheap and empty narrative needs to disappear so that both Guam and the CNMI can see the truly dire straits that our language is in. There should no illusions, no clinging to an old greatness or vitality, but see the contemporary decline in all its tragedy and sadness. That is the only point where you can gain the ability to reverse this trend, once the fantasy fades and reality hits you, that is the point where you can finally act, when you can finally work to save the thing you took for granted for so long.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Navigating the Future

For those interested, check out this call for papers below. It's for Storyboard 11, which is a irregularly published creative journal from the English Department of the University of Guam. I was in the last issue for some poems, and also in an issue ten years ago, where I had a poem and a woodcut featured. Here's the info:

Guam and the Mariana Islands are bracing themselves for a tidal wave of change. As the tide rises, we must use our stories as sails and navigate the ocean of our destiny.

Storyboard, the University of Guam’s literary journal, is seeking stories, essays, art and photography, which address the theme, “Navigating the Future.” Some topic areas to consider include:

The Past • Silence • Militarization • Change • Leadership • Power • Violence • Colonization • Self-Determination • Family • Culture • Language • Knowledge • Transition • The Sky • The Ocean • Island Life • Diaspora • Imagination • Love

For more information or to submit to Storyboard 11 please email:
Or call Storyboard Editor Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero at 735-2747.
All submissions are due by November 11, 2010.
I just submitted my piece for it over the weekend, it is a several-page-long essay which discusses something I often refer to on this blog, "Future Fighting."

If I could define future fighting in a simple but not so helpful way, it is something which is at the core of decolonization. It is the hope of it and something which is essential for it.

In every long-term colonial instance, where the colonizer is not just passing through, but intends to stay, the world that he proposes is one built on a tendency to see the colonized and the colonizer as occupying radically different parts of time, space, history, the world, and so on. One of the key ways in which this re-mapping takes place is that the colonizer becomes the avatar of the future, the holder of the keys to it, the person who has the means, in whatever form, law, justice, reason, education, the English language, technology, to give the colonized the means to get to that bright future. When I say that the colonizer is the avatar of the future, I mean that he is the embodiment of it, he is a vessel for it, and everything that he says or does is meant to be the means of helping get you there.

The colonized on the other hand, becomes the avatar, the cursed avatar of the past. A relic, or a collection of relics. A being whose skin is riddled with relics, with oldness, with primitivity. The colonized is like a curse, a stench of a world destroyed, gone or better yet gone. The nagging and never-ending references to indigenous people as "ghosts" or as "whispers" from the past doesn't just touch on this, but chokes on this. In a colonial space, this "pastness," this state of both being "stuck "in the past" and having the "past" always "stuck in you," can move in meaning. It can be something better off forgotten, something better off cast aside. It sees all the colonized as having to offer itself and the world as relics and pointless fragments of culture. Or in more liberal and loving societies, it can be majestic and beautiful. It can be something proud and wonderful. It can be something that we should all be happy survived in some form and wasn't lost to oblivion by the racism and violence of the people who colonized them in previous historical moments.

But there is always a limit to this recognition, a limit to this value, as it rarely ever escapes this diminutive, simple sense. It never achieves the complexity or fullness of being something of the present, or more importantly being something which the future can be built upon. Even if it is beautiful and something everyone lauds and loves, and publicly it possesses this incredible and overwhelming fullness, such is a mirage, a trick of the eye, as it lacks the permanence for that rhetoric, i mina'ok. The fawning talk masks the way in which its value is truly very little, how people still see it as an anachronism, a hollow husk of something perhaps once long ago gaibali or valuable, but so out of place in today's world.

The Chamorro language is one such thing in Guam today. Everyone has to say that the Chamorro language is important, that is it bunito, that speaking it is gof maolek, and so on. But how many of those people speak Chamorro, teach their kids Chamorro, how many people and in how many ways do we see that glowing and shimmering rhetoric manifest into something real? Rarely ever. If anything, as the fanciness of the rhetoric in support of the language has grown, language abilities have gotten much worse. The truth of the value lies in not what is said or what everyone says about it, but rather how much or how little it is incorporated into their lives. How much value they pump into it in terms of seeing it as something that holds power over their future over the fate of them or their children?

That is why it is always a mistake to think of decolonization as being primarily about the past. It is not a return there, or a valorizing of it, or an attempt to relieve it or revive it. Decolonization must always be about the future, and there is no set path for how it takes place or what you have to do, but rather it is the opening up of the future, the making of it possible for the colonized.

As I wrote above, the future always appears to belong to the colonizer, especially if as we see in so many cases, his influence is what gives the feeling of globality or modernity. If the colonizer gives you the ability to be recognized by others or by the rest of the world (Guam USA, or Magellan putting Guam on the map for instance), then it is hard to not see the future and everything that actually does matter, as being in the hands of the colonizer, the taking and accepting of the things he offers.

But decolonization is about rejecting that very owernship. It is about prying the greedy hands of Uncle Sam off of that future, and making your own choices about what it will be and what it will entail. As I wrote about in my Marianas Variety column this week, sometimes that process of opening up the future, can be all about recreating and reconnecting to the past. It can be about making a very conscious decision to take something which was long ago stripped of meaning and value and reinfuse it with value, to fill it up again and insist that it not be some faded and useless relic, but something full of life and energy for the future. That is why I wrote in my column about the sade' or loincloths and how some men on Guam are now taking them up and wearing them regularly again. One form of decolonization would be to literally retake up the sade', begin to wear them again, and treat them the way we treat all other clothes. You can have a loincloth for special ocassions. You can have your clubbing loincloth, you wedding loincloth, your day at the beach loincloth, and so on. The point wouldn't be, that we must wear this loincloth because Ancient Chamorros did long ago (because in truth, they didn't). The point would simply be, is this something that the Chamorro community wants to make an issue, wants to take a stand on, wants to insist that is be something important and vital for the future. You can argue that you shouldn't do this, or that it is stupid, but no serious argument could take the form that this shouldn't be done because its not the way things are supposed to be, or because that is the past.

Future Fighting is precisely that opening up of the future, that seeing it as not belonging to someone or something else, and that your path in life is not to simply always follow the lead of someone whiter or more modern than you. It can be to move in a completely new direction, or it can be to assert ownership over something which you now must insist is yours. And that is why I say decolonization is fundamentally about the future, since Chamorros could just as easily take up something else as critical and necessary and argue its importance or centrality to their lives. Future Fighting also requiers not believing the PR of your colonizers or of the more powerful in the world. It means rejecting most of their claims and slapping their fingers off of things that they claim belong to them. It means seeing that if the future of yours, the present and the world around you is also yours, and so you are not bound by what someone else says is theirs and yours. Decolonization could just as easily mean taking something and making it your own, refusing to acknowledge some narrow copyright a colonizer as made to it. That is also a way of Future Fighting, since one thing which always ensnares colonized people is believing those fictions of the colonizer, that in order to enjoy the gifts we say we have brought you, you must remain in our power, beneath us, an object to us. If you believe this colonizing commonsense, than you will always remain trapped, and feel like you have to be an object to the colonizer's subject in order to survive, in order to have things which have been developed or come to the island during his time. It is for that reason that so many Chamorros and people on Guam feel trapped in a relationship with the US, feel like nothing else is possible, since in their minds, if Guam were anything other than that appendage of the US, it would lose access to things such as democray, education, economic prosperity, security, law, order, the internet, air conditioning, indoor plumbing.

As a result of this, people will feel a need not to have any power over their future, since if they did, it would mean never being able to enjoy all of those wonderful things which make possible a comfortable semi-American existence.

The interesting part of what I am arguing is that it is far from radical in the abstract. Control over one's future, that is something everyone should have. But when filled with specific content, such as the content of your own relationship to your colonizer and your own perceptions about who is in charge of what, the future or the past, it begins to feel too radical and too insane. After all, Chamorros are clearly a people of the past. Like most people who lost the battle of colonialism so long ago, they are more of the past than the present, surely not enough to get by on their own or using their own wits in a world, as Joe Murphy noted after 9/11, full of K-Mart and terrorists? What can the Chamorro offer to themselves much less the rest of the world, when compared to the country which has saved the entire world several times from facism and tyranny, and is the most powerful and most free country in the world? In that context it is easy to see how Chamorros could force their children to spit out their own language. How they would gladly give up their own rights and their own identities in order to keep Uncle Sam in charge.

But the radicalness of decolonization is that it is meant to give you the hope of breaking that dependency, of making it possible to rip apart those chains and see the world in a completely different way. To see the future as something else and nto just the following the crumbs the colonizer leaves in his wake.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


This past week I hit a big milestone in terms of my Youtube account.

I finally got to 100,000 total views for all my videos.

I currently have about 360 videos, and get a couple of hundred hits a day.

For someone who has no editing program and has used for four years a series of pretty crappy cameras, it is a big deal to have reached this many hits.

I thought to celebrate this occasion, I'd paste below my top 18 most watched videos.

Now keep in mind that these videos are the most watched and not necessarily the highest-rated or my favorites. Some of them, are simply high up on the list because they were given names which people who know nothing about Guam or care nothing about myself or Chamorros would look up and end up accidentally watching a few seconds of. Some of them are several years old, from when my video cameras had very limited memory and so they are pretty short and quick. Right now I use bigger memory cards which can hold longer files, but I'm still limited by pretty slow internet, where a 8 minute video can take 2 hours to load.

The videos are listed in order of which is the most watched, to the least.


I have no idea why so many people watch this video of Congresswoman Bordallo speaking in the House, but it is almost to 20,000 views.

A video of my brother and I, helping our grandfather make an adze. This video was one of my first real experiences blacksmithing with my grandfather, Tun Jack Lujan, who is Guam's Chamorro Master Blacksmith.

The quality of this video is so poor, I have no idea why anyone would want to watch it. The video itself was taken two years ago during the Pa'a Taotao Tano' Festival held at GPO in Tamuning.

Earliest this year, the crew for the show Destination Truth came to Guam to investigate Taotaomo'na and whether these ancestral spirits were real or not. While I was at Ipao Beach one day, they happened to be there filming at the Ancient Chamorro village which was built near the playground last year. This video was uploaded 6 months ago and already has almost 2,500 views, which for me is "meteoric" in terms of views.

A video of Senator BJ Cruz asking questions at a JGPO Public meeting in January of 2009 in Agat. I think this video has alot of hits because of UOG students doing military buildup papers who are Googling around.

A student who had missed a bunch of classes and was hoping to get extra credit in my Guam History class brought some musicians from Biggah and Betta to DUB to my class for Chamorro month. They sang "Inner Voices" from Marianas Homegrown. I gave the student extra credit, but he never came to class again after this.

A video of Sumahi's first karabao ride in Umatac when she was just 8 months old. She still loves to ride karabao more than two years later.

My brother and my nephew practicing blacksmithing, although according to grandpa in this video they don't sound very good when they are hammering.

This video is taken the last time I was helping to film a documentary for a stateside director which has been in progress for more than 10 years now. It will hopefully be done soon, I've seen several cuts of it which look like it is almost finished.

I stayed in San Diego, CA for five years while attending graduate school, and got to spend alot of time at the Sons and Daughters of Guam Clubhouse, which is home to one of the oldest Chamorro Clubs in the US. This video is of one of the lunches there, which was primarily for older Chamorros, but I would sometimes attend.

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, the students of Hurao are singing at the ceremony's end.

I put up a lot of videos from my 2008 trip to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, but very few of them have a serious amount of hits. This is the only one to be over a thousand, and interestingly enough the candidate who is speaking Ashwin Madia did not win the seat he was running for in Congress.

The first video I ever uploaded. It was actually downloaded from a DOD website.

Taken from the First Guam Music Festival in December of last year.

Every year in October, the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency organizes displays at the malls on Guam. I always have to attend to display my grandfather's tools, and so I always get to enjoy the dancing and singing which is part of the events. In this video Rasa Acho' Latte is performing to a famous Johnny Sablan song "Shame n' Scandal."

The first few videos I uploaded were all taken from other sources, such as this one which is a KUAM News interview with Congresswoman Bordallo after she had recently visited Iraq.

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.

This sakman, named The Saina, later traveled to Rota.

In this video, singers from Taotao Tano' are blessing the sakman with a song. The blessing ceremony took place at the guma'sakman in Hagatna.

Sumahi, at around 1 1/2, sort of singing along to a J.D. Crutch song.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rallies for Sanity and Fear

Sen magof hu na sumasaga' yu' pa'go giya Guahan. Estaba, annai sumasaga' gi lagu, fihu mampos mahalang para este na isla.

Lao desde hu "move" hu tatte para Guahan, hassan nai na nina'mahalang yu' ni' i lina'la' gi lagu.

Hunggan, guaha na biahi, mandiseha yu' na este giya Guahan, pat este giya Guahan, lao ti presisu este na siniente. Mas ki nahong i lina'la'-hu guini, guaha na biahi, mas ki bula'. Mismo machuchuda' i tasa-hu.

Lao desde hiningok-hu put i dos na rallies ni' manmaplaneha ni' i fumati'tinas i Daily Show yan i Colbert Report, fihu mandiseseha yu' na gaige yu' gi lagu ta'lo. Ti para mo'na ya ti para apmam, lao para un simana ha' buente, kosaki sina hu saonao ayu na linahayan gi ayu na dinana'.

For those interested, I've got the rally and march messages below.


Jon Stewart
National Mall, Washington D.C., Noon - 3 pm

“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Who among us has not wanted to open their window and shout that at the top of their lungs?

Seriously, who?

Because we’re looking for those people. We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles.

Are you one of those people? Excellent. Then we’d like you to join us in Washington, DC on October 30 — a date of no significance whatsoever — at the Daily Show’s “Rally to Restore Sanity.”

Ours is a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) — not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence… we couldn’t. That’s sort of the point.

Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement; the Million Man March, only a lot smaller, and a bit less of a sausage fest; or the Gathering of the Juggalos, but instead of throwing our feces at Tila Tequila, we’ll be actively *not* throwing our feces at Tila Tequila. Join us in the shadow of the Washington Monument. And bring your indoor voice. Or don’t. If you’d rather stay home, go to work, or drive your kids to soccer practice… Actually, please come anyway. Ask the sitter if she can stay a few extra hours, just this once. We’ll make it worth your while.
Watch Jon’s call-to-reasonableness on The Daily Show. Keep checking back for updates and rally information.


Stephen Colbert
National Mall, Washington D.C. Noon - 3 pm

America, the Greatest Country God ever gave Man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And Fear — that someone might take our Freedom and Liberty. But now, there are dark, optimistic forces trying to take away our Fear — forces with salt and pepper hair and way more Emmys than they need. They want to replace our Fear with reason. But never forget — “Reason” is just one letter away from “Treason.” Coincidence? Reasonable people would say it is, but America can’t afford to take that chance.

So join The Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A. on October 30th for the “March to Keep Fear Alive“™ in Washington DC. Pack an overnight bag with five extra sets of underwear — you’re going to need them. Because, to Restore Truthiness we must always… Shh!!! What’s that sound?! I think there’s someone behind you! Run!

Watch Stephen give the marching orders on The Colbert Report. Keep checking back for updates and march information.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dies Na Finaisen

Earlier tonight we finished, the second of four Fino' Chamoru na Inadaggao or Chamorro Language Forums which are being held at the University of Guam this week and next for those who are running this year for Senator and Governor on Guam.There is still another tomorrow for Senatorial Candidates and the final next Monday, the 25th for the Gubernatorial teams of Calvo/Tenorio and Gutierrez/Aguon. All of the forums start at 7 pm and end hopefully by 9, but more realistically by 9:30.

The forums so far have been interesting to say the least. I have been surprised at the Chamorro-speaking abilities of some candidates and appalled at the abilities and lack of trying of others. One of the biggest problems with the health of the Chamorro language today is the fact that so many people understand it or at least claim to understand it, but can't translate or transform that into actually using the language. There is such a strong social barrier which prevents people from even trying. I have seen several candidates so far, who clearly have some Chamorro ability, attempt in no way to try and use the Chamorro language during these forums. Some have excused themselves as being embarrassed others have claimed they would rather be understood clearly, then risk making a mistake and having people misunderstand them.

At the Mina'kuattro na Konferensia last week, I had to make two public speeches in front of anywhere from 100 - 200 people, the majority of whom speak better Chamorro than me and who have spoken Chamorro longer than I have been alive. There were many speakers last week who spoke some in English, some in Chamorro, and many who spoke entirely in English. I knew it would be easier to speak in English, I knew that I would be able to communicate better, more freely, I would sweat and stress far less. Everything would be so much easier and simpler if I just followed what is natural in Guam, and gave in to that quiet, but insistent pressure to let the Chamorro language be a beautiful, slang-ridden husk, which is better off empty, and just rely on the richness, authority and power of English to make my statements.

Yanggen ta imahina na este na lina'la'-ta, komo un saddok, pues este na fino' Ingles, Guiya kumililili hit mo'na. Guiya gumigiha hit, Guiya gumigiha i koriente. Kada nai un gof usa Fino' Chamoru,pi'ot para ayu na ti gof propiu na kosas Chamoru, munanangu kontra i koriente.

I stressed quite a bit both days of my presentations, but remembered a promise I had made at the last Konferensia, in Saipan two years ago. I had been asked at the last minute to be on a panel of political status big-shots from both the CNMI and Guam. I was not only the youngest on the panel, but also the least fluent in Chamorro. I struggled as I spoke, with my presentation mainly in English, with a few sections spoken in Chamorro to emphasize them. I felt so embarrassed however, because I have been speaking Chamorro for several years now, and I am fluent, but in front of large groups, gi me'nan linahayan as I usually say, I still get so nervous, ko'lo'lo'na yanggen manmas kapas ayu na gurupi (gi me'na-hu) kinu Guahu. I made a promise to those there, and to myself, that at the next Chamorro conference, my presentation would be entirely or at least mostly in Chamorro.

That promise stayed with me and kept me going, and at this last conference I succeeded in giving both of my presentations in Chamorro.

The Chamorro language can easily come back, it can easily become a vital and useful part of island life, but what is missing in almost everyones life, is that intention, that desire to make it so, to make it happen, to realize that particular dream. Those who can understand the language, already have many of the tools to speak the language, but lack that desire and that drive to actually step over those social boundaries, to overcome all the ways they or their language have been denigrated and try to reinfuse some meaning and value into the language again.

At the Chamorro Language Forums, the students who are asking the questions of the potential political leaders do not speak Chamorro. But as part of the forum, they are forced to ask, in the Chamorro language, very serious questions in front of hundreds of people. It is something which forces them into the language, it is something which forces them to overcome so many social barriers. I wonder if anyone of them realize that though and I wonder if any of them will actually build upon that start and work towards continuing to transgress the English hegemony and dominance on this island, which so many people perpetuate out of one side of their mouth, while out the other they are praising our beautiful Chamorro is.

In my column this week in the Marianas Variety, I listed a few of the questions which my students wrote for this forum. Here is an excerpt from my piece.

I took some time recently in my classes at UOG to discuss with my students the importance of the forum and give them all the opportunity to write down some possible questions to be asked, which would then be translated into Chamorro. The discussion was very spirited, because I pushed my students to be very intentional about what they were going to ask. I asked them not to fall into the usual traps that these events or these questions take, where politicians are asked the most generic and pointless questions, which don’t challenge them, don’t reveal anything important about them or the issue and allow them to merely regurgitate something they’ve already said 8,000 times that same week. I told me students to not be chained to what the “big” and “important” issues are usually thought to be, but to instead focus on something they felt was real in their lives. I knew that the following two questions, “What are your plans to fix the economy?”and “What are your plans to fix education?” were most likely the ones they felt were the most important, but I urged them to resist simply asking what they were supposed to ask, and focus on what they felt needed to be asked.

My students naturally asked, what kind of questions are the ones that “need to be asked?” I gave a number of different examples, such as the following after one student asked whether it would be okay to ask how she might phrase a question about whether or not the candidate could be trusted. Because in my World History class we were covering the origins of Christianity, I decided to give it a bit of Biblical flavor: “Jesus Christ said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the needle of an eye than for a rich man to get to heaven. Is this something that we should take seriously when choosing our leaders? If you are a person of financial means running for office, how can people trust you to make sure that you do not govern to promote yourself of your class, but are truly interested in helping everyone else on the island?” This is something that not only the wealthy should deal with, but all leaders as well. How can you ensure that you are acting for the benefit of all or most and not just for the few who are closest to you?

Some students found this and other similar questions too confrontational, and didn’t feel that this sort of thing was appropriate and that we should be more respectful to those who are our leaders, or wish to be our leaders. I didn’t criticize them, especially on Guam, where it’s very natural to think such a thing. Others found the bluntness refreshing and liberating, and in truth, that was how I was hoping they’d respond. That is after all the feeling of not just enjoying democracy, but actually participating in it. It stems from going beyond that abstract feeling of simply being part of a democracy, but being a part of it which can make intelligent decisions your society, and does not just cast a mindless vote, but actually attempts to educate oneself and find out what is the best choice.

I've decided to share below, my ten favorite questions (in English) which my students submitted. By far, my favorite are the aliens (ginnen estreyas) on Guam question, and the final question which puts everyone who for the past 5 years has said the military buildup will happen no matter what, on the spot.
1) Other than yourself, who is your favorite candidate currently running for Senator? You have to pick one, and you can't say all of them.
2) Trash is a very important issue for any island, since your space is very limited. But Guam has very little recycling. We are living in a fantasy world and not facing the fact that if we don’t truly start to recycle and stop importing more trash into this island. We might just end up capsizing! How would you propose to help wake up Guam and start making recycling a big part of our lives?
3) Do you support the changing of Guam's name from Guam to Guahan? Why or why not?

4) Do you think that we should make it required that all of our leaders in the Executive and Legislative Branches should be able to understand or speak Chamorro since it is an official language of Guam and they are the representatives of the island? Even if we don’t all speak Chamorro now, this could be a great chance to help encourage people to learn!

5) The US military has promised that new troops will be given cultural sensitivity training to help them adapt to living here in respectful ways. What kind of programs do you propose we can develop to help teach them about real Chamorro culture and real Chamorro history?

6) If aliens landed on Guam the day you are sworn into office, what would your first official act in response to their arrival?

7) Senator Frank Aguon submitted a bill last year which would increase the number of Senators in the Guam Legislature from 15 back up to 21. With the rapid increase of Guam’s population, do you support an increase of senators in the legislature? Why or why not?

8) What is your favorite legend or story from Guam's history, and why is it your favorite and what moral or lesson does it offer the people of Guam today?

9) If you were talking to a person who was not from Guam and did not know anything about Guam, how you would explain to them the importance and symbolism of a Latte Stone?

10) So many of Guam’s current and possible leaders have claimed that there is nothing that we can do about the US military buildup and that it is a done deal or not in our power to change. If the power was in your hands, if you were in charge of the buildup, would you stop it? How would you change it? Please do not say that it will happen no matter what, because then frankly you shouldn’t be anyone’s leader.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wave for Trini

Tomorrow (Thursday) from 4:30 - 6:30 PM, there will be a wave in support of Trini Torres in her run for the Legislature. The wave will be held at Chief Kepuha Loop in Hagatna. I've attached the flyer below which has more information.

Guaha giya Guahan, ma sangan na gof taffo' Si Trini ya sesso Guiya i mas a'gang gi i kuatto, achokka' taya' otro ume'essalao. Lao ti puniyon na gaige gi i sinangan-na siha i minagahet, achokka' buente i meggaina na taotao guini gi isla-ta, ti manmalago' lumi'e'.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Para Si Kakashi Hatake

One of the strangest things about this blog, is the people who read it or pass through each day.

Although the focus of this blog is Chamorro and Guam issues, people searching for those topics and end up in my blog, count for only half of the people who read my blog. The rest arrive at my blog looking for random pop culture related images or posts, the most common of which is people who end up on my blog while searching for images and information on the character Kakashi Hatake from the ninja manga Naruto. Yesterday alone, people from Indonesia, Dennmark, Mexico and the US ended up on my blog looking for pictures and poems about Kakashi.

As I've written about before on my blog, Kakashi is one of my favorite manga characters, and so I do have several posts about him, and for a while my profile picture was an image of him reading his favorite Make-Out Violence book. Last year, there was a major scare for Kakashi fans, as he (and many others) came close to dying during the "Pain attacks Konohagure" arc. After Kakashi almost dying, I started to write a poem from the perspective of Kakashi as if he were looking to the sky in his final moments. I finished it several months ago, but never found time or reason to post it here. But after seeing yesterday so many, close to 100 hits which were all Kakashi related, I felt I had the obligation to my random Googling fanbase, to post it now.

Oops, by the way, it's in Chamorro, so apologies to those who can't read or understand it. I'm sure I'll post an English translation later.



Desde un ga’lagitu yu’

Esta gaige guihi gi entre i mapagåhes i korason-hu

Ya puede ha’ gi i finakpo’-hu

I ante-hu u saonao gui’ guihi guatu…

Guahu Si Hayatake Kakashi.

Guereron Konoha yu’.

Guahu ni’ Kakashi i Gaisharingan.

Hu mumuyi yan hu tachuyi este na songsong gi todu i lina’la’-hu.

Ma sångan na Guahu i mas matatnga na guerreron Konoha

Guahu i mas na’espanta na sapblå-ña.

I finatto-hu ha’ siña pumugao i enimigu-hu siha.

Ya annai manafana’ ham gi un fanmumuyan

Siña hu chalåpon un mit sindålu ni’ unu na kannai-hu.

Annai hu laknos ginnen i langhet i damang-hu fina’tinas låmlam

Kontodu i korason faha humånom.

Guaha nai hu hungok este na estoria siha gi i pachot i famagu’on.

Ma dommo’ i aire, yan manessalao annai ma fa’magåhet este na estoriå-ku siha.

Eståba, ayu na sinangan, muna’magof yu’, ya ha susteni yu’ gi karerå-hu.

Lao på’go, gi este na kumekematai-hu,

Guiya mumofefeha yu’.

Hagas este na kannai, Guiya umakihom ayu na låmlam damang.

Guiya yumabbao i kontria-hu siha kalang cha’guan.

På’go ti mañieniente gui’, taibali.

I presisu na håga, sumusume’ huyong, ya mumamasge’ gi i satge.

Ai este na direchas kuetdas na estao-hu,

Esta kumekelamås yu’

Ya kada na kumekechålek yu’ put i pinedddong-hu ginnen takhilo’ na guerrero

Asta fumafatiguao na tahtaotao, bumolokbok yu’.

Olaha mohon, un biahi mas, siña hu na’fåtto magi ta’lo ayu na sapblå-ku!

Bai hu na’tanom i se’se’-ña gi este na hagoen haga’-hu

Ya annai luma’chok gui’ ya ha hago’ i langhet ta’lo

Bai hu hatsan maisa yu’.

Ya dumidide’ dumidide’ bai hu feddos hulo’ ayu na trongkon låmlam.

Hulo’lo’lo’ asta i mapagåhes

Gi todu i lina’la’-hu

Kada nai hu atan hulo’ gi i langhet, nina’hosguan yu’ ni’ i mapagåhes

Sen na’malago i sagan-ñiha.

Siha i mas suette na fina’tinas Yu’us

Siha puma’ya’ya’ gi hilo todu i yinaoyaoyao gi entre i rasan taotao,

Ya Siha dumaña’ yan dumespetta taima’å’ñao.

Manla’la’la’ siha, mismo manmama’ya siha gi este na saddok lina’la’ taiñalang, taiachaki, taidañu’.

Puede ha’ na este na ti ketu’on na ante para u fåtto guihi guatu.

Ya despues di este na bihu na lina’la’-hu sesso masmai ni’ i haga’ otro

Para u malulok guihi, hinilof ni’ i mapagåhes siha.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hafa Na Liberasion? #18: Melting Pot Freedom

A great post below from The Drowning Mermaid, titled "Desiree, Be a Lady."
My favorite line is this one:

"The "melting pot," the "my land is your land, from California to blah blah blah blah" (I never bothered to learn that song) is only fun, positive, or happy when you are not the one losing yourself, or if you are not the one acting as the gracious host for someone rich and powerful enough to hit you over the head for not being enthusiastic about "sharing." It's not fun or easy to accept if the brand of "unity" they are pushing always forces you to "accept," while they "come together."

The problem with decolonization in today's "multicultural" world is that there is so much pressure to give in, to let the prevailing powers, prevail. To give in and let the way things are continue as they are, since to challenge things or try to change things would mean making people feel uncomfortable, attacking and blaming people for something, calling someone out for their privilege and how they benefit from the often

Multiculturalism always feels like it is much better than the way used to be. It always feels like it is the answer to all of life's problems, since instead of intolerance and enslaving people, there are now months for each ethnicity and mindless trivia to fill them. Cultures can co-exist and there is the feeling that none are higher than the other. It is a nice dream, but the reality is very different.

After all, the secret of multiculturalism is that, for all cultures in a society to be equal, they have to all be unified through something. For instance humans are all varied and diverse creatures, but they are all unified through a number of things which may not be as corporeal in our everyday lives, may not be the things always on our minds or in our faces, but nonetheless pulse through everything. Death for instance is something which equalizes all. Some would say God is another choice. And so that is the secret of every multicultural matrix, is that someone is quietly benefiting from that, someone and their culture or their power is made invisible through that levelling.

As I wrote in my dissertation, in multiculturalism, formerly blatantly oppressed groups, those who were kept from living in the "house" of the nation, can be let in. You may have a room in house, or get to sleep in an entryway. You can even call that house your home, but part of the deal is that you recognize that the house doesn't really belong to you. In other words, you can redecorate the walls, replace the pictures of Abraham Lincoln with Malcolm X, Angel Santos or Che Guevara, but you can't change the walls. After all, they don't really belong to you. White-wigged, white-male, slave-owners made those blueprints a very long time ago, and they are the one's who actually built the house (or perhaps led slaves in the building of it) and so only those who can truly claim their DNA legacy can have claim to owning that house.

Multiculturalism in the United States, can sometimes have an interesting way of hiding white privilege and power in a way most people would never suspect or imagine. The way it does it however is by reducing the claims of ethnic groups in the US, some of which have very real claims to demanding something fundamentally different or being wronged in very fundamental ways over and over again, to nothing but "culture." So instead of emanating different political projects or demands, you emanate culture instead. You are defined not through things such as the fact that you're ancestors were brought to the US in chains or that your land was stolen and continues to be stolen by the most powerful country in the world, but instead by cultural stereotypes or nationally approved stories about your ethnic heroes. This is the danger that we face on Guam and why Desiree's critique is so crucial. Guam is "multi-cultural" in the sense that there are plenty of different cultures on Guam, but people often mistake that for meaning that Guam should be multi-cultural in the sense that all cultures are equal and nice and none should sit above other. There are two things wrong with this. First, it means that you leave the metaphorical walls of Guam, its structure up to someone who isn't a part of that cultural equation, but instead gets to own everything or own the keys to life itself, the US. Second, Guam, as a place which has long had its history, culture and heritage ignored or prohibited, should not accept multiculturalism as the nature of society, since that means that Chamorros, rather than being a particularly unique group to Guam, become just another brown group, nothing more. Even if Guam is "Tano' i Chamorro" the warm fuzzy multicultural feeling prevents them from seeking anything politically based upon that fact.

But multiculturalsim is not always useless and can have its advantages, but always depending upon how the space that is accorded your group is used or not used to serve your own ends. Multiculturalism has prevailed in the US in order to help keep the US on the same course, to keep most of its foundation intact and without being questioned. To keep some of the more radical grievances or demands which indigenous or minority groups might build up in the background and appear to be too extreme, to ridiculous and so damaging to the new multiracial harmony which has now emerged. When you get that foot in the door, what happens next? What do you do with this sudden newfound power? You have been allowed into the house which was built upon and through your exclusion, and so what do you do once that power relation shifts? Do you tear down the house? Move to a new one? Or simply accept your corner in that house and forget everything that happened before and have a progressively smaller and smaller celebration the first time that one of you becomes something?


"Desiree...Be a Lady"
Desiree Taimanglo Ventura
The Drowning Mermaid
September 24, 2010

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
John F. Kennedy, 1962

I saw the image pasted above (yup, the one with the middle finger) on a car last week. This week, I saw it pop up on a few other cars while on the way to work. It caught my eye on the road. I smiled when I saw it. I laughed and toyed with the idea of whether or not I was gutsy enough to slap it on my car. It summed up the emotions running through the minds of many in our community: the emotions many of us (including myself) have been too nervous to articulate as openly, as honestly. When I logged into my facebook account, I saw it pop us as default picture on several profiles. I saved the image and made it mine. Friends (even those in the military and a cousin stationed in Afghanistan) contacted me, asking where I got it, if they could have one, if they could steal it and use it as their default picture too. I don't really know where the image came from, or who created it; but it's one that has sparked up some much needed conversations within my family.

Let's be honest: the picture can make you squirm in your seat. The middle-finger is ugly. It's not something everyone wants to see, but the sentiment it articulates is also ugly. What is happening here is ugly. The words exchanged in conversations discussing the issue can get ugly.

But we usually pretend it's not ugly. We do our best to act like it's prettier than it actually is.

Our island is beautiful; and our people are beautiful (I guess that's easy to say when you're from here, right?). But, we're a people who have learned to confront situations with patience, fortitude, and a willingness to absorb insult or defeat. We're a people frozen by fears of being called "ungrateful"; we're a people trapped behind a complicated history that makes it extremely difficult to speak as openly as some of our friends from the Continental US. Textbook case of colonization. It is what it is.

The image isn't half as radical or disturbing as the muted, empty language employed by some who have been moving through the island pushing an outdated version of what it truly means to be "American." We increasingly find that when our friends from the states hear of our unique situation, they're confused, baffled that people on the island are so inhibited when speaking against things that are "so obviously" wrong. They explain that no one in their community would ever allow "things like that" to happen to them. After a while, you get tired of explaining and you find yourself saying, "Well, this is not your community. This is Guam."

Unfortunately, our unique culture (like many other colonized cultures) has been forced to operate within a foreign system. The systems of power, processes, and even educational models used are those which lay their foundations in a culture fundamentally different from ours. Complications arise when a colonized people make attempts to retain what is left of their old ways and customs while thriving within the empowered system. A people become prone to exploitation, even elimination, when the foreign structure they operate in is one that easily allows the greater marginalization of them as a people and culture.

We've seen many indigenous peoples fade through acts of colonization. Literally, we've watched them disappear into the footnotes of history. They're the sad stories that lace the histories of all empowered countries. Many who read about them explain that "it's life," "something the people must learn to accept."

It's very easy to accept the fact that a culture or people will fade when the culture or people is not your own. It's easier to accept when it is so far back in your history that the scars have faded to invisibility. It's even easier to accept when you are part of the culture the other group is fading into, being drowned by.

The argument that it is "just life," is convenient for them. The "melting pot," the "my land is your land, from California to blah blah blah blah" (I never bothered to learn that song) is only fun, positive, or happy when you are not the one losing yourself, or if you are not the one acting as the gracious host for someone rich and powerful enough to hit you over the head for not being enthusiastic about "sharing." It's not fun or easy to accept if the brand of "unity" they are pushing always forces you to "accept," while they "come together." Unity acting as a cloak over "move over and shut up."

One of my great-aunts was completely uncomfortable with the image. She worried that by sharing it I would be demeaning myself. I can definitely see where she's coming from; but I also wondered about how much we have already demeaned ourselves by being so accommodating to insult.

My mom, at first, panicked. It's not that she didn't agree with the sentiment; but it scared her. Sure, she felt that way; but she was scared to actually say it that way, even if it was the most accurate way to sum up her feelings. My dad laughed when he saw it, grinning at its loud, strong, straight-forth message. Smiling, because he's one of those guys who gave up on trying to say something is what it isn't a long time ago. Smiling because he figures we've been nice, we've been graceful and "good" for quite some time; and it hasn't really got us anywhere.

I was going to take down the image at my aunt's request (because in truth, she's one of my favorite people), but I had to pause and stop myself. I had to pause and ask myself who it would offend. Granted, Chamorros are the minority in their own home (and we're a measly 30-some percent of this island's population now); but I started to think about how in the process of becoming that 30-some %, we've sucked it up and accepted quite a few insulting, inaccurate things.

I mean, for Pete's sake, we have a statue of a chief who sold us out in our capital, a park dedicated to a guy who left behind documents explaining what incapable idiots we were, and every year, we celebrate the bombing of our island and call it "liberation" (ignoring the fact that if our parents or grand-parents weren't marched to those horrible, violent concentration camps, we would most certainly be dead underneath the bombs dropped on our island by our "liberators"). We've come to define the emotional liberation of our elders (from Japanese violence), to reoccupation by a nicer, kinder master as "freedom." But we ignore the fact that we are owned; we are possessions.

Nothing owned is equal to its owner.

Nothing owned is as free as its owner.

We ignore many things; and we only look at what can be twisted into something more positive. We only openly acknowledge things that "everyone" is comfortable with. We do it because, like I said, we're a beautiful people. We're a people who truly, sincerely do care about the feelings of others who have come to thrive in our home. But the "everyone" on this island is now comprised of a majority who does not take root here; and what is comfortable for them is no longer that comfortable for us.

I really don't know where I'm going with this. But I do know that after thinking about the image and talking about it with relative after relative, I've decided it's not all that scary to leave up. It's probably not the most "lady-like" image to post on my blog. I'm sure my aunt and mother's initial worry of me demeaning myself is grounded; but I don't really feel like being a "lady" right now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tungo' i Hinanao-ta yan Fanachu nu i Lina'la'-ta

Below is what I'll be doing for the next three days, the Fourth Chamorro Conference. Posting on this blog will naturally suffer, but at least it is for a good cause.


Hafa adai todus,

Please join us for I Mina' Kuattro na Konferensian Chamorro. *PLEASE PASS

There's a group of people who worked hard to organize and coordinate I Mina
Kuattro Na Konferensian Chamorro. This project has no budget but a lot of
committed and passionate people desiring to bring everyone together to
develop a vision and action plans for the advancement of Chamorros.

It is our hope that we can *come celebrate our collective progress and find
common ground, as we work to address current and future challenges as a
community and chart our course .
*Our Mission:
*To advance and promote the sustainable cultural, economic, and
community development of Chamorros based in our indigenous cultural values;
to educate our people; and to promote research and capacity building of
community-based organizations that will contribute to the well-being of the
Mariana Islands and its people.
*Our Vision:
*To engage and sustain a self-determined Chamorro community that is
grounded in cultural knowledge and values and is directed towards the
advancement and well-being of our people and the future of the Mariana
*Our Working Philosophy*:

*That we come together to share and unite our people and lands as
one entity while respecting our differences; that we find ways to resolve
conflicts, heal our minds, bodies, and spirits in order to preserve, protect
and promote the people of the Marianas, the Chamorros."
It is our hope to get the word around and invite you all to this important
Konferensia. We ask for your support. If you are unable to make it, we
appreciate your support in prayers and donations to provide scholarships to
some of our participants from the CNMI and Guahan. We greatly appreciate
your help.

*I Mina` Kuattro Na Konferensian Chamorro
4th Annual Chamorro Conference
Hotel Nikko Guam
October 12-14, 2010
**Tungo` i Hinanao-ta yan Fanachu nu i Lina`lå`ta!
**Please Join us!
* * **When?
*Tuesday, October 12, 2010 8:00 am-Thursday, October 14, 2010 2:00 pm
*Where? *Hotel Nikko Guam
*Registration Fee:
*$60.00 for FullTime Students, Teachers and Senior Citizens
$100.00 for Others
Professional Development Fee: 2 Credits from UOG: Additional $60.00
*For **more information call 637-6906/
*email: **


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