Monday, August 15, 2011

Public Service Post #20: Guiya na Palao'an


Hu sen guaiya dandan Chamoru.

Whenever I'm asked what kind of music I enjoy, I can't really name many artists or styles that I really actually like that much, with the exception of Chamorro music. It doesn't really matter what kind of Chamorro music, so long as it uses the Chamorro language I always give it a chance. For instance I tend not to like country music, but I really enjoy Chamorro country music.

One of the saddest things about the direction of the Chamorro  language is that since it is declining in use and basically ceasing to be a living language, that means that its chances at adapting and taking of new life are limited. For example, there are Chamorro musicians out there making every type of possible music. But as they branch out and expand their interests and abilities, chances are very slim that they know the language and even slimmer that they have any interest in using the Chamorro language in the new styles that they are playing or composing in.

The start of the 20th century saw that Chamorros incorporate American country style music into their culture. They did this so even to the point of taking country music tones and using them until they became well known Chamorrita tunes. But after World War II, when Chamorros start to see themselves through the racial lens of the United States, and start to become strangers in their own island and feel the need to distance themselves from their own language and culture, we don't see the same process of adaptation and incorporation. While Chamorros take on in some small forms, rock, pop, R & B and other styles, we don't see anything come close to the way country was made Chamorro by Chamorros. Today, Guam is filled with every sort of musical group, yet we don't hear much indie rock or reggae or ska in the Chamorro language.

I hope that this will change. I always offer my own meager assistance to groups who want to compose a Chamorro song, usually in the form of translating something they are already working on. Unfortunately no one has taken me up on this offer yet. I hope that eventually someone will, but the problem remains that for music that appeals to younger generations songs in the Chamorro music are most likely to be perceived as alienating instead of appealing.

I was searching through my laptop for some song lyrics to post today and came across a silly song that I always love to sing along to. It's called Guiya na Palao'an which translates to "She's the Girl" or "That's the Girl." Many Chamorro songs about love are na'layo or heartbreaking tunes, but this song is more about the light-hearted aspects of unrequited or unreciprocated love. In it the singer laments the fact that everytime he says "hi" the girl he likes responds "hafa adai." And everytime she says "no" he says "hunggan." There is even a charming scene of the old style of Chamorro courtship (famaisen saina) where the boy (and his family) has to go and ask permission to see or marry the girl he is interested in.

The song is naturally a slightly modern version of that, where the singer, after meeting a lovely girl on the beach and wanting to see more of her, goes on his own to see her parents. The funniest part by far of the song is the response of her parents. Si nana-na kumeuntusi (Hafa Adai). "Her mother talked to me (Hello)." Si tata-na gumaluti (Ai adai). "Her father whipped/beat me (Oh no!)."

Here's the lyrics below with my translations.

"Guiya na Palao'an"
Sung by Johnny Sablan
Words and Music by Rick Cruz


Guiya na palao'an hu sen guaiya
She is the woman who I really love
Guiya na palao'an ti hu maleffa
She is the woman who I can't forget

Hu li'e' un palao'an gi fi'on tasi
A saw a woman along the shore
Ya ma'pos yu' nai ya hu tatiyi
And so I went and followed her
Sa' malago yu' na hu tungo'
Because I want to know her
Yan malago yu' na hu kuentusi
And I want to talk to her
Pues kahulo' gui' ya mamokkat
So she got up and walked
Gui' gi entalo i niyok
In between the coconut trees
Annai hu faisen ni' na'an-na
When I asked her for her name
Ai tumekkon ya dumilok
She bowed her head and knelt down

Kada ilek-hu "hi"
Everytime I say "hi"
Ilek-na "hafa adai"
She says "hello"

Ha bira gui' ya ha fana' yu'
She turned around and faced me
Ya ha sangani yu' ni' na'an-na
And she told me her name
Lao ti sina ham u apmam
But we couldn't stay together long
Sa' u gacha' ham Si tata-na
Or else her father will catch us
Pues hu faisen nai taimanu
So I asked her how
Nai na sina mabisita
Can she be visited
Ha bira gui' ya ilek-na (Mungga)
She turned around and said "No"
Sa' u fanlalalu i familia
Because her family will get mad

Kada ilek-na "no'
Everytime she says "no"
Ilek-hu "hunggan"
I say "yes"Kada ilek-na "no"
Everytime she says "no"
Ilek-hu "ombre fan"
I say "c'mon please!"

Pues Guahu yan botaro-ku
So with all my courage
Ma'pos yan mamaisen saina
I went and asked for her hand
Si nana-na kumuentusi (Hafa Adai)
Her mother talked to me (Hello)
Si tata-na gumaluti (Ai Adai)
Her father whipped me (Oh no)

Kada ilek-hu "ai"
Everytime I say "ow"
Ilek-na "atmario"
She says "crazy"
Kada ilek-hu "ai"
Everytime I say "ow"
Ilek-na "hu taga' hao!"
She says "I'll cut you!"
Kada ilek-hu "ai"
Everytime I say "ow"
Ilek-na "hu puno' hao!"
She says "I'll kill you!"


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