Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tano'

This article is from last week's Marianas Variety and so the dates are a bit off, as the hike to Ague Cove took place over the weekend. But for those of you still looking to go on some Heritage Hikes, there are two left. Hila'an is very common hike that people go on, as it is home to Shark's Pit and Lost Pond. What most people don't realize is that if you walk into the jungle just a little bit, you will not just be treated to few latte stones here and there, but you can actually find close to 100 latte. Some of them still standing, some of them still arranged as they might have been centuries ago. You can basically walk through the Ancient village of Hila'an. That hike will take place on October 30th, and start time will be at 3:30 pm at Tanguissan Beach Park.

Our last hike will be to Pagat Point, which is much less known than both Hila'an and Pagat Cave. The hike for that will be on November 5th, and we'll be starting at 9 am, start point will be the Pagat trailhead on the backroad to Anderson. Pagat Point is a beautiful, but rarely visited site on Guam, as it is so overshadowed by Pagat proper.

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“Nå’i Tåtte, Chule’ Tåtte”
Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Marianas Variety
10/19/2011

It is time again for We Are Guahan and me to present another round of Heritage Hikes! For the next three weeks we’ll be visiting Ague Cove (Oct. 22), Hila’an Village (Oct. 30) and Pågat Point (Nov. 5). This is our fourth series of Heritage Hikes and so far we’ve had hundreds of people come with us to see some of Guam’s natural beauty and also learn more about its complicated history of militarization. The subtitle for these hikes is “Nå’i Tåtte, Chule’ Tåtte,” which translates to “Give Back, Take Back.”

Early on in the military buildup process, one of reasons it was still palpable to people on Guam, despite the potential damage it might cause in terms of straining Guam’s resources and quality of life, was the promise of the Department of Defense to remain within its existing footprint and not seek any new lands. For those of you who don’t know, the Department of Defense currently controls almost 1/3 or around 27% of Guam. Despite high levels of support for the military on Guam, there is also a strong feeling that the military has too much here, in particular tåno’, land.

Part of the impetus for the buildup was the idea (something stated by the DEIS itself) that Guam was a community where you found great patriotism and enthusiasm for the US military and its mission in the region. This however is only partially true, and requires forgetting much of Guam’s recent history in order to be true. In most places where there are US military bases around the world, there are stories of massive and traumatic displacement (sometimes in war, sometimes in peace), and Guam is no different.

In postwar Guam, Chamorros were not even US citizens, but eminent domain was used to take more than half of Guam. Although most Chamorros supported letting the US military use their land in order to defeat the Japanese in war, when much of their land remained behind fences or cut off to them it created in some families a great deal of resentment. It is for that reason that Robert Underwood once wrote that land is the single thing on Guam that can turn anyone, a teacher, a nurse, a soldier into an activist. Over the years much land has been returned, most to the Government of Guam, some to the original landowners. Some landowners, who will most likely never receive their original lands back, have been given other lands in compensation.

With the military buildup supposed to require no new lands, it did not disturb the idea that land-grabbing by DOD is a stain of the distant past, and that lands have already been returned and people have been or are being compensated. It was their best hope in not disturbing that patriotic pro-military paradise they envisioned Guam as. But, by proposing the leasing of almost 2000 acres of new properties, the DOD brought back in the minds of many the postwar wounds of land loss. Even amongst Chamorros who did not directly lose lands, there is still a general feeling of Chamorros being treated unjustly by the military when they were transforming Guam into the defense hub it is today.

For these Heritage Hikes, we are visiting three sites which can help us get a sense of the complexity of this tragic history. Pågat Point is at the northernmost point of the Pågat complex which may be closed to the public should proposed firing ranges be built on the hills above. Hila’an Village is an area that was set to be returned years ago, but only now is actually being given back.

Ague Cove, is the most intriguing out of these three sites and may be the place which exemplifies best the idea of “Nå’i Tåtte, Chule’ Tåtte.” A short hike down the cliff takes you to a beautifully sheltered cove, with towering limestone rock formations to your north and south. The hills above Ague are former FAA properties and were slated to be returned to the ancestral landowners in 2002. Some of the lands were eventually returned to families such as the Pangelinan (Måle) family. Initial plans for the placing of the infamous five firing ranges identified that area as a possible site. This would have been a public relations nightmare however, as a family that waited more than 50 years to get their land back, could have immediately lost it again. Although plans for the firing ranges moved to the eastern side of the island, it is still possible that these lands may be taken back again to build other buildup related facilities.

Remember, our first hike is to Ague this Saturday, 9 am at the old FAA property in Dededo. For more information head to http://www.weareguahan.com/

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