Monday, October 31, 2011

Biba Pueggen Na'ma'a'nao!

Biba Puenggen Na'ma'a'nao ginnen i dos na patgon-hu!

Ya hunggan, i kinadukun-niha gi este na litratu gi pappa', taiguini todu tiempo siha.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Support the Global Network

If you have the means, consider donating to this cause below. The Global Network is a very important organization who is doing important work in terms of promoting peace in the world (and the heavens above).

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Dear Friends,

I hope this letter finds you doing well.  I have just returned from Washington DC where I was part of a trial of those arrested at the White House on March 19 opposing the endless and growing string of U.S. wars.  On that day 113 people (including many veterans) were arrested but only 18 of us went to trial.  We were found guilty by the judge but he chose to impose only a minor fine, which was a victory of sorts.

I am writing to ask for your help.  As you may know the Global Network will be 20 years old in 2012.  We’ve been asked by the leaders of the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea to hold our annual space organizing conference there next year.  Our Board of Directors/Advisers has agreed and we will travel to the village on February 24-26 for what will be an extraordinary event.

The mayor of Gangjeong village is now in jail for standing on top of a crane.  Several others, including a handful of Catholic priests, have recently been arrested for blocking cement trucks from entering the Navy base construction zone where they would pour concrete over the rocky coastline to build the piers.  The ships to be ported at this proposed base will primarily be U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers, outfitted with so-called “missile defense” systems, that are being used by the U.S. to surround China’s coast in a provocative move to give the U.S. first-strike capability.

It is crucial that the Global Network go to Gangjeong to show support for the small village (population about 1,900) that has been non-violently resisting this base for the past few years.  The problem, as you can imagine, is that it is not cheap to fly to South Korea and it is my job to raise funds so we can help get some of our key leadership from India, Sweden, England, U.S., Australia, Japan, and other places to this event.

 I am thus writing to ask you to consider making a special donation to the Global Network for our travel fund for our 20th anniversary conference – probably one of the most important space organizing events we’ll ever hold.

 Little did the villagers of Gangjeong on Jeju Island ever realize that their fight to save their fishing and farming way of life, they’ve been in this village over 400 years, would have such global strategic implications.  As you know the Global Network has been doing everything we can for the past two years to build international support for the village.  We want to honor their invitation by bringing a strong and diverse delegation to this important conference.  It will be a great opportunity for us to show that peace groups all over the world support the noble efforts of the Gangjeong village.

 Please send your tax-deductible donation for our special travel fund either by using our regular mailing address (see just below) or by using the secure Donate Now button on our web site home page.

 Let me know if you have any questions about this request or if you might be interested in traveling to Jeju Island with us for the conference.

 I thank you in advance for your support and promise we will send you a full report about the conference.  Best wishes.

 In peace,



Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
globalnet@mindspring.com
www.space4peace.org
http://space4peace.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Decolonization Debate Continues

The decolonization debate continues.

Lately it has been all over the Marianas Variety website. I've been writing a column for them for more than a year now, and so I can attest to how much of a ghost town their website used to be. To see some articles on their site today and yesterday reaching 50 and 60 comments within a single day is a miracle to behold. It is still nowhere near the level of the PDN, which can reach 100 comments sometimes on articles that barely say anything, just because so many trolls hang out there, but it is still impressive. It is no wonder that the paper won't stop the publishing of "The Outsider Perspective" by Dave Davis. The angry and racist rhetoric of Davis is key to making the Variety appear to be a competitor to the community discussion role that the PDN plays. To be fair the news coverage of the Variety is much more balanced than the PDN, but this balance is generally lost on the editorial page.

Key elements of this debate is whether or not a self-determination plebiscite is "constitutional." Whether or not it violates the US Constitution.

If we lived in a world where truth and justice mattered then this issue would be irrelevant. This is a decolonization plebiscite, and as such it must necessarily not be bound by the rules of the colonizer since that would be a blatantly colonial act. So the question of whether or not it is constitutional shouldn't be a question at all. It is something that someone asked us that point, we would all stare at them blankly and wonder why such a silly question is being asked.

But, we don't live in such a world. We live in a world where power dominates and truth and justice only come into play when it matches the interests of the powerful. As such, we must have the absurd discussion about whether or not taking an act of self-determination would violate the US constitution. It is a tricky conversation and one which is definitely not fair or balanced in any real sense, but definitely fair and balanced in the Fox News sense. US law is not built around the interests of justice in any way which might challenge the rights of the US, today or in the past. Even when things are recognized to have been unjust or wrong, US law, like most countries does not allow for much to take place.

Justice in the generic sense nowadays deals with an appropriate punishment being meted against an criminal or someone who has violated or broken some law. But justice in the more philosophical and moral sense is about how to provide some reparation or compensation for something for which there can be no equivalence. How does one compensate those who were enslaved for centuries? How does one compensate people who were colonized and their cultures brutalized for centuries? How does one compensate those who were the victims of discrimination, genocide, mass torture and legalized abuse? In most societies, the answer is simple. At some point, when it no longer becomes possible or profitable to oppress a people, you let them go, you relax the rules that held them down and turned them into objects of power rather than subjects. Once you do that, you do close to nothing to mention what happened before or compensate them for the terrifyingly inhuman ways they might have been treated for long periods of time. In fact, when the issue comes up in some way which might eventually turn into some claim that those who have been wronged should receive some sort of justice, you have to limit the ways in which they can receive it. You have to use the law to minimize it and to take away any reasonable avenues they might have to demand that something be done about the way they were treated before.

A case in point is the very famous Apology Resolution that the Native Hawaiians received from the US Government under President Clinton. Whether or not the US assisted in overthrowing the Hawaiian Kingdom is not under dispute, it can be proven, clearly proven beyond a doubt that the US assisted stealing Hawai'i. The US Congress investigated this issue itself and found that US private citizens and government employees overthrew a sovereign nation. The US, rather than stepping back and restoring the kingdom of Hawai'i, instead merely looked the other way and held on to Hawai'i, later annexing it. The Apology was a carefully worded "despensa yu'." The US, basically came forward and admitted it had done something terrible, that was unjust, immoral and illegal. You would think that given this revelation of something so obvious and so odious, that it might become the basis for Native Hawaiians getting some restitution or justice for what happened to them a little over a century ago.

You would be wrong. In 2009, the Supreme Court decided that the meat of the Apology Resolution, meaning the preamble where the US Government admits to doing bad things, has no legal effect, and does not provide the basis for anything. The Supreme Court decided that this admission of terrible guilt amounted to only a conciliatory gesture, one meant to make someone feel better, but not actually do anything.

This is why justice, for it to mean anything requires more than what the person who commits the offense, or benefits from the offense is willing to give. It has to take more, or else it does nothing. If you don't give more than you are willing, you risk continuing the cycle of abuse and oppression. You enjoy the privileges of the former oppression, and give those who were oppressed no closure or way of getting some payback for how they were treated. Rather than deal with and attempt to fix the disgusting history of the US in Hawai'i, it merely buries it deeper and deeper, hoping that at one point not one will remember the bones and the trauma beneath the layers of lies and fantasies.

You create more and more layers of laws, decisions and common sense, which says that even though that tragic history has damaged in so many ways certain people, you pretend that somehow they owe you for what you have given them. You make it so that somehow when people want to try to right that wrong, to seek some justice, as if they are being unreasonable and wanting to unfairly turn back the clock.

In Guam, the decolonization discussion is stuck in this place. You have local advocates who are stating clearly that this right, which is internationally recognized should be protected and should be manifested. If this means holding a vote in which only those who are legally allowed to according to Guam Public Law take place, then so be it. From this position, Spain, the US, and even Japan all deprived Guam of something fundamental, their right and ability to determine their own destiny. The people of Guam were not and are not alone, but as colonization took so much from so many, this right to self-determination is akin to a smidgen of justice for the world that was turned upside down for several centuries and so many people were wiped from the face of the earth to people the global pyramid of privilege that we have today. This is part of trying to deal with the tragic legacy the majority of the world's people were shoulder with through imperialism and colonization.

On the the other side you have the American apologists, nationalists and exceptionalists. The ones who continue to argue that the US, even if it did so many terrible things in the past and continues to do so many hypocritical things today, it is nonetheless still something that has the moral high ground and cannot be transgressed. Despite the fact that the US has violated its own constitution plenty of times in the way it has treated its colonies, has no bearing on the fact that perhaps once or twice or a few times, you should violate the constitution in the name of something greater. Sadly, while the phrase two wrongs don't make a right, feels like it might be true, when used in cases like this, it is a defense of the wrongdoers and their right to determine what counts as right or wrong after the fact. It is actually a sad sad thing to behold. In very practical terms, it doesn’t make any sense.

There's more to say, but I have papers to grade. I've decided to paste below one of the recent letters to the editor for the Variety.

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"Keep an Open Mind"
Letter to the Editor
Marianas Variety
10/27/2011

I REVIEWED a recording of Julian Aguon’s presentation during the Political Decolonization forum that was held on Oct. 19. I am impressed with his knowledge of international law, the historical overview and examples of self-determination efforts by other countries he provided.

Keeping an open mind is helpful. It allows us to question things, in hopes that positive change may result. With that, I offer my perspective.

Granted, the U.S. Constitution is a very powerful document that we have been traditionally taught to be the supreme. Frankly, if one scrutinizes its history, one will find that it has been morally flawed since its inception. Just review the history, the number of attempts and amendments to the Constitution. There have been thousands of proposals to amend the Constitution, yet only 33 have obtained the necessary two-third vote and yet the required three-fourths of states have ratified only 27 amendments. I leave that to you to decide if that’s achievable for Guam to enhance our interests.

The self-determination law clearly defines voting eligibility as ‘Native Inhabitants’ and their descendants within a certain time period. It DOES NOT restrict voting based on account of race or color. Rather it restricts voting to a special status group of people, recognized by the Treaty of Paris and Organic Act. Eligible voters include Chamorus, Filipinos, Japanese, and races that were ‘native inhabitants’ at the time. There is NO VIOLATION of the U.S. Voting Rights Act or Constitution, as some would like us to believe. The argument that the law is racial seems like an attempt to diffuse or marginalize the self-determination effort.

The Chamoru people have become a minority population on Guam. Inclusion of all U.S. citizen residents of Guam is ABSURD and immoral because it will likely yield predictable outcomes that can result in status quo or other form of territorial status, no matter the political title.

Migrants have a choice coming to Guam and beyond the control of the indigenous people. This seems more like guaranteed annexation rather than self-determination. It distorts the true sentiment of the indigenous population. If this all seems racial, there is a history that is well-rooted and developed without the Chamoru people’s interest. This predicament resulted from wars and imperialism objectives. It benefited the interest of others, primarily without regard to the Chamoru people.

I have read some online comments about the fear of being ousted from their house and possessions if Guam’s political status changes. Such comments are insulting to our culture and intelligence, which do not deserve a response. Those comments indeed are self-serving and seem to care less about the future of the Chamoru people. Many of us and our descendants will stay because it is truly and has always been our home, and we will have to make things work no matter the outcome. As with any other locality of residence elsewhere in this world, like it or not, you can stay or leave. Even you have a choice for your self-determination.

Bernard Punzalan,
Washington State

Thursday, October 27, 2011

From a Crazy, Uneducated, Racist Commie

Halacha fihu inetdot yu'. Achokka' kalang taya' gi oriya-hu ni' bubulao, kalang manieniente yu' na guaha un malamana na pakyo' gi oriya-hu. Na'ao siempre, lao gagaige ha'. Meggai masasangan put Guahu. Ya ti hu tungo' hafa mismo masasangan, lao hu tungo' ha' na masasangan.

For the past few days I've been feeling a bit off, and usually when I get like this it is because of this feeling that I am being talked about, but I don't really know who is doing the talking, or what they are saying. I make regular public statements through this blog, through different events and activities and through my columns in the Marianas Variety and so it is common for my words to travel around the island and around the internet. Things that I barely remember saying on this blog or in public, sometimes become the only things that people remember about me. Sometimes I get used an example for good things about Guam or about Chamorros, sometimes I get used as an example of all that is evil on Guam or in Chamorro culture.

One of the reasons why I get this feeling is because of the way I have over the years disconnected myself from alot of the echo chamber where these things bounce around. I don't read comments on either the Guampdn or Marianas Variety websites, even though I do read the physical papers almost every day. The comments for most websites tend to be where minalate' goes to die, and so there isn't much purpose to reading through them, unless you want to see a freakshow parade of different exotic types of human ignorance. I also don't visit many forums or message boards, primarily because of crappy experiences of trying to run on long ago and seeing how cruel and ignorant people can be when they have the safety of cyberspace on their side. I also don't have a Facebook, which is becoming more and more the battleground where people see ideological battles hatched out. They see everything through the heroes and villains on peoples' pages and what comments they put in public forums, and victories are determined by not only those agree with you, but also those who "like" what you have to say.

I sometimes hear that my name is being passed around in these circles in these ways, I get fragments, such as names I am being called or terrible things being said about me, and although I am sometimes tempted to dive in and join the conversation, I rarely ever do. Those sorts of engagements can be so draining and time consuming. Countering and defending points that generally don't matter to people who don't care, but simply want to enjoy the satisfaction of making you suffer and squirm. These exchanges are especially pointless over the internet, where the cloak of anonymity makes the most pathetic and cowardly and intellectual inept people somehow feel like hulking giants of mental capacity and invincibly incapable of being wrong.

For example, over the past week I've been told that I've been called uneducated, crazy, racist, and a communist, and probably a good number of other things too. The conversation which has become so negative surrounds the general issue of decolonization and self-determination, and those who are very uninformed about it or are simply interested in stopping the process or tainting it in the name of the US. This conversation is always around but it has become enhanced with a few new elements. The first is a packed forum that was held last week at UOG on political decolonization. At that forum Julian Aguon, activist, author, attorney made a remark noting that the right to self-determination is so sacred, that the UN is even on record stating that people have a right to resort to violence if self-determination is being withheld from them. Julian did not advocate violence in the case of Guam, but only wanted to illustrate that the right is considered to be so sacred internationally, that it is something you can fight and die for. Some people who attended the forum pounced on this statement and twisted it into many different ways, trying to make the case that Julian was in fact advocating violent revolution against the US. The internet has been full of battles over the past week on this issue, as detractors of decolonization on Guam seek to neutralize the truth of what Julian had to say about decolonization.

A second element is the Marianas Variety and how it, through the Monday columns of Guam's resident angry, old white dude Dave Davis has become a source of anti-Chamorro sentiment. For those unfamiliar with Davis, he regularly writes about the ills of Guam and the world, and does so in ways that can be considered racist. He attacks the Chamorro people and rhetorically spits on Chamorro culture. He says things that if you were to write about in a newspaper about white people on Guam, you would probably be censored. But as he proposes himself as the white defender of America in Guam against the evils of the corrupting local Chamorro/Guamanian culture, he is given alot more leeway than I probably would in my columns. He makes plenty of assertions, but his columns are generally tied together by a clear lack of facts or even research. His columns are actually intellectually a joke. He has a very limited understanding of just about everything he discusses, but makes up for that, by trying to be more forceful in his opinions. A case in point came several months ago when he proposed a list of Guamanian myths, and how things that people take for granted about life on Guam are according to him completely false. In making his arguments, so many of his points actually rested on his personal experiences, and so someone had irritated him or pissed him off, and since he considered himself to be at the center of how Guam should be, people better accept that as solid evidence of the truth. Some of his points boiled down to this, "The people of Guam suck because, I had this one bad experience and so everything must be like this and everyone who I don't like must be like that."

The Marianas Variety publishes Davis even though his voice is loathed by more than who love his ideas, because he is the explicitly anti-Chamorro voice, that counters or balances out my pro-Chamorro voice. His articles are widely read, more so because people hate his rhetoric, than because they love or support it. But these reasons are enough to keep him in the opinion pages depiste his general lack of research or understanding of issues. People are naturally upset that he gets a regular place to make basic attacks on Chamorros and on decolonization. People have requested that he be removed as a columnist, but the Variety has moved to defend him and keep on writing columns.

I haven't been following these issues very closely but I am grateful to Desiree from The Drowning Mermaid blog, as she is right in the middle of these debates and has been writing posts on her blog about them. I'm pasted one of her posts below so you can learn more about the current ideological battles being waged on Guam today. Through Twitter Desiree contacted me earlier, making me smile at the whole situation.



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"Just More Craziness from an Uneducated Commie."
Desiree Taimanglo Ventura
The Drowning Mermaid
10/26/11

Here is a short re-telling of legend pasted in from Guampedia (a site that I love, by the way):
A monster parrot fish was chewing his way through the island of Guam, determined to destroy the island. Night after night, the men of Guam went out in search of the huge destructive fish, but could not find it.
The young women would talk about the monster whenever they gathered to wash their hair and rinse it with orange peels. Their favorite spot to gather was at the Agana Springs. When they finished, the pool would be covered with orange peels. One day, a girl noticed the peels floating in Pago Bay. She was puzzled by their appearance. After some thought, she surmised that the monster must have eaten a hole all the way under the island from Pago Bay to Agana Springs, and that was where it was hiding.
The next day, when the girls gathered at the Agana Springs, they wove a net with their long black hair, and then sat around the pool and began to sing. The monster fish, enchanted by the music, swam up from the bottom of the spring to listen to the singing girls. Suddenly, the girls spread their net over the spring and dived into the pool. The monster fish was caught and the island of Guam was saved.
Stumbling upon the painting couldn’t have happened at a better time. It seems as if the females, old and young, who live on this island are pretty tired of the parrot fish circling our island, chomping off bits of the land, and scaring or illogically shaming our people. Evidence of this is on a very funny strand of comments on the We Are Guahan public forum, where one female after another calls out McNinch, mocking him, scolding him, shaming him, and refusing to let him get away with falsely representing the message of a young Chamorro male who spoke on behalf of his people.

If you look at previous blog entries, you have an idea of the kind of irritation I have surrounding Aguon’s recent presentation and Guam’s media. The letter in the previous entry was submitted and published in its entirety. If you read it closely, I never once said that either Dave Davis or Ron McNinch should be barred from sharing their perspectives in the Mariana’s Variety (although that would be wonderful!).

But I also think that if the Variety gave a crap about this island, they would be more responsible and encourage Mr. Davis to exercise more diplomacy when labeling the people of this island. However, Dave Davis and Ron McNinch seem to think that what I wrote was unfair, and an attack against their AMERICAN RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH. Again, they’ve displayed how poor their reading comprehension skills are. I’m starting to think that they’re both missing screws. Anyway, my letter was followed by a few others who echoed my sentiment. Just because other letters said they shouldn’t be allowed to write doesn’t mean mine did. But they seemed to be confused by who wrote and said what (again).

John Anderson, the editor of the Mariana’s Variety, called me to discuss publishing my letter. I told him how horrible I thought it was for him to allow Dave Davis to write such destructive things about our community. I reminded him that Dave Davis accused Dr. Lisa Natividad of “traveling the world and spreading Anti-American lies and propaganda against the US military.” I talked about how Davis referred to those who support decolonization as “looney tunes.” I could have gone on for much longer, because Davis also said that Aguon, “didn’t recognize US law,” and made all sorts of disparaging remarks about Chamorros. Anderson seemed to think that it was okay. He didn’t believe that publishing anti-Chamorro or anti-Chamorro rights articles was the least bit destructive to the community, particularly because he has one pro-Chamorro rights column, written by Professor Bevacqua. Maybe he’s right. Maybe Miget’s diplomatic and non-racist articles make up for all of Davis’ strange accusations. He didn’t believe that it fueled tension in any way.

In addition, the Variety, didn’t feel McNinch’s letter to the editor needed any official clarification. They felt it was completely okay to allow McNinch to tell the island that Aguon sent out a “call for violence,” because he said so within a “Letter to the Editor.” Apparently, Anderson doesn’t believe misinformation can occur within a letter to the editor. He believes that as long as it is within the opinion or “letter to the editor” section, then it’s okay, and the Variety is not irresponsible. The next morning, John Anderson and Dave Davis called their friend, K57’s Ray Gibson. The three of them joked on air while discussing the high volume of letters that the Variety had been receiving since the publication of McNinch’s letter. The letters expressed a sincere hurt, insult, and disappointment in the Variety for allowing content like that to be fed to the community. The three men continued to joke about it. The whole thing seemed very entertaining to them. Ray Gibson explained that he hoped to see Davis’ column continue “for a very long time” and suggested that Anderson raise the price of the Variety to a dollar (instead of .75). In addition, Davis explained that those who disagree with his article are a very small group of very uneducated people. He also aligned disagreement with his perspective to communism. I tried to politely respond to Mr. Davis on the Variety’s comment thread, but he seemed very defensive about the whole thing. I reminded him that many of the people who wrote in are very educated Chamorros, many of whom have advanced degrees.

He quickly replied to explain that he wasn’t referring to all Chamorros and just those who wrote in; he was referring to the Chamorro voting population. Silly me! His clarification didn’t really make me feel better. I spent a lot of time responding to their very strange, illogical responses, and trying to help them improve their reading comprehension skills; but they really struggled. Davis, in particular, seemed very annoyed by me. I realize that he is an elderly gentleman, and a part of me wondered if all of this back and forth was going to have him keel over and have a heart attack in front of his computer. But then I reminded myself that he has been writing angrily about Chamorro rights for a very long time. I comforted myself by thinking of his long history of resilience. “Mr. Davis will be okay,” I told myself.

Through the whole thing, McNinch started to clarify, via various online forums, that his concern came more from the audience’s reaction than Julian’s explanation. He was now saying that he was disturbed because the audience seemed to interpret Julian’s message as a call for violence, not necessarily that Julian made a call for violence. I told the distinguished professor that it would have helped if he made that more clear in his letter. However, his poor reading comprehension skills prevented him from responding on-topic (again). He continued to repeat the same, strange, irrelevant responses about the UN not sanctioning violence.

Julian didn’t say that the UN would condone or support violence. He just said that with international crimes, like genocide and colonization, it was understood that any kind of resistance, even violence, was warranted; and warranted is different from condoned. But again, you can’t spend all day going through vocabulary words with Ron McNinch. Maybe I’ll just send him a set of SAT vocabulary flash cards. At one point, McNinch couldn’t really think of anything productive or non-repetitive to say, so he complained that my letter to the editor was too long. It’s true; I didn’t bother to check if there was a length requirement. I just sent it in. I figured they would chop it up as they saw fit. It’s not my fault the Variety published it in its entirety. Maybe he was annoyed because they cut up his letters.

I promise that the next time I send in a letter to Mr. Anderson’s paper, I will remember the rules... I mean RULE. Because the only rule they have is to keep it within 500 words and include your name with contact information. They reprinted their requirements for sending in a letter. Basically, they have no other standard than keeping it within 500 words. I think their lack of standards is kind of cool. It means that now, anyone who wants to write doesn’t have to bother trying to write with credibility or truth. If it’s in a letter to the editor, you’re allowed to say whatever you want, even if it’s racist or libelous. As long as you keep it within 500 words, you’re good! I can even write a letter saying that “John Anderson, Ray Gibson, and Dave Davis told Chamorros to ‘Shut the fuck up’ because they’re just uneducated communist,’” and it’s completely okay. I don’t have to clarify that it was just my interpretation, because if it’s in a letter to the editor or column, I don’t have to. The general population will immediately understand that. Anderson feels that their lack of standards help to create dialogue and make Guam a more beautiful place. I can certainly appreciate Mr. Anderson’s good intentions.

I’m at home with strep throat this week, so I had all the time in the world to cough, blow my nose, and read or respond to the silliness. I wondered if Ron McNinch, Dave Davis, and the anonymous commenter online had strep throat too. They seemed to have a lot of time on their hands. I wondered if the University of Guam knew Ron McNinch spent so much time playing on online forums and facebook comment threads. Doesn’t the guy have papers to grade? Doesn’t he have work to do? Aren’t experts usually busier than that? I wish I were an expert like that. I wouldn’t bother to do any real work. I would just play on facebook all day, comment and debate on internet articles, and privately message people and creep them out. That sounds way more fun than researching, working, and all that other “grown up” crap. I bet that everyone is going to be much happier when my strep throat goes away. I'll have less time to play online with the "experts."

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/

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Supporting the Occupy Movement

Published on Sunday, October 16, 2011 by YES! Magazine

10 Ways to Support the Occupy Movement

There are many things you can do to be part of this growing movement—and only some of them involve sleeping outside.


The #OccupyWallStreet movement continues to spread with more than 1,500 sites. More and more people are speaking up for a society that works for the 99 percent, not just the 1 percent.

Here are 10 recommendations from the YES! Magazine staff for ways to build the power and momentum of this movement. Only two of them involve sleeping outside:

1. Show up at the occupied space near you.

Use this link to find the Facebook page of an occupation near you. If you can, bring a tent or tarp and sleeping bag, and stay. Or just come for a few hours. Talk to people, participate in a General Assembly, hold a sign, help serve food. Learn about the new world being created in the occupied spaces.

2. Start your own occupation.

Use this Meetup site. Or call together friends, members of your faith group, school, or community group. Reach out to people from parts of your community you don’t normally work with. Unexpected alliances keep the movement from getting labeled as partisan or representing only some people.

3. Support those who are occupying.

Most sites need food, warm clothes, blankets, tarps, sleeping bags, communications gear, and money. Many need people to do loads of laundry, to help with medical care, to provide legal support, to serve food, and to spread the word. Some people call in pizza orders from nearby vendors. Support the folks at Liberty Square in New York here, or check in with your local occupiers to see what they need.

4. Speak out. Get into the debates and the teach-ins.

Many occupation sites have workshops and discussions on critical issues of our time. Get into the discussion. Bring your expertise and reading materials to share. YES! Magazine is offering free copies of the current New Livelihood issue to occupied sites (request them by emailing JobsIssue@yesmagazine.org). Bring the discussions to other groups you are part of. Listen to perspectives you haven’t heard before. This process represents a critical, but under-reported side of the movement: People are shifting from being passive, frustrated observers of politics to  active, powerful players. Instead of waiting for our leaders to do the right thing, people from all walks of life are becoming leaders. It makes us unstoppable.

5. Share your story.

Post how you’re part of the 99 percent on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or in print. Through this movement, people are discovering others who are also losing jobs and homes, who are overwhelmed by debt or working a dead-end job. Through this sharing, humiliation turns into compassion and self-respect. And it builds understanding of the sources and the impacts of our crisis: A Wall Street system that funnels wealth to the top 1 percent is leaving the rest of us behind. Community plus insight makes us powerful.

6. Be the media.

Show up with your video recorder, camera phone, or laptop and share the stories of the occupation. You can download a selection of posters donated by graphic designers and spread them around. Highlight the human dimension of the protests. It is harder for critics to disparage a movement when people see the faces of those involved.

7. Name the meaning of this moment.

What will make the world better for the 99 percent? How has the power of the 1 percent gotten in the way of your hopes and dreams? Make a sign, write a blog, update your Facebook page, or speak out on the issue that means the most to you. Include the phrase, “I am the 99 percent.”

8. Insist that public officials treat the occupations with respect.

The eviction of the Liberty Square occupation on Wall Street was averted by massive public resistance from those in the square and from others. Other occupations also need support. The 99 percent don’t have the money, political access, and media empires of the 1 percent; the occupations are one of the few ways we are building power. Ask your local officials to respect people's right to assembly.

9. Study and teach nonviolent techniques.

There are many examples of outside provocateurs who spark violent incidents that can discredit nonviolent movements such as this. The corporate media is hungry for violent images. (There’s already been an example of an admitted provocateur from the right-wing "American Spectator" who provoked pepper spraying at the National Air & Space Museum). Learn how to lovingly and firmly interrupt and contain violence, and teach what you know. Here are some resources.

10. Be resilient.

This movement is here for the long term. Some efforts may fade because of cold weather or harsh police responses. Others may self-destruct through faulty process or violent outbreaks. The movement may be idealistic, but it won’t be ideal. Don’t get disillusioned; the demand for a society that serves the 99 percent won’t go away. The movement may morph, but it has become unstoppable. Help it evolve.
The genie is out of the bottle. People will no longer accept the systematic transfer of wealth and power from we the people to the 1 percent. In this remarkable, leaderless movement, each one of the 99 percent who gets involved helps shape history.

YES! Magazine encourages you to make free use of this article by taking these easy steps. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

Friday, October 21, 2011

Decolonization Meeting

After close to a decade of no movement at the governmental level on Guam's decolonization, last month, a meeting of the decolonization was called. I was fortunate enough to be at the meeting and took some pictures.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Political Decolonization

In my continuing efforts to make sure that I have way too much to do, I'll be moderating a forum tomorrow on decolonization and self-determination at UOG. Details are below.

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Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice and the University of Guam present:.


PUBLIC FORUM

on Political Decolonization

Dr. Carlyle Corbin
United Nations Advisor and Internationally recognized expert on decolonization
"The Role of the United Nations in the Self-Determination Process"

Attorney Julian Aguon
Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice
"Defrosting the Self-Determination Imagination: The Trajectory of Right Under International Law"

Wednesday, October 19


5:30 - 8:30 pm


University of Guam
CLASS Lecture Hall
THE PUBLIC FORUM WILL BE LIVE STREAMED AT THE FOLLOWING CHANNEL FOR THOSE OFF-ISLAND: Tuesday, 12:30 am PST
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/we-are-guahan

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Na'i Tatte, Chule' Tatte

Hafa adai,
We Are Guåhan is pleased to announce its fourth series of Heritage Hikes: Nå’i Tåtte, Chule' Tåtte. The title translates to "Give Back, Take Back," as this series of hikes will deal with the Department of Defense's complex history of land taking and land returns on Guam. The title he upcoming Heritage Hikes will include 2 new sites, Ague Cove and Pågat Point, as well as a Sunday afternoon hike to Hila’an Village.

The hike schedule is as follows:
· Saturday, October 22, 2011 – Ague Cove (Difficulty: Easy. Duration: 2 – 2.5 hours)
Meet at Former FAA property (near NCS Dededo)
· Sunday, October 30, 2011 – Hila'an Village (Difficulty: Very Easy. Duration: 2 – 2.5hours)
Meet at Tanguisson Beach Park.
· Saturday, November 5, 2011 – Pågat Point (Difficulty: Medium. Duration: 3 – 4 hours)
Meet at Pågat trailhead along The Back Road.

WHEN: The show-time for the Ague Cove and Pågat Point hikes is 8:45a.m. with a go-time 9:00 a.m. The show time for the Hila’an Village hike is 3:30pm.
WHAT TO BRING: All participants must bring LOTS OF WATER. Participants are encouraged to bring sun block, bug repellant and light snacks or lunches.
WHAT TO WEAR: All hikes will have areas with dense jungle, so if you are sensitive to mosquito bites, please wear long sleeved shirts, pants and a comfortable pair of shoes. Participants should wear tennis / hiking shoes, shorts and a comfortable shirt. Swimming is an option and encouraged at Ague Cove and Hila’an Village, so come prepared with appropriate clothes and towels if you’d like to swim. Unlike Pågat arch and cave, swimming at Pågat Point is not recommended due to dangerous surf and sharp rocks.

HIKE DESCRIPTIONS:

The first hike is a new trek to Ague Cove. Although recently returned to its original landowners, DoD is considering re-“acquiring” this area, and the surrounding area, to build brand new housing and administrative buildings for the proposed relocation. The hike ends at a scenic cove that is perfect for swimming.

On the second hike, Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua will explain the historical significance of Hila'an Village, an area that was recently returned to GovGuam. There are over 70 latte throughout the area, which will give hike participants an opportunity to imagine what the village would have looked like.

The third and final hike is also a first for We Are Guåhan. The hike is to an area where DoD is planning on building a firing-range complex: Pågat Point. This area is north of the more popular hiking trail to Pågat arch and cave. Dr. Bevacqua will discuss the cultural and historic significance of the area, as well as DoD’s proposed plans to build five firing ranges there.
If you have questions about the Heritage Hikes, please contact leevin@weareguahan.com

Sunday, October 16, 2011

#OWS

Anatomy of a Victory: Occupy Wall Street Wins a Big One

by: J.A. Myerson, Truthout | News Analysis 

Mayor Bloomberg’s Wednesday night visit to Liberty Plaza Park, during which he delivered news (on behalf of his girlfriend’s corporation) that the park would be cleaned Friday morning, made me very nervous. I found myself with a lay-over in Charlotte early Thursday morning and took the opportunity to pen a quick blog post to express my concerns. Boarding my next flight, I tweeted the following: “Okay, internets. About to take off for Seatac. No one do or say anything interesting for several hours, yes? Yes.”

The internets declined.

Over the next 20-or-so hours, there precipitated one of the most impressive single days of organizing I can recall or even imagine, and by 6 AM the next day, when the cleaning was set to begin, the Wall Street occupiers and our allies around the world had won. It’s worth looking into what made that happen, if for no other reason than to derive best practices for like operations in the future.
  1. Public appeals to Bloomberg/Brookfield
It is no secret that Occupy Wall Street has captured the public’s imagination and the media’s attention. A Time Magazine poll released Thursday showed that Occupy Wall Street’s favorability ratings are massive (54% approve, not as many disapprove as approve strongly). So it was with great confidence that organizations and individuals around the country mobilized the occupation’s public defense against Bloomberg/Brookfield’s injunction.

Russell Simmons, the hip-hop impresario who has made multiple visits to Liberty Plaza Park, publicly offered to pay for the clean-up of the park in order to avoid confrontation. Emergency appeals and/or petitions went out from the AFL-CIO, Beyond May 12, CODEPINK, Bold Progressives, Campaign for America's Future and MoveOn to the millions of members they are collectively able reach. 14 New York City council-members issued a call to Bloomberg and the NYPD to respect the first amendment and leave the occupiers alone.

Writers in support of the occupiers started a website, signatories ranging from Lemony Snicket to Salman Rusdie, who tweeted, “I condemn both Mayor and cops. A crime against liberty.” The autonomous Occupy Wall Street Legal Working Group wrote an impassioned open letter to Brookfield leadership, accusing the latter of “threatening fundamental constitutional rights” and using a regard for cleanliness as merely a pretext.
  1. Volunteers to get arrested defending the occupation
Apart from emergency mobilization efforts going out from labor leaders to their members (among them, the Communication Workers of America, the United Auto Workers, and 1199/SEIU, all early supporters of Occupy Wall Street), urging the rank-and-file to head down to the park and link arms in the event of police invasion, the New York Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild sent brigades of legal observers. (One member of the NLG got run over by an NYPD motorcycle, beaten and arrested – nice.)

In Russell Simmons’ offer to pay for the clean-up, he implied that he too was willing to be arrested for the cause, writing “I don't wanna go to jail but I will be there ready!” Simmons showed up at the park for a training about the proper, non-violent procedure to follow in case of arrest. RT’s Lucy Kafanov reported that, on site at Liberty Plaza Park, a speaker instructed the group to “raise your hand if you really want to be arrested,” which was greeted by a flurry of skyward limbs.

It would seem that layer upon layer of people were willing to risk arrest in order to protect the encampment, and they were cheered on by supporters around the country and around the world, the British journalist Laurie Penny, who has visited Liberty Plaza Park, writing,

We know what they really mean when they say 'Liberty Plaza is full of rubbish.' The trash they want to sweep out of their nice clean financial districts are the ordinary people of your country - the 99%. They are tired of seeing you on their way to work in the mornings, cluttering up the pavements with your uncomfortable little placards about grinding unemployment, a broken healthcare system and a feral business sector holding the party system to ransom. They are tired of seeing old women asking for medical attention, little children asking for education, young adults asking for work. They want those people tidied away. The question is: are you going to let them tidy you away?

  1. Efforts to deprive Bloomberg/Brookfield of its pretext for seizure
Russell Simmons’ offer to fund the clean-up effort was unnecessary, it turns out, because the occupiers took it upon themselves to take care of that endeavor. Having solicited the donation of tons of cleaning supplies, the effort lasted for hours and involved hundreds of volunteers. Radio Dispatch’s Josh Knefel tweeted, “Pep talk for tomorrow, then back to cleaning. This is the cleanest damn park in America.”

Brian Williams and Mara Schiavocampo of NBC Nightly News devoted coverage to the clean-up effort. Footage showed that the adults here were the self-organized occupiers, who took pains to maintain the sanitary integrity of what is, let us not forget, their living space, while the Bloomberg/Brookfield side reacted to the protest by throwing a tantrum.

So what is the take-away? Why did these things work? The answer is simple democratic theory, expressed pristinely by Frederick Douglass at Canandaigua, NY in 1857.

Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

When one of the greatest living novelists, who lived underground for many years under the threat of lethal violence suborned by a totalitarian theocrat, condemns you as acting against liberty, you take note. When your plans involve arresting scores of American workers, arms linked in non-violent defiance, you take note. When your optics will be the commission of mass violence in order to clean up an already clean park, you take note. The NYPD, in possession as it is of guns and clubs, can take the park whenever it wants, but not without its leaders suffering massive political consequences. And that’s the point.

As of right now, public officials are vastly more intimidated by the power of Wall Street than by the power of the people, and so they do the bidding of the former group, rather than the latter. That is what takes what is theoretically a democracy (demos meaning “people”) and transforms it into a plutocracy, a society whose policies are driven by wealth.

The über-goal of Occupy Wall Street is to empower people to intimidate government officials even more than the ownership class does. If that can be achieved, then the movement will succeed merely by surviving. Wall Street, after all, hasn’t got a list of demands that it makes one protest at a time; it exerts constant, unyielding pressure on the engines of power and arranges to continue to bully policymakers in perpetuity. If the Occupy movement expands and persists, it can conceivably arrange to bully policymakers even more fiercely. That would result in the achievement of real democracy, and all of the policy goals that implies.

Power is taking note. Just in the last day, Bloomberg ran away from protesters who hounded him at his classy eatery of choice, and Treasure Secretary Tim Geithner, whom bankers consider “our man in Washingtonpromised major Wall Street action. They’re becoming afraid of the might of a united democratic populace.

What we must do now is move to a state of affairs in which that is the permanent situation.

The Governor of Guam Has a Youtube Channel

The Governor of Guam has his own Youtube Channel.

Yanggen ti un tungo' este esta, taya' guaha.

It was only created last month, and it has so far only 19 uploads. You can find there some of his weekly messages, some testimonials from people who want their/need their tax refunds, and presentations on his government reorganization plans.

I'm waiting to see if the Guam Legislature will create their own Youtube page. They probably won't for a while since they already have their own tv channel where you can watch them in session and when they hold public hearings.

Of the videos on Calvo's channel, one in particular caught my eye. It was uploaded three weeks ago, and it was a message to every member of Congress. In it the Governor called on members of Congress to support Guam in a number of ways. Two of his calls might appear to be contradictory; first his call on Congress to make sure the military buildup happens, since they need to take advantage of Guam and its strategic location. As the Governor put it, everything around Guam has changed, but its location hasn't. Second, his call on Congress to support Guam on its quest for self-determination.

To a casaul observer these two things might seem to be in opposition. Call for more military presence, is also most likely accepting the decreased change of Guam ever being decolonized. From my position as an activist, an academic, someone outside of Government, this is true of course. For 110 plus years the most significant barrier to Guam achieving any sort of self-determination, large or small has always been its strategic importance. This was used to argue against political rights before World War II and it has also been used to determine what Guam gets since. The more local control Guam has the more it appears to interfere with things such as national security or the ability of the military to perform its mission in Guam, and as such Guam has always been pushed aside when it comes to moving to the next step of its political evolution.

But as the Governor of Guam, you have a different position in Guam, and while you are only actually supposed to be beholden to the people of Guam, your government according to decisions by the Supreme Court of the US, really isn't a government at all. It is just a piece of the Federal Government that it created and placed in Guam. You are not supposed to have any ability or rights outside of that control, so even if you are supposed to represent Guam primarily, your existence if already inundated with Federal interests and Federal control. You may go about your life thinking locally or thinking for Guam, but that is only because the strings that bind you remain loose and haven't been yanked yet. You live a very curious existence, as you could be the one who will be the most defiant and the least obedient because of your distance both geographic and political, but you, because of how your existence stems from the Feds themselves, may also be the most compliant and most subservient.

For the Governor to ask for more military and to ask for more decolonization is an expression of his hybrid nature, it does not contradict much because he is already a contradiction. It is not some new terrifying ideological creature, since he is already that. It is an indication of what sort of "natural" discursive limits we might find on that position and how that can affect our expectations for what sort of transformative discourse we can see there. We can also see the limited (but self-serving) ways in which the Governor might conceive both self-determination and militarization, since the idea that their are compatible requires seeing them in very superficial ways.

One final thing to consider when seeing this sort of contradiction is the dialectical way that many politicians on Guam have combined the two together to make one possible only because of the other. For example, in the first few years of buildup discussion, former Governor Camacho was often told by members of the Legislature that this buildup is a perfect opportunity to get the things that Guam has long waited for from the Feds. In other words, demand that if you want this buildup, well we want these things first! This was argued at so many different points, but never taken on by Camacho's Administration officially. They may have hoped privately that by being compliant and loyal and quiet as things happened, they would be remembered and things taken for them later on the back end, but who knows. It is well beyond that point however, as the buildup process started long ago, although it definitely seems to be faltering and sputtering now. But the point of this sort of strategy is that from the beginning, you make clear that your support is contingent upon the resolution of certain things, and the buildup will not move forward otherwise.

One of the things that current Governor Calvo should thank previous Governor Camacho for is that he knows very clearly now, how not to be a leader on the military buildup issue. Camacho felt that faith in the Feds, which works fairly often on Guam, was the best route to take. He was Governor however when there was a different president, different Congress, and different world, and so perhaps he felt that was the best route to take. Be loyal, don't push anything too much, don't make any noise and Guam will surely benefit far better than if it tried to do anything. Governor Calvo may feel the colonial pull of the strategy at times, but should by now know that it only takes you so far.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The 99% v. The Tea Party

I just finished writing about the contrast between the 99%/Occupy Wall Street protests/sit ins and the Tea Party movement for my column in The Marianas Variety, and then I came across this on Tumblr. It puts in a very succinct way the differences between the two movements.

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How to compare and contrast America’s two “populist” movements — the Tea Party movement vs. the Occupy Wall Street/We are the 99%ers movement…
- Both are angry at Wall Street bailouts, American plutocracy, and our whorish two-party system.

- One blames the poor, immigrants, unions, non-Christians and Americans who happen to be liberal for what’s wrong; the other blames Wall Street, plutocrats. and whorish politicians.

- One is funded by right-wing billionaires and corporate money; the other isn’t really funded by anybody.

- One got major media coverage (lead by FOX) even when they could only produce a few hundred people at a rally in Washington, DC; the other got almost no media coverage even when they produced demonstrations coast to coast.

- One shouted down Democratic constituent town meetings, threatened secession, packed guns, somehow were never hassled by police, and were called “patriots;” the other came without guns, threatened no one, appealed to American ideals, got arrested, and were called “mobs.”

- One trades on what divides us because they are proxies for powerful interests who benefit from public division; the other appeals to what unites us because they still believe in an American Promise which actually includes all Americans.

Monday, October 10, 2011

IGP


Congratulations to Inetnon Gefpago for their recent victory at the 2011 Cheonan World Folk Dance Competition. I have worked with IGP for a few years now on several different projects, most notably the writing of their 10 year anniversary production: Guahan: Fanhasso, Fanhita, Fanachu. 
They are the most innovative of the Chamorro dance groups on island at the moment and I am happy to see them traveling around the world representing Guam. 
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Pacific News Center
10/10/2011
Guam - Guam’s Inetnon Gefpa’go Cultural Arts Program made the top 8 finalist  beating 21 other countries in the 2011 Cheonan World Folk Dance  Competition, Cheonan City, South Korea.
The group also won the Encouragement Award from the Festival Organizers. The competition was held from September 28 through October 5. Only a select group were chosen and invited from around the world.

“We didn’t really know what to expect going into the competition or the type of artistry required. This competition was very inspiring for us. I am very proud of our accomplishments knowing that we made the top 8 final round. Many of the countries we competed against were truly professional international dance company’s. Just knowing that us little people from the southern part of our island made it to the finals was truly an accomplishment and a proud moment for our island”, said Vince Reyes, Director/Instructor.
Just this year alone, they attended competitions in the Philippines and Korea, walking away with the Most Popular Performance and Best Folklore Performance awards, respectively. This competition however, was the largest and most prestigious competition Inetnon Gefpa’go and Guam has ever participated in.

Countries participating in the Korea competition include Kosovo, Russia (Khabarovsk), Malaysia, Slovakia, Georgia (Europe), Italy, China, Estonia, Indonesia, Guam, Singapore, Poland, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mexico (Moots), Mexico (Estampas), Thailand, the Philippines, Brazil, Bulgaria, Tuva, Turkmenistan and Sierra Leone.

Inetnon Gefpa’go is an award-winning program whose mission is to promote awareness and pride in the Chamorro Heritage through performance arts. This is accomplished through youth interaction with traditional Master Artists, community presentations and cultural exchange. Membership in the group begins in middle school, where students undergo extensive cultural arts and dance training to be selected as part of the school’s performing group. Membership then continues into the community-based, high school and adult after-school program. Here they further their cultural learning, continue performing throughout the island and represent Guam at major tourism promotions and festivals around the world.

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