Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Occupied Okinawa #12: Utaki
This utaki is a cave in a limestone cliff that looks so much like Guam, I swore for a moment I was lost in the Pagat area. Hamahiga, as I was told by many is considered to be a very sacred and mysterious place with many sacred places.
You could feel the natural energy of the place as you walk up those steps and peer out at the mountains and forest surrounding the area. Although I couldn't see deep into the cave I imagined women coming here to offer prayers and commune with the spirits. As I was taking pictures, walking around the utaki cave entrance and into the jungle nearby I sometimes felt faint hints of some spiritual force tugging at me.
In his article Underwood argues that this interpretation is overly simplistic and that there is far more at play in the hearts, minds and fiestas of Chamorros than what this superficial level would indicate. Underwood's argue is seminal in what we could call the development of "Chamorro Studies" and so I'm not taking direct issue with it here. I have written my own comments and critiques of "Red, Whitewash and Blue" elsewhere. But what struck me was the way in both the Tayuyute Ham Memorial and the Hamahiga Utaki, that the colonizer's presence didn't just seem to take over, but rather seemed to unfairly complete the space.