Showing posts from July, 2012

First Stewards #5: Natibu Amerikanu?

In choosing books for my children one of my favorite types to get for them are Native American style storybooks. Over the years I've collected several for them, each from a different tribe. When I was in Washington DC last week at the First Stewards Climate Change Symposium, I took some time out to go to the gift shop at the National Museum of the Native American Indian to see what kind of books they had. I asked my kids, Sumahi and Akli'e' what type of books they would prefer, meaning what kind of animals or stories would they like. Sumahi, as usual said she wanted horse. Sesso taiguihi i manachaamko'na na famalao'an, mankinenne' ni kabayu siha. Akli'e' is a bit more complicated and requested something about turtles. Ti hu tungo' sa' hafa ayu i ginagao-na. Sesso mama'leon gui'.

There were so many to choose from at the museum I'll admit it was difficult. I ended up picking three books. First is The Polar Bear Son: An Inuit Story by …

First Stewards #4: The High Talking Chief

On the last day of the First Stewards Climate Change Symposium those of us in attendance were treated to a custom of the Samoans, tulafale, or a high talking chief. A literal Samoan chief was in attendance and took the stage. He was followed by a shirtless man, wearing a wrap, holding in his hand a beautiful carved wooden staff. The chief himself didn't speak, but instead all the talking was done by the talking chief. This we were told is the way things are in Samoa. Talking chiefs are those who are trained in the art of storytelling and genealogy. Gifted with articulation and creativity they would be the ambassadors for the high chiefs, speaking to the people, inspiring to them and also listening to them and representing the chief in the best way possible.

He shared some beautiful sentiments about everyone coming together and making important connections and fighting to protect their communities. His words were translated by a member from the Samoan delegation who had a microp…

Independence for Guam Beach Cleanup

Cleaning Up for an Independent Guam Guam’s Independence Task Force to Clean West Hagåtña Beaches Sat.
The Independence Task Force Committee and the Hagåtña Mayor’s Office are working together to clean the beaches along the Liberation Day parade route this Saturday morning.
The cleanup will begin at 6 a.m. at the beach across from the GCIC building. It is one of the first community events the recently revived Independence Task Force has organized, and it reflects an important goal of the group – to work toward a sustainable future for Guam.
“Our group is concerned about the well-being of our community,” says Jon Guerrero, who organized the cleanup. “This beach cleanup will not only help beautify our community, but it will also be a great opportunity to learn more about our right to self-determination, and to learn what independence for Guahan would look like for our community.”  
The Independence Task Force is inviting members of the community to join them in the cleanup, and to learn mor…

A Dark Knight in Aurora...

A Dark Knight in Aurora, A Dark Day for America... By Tom Magstadt

The basic outlines of the “dark knight” massacre in Aurora, Colorado, are now well known.  A 24-year-old medical school dropout named James Egan Holmes acting alone opened fire with an assault rifle in a crowded theater, killing 12 people and wounding 59.

A lot of good the Department of Homeland Security did in Aurora that night as “The Dark Knight” was emerging from his booby-trapped spider hole.  There’s plenty of obvious irony in the subtitle of that damned movie:  “The Dark Knight Rises.”  Irony is one thing; tragedy leaves an altogether different taste in one’s mouth.   A bitter taste like poison-laced lemon peels.

Living in Colorado, when I heard the first news stories on the BBC within minutes of the shootings, I thought of a high school, another massacre, and a lone shooter.   Columbine.   So, of course, did people all over the world from Copenhagen to Cairo, from Toronto to Tokyo.  The Columbine…

First Stewards #3: Gi Tinituhun

As part of my responsibilities at the First Steward Climate Change Symposium I had to chant and dance at the National Museum of the Native American Indian.

Ya-hu kumanta, ya-hu bumaila, lao ti ya-hu umuyu este na dos gi me'nan un linhayan estrangheru siha.

These chants were to be performed at certain points during the symposium where different tribes and islander groups would share some cultural expression that is appropriate for the moment. Some said prayers. Some sang and danced. Some shared parts of their histories. These ceremonies were important in breaking up the ice between communities and also breaking up the sometimes very dry format of panels and presentations.

The song that people most enjoyed was a chant from Guma' Palu Li'e', today known as I Fanlalai'an. It is titled "Gi Tinituhun" or "In the Beginning." The language is beautiful and more abstract than usual for a Chamorro song, and that is part of the reason that it appealed to m…

First Stewards #2: Sunrise Ceremonies

Each morning of the First Stewards symposium, members of the delegations from across the Pacific and the Western United States would gather at the main entrance to the Museum of the Native American Indian. As the sun was rising different delegations would take on the task of welcoming the day, welcoming each other, and forming spiritual and cultural bonds. These gatherings would take place before 6 am, and so it was sometimes difficult for everyone to make it. But for those of us who did, we were fortunate enough to participate in some of the most quiet, solemn and beautiful moments. The symposium had a lot of discussions, alot of exchanges of information, a lot connections based on explicit comprehension. English is the means of common communication and so we can all speak to each other and try to get each other to learn and understand.

But these sunrise ceremonies were something different. At the ceremonies nothing was in English. Very little was explained in English. Each group co…

First Stewards

I am attending the First Stewards Climate Change symposium at the Museum of the Native American Indian in Washington D.C. It has been an inspiring and informative experience as I've gotten to meet Native peoples from across the United States and the Pacific. Every native community that has gathered here has had a close relationship to the ocean for thousands of years. Fishing is an essential part of how they have developed as a people and who they are today. As a result climate change is not something silly and abstract that only environmentalists care about. It is something that literally means life or death very soon. Over the course of the past week indigenous people from the Western Pacific to Alaska to Hawai'i and to the US West Coast shared stories of how rising waters and changing temperatures are causing increasing problems.

The symposium is not just about these pertinent issues, but is also about cultural and spiritual exchanges. As part of my job this week I helped…

Tax Adultery

I'm in Washington D.C. right now and so watching MSNBC and Fox News carries a very different significance when your hotel is within walking distance from the Capitol. The Presidential race is heating up now, but something that caught my eye earlier today really interested me. It was about a ongoing spat between tax avenger and government revenue denier Grover Norquist and Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, most famous for attacking environmental science and putting phantom holds on bills in the Senate in order to stall and drag down legislation. The issue itself doesn't really matter to me, although I will place the op-ed from the New York Times that was the immediate cause of the spat. What really interested me was the random, bizarre yan na'aburido response that Norquist gave when he was trying to illustrate the dimensions of the fight. In addition to the quote below he also suggested that the Oklahoma Senator had "gone native" or was suffering from Stockholm Syndro…

The English Supremacy

Here are some of my thoughts on the Chamorro language today.

Fihu ma faisen yu' put i hinasso-ku siha gi este na klasin asunto, pues pine'lo-ku maolek na para bai hu pegga siha guini para u mali'e' yan mataitai.

Ti hu kekesangan na impottante yu' gi i diniskuti put este, lao guaha inimpottante gi i sinangan-hu siha. Ko'lo'lo'na ayu nai put i lenguahi ni' i pumalu siha ti ma admimite.


1. Chamorro is an official language of Guam along with English. This is something people often forget.
2. It is important to teach, practice and preserve the Chamorro language because it is part of the unique heritage of Guam and the Marianas. If Chamorros and non-Chamorros allow the Chamorro language to disappear then it means (gi minagahet) that we are a sad and pathetic community. This island likes to say that respect is important here, but the majority of people on Guam (and this includes Chamorros) have little to no respect for the language …

History and Happiness

History is important because it holds the truth. The problem, like everything else dealing with the truth, is the uncertainty over what people should do with truths they don't like. History is filled with things you will like, things you won't really care about, and things you will hate hearing about. There are things that fill you with inspiration, love, hope and faith in the world around you, and things that make the world around you feel hollow, terrible, disgusting and make you wish you could leave it all behind, time travel or be sent to another universe.

One of my favorite quotes about history is the notion that "Happy people have no history." This is something that I don't agree with as something that produces happiness, but I do believe that many people relate to the concept and force of history with this in mind. The less you know or the narrower your knowledge is about history, the happier you might seem to be. If you come from a community with a violen…

Chamorro Public service Post # 21: Gi Kanadan Guinife

When you look at the pantheon of Chamorro legends and epic stories, there is quite a bit of love there. Unfortunately much of the love is of the tragic variety. All of the various versions of I Puntan Dos Amantes or The Two Lovers all end badly with a lovers suicide taking place in Tumon. Guam's own version of Romeo and Juliet that tells us how the Atbot det Fuego got its red leaves. Even the story of the white lady in Ma'ina has versions about true love gone awry.

It makes me wonder sometimes if Ancient Chamorros truly had such a dim and depressing view of love, or if the tragic effects of young love is something that comes after the Spanish and their attacks on Chamorro sexuality and culture? The Spanish accounts talk about the deep love that Chamorros of opposite sexes would have for each other. How they would put that affection into beautiful songs and poems.

Once Catholicism dominates Guam and Chamorro life this changes. The love is still there, but now an incredible amo…

Taigue Yu'

I neglected this blog for almost an entire week so far because things just because too busy the past few days. I'm currently in Washington D.C. where I will attend the First stewards Climate Change symposium next week. I left Guam in a mess of stress and business. I had to teach my classes and prepare for next week when I'll be gone and a sub will take over. I also had the honor of being followed around by a film crew from NHK in Japan. For those who don't know, NHK is Japan's public broadcasting company. I will be writing more about the crew and what they are working on later, but it was both fun and stressful trying to accommodate the crew, teach my classes and keep up with all my other commitments (grandparents, kids, Chamorro classes, etc.) The grueling day long travel from Guam to Washington D.C. actually felt like a much deserved break. I got to read two books on the flights over and also got to watch four movies. The symposium starts on Monday and so this weeken…

A Portrait of Inequality

Published on Monday, July 2, 2012 by Common Dreams Some Outrageous Facts about Inequality by Paul Buchheit Studying inequality in America reveals some facts that are truly hard to believe. Amidst all the absurdity a few stand out.

1. U.S. companies in total pay a smaller percentage of taxes than the lowest-income 20% of Americans.

Total corporate profits for 2011 were $1.97 trillion. Corporations paid $181 billion in federal taxes (9%) and $40 billion in state taxes (2%), for a total tax burden of 11%. The poorest 20% of American citizens pay 17.4% in federal, state, and local taxes.

2. The high-profit, tax-avoiding tech industry was built on publicly-funded research.

The technology sector has been more dependent on government research and development than any other industry. The U.S. government provided about half of the funding for basic research in technology and communications well into the 1980s. Even today, federal grants support about 60 percent of research perfor…

Berserk is Back

After months of nothing there are finally some new issues of Berserk. 

I only read 3 mangas, Gantz, Naruto and Berserk. The other two are released regularly and are slowly moving towards their conclusions as a series. Berserk is supposed to be in a similar twilight phase, but sometimes there are months between chapters. The excitement of the plot itself has long since dissipated as the characters and the investment in the story becomes to fade in my mind since it has been so long since they last visited me.

The most recent issues of Berserk don't continue the main story arc, but instead give us a view of the main character Guts when he was a child mercenary. The story is interesting, although it is only three issues long, but I look forward the main story arc being kick started again.

I was so happy to be reading Berserk this morning that I decided to do something I haven't done in quite a while. I took the latest issue of Berserk and translated it into Chamorro. It was fun, p…

The Hunger Games

Meggai dimasiao na spoilers gi este na post!!!

Last year I read The Hunger Games trilogy and I greatly enjoyed the books and was ultimately irritated at them. I am never someone to say that time was wasted with reading or watching something that is terrible. I am proud to say that I have only ever walked out of one movie and that wasn't my choice. It was The Tuxedo starring Jackie Chan and it was because the people I was watching it with were appalled at how stupid it was and wanted to leave. I pouted since I hate walking out of movies, but ultimately I was riding with them and had to leave.

I am notorious for being able to find some value in almost any ridiculous thing. Terrible movies hold interesting political and critical insights. Terrible books hold a similar empowering analytical social value. I remember a friend asking me if Tron: Legacy was a good movie. I said with a smile, yes it was, I would definitely recommend it. My friend and his girlfriend ended up watching it an…