Wednesday, February 27, 2013


When I was in graduate school I spent years collecting Guam mentions. I would hunt for them everywhere. In every database I could find. In every archive. In every index for every book. I would search through websites, through blogs, on Youtube videos. As I was writing my dissertation these Guam mentions represented a significant part of my "data." These were the things I wanted to analyze. These were the things I wanted to find some underlying structure for.

It was difficult not in terms of articulating my thoughts, but articulating them in such a way that other people might care. When you are writing about "small" cultures or "small" islands, there is always the burden that your smallness puts on you. There is always a need to force you next to something larger so you can feel more relevant or more familiar. There is a need to put Chamorros next to another group, Native Hawaiians, Puerto Ricans, Filipinos, Okinawans, any other group that might be more fully imagined and known, in order to ground yourself for your audience. Or there might be a requirement of providing enough background information so that people feel that they can understand this new world, new people or new history. Some research is bogged down by providing an entire history of the island and the people, that all work about small places ultimately comes down retelling the entire history just in order to make a single point. But the worst restriction is when your work is seen as being too limited or narrow, simply because the community you are writing of or writing for isn't very large and so may natural assumption you couldn't really say much about the world.

For my research I was fortunate enough to have several committee members who were able to suspend these sorts of demands or assumptions and allow me to complete my project. I could still feel it sometimes, but their challenges or questions became segments of my dissertation and actually ended up strengthening it in some ways. The invisibility that Guam has in an academic context, is connected to the invisibility it has in a political context and that is also connected to its invisibility in a military context. These were the discursive structures I wanted to write about in my dissertation. These connections between invisibility, banality and sovereignty.

I didn't get to use alot of Guam mentions I found because I couldn't really illuminate the structure in a compelling or even coherent way. For example using Guam mentions in military discourse on in media surrounding Federal-territorial relations all pointed in similar directions and were easily collected into chapters. But alot of the media examples were much more difficult to make sense of. Sometimes Guam was just thrown in randomly. Sometimes Guam was thrown in because of its associations to certain things, such as the military or snakes. For some mentions there was a strange imperial longing involved, as if mentioning Guam in a random humorous way allowed people to talk about something (US colonialism) without actually talking about it. There were also mentions where Guam was invoked as something people were familiar with in some way, but as an empty, valueless vessel. The joke would be simply the response whereby someone would freak out at hearing the signifier "Guam" but could share a laugh since it had some familiarity to them. If for example someone in a film said "I'm going to Ghahsdmdmpasokfjhfnithtj." The place involved is random and weird sounding, but it isn't funny cause this nonsensical word doesn't evoke anything (other than sounds having a weird orgy) that you can use as the basis to even feel that something is funny.

All of this was in an American context, because I can ready English and I'm already familiar with American media. One potential avenue of inquiry that I could never really pursue due to language barriers, was to do a similar study in a Japanese context. To collect and analyze the random Guam mentions that we find in Japanese popular culture, political, economic, cultural and military discourse. Japanese relationship to Guam is different, both in a historical but also contemporary context. Guam is a former site of Japanese imperialism. A site where its soldiers hid, in the case of Yokoi for 27 years. It is today a tourist destination and a place where the Japanese go to experience American in tropical doses and think as little as possible about the historical relationship to their country and former empire.

If I ever do this project, one place that I would definitely start is with the Japanese sports teams, models, movie stars and musical groups that randomly find their way to Guam. A few years ago, UOG's campus was taken over by a squadron of young Japanese girls in school uniforms. I remember walking by them while they were being filmed in the Student Center. Months later I found out who they actually were, the J-Pop group AKB48. They were filming a video for their song "Everyday."

For now however I just enjoy watching this video and seeing parts of Guam fly by. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Guinaiya gi Fino' Chamoru #3

“Guinaiya gi Fino’ Chamoru #3”
Michael Lujan Bevacqua
The Marianas Variety

It is almost Valentine’s Day or as some say in Chamorro “Ha’anin Guinaiya.” It has become a tradition for me that around this time I write a column dealing with ways to express love using the Chamorro language.  In 2011 and in 2012 my Valentine’s Day columns featured an array of song lyrics, romantic turns of phrase and pick up lines all translated into the Chamorro language. I’ve decided not to mess with this organic tradition but embrace it. Today I present “Guinaiya gi Fino’ Chamoru #3” or “Love in Chamorro.”

As usual this column is meant to be both fun and informative. Many of the sentences are translated from song lyrics, pick up lines and quotes that are famous in English. When translated into Chamorro they take on extra meaning because of the way Chamorro may not have the same particular metaphors or innuendos of English. When you read them they can be taken as having a similar meaning to their English form, but they can also interpreted in a new incredulous Chamorro context. Humor in many multicultural and multilingual communities is based on these slips of translation.

Biba Ha’anin Guinaiya! Biba Fino’ Chamoru!


I korason-hu, para todu tiempo, iyo-mu ha’.
My heart, for all time, is only yours

Un na’chatguahu yu’
You make me feel like I’m not myself (can also mean you make me feel queasy).

Hagu i pilån-hu, i atdao-ku yan i estreyås-hu siha.
You are my moon, my sun and my stars.

Lina’la un flores, yan guinaiya i miet-ña.
Life is a flower and love is its honey

Buente para Hågu este inatmario, lao para Guahu, este guinaiya!
Maybe for you this is insanity, but for me this is love!

I chiniku-mu, ha na’hoben ta’lo i korason-hu, yan ha funas lokkue’ i chinathinasso-ku siha.
You kiss, it makes my heart young again and it erases all my worries.

Tåya’ åmot para manguaiguaiya fuera di mas guinaiya’.
There is no medicine for being in love, except for more love.

Siña yu’ luma’la’ sin salåpe’, lao ti siña yu’ sin guinaiya. Ti siña yu’ sin Hågu.
I can live without money, but I can’t live without love. I can’t live without you.

Ya-hu todu un cho’guiyi yu’
I like all that you do to me (or do for me).

Hu guaiya hao? Ti nahong enao para este na fehman na siniente-ku. Hu guaiyayaya hao!
I love you? It’s not enough for this profound feeling I have for you. I loveeeeeeeee you!

Kao un tungo’ CPR? Sa’ un sasakke’ i hinagong-hu!
Do you know CPR? Because you are stealing my breath!

Despensa yu’, umabak yu’. Kao sina un fa’nu’i yu’ I chalan para I korason-mu?
I’m sorry, I’m lost. Can you show me the road to your heart?

Hunggan bulachu yu’ yan Hagu muna’bulachu yu’
Yes I am drunk, and you are what made me drunk.

Kao guaha dingå-mu? Siempre Guiya i segundo na mas bunita na palao’an gi hilo’ tåno’!
Do you have a twin? She is most certainly the second most beautiful woman in the world.

Anggen frutas hao, siempre bei tife’ hao!
If you were a fruit, I would definitely pick you!

Anggen Titilaika hao, siempre i na’ån-mu “Si Optimus Fine.”
If you were a Transformer, you’re name would definitely be Optimus Fine.

Hunggan nai hu guaiya hao, pues nihi ta sodda’ i remote!
Yes, of course I love you, now let’s find the remote!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chamorro Studies

Kao malago’ hao tumungo’ mas put este na islå-ta?
Do you want to know more about this island of ours?

Kao malago’ hao tumungo’ mas put i kutturan Chamoru?
Do you want to know more about Chamorro culture?

Kao malago’ hao tumungo’ taimanu fumino’ Chamoru?
Do you want to know how to speak Chamorro?

Kao malago’ hao tumungo’ taimanu månnge’ gi fino’ Chamoru?
Do you want to know how to write in Chamorro?

Chamorro Studies is a new major at UOG that can help you with all these things. Chamorro Studies is an interdisciplinary program, where students can choose from a diverse range of electives including Biology, Literature, History, Anthropology and Psychology and can choose what sort of emphasis they want to take in terms of studying Chamorros, their history, language and culture.

Email me at if you would like to know more about Chamorro Studies at UOG.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fishing for Meaning

When I was younger living on Guam I fished regularly for a couple of months. I would go fishing with some guys from Yap or Chuuk with Hawaiian slings. I was never that great at it compared to my companions, but I also had fun. Sitting on a rock watching the sunrise, with a boat full of fish representing your efforts was always a meaningful moment. As I got more serious about UOG I stopped fishing and other than simple rod and reel with my dad, didn't think about fishing much.
Since I moved back to Guam in 2008 I haven't fished at all, but fishing, most particularly native fishing rights for Chamorros and issues of sustainability have been part of my thinking and activism. I helped draft the rules and regulations for the native fishing rights a few years back. They were submitted to the Department of Agriculture who promptly did nothing with them. Other than callers to the Buzz in the morning, no one seems to consider it a big issue anymore.

In the past year I've worked alot with John Calvo and WESPAC of the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council. I've helped them organize their annual Lunar Calendar Festival. My grandfather and I exhibit Chamorro tools that both the Gupot i Peskadot and the Lunar Calendar Festival each year at the Guam Fishermen's Co-op in Hagatna. WESPAC funded a dozen people from Guam to travel to Washington D.C. last July to attend the First Stewards Symposium. I was fortunate enough to be one of them. I was also fortunate enough to get to travel to Hawai'i in October last year to attend a Fishermen's Festival there and also attend the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement conference. This trip was also made possible through the support of WESPAC.

Although I became interested in fishing issues because of the grassroots activist connections, there was another more analytical reason why I have started following and learning about this issue more. Every position in a society is given social and political meaning by the ideological web that creates it. Because of this a position that appears to be solid and necessary one moment, can shift quickly and mean the complete opposite. In any society some positions are more ideologically potent than others. One of the ways you can test this potency is to discuss it with people who have no actual knowledge about it and see what emerges. Part of the elevated ideological status means that people feel compelled to talk about it, to have opinions about it, even if they don't actually know anything about it. Politicians are a perfect example of this position, and this holds true in almost every society. Even if you do not know anything about what your politicians are doing and how the government is operating, you can still make very forceful statements about your leaders being incompetent, corrupt, useless. You can be sitting in a room with people who also have no substantive knowledge about their government, but somehow a vibrant and lovely conversation can take place, whereby the empty and unfounded statements you all make somehow feel as if they just fell from God's moist lips.

This is, good or bad, the potential power of these ideological positions. People can believe in them based on very little evidence or loathe them passionately based on pure assumptions. These societal roles sometimes switch around in terms of their importance and fluctuate as who matters and is essential at one point, but a problem and holding everything back the next. Public employees, in particular teachers are the best example of this.

I have always found it interesting that the Mongol Empire, that terrible, much maligned chunk of history and the world recognized the importance of teachers, but most societies today don't. The Mongolian Empire exempted teachers from taxes since they recognized that the education they provide to young people is already payment enough for the Empire, nothing else should be required from them. They also provided exemptions for doctors and engineers. But today teachers are treated like public pariahs. You can attack them, make assumptions about them, complain about them being the problem whether it be educationally or economically, and even if all of this is pretty disconnected from reality, it nonetheless feels appropriate, feels real.

Alot of times people will describe this phenomena as them being a "scapegoat" or an "easy target." This is part of the ideological equation but not all of it. Since teachers play such a crucial role in creating the next generation it is actually incredibly risky to scapegoat them or target them. If you simply wanted someone or something to blame, there are plenty other "good targets." Part of the reason why the teacher is singled out is because of the way they can take on potential or perceived blame from the public itself. While everyone might argue that children are our future, this is paired with regular discourse that states that children are running wild, are crazy, aren't the way they used to be, don't understand respect and so on. While it remains the parents who should take on the most responsibility in terms of how children turn out, no one really wants to admit to this. It is much more attractive to blame the teachers, to fault them for your own failures as a parent. This is something that the society as a whole can participate in, and it becomes a productive lie that allows most people to feel better about themselves.

Locally, fishermen serve a similar purpose. It is right for people to feel like the natural world is being lost or we are becoming disconnected from it, but the problem persist as to how that issue should be dealt with, and can it even be dealt with at all? 

When you confront environmental issues on Guam, there are many targets, many ways you can focus your attention and focus your perceptions for who is to blame for the problem. In terms of fish, there is a long list of targets for you to choose from. The US military, recreational water sports, inadequate utility systems, modernization of life in general and how that can cause more erosion and more run off. The problem however is that all of these targets are pretty big. They are all interwoven into the way we see life functioning today. They all represent things that are too big to do anything about. Too big to criticize and too big to try and change. Military, tourism, utilities, cars and roads are all things that ideologically we see as being integral to things being comfortable, prosperous and even viable. As a result even though we should look at how these things affect fish and their habitats, and take action to mitigate the damage, we don't really do so. That sort of ideological journey will most likely reveal far more than people are willing to know and learn. It is much easier to simply seek your troublemakers elsewhere.

This is where fishermen come in. You don't have to know anything about fish, fishermen or Guam's environment in order to see that fishermen must be the one's to blame! They catch fish, if we have very few fish it must be because they are catching all of them!

This is where the ideological potency comes in handy. Fishermen have an important part of tradition locally, but that tradition is not seen as essential. Even if everyone on Guam eats fish and it is a huge part of our diet. We have come to see our food and our sustenance as being part of global system of exploitation, extraction of resources, use of racialized labor, which means that most people eat food that comes from a completely different part of the world. But what matters here is that the fishermen aren't see as being necessary, but actually feel as if they are somehow outside of the ways things are supposed to be. Even if they are a big part of the local economy, because of the way they are marked as local, not necessarily Chamorro, but tied to the local and not part of the circuit of meaning that allows the world to be feel interlocked, they can easily be separated. Most people on Guam don't fish and so the fishermen are seen as "other." As being not just a little different, but fundamentally different.

They exist as those who have a very different relationship to nature. One which relies actually on understanding and interacting with it, as opposed to just taking pictures of it and taking vacations to it. This doesn’t mean that they live in harmony with nature. Fishermen all of races can practice things that are destructive and can damage nature. But nonetheless their occupation requires knowing nature. Because of this fisherman, especially those who actually rely on simple methods to fish, feel like they aren't truly part of the community. This is the same way in which teachers who are part of a union can sometimes feel like they don't belong because of that extra communal membership. Because they are more connected to something you are disconnected from, they are easily interpreted in negative ways. This is part of ideological potency. Negativity spills horizontally. It can move swiftly from one assumption to the next, until the position seems to reek of terribleness. 

For all the talk about how Chamorros or Guam used to be self-sustained and self-reliant, this is absolutely no longer the case. That sort of industriousness faded quite a while ago. Ideologically Guam now sees itself as being necessarily dependent upon the outside world for its sustenance. That is why when discussing these issues we can’t take on behemoths like tourism or the military, since that would disrupt the lifelines by which we get life. As a result those people who continue to live in ways tied to the land and to the sea, they may gain extra social meaning as being exemplary of things long past or things that are noble and praise worthy, but the glitch is that they don’t truly seem to belong to a society where everyone buys food at the grocery store and has no idea where it comes from or how much work goes into growing it, catching it, packaging it, shipping it. They are also seen as outsiders and therefore can be assigned the blame for everything in a way that doesn’t seem to threaten the way people feel and believe life is sustained. 

When I was in South Korea in 2010 and learned about the struggles of farmers there who did not want to give up their land for the construction and expansion of military bases, I saw a similar dynamic. Although the farmer may be celebrated as the root of the nation, its hardworking and tough spirited past, the farmer does not represent the modern present. When looking for places to put bases, farmers with their plenty of land, who don’t seem to contribute much to a fast growing modern economy are ideal targets. Every segment of society has its own ideological weight, and taking land from farmers may seem wrong, but it is much more palatable than taking land from poor apartment complexes in urban areas. But taking land from poor apartment complexes in urban areas is much more palatable than taking land from rich people in suburban areas. Every group, every place has certain values and ideology is the prism that helps us ascribe value and necessity to things. It is intriguing because smallness or outsideness alone do not determine these values. The amount of rich people with the sheer amount of resources they have should mean that if there is any sacrifice to be made, they should be the ones to make it, since they have the most to give up and there aren’t many of them anyway. But the rich are seen as essential to life. They are job creators, they are captains of industry. Without them economies would disintegrate, society would fall apart and chaos would ensue. The poor, the fishermen, the farmers, teachers (to some extent) they are all small in terms of their political power and ideological power, and therefore they are seen as ideological expendable. The loathing a society feels for itself and its inability to understand itself, resolve its problems or change things can all be laid upon them. 

One of the materials that WESPAC distributes to people is a fishermen’s code of conduct. It is a list of 9 things that fishermen should practice and for the most part do practice. I’ve pasted them below, since that was what first got my thinking about writing this post:

Fishermen Code of Conduct:

1. Respect nature and your place in it
2. Seek advice of experts with generational knowledge of the local resources
3. Show regard to spawning seasons and juvenile fish
4. Do not waste. Take only what is needed.
5. Keep safe people, property and resources.
 6. Obey fishing laws and rules.
7. Use proper gear and techniques.
8. Pick up your trash.
9. Share your catch.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Save the Chamorro Language by Using it

Save Chamorro language by using it

By Robert Underwood
For over three decades, I have been a participant in the discussion about the future of the Chamorro language. In the beginning I was strident but in recent years I have been more reflective.
For me, the objective of keeping the Chamorro language alive remains one of my strongest personal passions. I am fortunate that I can speak and write Chamorro reasonably well. I tried to pass it along to my own children but with only moderate success among the older ones.
In addition to this, it was part of my professional responsibility for nearly two decades as a bilingual educator and teacher trainer.
Looking back on my personal and professional efforts and based upon the declining use of Chamorro in the public sphere, I feel like I have failed. I am part of this general failure when it comes to saving the Chamorro language.
In recent years, the cause of protecting the Chamorro language has become increasingly popular among elected officials and has made it into renewed legislation. Earlier this week, it made it into Gov. Eddie Calvo's State of the Island speech. These are good-faith efforts and I don't doubt their sincerity, but one can't help but be bemused by individuals who argue passionately for something they don't do themselves. It is as if we were being admonished to exercise by people who never get off the couch.
Solution: Use the language
The solution to saving Chamorro is obvious -- don't encourage its use by others; use it yourself. Use it daily. Use it in some fashion other than the word of the day. At the word of the day rate, we will be into the 22nd century before we repeat one word.
Use it like a language is meant to be used. When in school, teach it. Teach it as a language, not as part of another activity. Don't substitute dancing or basket weaving or hut making for it and then claim that you are teaching language through activities that may be worthwhile, but they don't really teach language.
It seems that we want others to use it and others to teach it, but nobody wants to use it themselves or really learn it. The Chamorro language is an object to be admired, not a tool for expression or a conduit for a culture.
Immersion program
The solution is obviously not just more mandates in school, although that is part of a broader solution. If we are going to create a Chamorro-speaking community, we must have Chamorro language immersion programs starting next year with very young children. The Hurao Academy carries this out with great success with a small number of children. Let's replicate this for hundreds of children at public expense. It won't be for everybody, but it should be made available to anybody who wants it.
We can continue with the Chamorro language mandate for everyone else. But nobody can seriously think that a language can be taught via elementary school lessons of 20 or 30 minutes daily in which choral reading, choral responses, singing and activities take central focus. If the children already spoke Chamorro, these would be great ways to reinforce their knowledge.
Moreover, in order for people to take this subject seriously, assess the progress in the same way you would assess any school subject. Where are the Chamorro language assessment instruments and when will they be administered to the children?
Schools cannot be the only institution that provides support or a venue for Chamorro language use. It must be used in the public sphere in a way that is friendly and encouraging and can be embraced by all. This can be done via local TV and radio stations, government agencies and religious institutions.
Of course, the university needs to step up itself and provide the intellectual infrastructure for the Chamorro language. We recently began a Chamorro Studies program. We will see how many people are interested, but we will provide the necessary support for the broader community while we study the language in depth.
Worthwhile objective
There will be those who argue about language and utility as an economic issue, as a historical fait accompli or as a matter of social and cultural oppression. There will be those who will argue that mandates offend choice and freedom. All of these arguments about the role of language in any society have been around for decades. I have heard most of them.
The reality is that preserving the Chamorro language is a worthwhile objective for Guam. Spending common resources on what makes Guam unique is not wasteful. It is at the core of who we are as a society and as a people.
Next time you say "hafa adai," try to imagine all the words, thoughts, feelings, ideas and emotions that are part of the language and people that produced this elegant but simple greeting.
I thought that simple words like hafa adai and manamko' were generally comprehensible in Guam. I recently drove through a fast food restaurant. I was greeted with a friendly hafa adai. I was asked what I wanted, I said I wanted oatmeal and a manamko' coffee. I was charged the regular coffee. I raised my voice and told the young lady that I asked for a manamko' coffee. She told me that the restaurant only served regular or decaf. I am willing to bet that this young lady probably took Chamorro in school years ago. She can recognize her colors and count to 10 or 20 and sing "Fanohge Chamorro." But this amko' could only get regular or decaf.
Maila' ya ta satba I lengguahe-ta!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Adios Dirk

Dirk Ballendorf who taught for many years at UOG, most prominently in the Micronesian Studies program died last week. He was the second local historian, along with Tony Palomo to pass away last week. I knew Dirk Ballendorf while I was a student at UOG and even took one class with him while I was getting my MA in Micronesian Studies.

Dirk was a character, in so many different ways. The class I took with him was Economic Development in Guam and Micronesia and for the Guam sections he actually brought in Tony Palomo to speak to us about economic development on the island. He did know about Guam History but it wasn't his focus or his expertise and so he invited Palomo to come and help him. It was an interesting class. Both Ballendorf loved to make silly jokes and include anecdotes when they talked and so it was like two old warriors trading anecdotes of people long dead and places long gone. The seminar was like a big card game where everyone else played with cards, while these two played with ghosts and jokes.

Ballendorf was an interesting contradiction to me. On the one hand he could be very old school and could sometimes frustrate people because he wasn't up to date on more recent discussions or theories on history. He would sometimes grumble and complain when people would talk about decolonizing history or re-imagining history. He sometimes got uncomfortable when women or Chamorros or Micronesians would talk about taking control over their histories. But on the other hand his class was very informal and hardly the way you would expect an old school history class to be. He told stories. Lots of stories. Some of them were "big history" or "grand narrative" stories, but others were smaller ones. Bits and pieces of Micronesia that he had collected over the years. Even though he could appear to be out of touch he still could find plenty of ways to surprise people.

The Secret Guam Study was one example of this. His uncovering of that document with Howard Willens is a critical moment in recent Guam History. It made a significant local splash several years ago, but has been largely forgotten by people since. The Secret Guam Study is something that says as much about Guam's relationship to the United States as the Organic Act does. I wish that more people would take it seriously since it lays out in very deliberate and organized ways the obscene dimensions of Guam's contemporary colonial status. If you want to feel warm, fuzzy and patriotic than ignoring The Secret Guam Study makes sense. But if you want to understand reality and know the truth, then it is definitely something you should know more about.

In 2004, when there was an island wide debate over the "renaming" of Marine Drive Marine Corps Drive, I wrote a letter to the editor of the PDN. I wasn't the only one to do this. Many many people did. The majority of those who wrote letters were supportive of the renaming, although there were a few voices who questioned this. There were those who argued against it based on the cost and based on how Marine Drive as a name could mean both the bountiful ocean and the Marine Corps. I wrote a letter myself to the PDN which questioned the renaming since the return of US forces was a liberation in a military sense, but didn't lead to a liberation in a political sense. It seemed strange to celebrate such an achievement when Guam's continuing colonial status casually stains it everyday.

The text of my letter is pasted below:

Rename Marine Drive after natural resource

For indirectly saving the lives of my grandparents and relatives, any of the soldiers who fought to retake Guam in 1944 are welcome in my home, and have my sincere gratitude.

But if we can be honest for a moment and think with our heads and hearts, rather then with the flags in our front yards, the Marines who fought and died in the retaking of Guam were not fighting to save the Chamorro people. Why should we rename anything after them?

The military cared nothing for Chamorros when they first came, and little has changed to this day. In both 1898 and 1944, Guam was taken and captured because of military strategy and security. We must remember this just as much as we remember those who sacrificed for liberty.

Why was Guam separated from the other Mariana Islands in 1898? Why were Chamorros denied citizenship until 1950? Why was (so much) of Guam taken/stolen after the war? All of these reasons have to do with military strategy.

Let's celebrate next July 9 as what should have been our 60th Liberation Anniversary and ask this question: "If the U.S. military cared so much for their loyal Chamorros, then why did they `liberate' Saipan first?" After the fall of Saipan, Japanese atrocities increased at a horrifying rate. In the last month of the war, more Chamorros died than in the previous 31 months. If the United States had thought first of saving their suffering subjects rather then some abstract military tactic, then hundreds of Chamorros might still be with us today.

Rethinking our relations and obligations to the military is becoming more and more vital if we are to negotiate with them as partners. The renaming of Marine Drive doesn't instill me with patriotism instead it fills me with sadness, for on Guam we have prized war and militarism for too long.I would rather Marine Drive be renamed after the ocean that surrounds us and has supported us for millennia, long before we ever had commissary privileges and American flags.

San Diego

The road was eventually renamed and today is known as Marine Corps Drive. This issue still persists up until today. Recently Senator Frank Aguon proposed a bill to rename the Back Road to Anderson Air Force Highway. This seems strange considering how much of Guam the Air Force already controls. If you look at a map don't they get enough publicity simply by controlling most of the northern part of the island? What would be the purpose of giving them even more?

Two letters were submitted in response to my letter. The first was from the late John Gerber. I interacted with John Gerber several times over the years and he represented the prototypical Chamorro super patriot. His letter admonished me for daring to question anything. Gerber was the most stalwart defender of the liberation in Liberation Day. He was the one who initially pushed the renaming issue to the front of public discourse by walking from one end of Marine Drive to another in order to build awareness of his cause.

Dirk Ballendorf was the other who responded. He challenged my argument on the basis that even if Liberation Day was not really a liberation, the people of Guam still benefited from it and so there is plenty to celebrate and honor. This is a standard argument that misses the point. A side effect or byproduct of something, even if it is nice or lovely isn't what is supposed to define an object, act or event. In these sorts of commemorations the intention and the details do matter. You could celebrate Liberation Day as "Reoccupation Day" and still have many of the same aspects, but at least it would be closer to the truth.

After critiquing my argument Ballendorf then went on to congratulate me and acknowledge what my letter represented. The letter itself represented a clear maturation of the local population in intellectual terms. The fact that Chamorros were started to question things and speak out was a good indication of how far Chamorros had come and how we were educating ourselves. The voice was somewhat paternalistic, and that was the way he related to most people from the region. But he nonetheless meant well and was sincere in his support for local scholars and voices.

When I was a graduate student MARC was my home away from home. I lived in the library and archives there. I would spend hours and days there. The professors that I worked with were all experts in their field and I enjoyed listening to their stories of the islands, the cultures and the people.

When I look at MARC today things are very different. The library is still there and the archives have grown, but the professors are retiring or passing away. Don Shuster, who I also took classes with and has written on Micronesian affairs for years recently retired.

Friday, February 15, 2013

I Manggof Riku

The Paranoia of the Superrich and Superpowerful

Washington’s Dilemma on a “Lost” Planet

[This piece is adapted from “Uprisings,” a chapter in Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire, Noam Chomsky’s new interview book with David Barsamian (with thanks to the publisher, Metropolitan Books). The questions are Barsamian’s, the answers Chomsky’s.]


Does the United States still have the same level of control over the energy resources of the Middle East as it once had?

The major energy-producing countries are still firmly under the control of the Western-backed dictatorships. So, actually, the progress made by the Arab Spring is limited, but it’s not insignificant. The Western-controlled dictatorial system is eroding. In fact, it’s been eroding for some time. So, for example, if you go back 50 years, the energy resources -- the main concern of U.S. planners -- have been mostly nationalized. There are constantly attempts to reverse that, but they have not succeeded.
Take the U.S. invasion of Iraq, for example. To everyone except a dedicated ideologue, it was pretty obvious that we invaded Iraq not because of our love of democracy but because it’s maybe the second- or third-largest source of oil in the world, and is right in the middle of the major energy-producing region. You’re not supposed to say this. It’s considered a conspiracy theory.

The United States was seriously defeated in Iraq by Iraqi nationalism -- mostly by nonviolent resistance. The United States could kill the insurgents, but they couldn’t deal with half a million people demonstrating in the streets. Step by step, Iraq was able to dismantle the controls put in place by the occupying forces. By November 2007, it was becoming pretty clear that it was going to be very hard to reach U.S. goals. And at that point, interestingly, those goals were explicitly stated. So in November 2007 the Bush II administration came out with an official declaration about what any future arrangement with Iraq would have to be. It had two major requirements: one, that the United States must be free to carry out combat operations from its military bases, which it will retain; and two, “encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments.” In January 2008, Bush made this clear in one of his signing statements. A couple of months later, in the face of Iraqi resistance, the United States had to give that up. Control of Iraq is now disappearing before their eyes.

Iraq was an attempt to reinstitute by force something like the old system of control, but it was beaten back. In general, I think, U.S. policies remain constant, going back to the Second World War. But the capacity to implement them is declining.

Declining because of economic weakness?

Partly because the world is just becoming more diverse. It has more diverse power centers. At the end of the Second World War, the United States was absolutely at the peak of its power. It had half the world’s wealth and every one of its competitors was seriously damaged or destroyed. It had a position of unimaginable security and developed plans to essentially run the world -- not unrealistically at the time.

This was called “Grand Area” planning?

Yes. Right after the Second World War, George Kennan, head of the U.S. State Department policy planning staff, and others sketched out the details, and then they were implemented. What’s happening now in the Middle East and North Africa, to an extent, and in South America substantially goes all the way back to the late 1940s. The first major successful resistance to U.S. hegemony was in 1949. That’s when an event took place, which, interestingly, is called “the loss of China.” It’s a very interesting phrase, never challenged. There was a lot of discussion about who is responsible for the loss of China. It became a huge domestic issue. But it’s a very interesting phrase. You can only lose something if you own it. It was just taken for granted: we possess China -- and if they move toward independence, we’ve lost China. Later came concerns about “the loss of Latin America,” “the loss of the Middle East,” “the loss of” certain countries, all based on the premise that we own the world and anything that weakens our control is a loss to us and we wonder how to recover it.

Today, if you read, say, foreign policy journals or, in a farcical form, listen to the Republican debates, they’re asking, “How do we prevent further losses?”

On the other hand, the capacity to preserve control has sharply declined. By 1970, the world was already what was called tripolar economically, with a U.S.-based North American industrial center, a German-based European center, roughly comparable in size, and a Japan-based East Asian center, which was then the most dynamic growth region in the world. Since then, the global economic order has become much more diverse. So it’s harder to carry out our policies, but the underlying principles have not changed much.

Take the Clinton doctrine. The Clinton doctrine was that the United States is entitled to resort to unilateral force to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.” That goes beyond anything that George W. Bush said. But it was quiet and it wasn’t arrogant and abrasive, so it didn’t cause much of an uproar. The belief in that entitlement continues right to the present. It’s also part of the intellectual culture.

Right after the assassination of Osama bin Laden, amid all the cheers and applause, there were a few critical comments questioning the legality of the act. Centuries ago, there used to be something called presumption of innocence. If you apprehend a suspect, he’s a suspect until proven guilty. He should be brought to trial. It’s a core part of American law. You can trace it back to Magna Carta. So there were a couple of voices saying maybe we shouldn’t throw out the whole basis of Anglo-American law. That led to a lot of very angry and infuriated reactions, but the most interesting ones were, as usual, on the left liberal end of the spectrum. Matthew Yglesias, a well-known and highly respected left liberal commentator, wrote an article in which he ridiculed these views. He said they’re “amazingly naive,” silly. Then he expressed the reason. He said that “one of the main functions of the international institutional order is precisely to legitimate the use of deadly military force by western powers.” Of course, he didn’t mean Norway. He meant the United States. So the principle on which the international system is based is that the United States is entitled to use force at will. To talk about the United States violating international law or something like that is amazingly naive, completely silly. Incidentally, I was the target of those remarks, and I’m happy to confess my guilt. I do think that Magna Carta and international law are worth paying some attention to.

I merely mention that to illustrate that in the intellectual culture, even at what’s called the left liberal end of the political spectrum, the core principles haven’t changed very much. But the capacity to implement them has been sharply reduced. That’s why you get all this talk about American decline. Take a look at the year-end issue of Foreign Affairs, the main establishment journal. Its big front-page cover asks, in bold face, “Is America Over?” It’s a standard complaint of those who believe they should have everything. If you believe you should have everything and anything gets away from you, it’s a tragedy, the world is collapsing. So is America over? A long time ago we “lost” China, we’ve lost Southeast Asia, we’ve lost South America. Maybe we’ll lose the Middle East and North African countries. Is America over? It’s a kind of paranoia, but it’s the paranoia of the superrich and the superpowerful. If you don’t have everything, it’s a disaster.

The New York Times describes the “defining policy quandary of the Arab Spring: how to square contradictory American impulses that include support for democratic change, a desire for stability, and wariness of Islamists who have become a potent political force.” The Times identifies three U.S. goals. What do you make of them?

Two of them are accurate. The United States is in favor of stability. But you have to remember what stability means. Stability means conformity to U.S. orders. So, for example, one of the charges against Iran, the big foreign policy threat, is that it is destabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan. How? By trying to expand its influence into neighboring countries. On the other hand, we “stabilize” countries when we invade them and destroy them.

I’ve occasionally quoted one of my favorite illustrations of this, which is from a well-known, very good liberal foreign policy analyst, James Chace, a former editor of Foreign Affairs. Writing about the overthrow of the Salvador Allende regime and the imposition of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in 1973, he said that we had to “destabilize” Chile in the interests of “stability.” That’s not perceived to be a contradiction -- and it isn’t. We had to destroy the parliamentary system in order to gain stability, meaning that they do what we say. So yes, we are in favor of stability in this technical sense.

Concern about political Islam is just like concern about any independent development. Anything that’s independent you have to have concern about because it might undermine you. In fact, it’s a little ironic, because traditionally the United States and Britain have by and large strongly supported radical Islamic fundamentalism, not political Islam, as a force to block secular nationalism, the real concern. So, for example, Saudi Arabia is the most extreme fundamentalist state in the world, a radical Islamic state. It has a missionary zeal, is spreading radical Islam to Pakistan, funding terror. But it’s the bastion of U.S. and British policy. They’ve consistently supported it against the threat of secular nationalism from Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt and Abd al-Karim Qasim’s Iraq, among many others. But they don’t like political Islam because it might become independent.

The first of the three points, our yearning for democracy, that’s about on the level of Joseph Stalin talking about the Russian commitment to freedom, democracy, and liberty for the world. It’s the kind of statement you laugh about when you hear it from commissars or Iranian clerics, but you nod politely and maybe even with awe when you hear it from their Western counterparts.

If you look at the record, the yearning for democracy is a bad joke. That’s even recognized by leading scholars, though they don’t put it this way. One of the major scholars on so-called democracy promotion is Thomas Carothers, who is pretty conservative and highly regarded -- a neo-Reaganite, not a flaming liberal. He worked in Reagan’s State Department and has several books reviewing the course of democracy promotion, which he takes very seriously. He says, yes, this is a deep-seated American ideal, but it has a funny history. The history is that every U.S. administration is “schizophrenic.” They support democracy only if it conforms to certain strategic and economic interests. He describes this as a strange pathology, as if the United States needed psychiatric treatment or something. Of course, there’s another interpretation, but one that can’t come to mind if you’re a well-educated, properly behaved intellectual.

Within several months of the toppling of [President Hosni] Mubarak in Egypt, he was in the dock facing criminal charges and prosecution. It’s inconceivable that U.S. leaders will ever be held to account for their crimes in Iraq or beyond. Is that going to change anytime soon?

That’s basically the Yglesias principle: the very foundation of the international order is that the United States has the right to use violence at will. So how can you charge anybody?

And no one else has that right.

Of course not. Well, maybe our clients do. If Israel invades Lebanon and kills a thousand people and destroys half the country, okay, that’s all right. It’s interesting. Barack Obama was a senator before he was president. He didn’t do much as a senator, but he did a couple of things, including one he was particularly proud of. In fact, if you looked at his website before the primaries, he highlighted the fact that, during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006, he cosponsored a Senate resolution demanding that the United States do nothing to impede Israel’s military actions until they had achieved their objectives and censuring Iran and Syria because they were supporting resistance to Israel’s destruction of southern Lebanon, incidentally, for the fifth time in 25 years. So they inherit the right. Other clients do, too. 

But the rights really reside in Washington. That’s what it means to own the world. It’s like the air you breathe. You can’t question it. The main founder of contemporary IR [international relations] theory, Hans Morgenthau, was really quite a decent person, one of the very few political scientists and international affairs specialists to criticize the Vietnam War on moral, not tactical, grounds. Very rare. He wrote a book called The Purpose of American Politics. You already know what’s coming. Other countries don’t have purposes. The purpose of America, on the other hand, is “transcendent”: to bring freedom and justice to the rest of the world. But he’s a good scholar, like Carothers. So he went through the record. He said, when you study the record, it looks as if the United States hasn’t lived up to its transcendent purpose. But then he says, to criticize our transcendent purpose “is to fall into the error of atheism, which denies the validity of religion on similar grounds” -- which is a good comparison. It’s a deeply entrenched religious belief. It’s so deep that it’s going to be hard to disentangle it. And if anyone questions that, it leads to near hysteria and often to charges of anti-Americanism or “hating America” -- interesting concepts that don’t exist in democratic societies, only in totalitarian societies and here, where they’re just taken for granted.

Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor (retired) at MIT. He is the author of many books and articles on international affairs and social-political issues, and a long-time participant in activist movements. His most recent books include: Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance (City Lights Open Media), Hopes and Prospects, and Profit Over People: Neoliberalism & Global Order. Previous books include: 9-11: 10th Anniversary Edition, Failed States, What We Say Goes (with David Barsamian), Hegemony or Survival, and the Essential Chomsky.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A True Guam Historian

“Adios Tony”
by Michael Lujan Bevacqua
The Marianas Variety

From Guampdn
Many people assume that since Guam is a small island, its history can be known relatively easily. Someone who reads a book or spends some time on this island can become an expert, since there cannot be that much to know about this tiny rock in the Western Pacific right?

This is not how human communities work however. The smallness has no relevance to its complexity, the depth of its experiences or the contradictions that give it meaning. We here on Guam don’t often recognize this. We see more value and potential in someone who studies the history of larger place, than someone who studies the history of Guam. But for those who know the history well, there is far more to this place than you can discover in a lifetime of study. Tony Palomo, who passed away this past week was a testament to that. He is someone who lived and breathed Chamorro/Guam history for decades. 

When I first began to study the island’s history at the University of Guam, Tony Palomo was working at the Guam Museum. Whenever I would have questions I would make an appointment with him. I would stop by his office and we would sit for hours talking about the origins of family names, the everyday lives of Chamorros under the US Navy before World War II, the origins of the Chamorro diaspora and anything else I could think of. If he did not know the answer he was always able to point me in the right direction and give me the number of the next person that I should talk to.

He exemplified for me in so many ways the magic that a historian can create for people. You could ask him any question, any set of questions, and he could deftly move from topic to topic, recalling interviews he had done decades ago, documents he had somewhere in his files. This is the magic of a historian. The past is a chaos of events, and it can be daunting to make sense of it all. A good historian can weave it all into a compelling story, that will not only help you understand what happened in the past, but even provide an insight for what that history might tells us about what to do next.

Palomo, along with several other historians instilled in me a love of Guam History that I still keep until this day. He was never dull or bored with history, but even into his final years always smiling and joking.

He was best known for his book “Island in Agony” which discusses the Chamorro experiences in World War II. There is no shortage of coverage in terms of this period in Guam History. You have a wide array of articles, documentaries and books. Palomo’s stands out as an attempt to weave together as many elements of the war saga as possible. He sought to bring out the tragedy, the cruelty, but also the humor, the love, the complexity. In it he tried to create an homage to an island of survivors.  

He always talked about publishing more books, he certainly had a lot of writings, a lot of research and a lot to say, but another book never materialized.

I have so many fond moments of Tony Palomo, but my fondest is when I arranged for him to be interviewed for a documentary “The War in Guam.” The documentary was intended for a stateside audience and so each interview was closed with a question as to what they wanted the American people to know about Guam. If they could speak directly to them about Guam, what would they tell them about it? Most people responded with requests that they recognize the Americaness of the island and stop disrespecting Guam and its people! I expected a similar answer from Palomo, and he truly surprised me. 

He responded, his eye twinkling, with a half smile, that maybe he didn’t want the US to know much about Guam. So much of life on Guam is about proving ourselves to the United States and wanting them to recognize us. Although Palomo was of that generation that people (myself included) sometimes dismiss as being unable to critique the United States, he was hardly so. The value that we see to our speck of home in the Pacific is not the same as what others such as Spain, the US or Japan may see. It may not be right, but Palomo said the more they know about us, the more they see our value and take things away for their own interests. As a journalist, a politician and a historian he was aware of the contradictory and colonial nature of Guam’s relationship to the United States, but was uncertain about how to resolve it. Until Guam actually changes its political status and gets some inherent rights he said, a little friendly ignorance might be helpful in protecting ourselves.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chamorro Gangnam Style

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I was asked to do this months ago and it has been sitting on my computer ever since.

Gangnam Style was still new at that point and it was only primarily K-pop fans and nerds who were aware of its massive, macarena-like, world changing potential. Someone asked me to do a Chamorro version of it, taking the lyrics and translating them into Chamorro. It didn't take very long, but I just never got around to posting it.

First a couple of points. Number 1, this song is in Korean and I don't speak Korean. In order to understand it I had to rely on the translations of others. So there maybe obvious ways I couldn't grasp accurately what I was translating. But then again, the intent wasn't to take the lyrics to Gangnam Style exactly, but rather translate the feeling into Chamorro. This is a conundrum that you often face when doing translation work. If you take it exactly as it is written, you run the risk of making it lose the correct meaning in the new language, because of the way something may be said commonly in one language, but have an entirely different structure or system of meaning in another.

I chose to change several of the lines in order to make them easier to translate. I am never one to argue that something cannot be translated from one language to another. I believe everything can be translated, but the trick is that what can be said in a single word in one language, may require a sentence, a story or something much more complicated in order to express. What you find in the translation of songs is that while you may be able to say something in one language in just a few sentences, translating it directly into another language would take longer than the rhythm and beat of the song might allow.

One issue that always comes up is whether or not to change something that might be too synonymous with the original song and can't be easily changed? For example, Gangnam Style refers to the style of people who live in a certain affluent area in Seoul. When facing a translation choice like this you can simply keep "Gangnam Style" because it is so essential to how so many people know the song, that changing it to anything else, even "Modan Gangnam" or "Kustumbren Gangnam" wouldn't feel right. Another option it to localize it instead and attempt to capture the intent of the term, why it was used in the first place, and what it was supposed to convey. You can replace Gangnam with another area, someone the people who speak the newly translated language may be more familiar with. So when translating a song like this, you could change Gangnam to an area on Guam where people live a little bit or a lot bit better than those around them. Gangnam Style can be changed to Jonestown Style or Perezville Style.

So for my translation I left the famous line "Oppa Gangnam Style" in place, but it could easily be changed to something more local with Oppa being changed to Sus or Chu, and Gangnam Style change based on the discussion above.

The Chamorro version I translated is below, with an English translation of my translation as well.


Oppa is Gangnam style
Gangnam style

Un palao’an ni’ mangge yan gaimamahalo gi ha’ani
Un gaimoda na palao’an ni’ ha komprende i minalulok gi un gimmen kafe
Un palao’an ni’ korason-na mumas maipe gi i puenge
Un palao’an ni’ echong taiguihi

A girl who is delicious and has shame during the day
A fashionable girl who understands the satisfaction in a cup of coffee
A girl whose heart becomes warmer at night
A girl who is twisted like that 

Lahi yu’
Un lahi ni’ maipe lokkue’ gi ha’ani
Un lahi ni’ gumalamok i gimmen-hu kafe achokka’ mamaipe ha’
Un lahi ni’ gaikorason ni’ pumokpok kada puengge
Ayu na klasin lahi

I'm a guy
A guy who is also warm during the day
A guy who gulps down my coffee even if it's still hot
A guy with a heart that explodes each night
That kind of guy

Hunggan, Hagu, hunggan, Hagu, hoi
Gefpago, Guaiyayon
Hunggan Hagu, hoi, hunggan hagu hoi
Nihi ta konsigi esta ki i finakpo’

Yes you, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable,
Yes you, hey, yes you hey!
Let's continue until the end! 

Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style

Oppa is Gangnam style
Oppa Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh

A girl who looks quiet but plays when she plays
A girl who puts her hair down when the right time comes
A girl who covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it all
A sensable girl like that

Un palao’an ni’ trankilu lao gof a’gang an maagang
Un palao’an ni’ muna’libre i gaputulu-na sa’ ti ya-na magodde
Un palao’an ni’ matampe lao mas sinexy kinu I kesnuda
Un gaisensia na palao’an taiguihi

I’m a guy
A guy who seems calm but plays when he plays
A guy who goes completely crazy when the right time comes
A guy who has bulging ideas rather than muscles
That kind of guy

Guahu un lahi
Un lahi kalang katma lao a’gang an maagang
Un lahi ni’ sen kaduku anggen mafatto i ora
Un lahi ni’ machucha ni’ tiningo’ ti kodu
Ayu na klasin lahi
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Now let’s go until the end

Hunggan, Hagu, hunggan, Hagu, hoi
Gefpago, Guaiyayon
Hunggan Hagu, hoi, hunggan hagu hoi
Nihi ta konsigi esta ki i finakpo’

Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh

On top of the running man is the flying man, baby baby
I’m a man who knows a thing or two
On top of the running man is the flying man, baby baby
I’m a man who knows a thing or two

Gaige gi hilo’ i malalagu na lahi un gekpu na lahi, nene nene
Guahu na klasin lahi ni’ gaitiningo’
Gaige gi hilo’ i malalagu na lahi un gekpu na lahi, nene nene
Guahu na klasin lahi ni’ gaitiningo’

You know what I’m saying
Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Lunar Calendar Festival

Tomorrow I'll be at the Lunar Calendar Festival at the Fishermen's Co-op in Hagatna.

I'll be there for two reasons. First, I'll be displaying my grandfather's tools. Second, my artwork was used for the calendar that they'll be giving out this year. I'm very excited to see it.

Here is more information about the festival and the significance of the moon in Chamorro culture.


Public Service Announcement

The moon has always held much significance for the Chamorro people who have inhabited Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands for approximately 4,000 years.  The lunar movement synchronizes the life cycles of the flora and fauna of the islands and ocean.  The ancient Chamorro, being a seafaring people, relied on the moon phases to guide daily activities.  Modern Chamorro traditions and cultural values have evolved from these practices that encourage living in respect and harmony with the island environment.

The Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association, with support from the Dept. of Chamorro Affairs, Farmers Cooperative Association of Guam, Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association, Guam Organization of Saltwater Anglers, Guam Visitors Bureau, Mayor’s Council of Guam, Marianas Underwater Fishing Federation and the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, is celebrating the 5th Annual Gupot Fanha’aniyan Pulan CHamoru (Chamorro Lunar Calendar Festival) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, February 10, 2013, the phase of the New Moon and Lunar New Year.  It will be held on the grounds of the Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association along the stretch of the Marina and Boat Basin next to the Chamorro Village in Hagåtña.  Our event sponsors include our GUALÅFFON level sponsors Ambros Inc., Atkins Kroll/AC Delco, Docomo Pacific and Pacific Daily News; our PULAN level sponsors BankPacific, Coast 360 FCU and Southern Pacific Petroleum Corporation (76); and our Sinahi sponsor Guam Premium Outlets.

The Chamorro Lunar Calendar Committee under the auspices of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will be distributing (1 per family) the 2013 Fanha’aniyan Pulan CHamoru (Chamorro Lunar Calendar) which features the moon phases in the Chamorro language, the Guam tide charts and fishing seasons.  The calendar showcases beautiful art work from our local students who will be recognized at the opening ceremony at 10 a.m.  The art contest prizes were provided by Fish Eye Marine Park, Guam Tropical Dive Station, McDonalds of Guam and Under Water World.

The theme of the calendar and festival is "Fino’ Gualåffon:  Kontenuha Muna'lå'la' put Kutturåt Chamorro yan Siguridån Nengkanno'     (Moonlight Talk:  Addressing Sustainability through Chamorro Cultural and Food Security)."  This theme encourages discussion on how traditional knowledge and cultural practices promotes sustainable use of natural resources and ensures the island’s food security.  The lunar movement directs the life cycles of the flora and fauna of the land and ocean and central to life in our islands.  Threats to our Chamorro culture and food security can have catastrophic impacts to our natural resources and the people of the Marianas.  The practice of culture and traditions has provided the people of the Marianas resiliency and ensured the availability of food through sound traditional management of natural resources. 

The festival will also feature exhibits, displays, demonstrations and entertainment utilizing the Chamorro language and values.  Local artisans will provide demonstrations of their crafts; provide learning opportunities and have culturally crafted items for sale.  Cultural dance groups will provide continuous visual stimulation and entertainment through chants, song and movement.  Local farmers and fishermen will showcase their talents with produce and foods for taste and sale.  We are promoting the “Buy Local” program.

Continuing this year, in line with the Chamorro value of respect for our island, AK Guam and AC Delco are paying you to keep Guam green! Bring in your old car or boat battery to the 4th Annual Chamorro Lunar Festival and receive $5! And get $1 for your old motorcycle battery! Damaged, cracked, leaking or alkaline batteries excluded.  The drop off area for the batteries will be the festival entrance at the GFCA parking lot. 

A major highlight of the event will be the chinahan, an ancient Chamorro method of cooking underground. The public is invited to observe the preparation of the CHåhan (underground oven) when fish and starch crops such as taro, yams, breadfruit, tapioca and sweet potatoes will be placed in the earthen oven and at 4:00 p.m., it will be ceremoniously opened with a procession of food to the feast tables.  The procession will include representation from each of the island’s villages led by their Village Mayor with their contribution for the feast.  Once done, in the spirit of the Chamorro culture, the feast will be shared with those in attendance.  The event is free and open to the general public. 

Come Celebrate the Lunar New Year - Chamorro Style
Biba Chamorro!!!  Biba CHamoru!!!   Biba Guahan!!!  Biba Guam!!!


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