Showing posts from February, 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 f…

Guinaiya gi Fino' Chamoru #3

“Guinaiya gi Fino’ Chamoru #3” Michael Lujan Bevacqua 2/13/13 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 …

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.

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 …

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 po…

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 p…

I Manggof Riku

Published on Monday, February 4, 2013 by The Paranoia of the Superrich and Superpowerful Washington’s Dilemma on a “Lost” Planet by Noam Chomsky
[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 -- t…

A True Guam Historian

“Adios Tony” by Michael Lujan Bevacqua 2/6/13 The Marianas Variety
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 th…

Chamorro Gangnam Style

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 …

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, wi…