Showing posts from March, 2013

The Birth of Nasion Chamoru

I am finishing up an entry for the website Guampedia on the activist group Nasion Chamoru. I didn't know much about Nasion Chamoru until I was  student at the University of Guam, and even then I would hear snippets from the media and from relatives and didn't really understand what they represented and what they were trying to do. Eventually after taking a Guam History classes, my artist temperament led me to question so many things about Guam and Chamorros that I had taken for granted or never even considered. This naturally led me to learn more about Nasion Chamoru and their members, their message. My grandfather being a cultural master helped identify me to people who might otherwise question the lightness of my skin or the strangeness of my last name. I spent time talking to members of Nasion Chamoru and I learned about their struggle. By this time Angel Santos had stepped out of the group and was a Senator and was also becoming ill. I would sit next to him at church with…

Prop 8 Chathinengge

Published on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 by The Advocate The 6 Most Absurd Prop. 8 Briefs The Supreme Court has managed to attract some of the most outlandish of arguments from some familiar antigay figures. by Kristina Lapinski  Nine U.S. Supreme Court justices hear arguments today in the Proposition 8 case and in the Defense of Marriage Act case on Wednesday. For the past few weeks briefs have flowed into the Supreme Court in an attempt to persuade the justices, from both sides of the issue. Gay U.S.A. The Movie has compiled a list of the most absurd amici briefs submitted by the anti-equality proponents:

Citizens United

We all remember the infamous Citizens United case, which robbed our democracy by allowing unlimited campaign contributions to tilt the political process in favor of the elite, opening the doors for shady Super PACs and gifts from the likes of Sheldon Adelson. The Citizens United arguments against marriage equality are just as unscrupulous.

In response to…

Chamorro Public Service Post #24: Nobia Yanggen Para Un Hanao

When I was doing oral histories on Guam, not too long ago, some of the most interesting stories were those of courtship and "dating" in pre-World War II Guam. As many manamko' state, there was no dating before the war, and this is no exaggeration. Young men and women were closely watched and restricted in their movements and activities. Men were given more freedom than women, but both were not allowed to freely associated with any person of the opposite sex to whom they were not closely related. With any such social prohibition there are plenty of sagas of the exceptions. These exceptions for the most part can be found in the tales of mythical others. People who bravely went against the times or were victimized by the times or who seemed to not belong in the time to which they were born. These people always exist, and are spoken about sometimes in disgust/distaste, sometimes with jealous admiration. But even if the person you are talking to may have had similar experien…

Chamorro Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas was by far my favorite film of 2012. It was a film I only saw once, but wanted to watch again immediately after I left the theatre. Part of this is due to the fact that a group of actors play multiple roles in different historical eras. Some of them are obvious, others aren’t so clear. The film becomes a type of game trying to figure out who is who. In the credits they flash on the screen each actor and all their roles. You realize then how many you recognized and how many zipped before your vision but you didn’t recognize them.
The story itself is complicated and so that might also create that desire. You want to see it again because there may be a section you didn’t quite catch or weren’t quite sure about. At certain points the jumping across times can be confusing, especially towards the beginning when you don’t quite have your bearings yet. As one of the characters in the film states, a half finished book is like an unfinished love affair. It is unsettling and unsatis…

Okinawa Independence #10: Islander Language School

When I visited Okinawa last year I was fortunate enough to visit a language school started by a group of activists who are working towards the revitalization of Uchinaguchi or the main dialect of Okinawa. I had met most of them over the years at conferences in the states or on solidarity trips around the Asia-Pacific region. I was impressed with their grassroots efforts and in the year since they even received a small government grant to provide stipends for the community members who were offering their time to teach the classes. In these classes parents and children would work together to learn the language. Unfortunately when I visited last week the school was on vacation and wouldn't start again for several weeks.

I thought it would be nice to share some of the photos I took last year. Part of the benefit of these types of trips is not only the inspiration you can feel from seeing people who at work who are committed and dedicated. It is also important to learn about each othe…

Okinawa Independence #9: Revitalizing > Preserving > Promoting

My previous trips to Okinawa revolved around demilitarism and decolonization in a political sense. This trip, because of my participation in the Island Language Revitalization Symposium at Ryukyu University was focused on decolonization with regards to the language in Okinawa. As people have asked me about my trip to Okinawa and what it was like I have developed a sort of easy to use, easy to understand narrative that I rely upon.
Most think of Okinawa and Guam as places that are linked only through the presence of US military bases. Chamorros from Guam know Okinawa primarily through the imaginary of the military, as a place where they once lived, trained or heard stories of how the people there protest the US military. I want to challenge those limited ideas and show that there are more potential connections beyond that, more chances for solidarity. I want to help people see Okinawa from Guam not through the lens that you get by serving in the military, or getting your identity from…

Okinawa Independence #8: Takae Protest Camp

Although Okinawa is a small island, like anywhere, distances are relative. Although to get from one end to the other is far easier than getting from one end of California to another, or one end of Greenland to another, southern and central areas of the island are distinct and detached in many ways from the less densely populated and more natural northern forests. For the past six years there has been a protest camp in Takae in Higashi village in Yanbaru Forest. The camp consists of several barricades in front of the entrances to US military training areas where they are currently building six helipads. Because this area is "far" away from the island's population centers, the protest gets less attention.

I wanted to help publicize the continuing struggle of the villagers in Takae, and so below I'm uploading several pictures.


Okinawa Independence #7: Island of Protests

Okinawa is well known around the world as a site of protest. Its history has been marked with numerous protests regarding the many US military bases that is "hosts" as well as its colonial and neo-colonial treatment by the Japanese central government. Just last year over 100,000 people gathered for a demonstration.

Okinawa is an island of protests, some big and some small. All protests are not equal. There is a logic to how they are perceived by the public. Some will appear to be more important than others. Some sites of protest will appear to be more essential than others. People will be more easily drawn to them. They will see those who stand along the fence, along the road, holding signs as being heroic. They will see places beside them where others should stand, where they could themselves stand. They will see this protest as representing important things, even if it violates laws and social norms. Other protests will be seen as less important. There will be an ever gre…

Okinawa Independence #6: Critical Metaphors

The representative from Hawai'i at the Island Language Revitalizaation Forum this week at Ryukyu University is Noelani Iokepa-Guerrero. She is both a professor at University of Hawai'i, Hilo but also Program Director for the Punana Leo Hawaiian Medium preschools. She is very much involved in the training of Native Hawaiian teachers and the perpetuation of the immersion school programs that have been created there over the past 30 years. Her presentation at the conference was "Hawaiian Language Revitalization: 30 Years of Lessons Learned" and it laid out the approach to teaching the language that Native Hawaiians have developed.

In the early days of their revitalization efforts they simply translated materials from other languages and other contexts. This proved ineffective and so efforts were made to create a curriciulum that was rooted in Native Hawaiian language, history adn culture. As a result of this they came to develop 5 key lessons or insights. These 5 simpl…

Okinawa Independence #5: Beyond the Fence

I don’t know if I ever mentioned this on my blog, but I am a co-host for the KPRG program “Beyond the Fence.” This is a radio show that was started after the DEIS Comment period for the military buildup in 2010. The name “beyond the fence” was chosen because the show was originally intended to bring attention to the issues outside of the fence, so how the buildup would affect the rest of the island. The name also came to mean sometimes that those outside of the fence would be given a peak as to what happens inside the fence. Sometimes episode would deal with things that the military and its employees struggle with.
It has evolved into more of a community program that talks about critical issues. Episodes were initially focused on the military buildup and militarism in Guam, Micronesia and the Pacific. At present you can listen to episodes dealing with any pertinent local or regional issue. You can also listen to interviews with long time community activists as well as people that ar…