Monday, April 22, 2013


This weekend Peter Onedera’s play “Saina Destiladu” or “Elderly in Exile” is being shown at the John Robert Powers Theater in Maite. This play was originally performed almost 20 years ago, but it is as timely now as it was then. The story revolves around a modern Chamorro family caught between the traditional and contemporary values. The erosion of Chamorro culture, most prominently respect for i manamko, is the main drama of the play as two elderly grandparents are regularly disrespected and abandoned by their children. I watched the play over the weekend and couldn’t help but reflect on the state of our island and our culture today. It is so easy to say that times have changed or that culture just isn’t the same, but such talk is cheap and easy. We make decisions and make priorities and if things such as our language, respect and culture are declining it is because we aren’t choosing to embody them or protect them. Here are my thoughts, first in Chamorro and then translated into English:

Hu egga’ “Saina Destiladu” gi painge. Hu gof agradesi i mafa’nu’i-na. Tahdong i mensahi para i tiempon pa’go. “Tinane’” un palabra ni’ sesso mahungok pa’go, sa’ mantinanane’ hit todudu, ya gi este na play ma na’klaru i atdet na prublema put este na hinasso. Taimanu na mampos tinane’ hao na ti sina un attende i manaina-mu? Taimanu na mampos tinane’ hao na ti sina un tungo’ i lenguahi-mu? Taimanu na mampos tinane’ hao na un yuyute’ i kuttura-mu? I tiempon ti ha ayeyeki hit hafa presisu gi lina’la’-ta, Hita chumo’cho’gue ayu. Pues anggen un yuyute’ i manaina, i lenguahi yan i kuttura, munga masukne i tiempo pat i lina’la’ gi i tano’.

Este na play muna’hasso hit put este na sinangan i manamko’. “Achokka’ pa’go i pa’go-mu, agupa’ ti agupa’-mu.” Gi tiempon pa’go fihu para este na momento ha ta planeneha ya ta hassussuyi. Baba este na hinasso. Ti ma’ok. Ti maolek para i manamko’, ti maolek para i lenguahi, ti maolek para i kuttura.

I watched “Saina Destiladu” last night. I really appreciated it being show. It has a very deep message for today. “Busy” is a word we hear often nowadays, because we are all so busy. In this play they make clear the terrible problem with this. How can it be that you are too busy for your parents or your elders? How can it be that you are too busy to know your language? How can it be that you are so busy that you are throwing away your culture? The “times” aren’t choosing for us, what is important in our lives. We are doing that. So if you are getting rid of your language, culture or elders, don’t blame the times. 

This play reminds us about this piece of wisdom from our elders: Even if today is your day, tomorrow is not your tomorrow. In today’s times we often plan and think only of this present moment. This way of thinking is bad. It isn’t sustainable. It isn’t good for our elders, for our language and for our culture. 

It is interesting how in this time where we emphasize the rights and the happiness of the individual over everything else, we do not also see any real emphasis on individual responsibility or obligation. The illusion of the liberal-democratic capitalist world is that we are all pretty much free to do whatever we want and someone else, some government, some corporation or some low wage worker a world away will take care of everything. It means that while we can fantasize about how our lives are our own to map, we feel like less and less things in our life are our direct responsibilities.

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