Showing posts from July, 2013


This banner was used by fans during a soccer match between Japan and South Korea.

It reads "There is no future for a race oblivious to history."

It was meant to reference Japanese colonization and brutality in the Korean peninsula prior to and during World War II. Japan has struggled since World War II with its memory, often times opting to forget large chunks of their history in order to remake themselves and reimagine themselves and their history. Japan was once a nation of aggressors now it thinks of itself as a nation of victims. It was victimized by Western powers in the war, had two nuclear bombs dropped on it and today is forced to shoulder the humiliation of having so many US bases in their territory. This matrix of "humiliation" is helpful in keeping history at bay and preventing people from being reminded of it.

Japan is often pointed to as being somehow unique in terms of its "minaleffa." In some ways the 180 degree turn that Japan did after t…

End the Korean War

Published on Friday, July 26, 2013 by Common Dreams After 60 Years of Suffering, Time to Replace Korean Armistice with Peace Treaty by Christine Ahn

Sixty years ago today, the United States, North Korea and China sat down to sign the Korean Armistice Agreement to “insure a complete cessation of hostilities.” Several provisions were to guarantee a peaceful settlement, including a permanent peace agreement, withdrawal of all foreign troops, and no new arms introduced into Korea. Six decades later, none of these have been honored. As such, war, not peace, defines the relationship between Washington and Pyongyang.

Official commemorations are now taking place throughout Korea and United States, mostly honoring veterans who sacrificed their lives to fight the Forgotten War. Missing from this sanctioned remembering are the nearly four million Korean, mostly civilian, lives lost in just three years. Also missing is the central question: what are the costs of maintaining d…

Celebrating Liberation Day in a Colony...

Lately I have been so busy that I don't have as much time as I would like to write up my thoughts on this blog. I spent an entire week in Taiwan and did not write a single post. I was too busy with meetings and traveling and found that by the time I would return to my room, I would immediately collapse onto my bed without typing a single word.

The month of July is one of the strangest for Guam. It is the month where the most talking about remembering takes place, but the commemoration is naturally very selective and very uninformative about Guam's history or contemporary state. I was trying to write up my thoughts before Liberation Day, but life intervened and so I'm not finished yet. I was at least happy to see that the Liberation Day coverage was not uniformly taihinasso. The usual stories were trotted out and the usual narratives were stuck onto poles and waved about for everything to salute. But amidst it all an unexpected article from Japan emerged to p…

Learning to Fly

When Pale’ Diego Luis San Vitores came to Guam to Christianize the Chamorro people he had one very important secret weapon. I Fino’ Chamoru. Prior to his arrival in 1668, San Vitores had enlisted the aid of a Filipino named Esteban who had been shipwrecked for many years in the Marianas and had learned to speak Chamorro. While sailing towards Guam to start their work, San Vitores worked diligently with Esteban to become fluent in Chamorro, even writing the first grammar work and several Chamorro religious texts.
When San Vitores arrived, Chamorros were amazed at his ability to speak their language, something that no newcomer had ever achieved before. The Spanish often came to Guam in two distinct groups. There were those who stopped for a very brief period primarily to take on supplies, slaves or kill a few Chamorros. For them the local people spoke gibberish. The other group were shipwrecked sailors or people who had jumped ship, like the infamous Fray Juan Pobre in hopes of evange…

Back to Subic Bay

By Bruce Gagnon Organizing Notes My wonderful host and guide Corazon Fabros organized another great day for me on Sunday.Five of us loaded into a van and headed northwest towards the beautiful green mountains near the former US Navy base at Subic Bay. Once on the MacArthur Highway we again passed miles of rice paddies and I saw many workers planting the rice in the wet fields.As we got further into the rural areas thatched roof houses became more common alongside those with the rusty tin roofs. I learned that the Catholic Church currently owns many of the rice fields.One veteran activist told me that after the US defeated Spain and took control of the Philippines in 1902; one negotiated point was that the Catholic Church could hold onto their vast land holdings t…

The Sky

In a few weeks it will be the anniversary of the dropping of the A-Bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I recently picked up a book, titled White Flash, Black Rain: Women of Japan Relive the Bomb, which features poetry and testimonials from Japanese women who survived the bomb. The language and imagery are haunting and chilling in the way writing about such an inhuman experience should be.


The Sky
by Horiba Kiyoko

I want you all to know how blue the sky was
the sky toward which the millions of rain-struck
and sunburned eyes were turned

How blue the sky was
the sky
silently embracing
moans of the inflamed earth
a hell more cruel than hell
instantly imprinted for eternity on the retinas of
dead embryos

How blue the sky was
after the white parachute clouds
flew away far beyond the mountain range
their poison mushrooms floating away
on our Acheron


August 6, 1945
The day that stains humankind
that day the blue sky
bloomed splendid crimson and purple
a mandala of old…

The Road to Nowhere

"The Road to Nowhere"
Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Marianas Variety

Last week I wrote about “decolonization stagnation” on Guam and how for a variety of reasons the quest for decolonization, at the level of the world, the UN and the United States isn’t moving very quickly. This week I wanted to discuss more about the role of the United Nations and the United States in decolonizing Guam.
Despite the fact that most people have become accustomed to speaking in universals, and speaking about this world that we inhabit, most on earth see themselves in a national framework, as attached first and foremost not to this planet, but to an imagined territory upon its surface. Because of this the United Nations can have great power symbolically, representing the world’s international potential, but has little practical value.
Nowhere is this more true than for those 17 territories that the UN recognizes as still being colonized and still requiring a process of decolonization for them t…

Decolonization Today

Decolonization today Monday, 15 Jul 2013 03:00am BY MAR-VIC CAGURANGAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF Hits: 211 (First of a two-part series)

ON JULY 21, Marine Corp Drive will be filled with parades to mark the day the U.S. Marines took Guam in a bloody 1944 battle that liberated the island from the Japanese forces during World War II.

Sixty-nine years since Guam’s liberation, political leaders are again seeking liberty – this time for self-governance.

“Our journey will never be complete unless we undertake to resolve our political status and to decolonize Guam,” Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo said during her congressional address before the 32nd Legislature on May 30.

“We must renew our determination to take the necessary steps that will define our political relationship with the United States, and to give the people of Guam the political dignity that they deserve,” she added.

17 colonies

Guam is one of the 17 remaining colonies in the post-colonial per…

Okinawa Independence Movement

In Okinawa, Talk of Break From Japan Turns Serious
The New York Times

Chosuke Yara, the head of the Ryukyu Independence Party, last month. “Independence is an idea whose time has come,” he said.

In a windowless room in a corner of a bustling market where stalls displayed severed pigs’ heads and bolts of kimono silk, Okinawans gathered to learn about a political idea that until recently few had dared to take seriously: declaring their island chain’s political independence from Japan.

About two dozen people of all ages listened as speakers challenged the official view of Okinawa as inherently part of homogeneous Japan, arguing instead that Okinawans are a different ethnic group whose once-independent tropical islands were forcibly seized by Japan in 1879. Then, to lighten the mood, the organizers showed “Sayonara, Japan!”, a comedy about a fictional Okinawan island that becomes its own little republic.

“Until now, you were mocked if you spoke of independence,” said one spea…

Minagahet yan Dinagi Siha

I invite you to tune in to Beyond the Fence which airs every Friday at noon on Public Radio Guam-KPRG 89.3 FM, immediately following Democracy Now.  This one hour locally produced program features interviews with diverse individuals and coverage of public events offering analysis and personal perspectives on the local impacts of US global militarism in the Asia-Pacific, especially in Guam and the Northern Marianas.  It provides accounts of different forms of resistance, decolonization and sovereignty  struggles, and the challenges of building community beyond the fence.  Audio podcasts of most episodes are available for free and may be downloaded within five days of the original broadcast by going to and clicking on the link to Beyond the Fence or by going directly to
Ep. 154 “Minagahet yan Dinagi Siha: The Revitalization of the Chamorro Language” (hosted by Rosa Salas Palomo with production assistance of Joy White ) was recorded by …

The Lone Ranger

Not many people remember who Guam's version of the Lone Ranger was.

He was someone who in a time of terrible crisis and injustice, with great risk to himself, stood up for the Chamorro people.

Juan Mala or Juan Malo might be someone you would consider to fit this category. In some of his stories he does wear a mask to hide his identity when he is tricking and defrauding the Spanish on the island. But alas, Juan Mala stories were popular long before the Long Ranger even existed.

Agualin could be a wishful candidate. During a time of terrible warfare and atrocities he worked to organize the Chamorro people to fight against Spanish colonization. He did not shy away from a fight but in the speech attributed to him he called on them to rise up, and that he would lead them with his lance that has killed many and will kill them all. Metgot na sinangan. But once again Agualin lived long before the Lone Ranger was created.

If you were a drinking man than someone from prewar Guam who was…

Colonial Mention of the Day

Colonialism isn't supposed to exist anymore, which is why it is intriguing every time I hear someone use it and its imagery in order to make their point today. People who are trapped in relationships call them colonial. People who feel exploited name it colonial. People who feel oppressed refer to it as colonial. I have even heard it used in positive senses, as in moving into a place and changing the way it operates, for the better, as being colonial. 
The colonial mention of the day comes from a group of Latin American leaders from countries who have long resisted United States hegemony in the region. The United States is trying to play is very su'anu with regards to the Edward Snowden scandal. They want to pretend like its nothing, like he's lint you just brush off your shoulder. It is no big deal. But at the same time they are applying very real pressure throughout the world in order to punish him and take away his options. The issue is not Snowden himself of course, but…

The Wild Western Pacific

For the very first showing of The Lone Ranger on island, I took my kids. I have been excited about the film for a long time, for a variety of reasons and was eager to watch it as soon as possible. The previews looked exciting and ridiculous like so many Pirates of the Caribbean movies. There were several key differences however that made me more excited and more intrigued to see The Lone Ranger. 

 The Lone Ranger wasn't going to be another one of those ridiculous ensemble films where the last 40 mins are just endless resolutions to the mess that the writers and directors have created by having so many famous faces. I'm also a fan of Johnny Depp, even some of his less than popular or weird roles I still find interesting. I have for the past few years had a weird fascination with Westerns. I hated the genre for most of my life because the films weren't very well made and the politics involved were sometimes terrible. I had a few films such as Dances With Wolves or…

Guam is a Dirty Word

“Guam is a Dirty Word” Michael Lujan Bevacqua Marianas Variety 7/3/13
When I wrote my dissertation in Ethnic Studies I ran into several methodological problems. The chief among them was how to write about Guam’s colonial status in a world where countries pretend it doesn’t exist anymore? How do you write about it when most people on Guam don’t want to admit to it and neither does the United States? As a result most of the discourse that is produced about Guam doesn’t admit to its colonial truths and pretends it doesn’t exist. For me this doesn’t mean that Guam’s status is any less colonial, but it means that because of the nature of the world today, the evidence of Guam’s colonial status is never formal, it has to be found in other ways.
Joe Murphy used to joke that Guam was a “dirty word” or a “four letter word,” and in one sense he was right. Guam today is something that is obscene, in the same way as other small places beset by militarism and colonialism. The Marshall Islands, D…