Showing posts from April, 2014

The Taotaomo'na in the Tempest

“Shakespeare gi Guinaiya yan Chinatli’e’” Michael Lujan Bevacqua Marianas Variety 4/30/14
Shakespeare’s Hamlet asks, “Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, / And by opposing end them?”Hamlet is paralyzed by the fear of death or suffering, but ultimately moves toward decisive political rebellion.
Similarly, the African-American lesbian poet, scholar, and activist Audre Lorde speaks of the radicalizing crisis in her life when she faced a diagnosis of breast cancer: “I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself.My silences had not protected me.Your silence will not protect you.”
Most might assume that it is ridiculous to compare a “great” writer such as Shakespeare to an activist like Lorde. One of them so many seem to accept as the height of human achievement whereas the other is generally read only within feminist and ethnic studies circles. There is some…

Christmas 1947

The relationship between Chamorros and the United States has always been stimulated and frustrated by the United States military. When Chamorros were initially promised the greatness of the United States in terms of democracy, freedom and liberty in 1899, they instead met with the US Navy which governed by island for half of a century not allowing any of those three things to exist in any formal sense on the island. When Chamorros began to join the US military as a way of improving their lives and learning the importance of service and patriotism and how the greatest of any community are those who take on the sacrifice of sacrificing for all others, instead they were met with racism that relegated them to only serving in the lowest ranks of the US Navy, being just mess attendants. Even when Chamorros finally felt and learned first hand the liberating potential of the US military when it expelled the Japanese during World War II, they also learned that the US military has a tendency t…

It Doesn't Remind Me

The title of this article still makes me chuckle. How could anyone imagine that World War II would not complicate the Pacific Pivot or in general US foreign policy making in Asia?It was a terrible war in which both sides committed terrible atrocities, both sides then used the events in order to create massive amnesia campaigns, one through self-aggrandizement and liberating potential, the other through victimization and unique suffering, and the most enduring material legacy is a string of bases, like a great wall of Asia, upon which the United States gets to project force and protect its interests. From the US nationalist gaze the events of the war should lead to compliant and subservient allies, to the victor should go all the bases and training areas they want. But this is what happens when nationalisms, both Rightist and Leftist clash, is that ultimately being allies is one thing, but having another nation with its hand in the story of how you organize your collective ideological …

Racial Enjoyment

I am in Saipan this weekend for the Flame Tree Festival. I am so excited for this opportunity to travel here and take part in what is the CNMI's largest cultural celebration. I have heard about the Flame Tree Festival for years but never attended it before. It has been intriguing after spending a few hours at the festival this evening, to see the it is similar to a festival like the Guam Micronesian Island Fair, but still different. I'm sure I will be writing more about it later.

But as the day is long over, my mind for irritating reasons is stuck thousands of miles away on the comments of Cliven Bundy. With his comments on blacks and slavery, his anti-government rhetoric and the way conservatives rallied around him and then quickly scattered, there is so much to write about, even if it is such a pathetic little thing to talk about. It is frustrating to the way people celebrate improvements in race relations and in race conversations by making it about policing speech and all e…

A Play Called Pagat

A Play Called Pagat Michael Lujan Bevacqua The Marianas Variety 4/16/14 Later this month, the University of Guam will be holding a series of special premiere performances of the locally written and produced play, “Pågat.” This play and these performances are made possible through a collaboration with UOG’s Theater and Chamorro Studies programs and the cultural dance group Inetnon Gefpago. The play will focus on the complexities of contemporary and historical Chamorro identity, through a cast of four modern young adults and the memories of a cast of spirits who share with the audience key moments in the history of the Chamorro people.
Full disclosure, I am one of the playwrights for this play and so naturally I am biased in terms of its awesomeness and its potential. This play was originally written by Victoria Leon Guerrero and I for the dance group Inetnon Gefpago. In 2010, their leader Vince Reyes asked Victoria and I to write a play that would celebrate their ten-…

Okinawan Protest Music

Okinawa's musicians provide a focus for Japanese protest against US bases With Barack Obama visiting Japan in April, resentment at plans for the US Futenma military base is finding a musical voice in Okinawa, Thursday 17 April 2014 15.50 BSTIf an island of 1.4m people can be summed up in a sound, it is that of the sanshin. Where there are people on Okinawa, a Japanese island almost 1,000 miles south of Tokyo, the distinctive tones of the three-stringed instrument are never far away.

Music is deeply rooted in Okinawa's tragic place in Japan's history and the conduit for its modern grievances against the glut of US military bases on the island. As Barack Obama prepares to visit Tokyo to meet Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, later in April, the anti-war message of sanshin players such as Shoukichi Kina and Misako Oshiro is back in vogue as the subtropical island confronts its biggest political challenge since it rever…

Please Sink My Battleship

The movie Battleship is critically reviled and if I were a critic of film I would definitely join the party in hating it. It is a children's game that was blown up Jerry Bruckheimer style into a massive, special-effects laden, clunky, chunky and funky action flick. It lacks any delicate touches or even nuances, unless of course you count slow motion shots of epic faced characters with over-saturated color as a nuance.

The story itself should be familiar. Aliens attack the world and they are fought off. One unique aspect of the film is that it takes place in Hawai'i, usually known as a setting for fantasy-paradise jaunts of the Western, American-centered world. Or Hawai'i as a locale is often invisibly inserted into films provided the scenery for ancient jungles, humid alien worlds or lost islands. Many of these films attempt to hide the contemporary nature of Hawai'i and instead film, edit and crop the place into becoming something majestically camera ready for waste…

Mes Chamoru

During the month of March, my phone rings more than usual. It is Chamorro Month, and so every government agency, school, organization and most businesses look for some way to honor this month and display their support for Chamorro language and culture. Considering how Chamorro culture was stripped of much of its value after World War II because of a rush to Americanize; the renewed interest in protecting and promoting Chamorro culture is a very good thing. When I ask my students at UOG, what their culture is, or what their cultures are, I always receive interesting responses. For some students, they feel like they are very cultural because they know certain practices, such as fishing, weaving, dancing or can speak the language. For most however, they feel like they don’t know their culture or don’t have it. They see the ways their parents or grandparents are and see them as having so much culture, and they see themselves as having little to nothing. For some this is sad, for others it…


For Immediate Release:                                                        Contact: Michelle Blas April 7, 2014                                                                 University Theater Presents:Pågat: A locally written and produced play about the Chamoru spirit, culture and identity By Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua and Victoria-Lola Leon GuerreroApril 24-26 and May 1-3
University Theater closes its 2013-2014 season with the play Pågat, written by local writers Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua and Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, directed by Michelle Blas, and featuring choreography by Vince Reyes of Inetnon Gef På’go.  Pågat explores the complexities of cultural identity and change through the lives of four modern young adults and the memories of a cast of spirits, who share key moments in the history of the Chamoru people. The play is set in a latte site in the jungles of Pågat. The play also conveys the essence of the word Pågat, which means to advise or giv…

You Joined the Military to See the World...

One thing that I often try to impress upon people, especially those who want to become activists and get involved in struggles in Guam against things such as militarization or in favor of things such as decolonization, is the importance of understanding the nature of your fight and what you are up against. One of the key advantages to considering social movements in war terms is that it helps you understand better that feeling right or being right has close to no effect on whether or not you win your battles. The only way in which that feeling of righteousness would carry any significance is if you believe that God is the ultimate judge in terms of who wins and loses on the battlefield and so strategy and planning matters little when all rests in his His hands. Sureness in your cause and the need for your fight can help bring you to the fray and keep you there, but if anything it can actually hurt your ability to strategize perceive the discursive field that awaits your interventions…