Thursday, January 15, 2015

Un Popblen na Familia

Storytelling has long been such a big part of Chamorro culture. When Chamorros were largely shut out of the governing of their islands and their lives during the last few centuries of colonization, often times their stories were their means of fighting back, whether through teasing, through imagining, through remembering. Even when they largely appear to have accepted their colonial realities, the stories persisted, sometimes changing to accommodate new beliefs and new senses of normality, but still the love of storytelling and of using words to create meaning, to incite responses, to give an extra dimension to life did not fade. You can find it in the stories of Juan Mala, where Chamorros expressed their dislike for the Spanish government of the 19th century through a folk hero, who shared their love of joking, laughing and eating. You can find it in the stories of the giant fish who saved Guam, some versions focus on female power, others on explaining the shape of the island and some even point to Santa Maria Kamalen and the Catholic church as being the savior. Even in the way that some stories that were most likely brought in from elsewhere achieve their own intriguing or unique local meaning is part of that power. When I watched Pirates of the Carribbean: On Stranger Tides with my kids, they were so confused. The stories of mermaids, most notably Sirena on Guam are either tales to chastise naughty kids or lessons for abusive parents. There are also aspects about Sirena being a Goddess or a  Queen of the sea and controlling fish and living happily engulfed by the ocean, where she perhaps always truly belonged. But there is none of the frightening or dangerous parts that we find in other culture's interpretations of mermaids. When Sumahi saw the mermaids attacking and killing sailors and pirates, she was so appalled. How could Sirena and her fellow mermaids act like this? What was I not telling her or hiding from her if this is the way mermaids are? I explained to her that ti parehu ayu na klasin Sirena yan iyo-ta na klasin Sirena. I Sirena siha giya Guahan, manmangge, ya-niha manayuda taotao. Lao gi otro tano', sina manmalamana. She gave me her patent "do I believe you or not believe you" stare, before turning back to the movie.

It is imperative that we continue to create new stories, mixing them with the old, not being afraid to challenge the new. If our stories are only about times past, whether ancient or World War II, we will always look to the future with a poor, impoverished imagination. We will imagine our future as being carved out by others. We will feel the need to have others tell us what to do, to command us forward, to show us the map of where we should go, since our own culture, our own consciousness is always too rooted in the past. Often times, native peoples, especially those who have experienced heavy levels of colonization and cultural change, will focus too heavily on that past, excavating and digging up whatever they can. But our attention always has to be focused on the future, where are we going, the stories that will inspire us as we head there. That will assure ourselves of our ability to face the future's challenges.

Below is a story from Katherine Aguon, which is featured in the Hale'-ta books and also her own Chamorro language curriculum. I have been spending the past few years collecting as many stories like this that I can. Apologies kontiempo at the fact that the diacritic or spelling marks aren't in this version of it. I'm typing on my computer where making those marks are difficult.

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Un Popblen na Familia

Guaha un familia mansaga’ apmam na tiempo gi chago’ na lugat. Yan-niha guihi sa’ mamamomoksai mannok yan babui. Manmanananom lokkue’ chotda, suni yan dagu. I dos asagua, gaifamagu’on, tres lalahi yan dos palao’an. Si Agapito na’an-na I tata yan Si Isabet i na’an-na i nana.

Unu gi lahin-niha gof metgot. I na’an-na Si Tano’. Hunggan magahet na gof metgot Si Tano’. Sina ha hatsa i mas yommok na babui.

Dos gi lahen-niha kalan malalangu. Taya’ I dos na pumeska gi halomtano’ pat i tasi. I saddok ha’ na pumepeksa I dos che’lu, lao un ratu ha’. I na’an-niha si Tunu yan Si Fumu. I dos palao’an na’an-niha Si Flora yan Si Konchita. Si Flora kakanta yan bunita. Si Konchita ti kakanta, lao malate’.

Gi ma’pos na simana, ilek-na I tata na malago’ ha bende I ga-na siha mannok yan babui gi metkao sa’ malago Si Tan Isabet mamahan magagun eskuela para I famagu’on. Guaha ha’ didide’ salape’ lao ti malago’ Si Tun Agapito na u ma gasta todu, sa’ ha nisisita I atof guma’ mafa’maolek. Ha nisista lokkue’ I kareta mafa’maolek.

Ti manmagof i famagu’on na para u ma bende I pineksai siha. Ma disidi, pues ma cho’gue otro planu para u fanmama’salape’.

Humanao Si Tunu yan Si Fumu manhokka’ un pickup na niyok ya ma bende gi tenda siha. Humanao Si Tano’ ya pumeska babuen halomtano’. Ha konne’ kasi dosse na babuen machalek. Ma puno’ todu ya ma na’gasgas. Pues ma chule’ guatu gi metkao ya ma bende. Meggai fina’tinas-niha salape’.

Humanao Si Flora yan Si Konchita ya mamfe’ meggai flores gi uriya. Ma fa’korona pues humanao I dos ya ma bende gi kanton chalan. Mientras mannanangga I dos kumakanta Si Flora ni’ mambunitu na kanta Chamorrita. Meggai kareta mamara sa’ ma hungok I kantan Flora. Mientras kumakanta Si Flora, Si Konchita ha sangangani I pasaheru siha hafa pinadesin familian-niha. Gof malate’ Si Konchita, magahet, sa’ ha na’fanatanges I pasaheru siha ni bunitun estoria-na. Un ratu ha’ mafahan todu I korona. Munahong i salape’.

Manhanao i famagu’on guatu gi gima’ anai munhayan i benden-niha. Ma na’I I sainan-niha ni’ salape’. Tumanges I dos amko’ pues mandimu todu ya ma na’I Si Yu’us grasia.

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