Monday, March 16, 2015

Adios Tony

In 2012 I had the honor of traveling to Washington D.C. as part of the Guam delegation for the First Stewards Symposium, a gathering of native peoples associated with the US to discuss climate change. We performed at the National Museum of the American Indian and set up a display there of Chamorro cultural tools and artifacts. One of the highlights of the trip is that I got to spend time with Tony Ramirez, long time curator for the Guam Museum. I had known him primarily as the curator but through talking to him I learned so much more, even about his past as one of Guam's progressive activists and even participated in the Sella Bay protests of the 1970s. Guam has lacked a real museum for too long and it was always Tony's mission to see a new museum built and in use. He passed away earlier this year and it is truly tragic that he didn't get to see the museum he helped sustain for so long finished in Hagatna.

While he was waiting for a new museum to be designed and built, Tony wrote a short pamphlet titled "I Hinanao-ta" which provided a basic overview of the history that would be covered in the museum's permanent exhibit. It told the story of the Chamorro people and their islands in the Marianas. In my work for the museum I've used that to provide a basic narrative, but also moved beyond it where the narrative made have been too outsider focused or may have been proven inaccurate or incomplete by more recent scholarship.

Here is a letter included in the booklet to recognize the work of Tony Ramirez in drafting it. Ya-hu este sa' ma tuge' gi Fino' Chamoru. Below I've also included a Marianas Variety article about his passing:

"I Hinanao-ta" priniparan i Depattamenton Chamorro Affairs (DCA) Guam Museum para i kuminidat Guam ni' ma silelebra guini na Mayu i "Silebrasion Mes Faninadahen Kosas." I ma ayek siha na litratu eyu siha ni' a'annok put i hestorian Guam, i ate yan i kottura. Sina ma na'setbe este na lepblo gi gima', gi eskuela yan prugrama siha gi entre i kumunidat.

Ta kommenda Si Sinot Tony Ramirez, I Museum Curator yan i emplehao i DCA's Guam Museum sa' ginen i finaiche'cho'-niha yan todu i tiempo ni' ma pripara este na lepblo. Ginen este na lepblo na sina mas un li'e' difirentes klasen guihan (Atte, fina'tinas, mapa, estoria, litratu yan mas) para i nuebo na Guam Museum. Nina'tutungo' hao hafa na empottatnte i rinikohi siha  giya Guam Museum ni' esta sigi ha' mas dumadangkolo gi entre i lina'la' todu i tiempo.

Puede mohon sina binaba i hinasson-miyu yan en fanmamaisen "Sa' Hafa," "Hayi," "Amanu," "Hafa," yan "Ngai'an."

Estague i intension i "I hinanao-ta."

********************

Colleagues remember former museum curator Anthony 'Tony' Ramirez
Saturday, 24 Jan 2015 03:00am
BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS

COLLEAGUES remember the late Anthony “Tony” Ramirez, former administrator and curator of the Guam Museum as a soft-spoken expert on museology who worked tirelessly advocating a museum for Guam.

He died Jan. 12 and the funeral is scheduled for today at St. Francis Church in Yoña, with viewing beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Joseph Artero-Cameron, president of the Pacific Islands Museum Association (PIMA), shared his thoughts on Ramirez’ death, noting his exemplary knowledge of Guam’s history and its people.

“Mr. Ramirez, a soft-spoken but informed professional on Guam's history and culture, will be sorely missed by those us who knew him. ‘Tony’ as most people would address him ... was very much approachable on matters of museology. He would often recollect missed opportunities in realizing that one day Guam would have a world-class museum,” Cameron said.

“More so, he  partnered with the Guam Preservation Trust, for which much needed funding created a "repository" currently located at the DNA Building in Hagåtña,” he added.

Cameron said the late former curator worked tirelessly with the nonprofit Guam Museum Foundation in elevating the need to build a museum for the island, noting that Ramirez was very focused in providing much needed information to the Educational Quality Committee task force.

“I would sit with Tony on many occasions, listening to stories he shared with me on matters of history, culture and life on Guam ‘in the eyes of Tony.’ What a wonderful story-teller he was. I have been in many a meeting with federal government, local government and museum experts ... wherein Tony showed exemplary knowledge of Guam and its people,” he said.

Man of all seasons

“Tony was a man of all seasons," he said. “No topic was too difficult to address, coupled with his sense of humor and the infectious smile on his face. He was a very humble man and greatly respected. Lives he came in touch with ... listened intently with great interest.”

“Those in the field of museum science often sought his sage advice on matters that would enhance and embrace preservation of culture, heritage and language ... not only for Guam, but inclusive of islanders throughout the Pacific,” he said.

Simeon Palomo, director-designee of the Guam Museum also shared his thoughts.

"I remember Tony Ramirez since the days of the Guam Museum at Adelup. He always had a smile, and that left a lasting impression on me. When my family and I volunteered for the Guam Museum when they had satellite exhibits at GPO and the Micronesia Mall, I know he had great influence on the exhibits,” he said.

“When I would talk to Tony, he exhibited much knowledge of Guam history and culture,” Palomo said. “I could sense his sincere appreciation and advocacy for Chamorro culture and history. He was a team player and inspired others to perpetuate the mission of the Guam Museum. He will be sorely missed, and the Guam Museum has lost another individual who had much more to give to the Guam community and beyond."

Ramirez was Guam’s first representative to serve on the PIMA executive board. He was elected and nominated to serve a three-year term as a member of the PIMA executive board from 2009 to 2012.

He also served as the history principal for the Guam Preservation Trust Board and the Guam Historic Preservation review board.

During his time as curator of the Guam Museum, Ramirez wrote "I Hinanao-ta: A Pictorial Journey Through Time.” The book provides a pictorial essay on the island’s people and historical events.

Ramirez’s educational and professional background has been in the field of historic preservation, graduating from the University of Guam with a degree in anthropology and serving as a field archaeologist, museum curator.

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