Thursday, April 30, 2015

Atate Book Launch

I spent a year working on getting the book "Massacre at Atate" by Jose M. Torres published. It is a first hand account of one of the few times during the Japanese occupation of Guam that the Chamorro people openly resisted and fought back. There are countless instances of Chamorros passively resisting, but this was one of the few moments that I've been able to collect where you can point to Chamorros using violent resistance to protect themselves. There are only a few men left who took up arms against the Japanese in July 1944 and Mr. Torres was one of the youngest at that time.

We had a reading in Malesso' a few weeks ago in the historic Merlyn G. Cook school. This was a followup to the large book launch that we had in February which was attended by close to 300 people. I came across this account of the book launch, that I wanted to share here:



WWII Historical Lecture - More than we expected

I spent a year working on getting the book "Massacre at Atate" by Jose M. Torres published. It is a first hand account of one of the few times during the Japanese occupation of Guam that the Chamorro people openly resisted and fought back. There are countless instances of Chamorros passively resisting, but this was one of the few moments that I've been able to collect where you can point to Chamorros using violent resistance to protect themselves. There are only a few men left who took up arms against the Japanese in July 1944 and Mr. Torres was one of the youngest at that time.

We had a reading in Malesso' a few weeks ago in the historic Merlyn G. Cook school. This was a followup to the large book launch that we had in February which was attended by close to 300 people. I came across this account of the book launch, that I wanted to share here:

A few hours before it started, Elder and Sister Hurst told us about a lecture on a new WWII based book being released, The Massacre at Atate, by Jose M. Torres. I expected a real snoozer but it turned out to be quite enjoyable. We enjoy learning about the cultural history of Guam.

When we arrived at the University of Guam Lecture hall, it was filled to capacity, and then some.

The event began with Guam cultural singing and dancing by groups from the University of Guam. They were great.

The evening also included introductions by UOG (University of Guam) President Robert Underwood, Chamorro Studies program director Michael Lujan Bevacqua and others. These people were involved in helping to get this book off the ground.

Jose M. Torres, Authur of the book and eye-witness to the events over 70 years ago, did a short reading from the new book. They finished with Q & A. 

Mr Torres received a standing ovation. A huge line formed for book signing and meeting Mr. Torres. In the lobby, Guam/Chamorro type refreshments were served.

Sister Martin, Sister Guercio, Elder Guercio, Sister Reed, Elder Reed. The Thomas's and Hursts were in front of them 
All in all a very interesting evening that we were happy to have had the opportunity to attend. We've learned that so many in Guam are wonderful, warm-hearted people. 

We bought a book and waited in line to have Mr. Torres sign it for 30 minutes. We then realized that we were taking Elder and Sister Hurst to the airport that night so they could catch their plane to Yap island. We also needed take President Zarbock's van to the airport because he was arriving back from Yap in the middle of the night. Oh well, we didn't get an autographed copy. But we are reading it and so far, it's an interesting story.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In Defense of Second Languages

University of Guam
Mangilao, GU
April 26, 2015

Press Release
For immediate release

Forum on Changes to UOG General Education Curriculum
UOG Professors to Lead Community Discussion on Removal of Second-Language Requirement

Is “ENGLISH ONLY” Good Enough for the University of Guam and Our Students?

A public discussion on keeping second-language-learning requirements in the University of Guam general education curriculum will be held on Thursday, April 30, at 6 p.m., at the CLASS Lecture Hall on the UOG campus.  The event is free and open to all concerned members of the public.

Recently faculty endorsed and approved changes to the General Education curriculum at the University of Guam to remove second-language learning from the undergraduate requirements.  Learning a second language will become optional.  Until now, all students have been required to take two courses (8 credits total) in a language other than English.  Chamorro, Japanese, Tagalog, French, Spanish, Mandarin, and Chuukese all are regularly offered.

The evening will include a community forum and an audience Q&A session led and moderated by UOG professors to explore the value of second-language-learning and the history of liberal arts and sciences in the university. The panel of speakers for the event include: UOG Professor of Japanese Toyoko Kang, Director for GDOE Chamorro Studies Division Ron Laguana, author of Daughters of the Island Laura Souder Betances and Kenneth Gofigan Kuper a graduate student at UH Manoa who learned Chamorro as his second language through his undergraduate courses at UOG. 

Professors from the UOG Social Work and Chamorro Studies programs will present an alternative general-education curriculum schematic that preserves the rich tradition of second-language learning in a liberal arts education while also offering an efficient and useful path for every student toward his or her chosen career focus.

Studies have shown that second-language learners perform better in school and later careers, as well as having higher life quality.  Keeping the language requirement will benefit students, promote cultural understanding, and preserve the liberal-arts tradition of a broad general foundation for competence in all areas of life.  In our ever-globalizing Asia-Pacific region, with our wealth of indigenous culture, second-language learning is necessary for students' success in school and life.

Dr. Gerhard Schwab (Social Work) and Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua (Chamorro Studies) are co-sponsoring this evening that will help to preserve the value of our children's college educations and lay the groundwork to prepare our children for successful lives and careers beyond the academy.

Media Contact: Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Telephone:​​​ 988-7106

Monday, April 27, 2015

Na'famboka siha kek

The issue of gay marriage is really being push right now in Guam. There seems to be a much broader support for it as opposed to a few years ago. There is still some resistance, especially on religious grounds. I haven't seen any reports yet on whether or not local bakeries are supporting or fighting this issue. This is intriguing because as you can see from the reports below, cakes, the making of, the selling of, the religious freedom involved in deciding who you do and do not make cakes for, has become a ground zero of sorts


This Bakery Refused to Serve a Same-Sex Couple and It May Cost Them $135,000
Published: April 26, 2015 | Authors: | Think Progress | News Report 

A bakery that turned away a lesbian couple looking to buy a cake for their wedding will have to pay them an award of possibly $135,000 for emotional damages, a hearings officer said Friday. The sum is recommended by an administrative law judge for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), but it could change before a final decision is made.

Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused to sell a wedding cake to Oregon couple Rachel Bowman-Cryer and Laurel Bowman-Cryer in 2013, saying it went against their religious beliefs to contribute to a same-sex wedding. The BOLI investigation found that the company’s refusal violated the state’s nondiscrimination ordinance. While the prosecutors were originally seeking $150,000 for the couple, the law judge recommended that Rachel should collect $75,000 and Laurel $60,000 for emotional damages. Rachel and her mother were turned away after setting up a cake tasting with the bakers, and Laurel was not present — a fact the defense tried to argue meant she did not have standing in the complaint.

Owners Melissa and Aaron Klein quickly became heroes to the anti-LGBT conservative Christian community, and are often held up as proof that LGBT rights infringe on religious liberty. They closed down their storefront after intense backlash and now operate their business out of their home.
After the judge’s proposed order was released, the couple posted a statement on Facebook, saying, “This amount will financially ruin us. Our government was put in place to protect the people not to punish people because of their faith.” A GoFundMe crowdfunding page in support of the bakery was deleted after raising $109,000 on Friday, as GoFundMe’s terms of service do not allow fundraising for people found in violation of the law.

The bakers have ten days to file objections to the order, according to their attorney. The Labor Commissioner will then decide if the amount should be raised, lowered, or remain at $135,000.
More localities and states are adopting nondiscrimination ordinances like Oregon’s, which protect people from being fired or refused services on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. At the same time, “license to discriminate” bills and religious freedom protections are becoming popular with conservative lawmakers to shield businesses that wish to discriminate against LGBT people. Recent uproar against such laws in Indiana, Arkansas, Arizona, Oregon, and Georgia succeeded in defeating overt allowances for discrimination. But without nondiscrimination laws, which only 17 states have adopted, many more Americans will be turned away from private businesses, fired, and denied housing solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

BIO: Aviva Shen is Senior Editor of ThinkProgress. Aviva's work has appeared in outlets including Smithsonian Magazine, Salon, and New York Magazine. She also worked for the Slate Political Gabfest, a weekly politics podcast from Slate Magazine. Previously, she was part of the new media team in Ohio for the 2008 Obama campaign. Aviva received a B.A. in English and Writing from Barnard College.


Court Rules Bakery Illegally Discriminated Against Gay Couple

A Colorado judge today determined that a Lakewood bakery unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple by refusing to sell them a wedding cake.

Source: ACLU

David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop last year, with Craig’s mother, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. Mullins and Craig planned to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate with family and friends back home in Colorado. Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips informed them that because of his religious beliefs the store’s policy was to deny service to customers who wished to order baked goods to celebrate a same-sex couple’s wedding.
“Being denied service by Masterpiece Cakeshop was offensive and dehumanizing especially in the midst of arranging what should be a joyful family celebration,” said Mullins. “No one should fear being turned away from a public business because of who they are. We are grateful to have the support of our community and our state, and we hope that today’s decision will help ensure that no one else will experience this kind of discrimination again in Colorado.”
Longstanding Colorado state law prohibits public accommodations, including businesses such as Masterpiece Cakeshop, from refusing service based on factors such as race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation. Mullins and Craig filed complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) contending that Masterpiece had violated this law. Earlier this year, the CCRD ruled that Phillips illegally discriminated against Mullins and Craig. Today’s decision from Judge Robert N. Spencer of the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts affirms that finding.
“While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one’s religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers,” said Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “No one is asking Masterpiece’s owner to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple.”
Phillips admitted he had turned away other same-sex couples as a matter of policy. The CCRD’s decision noted evidence in the record that Phillips had expressed willingness to take a cake order for the “marriage” of two dogs, but not for the commitment ceremony of two women, and that he would not make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding celebration “just as he would not be willing to make a pedophile cake.”
“Masterpiece Cakeshop has willfully and repeatedly considered itself above the law when it comes to discriminating against customers, and the state has rightly determined otherwise,” said Sara R. Neel, staff attorney with the ACLU of Colorado. “It’s important for all Coloradans to be treated fairly by every business that is open to the public – that’s good for business and good for the community.”


Christian baker being sued over refusal to make Bert and Ernie-themed gay marriage cake says she 'knew in her heart' she couldn't complete the order 

  • The owner of a Christian bakery refused to make a pro-gay marriage cake
  • Gay rights activist Gareth Lee's order for Bert and Ernie cake was declined 
  • Karen McArthur told court she 'knew in her heart' she couldn't bake cake
  • Lawyer for equality campaigners says religious refusal was unlawful

A Christian baker who refused to make a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan has said she 'knew in her heart' she could not make the order.
Belfast-based Ashers Bakery refused to make a cake featuring an image of Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie below the motto 'Support Gay Marriage'. 
Karen McArthur, one of the owners, gave evidence on the second day of the high-profile legal action being heard in Belfast's County Court.
Mrs McArthur told the court: 'I knew in my heart that I could not put that message on the cake.'
Northern Ireland's Equality Commission took the case against family-run Ashers Bakery on behalf a gay rights activist customer whose order was declined.
Gareth Lee, a volunteer member of the LGBT advocacy group Queer Space, claimed he was left feeling like a 'lesser person' when his order was turned down.
It had been ordered for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia last May.
Mr Lee told the court yesterday that he was left 'shocked' and in 'disbelief' when Mrs McArthur rang him and told him she would not be processing the order he had already paid for. 
Today Mrs McArthur told the court: 'The problem was with the message on the cake because, as a Christian, I do not support gay marriage.'
District judge Isobel Brownlie heard that nine members of the McArthur family work in the business, which makes and delivers cakes across the UK and Ireland.
Mrs McArthur and her husband Colin, who belong to Dunseverick Baptist Church, are the only shareholders with voting rights on how the company is run. 
Under cross-examination from Robin Allen QC, Mrs McArthur told the court she had been a born-again Christian since the age of seven and 'sought to please God' in how she led her life.
She claimed she only took the order from Mr Lee in order to avoid a confrontation.
'I did not want to embarrass him or have a confrontation in the bakery,' Mrs McArthur told the court.
Public opinion on the landmark civil case has been split in Northern Ireland and beyond.
The Equality Commission, which monitors compliance with equality laws in the region, initially asked for the bakery to acknowledge it had breached legislation and offer 'modest' damages to the customer.


Get Over it and Bake
By + More
From US News and World Report
I long for the days when the customer was always right.
Mind you, I do not like the concept in its Frankenstein, perverse extreme, with buyers demanding discounts from store clerks who don’t have the authority to offer one (and where a discount serves no purpose other than to make the customer feel he or she is a superior negotiator). It’s cringe-inducing to see restaurant patrons make unreasonable demands on the kitchen, or to treat the waitstaff as though they are indentured servants.
But when it comes to certain sorts of services – weddings, being a primary one – the balance of power seems to have shifted, with those being paid to provide a service believing they somehow have a right to weigh in on the service or the customers themselves.

So to the wedding planners and cake-bakers and flower-arrangers who don’t like the idea of providing a service to a same-sex wedding, here’s a stark truth: People, you were not invited to the wedding.
Those who are actually invited to weddings get to weigh in, and then, only minimally. If you receive an invitation to a wedding, you can make a statement. (Hint, wedding industry people – such a document will be addressed to you personally in fancy script, and offer no cash in exchange for you showing up. In fact, you will be the one expected to bring a gift.)
If you don’t approve of same-sex marriage, or think the groom is a bum or the bride is a nincompoop, then send your regrets. If you’re related to a member of the wedding party and feel like making a splash that will alter your relationships permanently, well, then get up and object during the service. Or give a drunken speech in which you recount all the flaws and bad past behavior of one or both members of the couple. But if you’re the hired help, you don’t get that privilege.
Perhaps it’s the slew of silly movies about weddings (“The Wedding Planner” comes to mind) that give people in the industry the idea that they are some sort of group authority figure. This happens sometimes in other service areas – most women have a story of a hairdresser who insists her client should wear her hair a certain way, or of a store clerk who declares to a complete stranger of a customer, “it’s you,” when said customer tries on a suit. But weddings do bring out the crazy in people, and that crazy has unfortunately extended to people who are only involved in the event on a commercial basis.
The battle over what is more powerful – the right to express one’s religion or the right to live one’s own life without being discriminated against – has religious rights advocates bizarrely singling out wedding cake-bakers as some sort of protected class. If a baker doesn’t approve of gay marriage on religious grounds – for some reason, the point of view is not being defended under any other grounds, such as pure bigotry – then that person should not be forced to honor that couple with a cake.

There would be some merit to that argument if the cake was a gift, but it’s not. It’s a product for sale to the public at large. What if a restauranteur didn’t want to seat a same-sex couple at one of his tables? Or what if a landlord refused to rent to a single mother? Not the same thing, say the baker defenders, since making a cake for a wedding couple is an implicit endorsement of that union.
But that is the flaw in the argument, and it obviates the need to even get into a discussion about whether religion gives people the right to violate anti-discrimination laws. Wedding industry people, get over yourselves. You are not family or friends of the wedding couple. They didn’t seek your services because they desperately want you present when they are taking their vows. In fact, they’d prefer you to be out of sight and quiet. You can put little bows and flowers on your creations, but you are still a businessperson selling a product. If you are asked to bake a cake or plan a wedding, do your job, get your check and go back to the office or bakery. Your service does not include pre-marital counseling. 

Owners who refused cake for gay couple close shop

INDIANAPOLIS — A bakery that drew protests for refusing to prepare a cake for a gay couple has closed its doors.
The 111 Cakery was still profitable, said co-owner Randy McGath. But McGath's 45-year-old wife, Trish, did most of the baking and wanted more time to spend with the couple's four grandchildren.
The business "was wearing her out," her husband said. She has been taking a break from working since Dec. 31 when the bakery went out of business, he said.
In March the McGaths faced a firestorm of protest after declining a request to bake a cake for a commitment ceremony for two men. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Indiana since Oct. 7.
A TV station here broadcast the story of the rejection, and the next day Facebook and Twitter hummed with outrage. The flap led to a single picketer urging a bakery boycott, but many nearby residents were on his side.
The bakery was at the intersection of 16th and Talbott streets, a hub of gay culture for decades. At least three long-established gay bars are just blocks away.
However, others seemed to applaud the bakery's stand, traveling long distances for pastries.

"We had people from all over — from Brownsburg and Lafayette," 15 and 60 miles away, said Randy McGath, 48.
The ensuing sales spike lasted three or four months. But McGath insisted sales never dipped below their pre-flap levels.
McGath said he and his wife, who attend a Baptist church, were well aware of the neighborhood's gay culture when they opened their bakery there in 2012. They served the gay community gladly for several years but "just didn't want to be party to a commitment ceremony" because such an event reflected "a commitment to sin."

Despite McGath's views his discourse remained civil even in talks with his most virulent critic, the lone picketer Todd Fuqua, both he and Fuqua said.
"There was zero hate here," said McGath, who is now selling recreational vehicles. "We were just trying to be right with our God. I was able to speak to many homosexuals in the community and to speak our opinion and have a civil conversation. I'm still in touch with some."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saonao yan Eyak

The PDN has been publishing a series of columns under the banner of "Saonao yan Eyak" or "Join and Learn." These columns are meant to help inform and inspire the community in advance of next year's FESTPAC which will take place in Guam. Hosting a FESTPAC is a massive endeavor. It requires layers of public and private cooperation, as tens of thousands of people descend upon that island in order to experience this cultural Olympics of the Pacific.

I first wrote a column for them last month for Ha'anen Fino' Chamoru Ha', which by the way we are working on formalizing and trying to get back to honor at the start of each month. This month I wrote about how much Guam's consciousness has changed over the past four decades and how FESTPAC played a significant role in that.


"Guam's made huge stride since 70s"
by Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Pacific Daily News

When we think of what "Chamorro culture" means to us today, particular images and forms come to mind. Most people would recall terms such as "respect" "chenchule'" or "inafa'maolek." Others might think of latte stones or sakman sailing the seas. A great many people might think of dance groups such as Pa'a Taotao Tano', Inetnon Gefpago or chant groups such as I Fanlalai'an.

Chamorros see themselves today as being in the midst of a cultural renaissance, where Chamorro language and culture are being celebrated and promoted.

If you asked Chamorros 60 or even 160 years ago what their idea of Chamorro culture was, it would have been very different from the answers today. Some things -- such as respect or chenchule' -- might be similar, but almost all the symbolism would be different, in particular with regards to thing such as chanting and dancing.

The evolution of this Chamorro cultural consciousness has a great deal to do with Guam's participation in the Festival of Pacific Arts, or FestPac. As Guam has sent delegations to represent itself and its native culture at this event, it has provided a mirror through which Chamorros could see themselves and how others see them, and cultural practitioners and political leaders have taken strides to shift that representation.

Very different

In the 1970s, when FestPac was first formed and Guam began to participate, the consciousness of the island was in a very different state. Although this was a time when there was a growing "brown power" movement and the birth of a bilingual education program, there was still a heavy intoxicating haze of Americanization. English only was being emphasized in public and in the homes.

Chamorros saw their culture and their place in the world in a very limited and narrow way. They considered themselves to be tragic victims of history, where centuries of colonization had bequeathed them a culture which they could not call their own, but was instead a mishmash of everyone else's heritage. The way Chamorros saw their own culture, was through the eyes of an antiquated anthropologist, that it was meant to be static and never change or adapt.

Matched expectations

When other islander delegates saw that first FestPac performance from Guam, it matched their expectations. They knew of Guam as a big American military base, and so of course they would have American rock bands for culture.

The experiences that Chamorros had at those early FestPacs created the impetus for the shifts in cultural consciousness that we see around us today. FestPac is meant to be the cultural Olympics of the Pacific, a time when each of the close to 30 island nations that participate share with great pride their particular way of expressing Pacific islander identity and sense of history and place. In the 1970s, Chamorros largely felt that they didn't have anything to show the world. Their continuity with their ancient ancestors had been cut in terms of the most visible facets of culture.

Living and breathing

But what cultural practitioners, some of whom led the dance and chant groups of today, realized is that culture is not simply some static inheritance that one merely passes between generations. It is a living, breathing and changing thing. Even if we do not know the exact dances and the chants of Chamorros before, it does not mean that Chamorros cannot create new dances and new chants that are meant to reflect, through research and through creativity, interpretations of our past.

Guam is no longer viewed the same way when our delegations attend FestPac. People now see Guam as a place which has a vibrant culture and is rich with expressions of that culture.

In 2016, as we take the honor of being the host island for the festival this is our chance to continue to show our cultural traditions and creativity.

News from the CNMI

Next week public comment and informational meetings will be taking place in Tinian and Saipan with regards to recently proposed plans to militarize Tinian and Pagan. For people that are wanting to follow the discussion there between leaders and activists I've gathered together some recent news from The Saipan Tribune and The Marianas Variety. CNMI leaders are putting out a request for help in terms of analyzing and disseminating information about the DEIS or draft environmental impact statement for the build up proposals. They are also requesting an extension as the document is close to 2,000 pages long. It has also, as far as I know, not been translated into Chamorro or Carolinian.


'CNMI will benefit from military trainings here'
by Jayson Camacho
Saipan Tribune

The U.S. Department of Defense’s planned military buildup in the region has put the CNMI community in a quandary, with some supporting military activities on Tinian and Pagan and some opposing it.

One of the islands’ most respected citizens and business leaders, David “Uncle Dave” M. Sablan, has thrown his full support behind the plan and is asking the CNMI’s leaders and community to follow suit.

Everybody already knows about Sablan’s ordeal during World War II and how he survived the war as a 12-year-old boy living in a cave in Marpi.

Despite having a front-row seat on the chaos and destruction the Pacific war brought to the islands, Sablan is encouraging the CNMI and its leaders to give as much as possible a favorable consideration to the military’s request to use Tinian and Pagan for live-fire training.

“The military is not doing anything that would jeopardize the livelihood of the people here in the CNMI. I think it is very important that we do the best we can to accommodate the military’s needs, because they have a mission to fulfill and that mission is to defend the U.S and its territories and we are a part of that,” he said.

“I strongly urge that the leaders of the CNMI to give it a very serious consideration…because it has taken them roughly four to five years to reach their final decision on what they want to do from the standpoint of training for their own people that are capable of maintaining a high standard of military posture, not only the U.S but also because we are on the ‘firing range’ here,” he added.

What he means is that the CNMI is near Southeast Asia and the CNMI is in the Pacific Ocean, inevitably in the crosshairs of America’s enemies if war breaks out.

“All the sovereign nations are roughly in these areas such as China and North Korea. These people look at the CNMI as a very, very small minute area that they, in my own opinion, will not hesitate to do the wrong ‘test’ on and it is dangerous,” said Sablan.

He said he is not trying to scare the community but is merely being practical, the CNMI being a U.S territory and could be a possible target if any war were to break out.

“I am just giving my feeling because I don’t want to see our people suffer through another war. I think these people are being very reasonable, saying ‘Let us train our people here locally’ because this is a territory of the U.S and the training that we accommodate for the military to do here is going to be very beneficial to us because our own people are members of the military,” he said.

“We need them to train, so if there was ever a war and our own people who are members of the military go out there and fight, they need to come back alive and not in a casket. This is my biggest concern.”

Sablan conceded there are certain things the military is not able to share with the CNMI at this point.
“They happen to know the danger that we face here in the CNMI as well as Guam. They are basically training to prevent those from happening. How many times do we see on media North Korea threatening to shoot a missile? We’re very vulnerable,” he said.

“That is why I am in full support of the military to train here so that when the need for defending the CNMI comes, the military is well-suited and fits perfectly for that matter. That is part of the sacrifices that we in the CNMI should seriously consider.”

Sablan recalled that when he was 12 years old in the morning of June 10, 1944, he and his older brother were getting ready to go visit their Japanese military friends. They saw planes in the skies involved in an aerial fight; bombs were exploding all over Saipan and planes crashing.

“I have been through WWII and have seen and lived through it. The military has knowledge of what they’re doing so we should be supportive of that.”


PaganWatch group reactivated in response to military plans
from Saipan Tribune

PaganWatch has been reactivated to respond to the challenge of protecting the Commonwealth’s islands from the U.S. military’s intention to use them as bombing ranges, according to Paganwatch founder Pete Perez.

“We have teamed with Guardians of Gani, another local grassroots group opposed to the destruction of our beautiful islands. Together we are hosting ‘Alternative Zero,’ a local perspective event that will take place at the entrances to the three military Draft EIS public hearings,” he said.

The public hearings are scheduled to be held on the following dates:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015, from 4pm to 9pm, Saipan Southern High School cafeteria
Thursday, April 30, 2015, from 4pm to 9pm, Tinian Junior Senior High School cafeteria
Friday, May 1, 2015, from 4pm to 9pm, Garapan Elementary School
“The military wants Alternative 1, Alternative 2, or Alternative 3—all variations on bombing our islands for practice. We want Alternative Zero—peaceful and productive use of our land and waters for the benefit of the people,” said Perez.

“Alternative Zero will inform the public as to the true nature of the military’s intention—the realities of turning beautiful islands into bombing ranges. It will also educate people about non-destructive alternatives for Tinian and Pagan,” he added. (Saipan Tribune)


'Alternative Zero' hopes to share fourth option not included in EIS
by Dennis B. Chan

Sometimes, the best option is no option. This is what “Alternative Zero,” a local group concerned about proposed live-fire training in Tinian and Pagan, hopes to get across.

In an interview, one of the group’s leaders Pete Perez, and member of the now reactivated Paganwatch, said, “Alternative Zero is designed to bring the truth out.”

The U.S. military has been working on the draft environmental impact statement for the live-fire training for years. The impact statement details three “alternatives” for the proposed training. Three public hearings are set next week.

Perez said the conversation now should not be about mitigation, but should be about “what do we want to do with our land?”

“The question is do we want to change our society? Alternative Zero tells our story. What the people want our community to be,” he said.

“We don’t even have to talk about the [impact statement]. We should be able to say thanks…but no thank you,” he said.

Perez said the group will set up tents outside the public hearings an hour before and hour after the hearings.

His message to the public is to “show up” at the hearings.

“Just show up. Come into the tents. Enjoy the company. See what the military has to say,” he said.
“This is our home. We just need to talk to each other and make sure we shout out with one strong voice, ‘No.’”

He said the only way the military will win is if the public remains quiet.

Those interested in making financial contributions to the group can head to Rosal Zest, a print company, on Monsignor Guerrero Road near Atkins Kroll, or buy 50 bumper stickers and distribute them.


Northern Marianas Descent advocates: No to any military bombing training
Marianas Variety

(Press Release) — At what cost?

What would remain of our already small islands? Do NMDs know about and understand what will happen to their sacred cultural homeland if the U.S. military is allowed to conduct live fire and bombing training in their lands? Will NMDs allow the US military to permanently destroy their sacred cultural homeland and surrounding marine environments and displace their social and cultural livelihoods like Bikini and Enewetok in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Vieques Island in Puerto Rico, Kahoolawe in Hawaii, and others?

These are but a few questions that NMDs and fellow residents are extremely concerned about as they consider their future survival against uncertainties and lack of specifics by the U.S. government and its military. The more than 1,000 pages draft environmental impact statements or EIS spread over almost 10 chapters were prepared by paid consultants and commissioned by the U.S. military, all of whom are “outsiders” who have neither physical nor cultural connection to the NMDs’ sacred homelands aimed to be permanently destroyed.

• Due to the complexity and highly technical language contained in the EIS, NMDC requests for more adequate time preferably 2 years for the CNMI government and its leaders, private sector, community organizations, and individuals to review and understand the scope and permanent destruction to their cultural homeland, ocean and marine environment, and their future survival.

• NMDC demands that the U.S. government and its military be strictly and unconditionally held accountable for their actions associated with decades of militarization to date by requesting that an independent environmental impacts study be conducted to determine the effects on marine ecosystems and surrounding lands — major sources of subsistence livelihoods for NMDs — from the years of military aerial target bombings on Farallon De Mendinilla.

• This on top of the deleterious and permanent chemical contamination of the entire Marianas from the military assault and unexploded ordnance or UXOs abandoned and stored throughout the island since WWII.

• Therefore, in view of the compelling and clear present dangers and unlimited risk exposures to the lives, health, and safety of the people of the Marianas from further U.S. military bombings and in order to preserve their sacred cultural homeland and sanctity of the lives of NMDs and residents now and the future generation without any undue disturbances and permanent destructions the Northern Marianas Descent Corporation unequivocally opposes any U.S. military bombing training in the entire Mariana Islands.

NMDC strongly invites and urges residents of the CNMI to attend the scheduled public meetings next week:

• Wednesday, April 29, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saipan Southern High School cafeteria
• Thursday, April 30, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tinian Junior Senior High School cafeteria
• Friday, May 1, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Garapan Elementary School

NMDC equally urges residents to submit and register their comments at the hearings and/or online by visiting Incidentally, the U.S. military canceled earlier proposals to use sacred lands in Pagat, Guam due largely to the overwhelming opposition of tens of thousands of comments that were submitted by Guam residents earlier in 2012, which is considered an unprecedented historical feat and a hopeful demonstration of undisputed solidarity.

NMDC is a legally chartered, duly licensed non-profit community based organization whose members are local persons of Northern Marianas Descent incorporated to conduct its community affairs in Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and later in the Northern Islands. They also plan on conducting other cultural, family fun, and fundraising activities annually all aimed at generating community advocacy and defraying the costs associated with hosting such events. If you are interested to join, to contribute, or to learn more, please email:

Inos to meet Northern Islands' mayor: I want to make sure we're on the same page
by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa
Marianas Variety

GOVERNOR Eloy S. Inos said he plans to meet with Northern Island Mayor Jerome Aldan to discuss the pressing military issues.

“He and the residents of Pagan have taken a very strong position [against the military’s training proposals] so I just want to make sure that we’re on the same page,” the governor said in an interview on Thursday.

Inos also wants to meet with the members of the Military Ad Hoc Committee to discuss his request for an extension of the review period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement or DEIS.
Inos said the military has responded to his letter of request and the matter has been placed under advisement since the military will conduct public hearings for the Draft EIS on April 29, 30 and May 1.
“The military has responded to me that they will go through the public hearings before they make the decision. It’s under advisement so it appears that they will not be making any decision before the scheduled public hearings take place,” Inos said.

He will attend the public hearing on Saipan but not the one on Tinian.

“I don’t want to interfere so the people from Tinian can speak freely about their position,” he said.
“I will also meet with the ad hoc committee — there is an ad hoc committee to address individual and specific areas of concern but their schedule is already set for these hearings although there might be time for side bars, so to speak.”

Craig B. Whelden, executive director of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, in his response to Inos’s letter, said a six-month extension as requested by the CNMI is a significant amount of time beyond the standard 45-day comment period.

“While the DEIS is admittedly lengthy, it has been shaped by over 18 months of collaborative effort between the Department of Defense and CNMI officials through regularly held working meetings,” Whelden said.

“The DoD remains committed to continued cooperation and I encourage the CNMI to continue participating in these meetings as they have been a great forum to exchange information and discuss issues of mutual interest,” he added.

Whelden said once the scheduled hearings are over, he will consider Inos’s request.

“Once my team has had an opportunity to assess initial comments, up to and including those received at the public meetings, I will be in better position to consider your request,” he told the governor.


Online Save Marianas movement activated
by Richelle Agpoon-Cabang
Marianas Variety

MORE than 50 members of the community including some politicians and government employees are having a group discussion online and oppose the plans of the military to expand its training exercises in the CNMI to include Pagan.

The group is considering a petition and sending invitations to U.S. senators and to President Obama to visit the CNMI and discuss the issue with local residents.

“The truth of the matter is, the only way our Marianas will be recognized in its struggles and hardships, and our people’s desire to preserve our natural resources understood, is if someone huge, someone famous enough visits and allows the world to see what a beautiful hidden gem the CNMI is,” one of the members said.

She added that “it will take someone as big as the President to listen to our stories and recognize the true beauty of the Marianas.”

The online group members say they are also working with their family members and friends who are in the U.S. to help bring their concern to the White House through letters.

Variety learned that one of the online group members is already in direct contact with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington.

Murray wrote back, and in her letter, which was posted online, she promised that the senators will look at all the environmental aspects of the military’s proposal.

She also encouraged others in the CNMI community to communicate with the U.S. senators.

“I will keep your thoughts in mind, and I encourage you to stay in touch if you would like to know more about my work in the Senate,” the letter said.

One of the other online group members, Dåko’ta Alcantara-Camacho, said she has also spoken to representatives of the United Nations about “demilitarization.”

“I will do everything I can to amplify the voices of the Marianas and advocate for our freedom. Yesterday I delivered an intervention at the United Nations on demilitarization, specifically calling attention to the issues we are facing in the Marianas. Many people are supportive of our issue, yet I do agree we have much work ahead of us to bring unity to our people and develop a plan of action.”

A petition is currently being circulated on Tinian and will be available on Saipan next week, Variety learned.

For more information and to be part of the discussion, contact local artist Analee Camacho Villagomez through

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mas Ki Dichicheng

Ilek-na Si Henry Kissinger, ayu na sen dangkolu na galabok taotao, put iya Micronesia, “There are only 90,000 people out there. Who gives a damn?” I meggaina na taotao guini ti ma tungo’ put este na sinangan ya ti ma tungo’ lokkue’ hayi este na Henry. Lao para i manggaitiningo’, ti mannina’manman nu este. Ayu na hinasso, ayu na pine’lo, put i mineddong-ta guini gof annok gi i na’an-ta. Atan i na’an ni’ mana’i hit para este na lugat: Micronesia. Kumekeilekna “dikike’ na isla.”

Sigun hafa hu fa’na’an i “pragmatics of size” taya’ gaibali giya Micronesia, todu taibali. Hunggan, buente anggen malago’ hao bumuteya hanom tasi, sen gefsaga’ este na lugat. Lao dinirihi i hinasson i taotao sanhiyong ni’ tano’. Ayu nai muna’hasso siha put finitme, siguridad, yan anggokuyon na fuetsa. Para siha i hanom yan i tasi, ti anggokuyon, machalek, todu tiempo matulailaika. Todu i tumuge’ i Bipblia ginen ayu na hinasso. Hafa ilek-na guihi put este? Estague ginen as San Mateo:

Enao i humungok este siha i sinangan-hu ya fuma’tinas, guiya parehu yan i menhalom na taotao ni ha fa’tinas i gima’-na gi hilo’ acho’. Ya u tunok i ichan yan u fanmatto i saddok, yan u fanmanguaife i manglo, ya u hinatme ayu na guma’. ya ti u poddong, sa’ mafa’tinas gui’ gi hilo’ acho’. Lao ayu i humungok este siha i sinangan-hu ya ti fuma’tinas, guiya parehu yan i bababa na taotao ni’ ha fa’tinas i gima’-na gi hilo’ unai. Ya u tunok i ichan, yan u fanmatto i saddok yan u fanmanguaife i manglo ya u hinatme ayu na guma’, ya gos dangkolu i pineddong-na.

Antes di manmatto’ magi ya ma sagayi hit i mangilagu, esta gof tadhong este na ideha gi hinasson-niha. Gaihinasso i umanggongokko i acho’ yan i tano’, lao taihinasso ayu i umanggongokko i inai, i masmai na tano’, un manana na mesklao. Pues para siha, achokka’ sigi ha’ ma fa’ganye i isla-ta siha put strategic importance, sigi di ma sangan lokkue’ na ti nahong hit, ti dangkolu hit, taibali hit. Ti nahong i tano’ yan i acho’ gi i Tasin Pasifiku ya humuyongna ti nahong hit guini komo taotao, kuttura yan nasion. Este na fina’ga’ga’ na hinasson mafa’tinas huyong gi otro tano’ siha, lao hagas matanom i simiyan ti nahong yan ti bali guini, ya meggai giya Hita esta umaksepta ayu na baba na ideha siha komo minagahet.

Anai ta atan mo’na gi kinalamten pulitikat, sina ta li’e’ un otro hiniyong put este. I ideha na ti nahong hit komo taotao chumalani i hinasso-ta guatu para i ideha na ti kabales hit na taotaogues lokkue’ Humuyong ginen este fehman na sinienten dependensia. Put i dinikike’-ta gi i tano’-ta siha yan gi kuttura-ta siha, debi di ta espiha i kinabales-ta gi otro banda, gi i estorian yan kutturan un otro taotao yan otro na nasion. Mampayon hit nu manhahasso na “menos di…” hit na klasin taotao todu tiempo. Menos di i Chamorro kinu i Amerikanu. Menos di i Chamorro kinu i Espanot. Menos di Guahan kinu todu i otro na nasion siha. Esta o’sun yu’ nu este. Kalang un be’be’ namu mas esta ki tano’ tinaya’ya’.
Lao para Guahu, malago’ yu’ muna’famta i sinangan “mas ki…” Anai ta atan masia hit, debi di ta gof siente yan na’la’la’ gi lina’la’-ta i minatatnga gi ayu na gof matungo’ na sinangan Hurao, “Metgotna hit kinu ta hongge.” Mas ki dinichicheng na tano’ hit. Mas ki trongkon niyok ha’. Mas ki bases yan BBQ hit. Mas ki Amerikanu siha ni’ mannanangga taihinekkok para u fanamerikanu.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pixelated Invisibility

Guam Mentions are always interesting. The random places that Guam will appear in the speech of military planners, world leaders, comedians and filmmakers is always so intriguing to me. Taking serious these mentions are sort of traces of the structure of American imperialism and colonialism was the main theoretical intervention of my dissertation. Moving away from seeing the random way that Guam gets mentioned sometimes whether it be by Bob Hope or David Letterman as actually possessing serious meaning and truth and not just being an accidental or random mention. For most the flexibility and labiality of meaning attached to Guam, the occasional invisibility that it is shouldered with or assumed is just a misrecognition, is something people say just because they don't know better or something you can just attribute to ignorance. But for me there is far more that just that. The colonial status of Guam and the ability to shift and produce meaning for it, the ability to move troops there and not have anyone notice, the ability to keep colonies and not have anyone challenge it (from within or without) means that there is a power to having places that seem to matter to no one, where your control goes uncontested. 

Militaries, empires, any entity that has interests in projecting force and dominating space always craves a dual approach to power. They are invested in pure force, moments and spaces where the rawness of power can be rooted in explosive and massive demonstrations. Bombings, war games, anything to make clear the power that one grapples with and how easily and casually it might be unleashed. But at the same time there is always a desire for sanctuary, for security, for safety, that there be places where no antagonism exists, but where one can store power safely without anyone contesting its presence or the directions it flows. While a military, an empire always professes to adore that hypervisibility and aggressive representations, we also see movements to hide, to obscure, to create nodes through which force travels and no one notices. That is in a way more valuable. To find the sites where one can militarize and no one notices or better yet, no one cares. It is one thing to hide things where no one sees them, but it is a whole different level of sovereignty to place that power before all and have no one even question it. 

Such is the value of Guam, and part of this dynamic can be seen in the article below. 


'Pixels' director: Better to attack Guam than Pearl Harbor
Apr. 17, 2015
Written by
Kyle Daly
Pacific Daily News

Hollywood director Chris Columbus thought using Guam in an upcoming alien invasion film would be a “good solid visual alternative” to Pearl Harbor, because featuring the Hawaii location could offend veterans.

The film, “Pixels,” starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James, is set to hit theaters in July. A trailer for the movie shows alien invaders flying down Guam’s Route 1 and destroying a road sign that reads: “Andersen Air Force Base 2 Miles.”

In an email sent to Sony Pictures Entertainment executives in November 2013, Columbus stated that in the latest draft of the movie's script, Pearl Harbor had been replaced by Guam as a way not to offend veterans. The email is among a massive trove of hacked documents from the movie company recently published online by WikiLeaks, an organization known for publishing secret documents.

“Guam is obviously is not as iconic as Pearl Harbor,” Columbus wrote. “But we had offended many veterans with the choice of Pearl Harbor and I can’t make a movie that could potentially cause pain to our soldiers.”

Another email sent between Sony employees also mentions changes to a draft of the script, including scenes featuring Guam.

The email states: “The small scene in Guam no longer features the OLD MAN character being blown off of his chair as the alien ships pass by.”

The email goes on to state: “The Guam scene of the Gallaga ships attacking was adjusted in the last draft to focus more on HANDSOME SAILOR getting abducted.”

According to IMDB and the film’s trailer, the alien invaders in “Pixels” mistake 1980s video game feeds as a declaration of war.  They attack the Earth by taking on the form of video-game characters such as Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.

A longtime Hollywood filmmaker, Columbus is best known for directing movies such as “Home Alone,” “Home Alone 2,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and the first two “Harry Potter” films.

Mensahi ginen i Gehilo' #9: Imagine Independence

It has been a while since my last message of this type. To be honest the Commission on Decolonization of which the Independence Task Force is a part hasn't been very active for the past few years. Inertia and lack of motivation seeped into the Commission from a variety of angles making it incapable of doing anything.

That period is hopefully at an end however as the Commission has shown some signs of life since the start of this year. Although the Commission has received money since 2011 for salaries, no money has been set aside for public education, which is what the Commission on Decolonization is meant to oversee. This year there is at last a $100,000 budget set specifically for conducting public education. The Independence Task Force will be meeting this month and start to make plans for the coming year. If you are interested in joining the Task Force, please email me at or leave a comment below.

This past week I saw an interesting piece of news out of Australia. I've pasted the release below. It is an important reminder that the road to Independence first requires being able to imagine it. It means that you have to be able to envision what it is like and would be like, even if it has yet to happen. This means finding a way to see past so many layers of injustice, so many fictions that have been placed down over your lands to give the impression that they belong to someone else, who purchased them through treaties or stole them via flags placed in sands.



18/04/2015 - APG Chairperson held up at Brisbane international airport by customs officials for presenting Aboriginal passport

Nyaywana man and Chairperson of the APGCallum Clayton-Dixon was held up by customs officials at Brisbane international airport for at least 40 minutes yesterday evening when he insisted on presenting only his Aboriginal passport on return from a trip to Aotearoa.  They eventually allowed him to re-enter Aboriginal land without producing any other documentation.

After being told to stand aside from the queue, Clayton-Dixon was approached by an official who proceeded to ask, "Do you have an Australian passport," to which Clayton-Dixon replied, "I am an Aboriginal person returning to my country using my Aboriginal passport."  A number of customs and immigration officials attempted on multiple occasions to get him to produce other forms of identification (Australian passport, drivers licence etc).

Clayton-Dixon says it is crucial that as many of our people travelling overseas, for whatever reason, attain and use their Aboriginal passport when re-entering Aboriginal land via an Australian international airport:

"They may hassle and harass us, but they have to let us through eventually.  It's our country, and we have the right to use our own passport instead of having to use a foreign and colonial travel document.  We have the right to put 'Aboriginal' on the nationality section of the incoming passenger card instead of 'Australian'.  The United Nations states clearly that indigenous peoples have the right to determine our own political status, to be self-determining.  This is the issue we're trying to raise with the Aboriginal passport.  It's an act of Aboriginal sovereignty."

The APG has been talking with an international passport company since January this year about revamping the Aboriginal passport so that it fulfils international security requirements set down by the United Nations.  The rollout of the revamped Aboriginal passport will take place in early 2016, and the APG will then work to get official recognition from countries sympathetic to our struggle for self-determination.

Callum Clayton-Dixon (Nyaywana)CHAIRPERSON
Aboriginal Provisional Government

Friday, April 17, 2015

Identities Lost

It is intriguing when we see epochs of time shift and change and replace each other. These are like grand markers in time, like huge arches that delineate when everything was one way and when it all changed and became something else. On Guam we have antes di gera and despues di gera which draws a clear line of memory between what existed prior to World War II and after. World War II survivors will tell you the smells in the air, the sounds of the island were different in 1940 as they were in 1945. Most people in the United States and elsewhere in the world mark recent memory with "9/11" as if to say that things were fundamentally different before September 11th, 2001 than they were afterwards. All of this is a fiction of course, but there is still a way that communities tend to lay out the stretches of time behind them in certain blocks, to make them easier to manage, but propping up these important moments as providing the keys to understand all those temporal tectonic shifts. 

But those markers don't reflect human life, experience or time. There is nothing so neat as that in the world. Our lives overlap different times and as much as we might want to privilege one over the other, even the sense pastness is always evolving itself. Whether something is past all depends upon memory really. The realness, the presentness of something has less to do with time and more to do with how we organize that sense of time and that valuation of memory. For some on Guam the war is long over and ancient history. For others the impacts are still here. For a veteran their service in way may stay with them always, but for others it is a line in a history book.

To this day I remain sad that I didn't get to talk to more of those who straddled different epochs of Guam history. I never got to interview someone directly who lived during the Spanish period of our history, although I have collected many stories from archives and from descendants. I have interviewed hundreds of people whose lived were started before the war and lived afterwards. Seeing their discourse and following the structure, mapping the changes and the traces of times past, counterfactuals filling a haze behind their speech, the way their own divergent temporalities manifest in the sometimes contradictory voices of their own identity. But these are all people forged and broken and molded atop that the anvil of one primary watershed moment, that Japanese occupation, which changed close to everything about Guam's landscape and Chamorro consciousness. They are a group that were born from generations that lived very different lives and imagined the world in a radically different way politically. But through the course of history they became chained to a particular nation, a particular relationship to that nation, and that became the way they conceived the very flow and breath of life and possibility. That moment, what I have called the scene of liberation, is where the Chamorro as we know it today is born, wallowing in the muddy trails of Manenggon, screaming for American aid. Chamorros, with their consciousness dictated by the centrality of that moment, as an anchor for all possibilities and tendencies of meaning, see close to everything through their fidelity to that attachment.

The reason I wished I could have interviewed those older, those who say the Spanish flag being brought down and the American flag being raised, is to test whether their consciousness was different. They lived perhaps over the course of four flag changes in recent Guam History, whereas their children lived under just two, American to Japanese and back to American. How would their consciousness be different because their reality, their sense of time wasn't bookended by American flags and texts and limits. Was their sense of the Chamorro different because it didn't have that feverish desperate attachment born of war?

I am reminded of this after watching the video below of a man who was on television in 1956, talking about how when he was just a young boy, he witnessed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pagan and Tinian

After months of waiting and speculating, the military has finally released their plans for Pagan and Tinian. Read the articles below to learn more. Five years ago the mood in the CNMI was one very supportive of militarization. The leadership there seemed willing to offer Pagan and Tinian and anything else on a plate to the DOD, especially in the context of resistance to military increases on Guam. It is good to see that this has changed.


Government should focus on homestead program: Aldan
By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa 
Marianas Variety

Northern Islands Mayor Jerome Aldan’s message to the military is to "pack up and leave Pagan alone." Aldan was among the public officials who were in the House chamber yesterday to hear what the representatives of the Marine Corps Forces Pacific had to say during a meeting that lasted for more than three hours.

Aldan in an interview said he has not changed his position and is still opposed to the proposed use of Pagan for any military activities in the Northern Islands.

"Pagan is an island that people of Northern Marians descent should use to the full extent. There are a lot of resources there that we can tap. When you’re talking about bombs and live ammunition, that’s destruction to me. No matter how you call it…I still find it hard to believe because when you’re dropping bombs of course they will have a a significant impact once they hit the ground."

Instead of considering the military proposal, the CNMI government should help implement the homestead program for the Northern Islands.

He did not say how the financially strapped CNMI government can finance the resettlement of Pagan, which has an active volcano.

"We need the government to help us expedite the homestead program so we can go back to the Northern Islands. It’s not true that the place is uninhabited. There are still families living there and the numbers have tripled. So instead of prolonging the issue, let’s implement the homestead program. We can start it in Pagan. There’s a lot of flat land in Pagan and it’s a lot easier to maneuver there — there’s a road and there’s an existing landing area there already and all we have to do is renovate and upgrade them."

The mayor said the airport master plan was done by Efrain Camacho & Associates and it cost $500,000.

"All we need is to get the money," he added.

"We are losing a lot of lands already. There are over 4,000 pending applications for homestead lots so my take is let’s do it. Let’s start improving Pagan. We don’t need the military’s money. In fact I even asked the Marianas Visitors Authority to include Pagan to the list of the CNMI’s tourist attractions. It’s beautiful and there are a lot of attractions there."

[PIR editor’s note: Marianas Variety also reported that ‘There is a gradual loss of access to the islands. ... This was a perspective that Sen. Arnold I. Palacios, chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Relations and Independent Agencies conveyed to the visiting Marine Corps Forces Pacific representatives yesterday in a meeting on Capital Hill. ... "We are starting to lose our islands," said Senator Palacios noting that it was not just to the U.S. military, but to other federal agencies as well. ... The islands are being federalized. ... "I am just looking at it from a different perspective. Out of the 14 islands, we have lost eight of our islands — eight to the federal government; one to nature—Anatahan."’]

Aldan said he is not against the military.

"Our CNMI leaders are also leaning toward no to bombs, no to live fire exercises at all. Even on Tinian, there are a lot of concerns…. I’m just surprised that nobody has asked yet about the possible contamination."

He is urging members of the public to get involved in the upcoming meetings.

"It’s important to participate. We want the people to come out and voice their concerns and be active and be involved because these are their islands.

"Again, I am not against the military. It’s their proposal that I’m against with. It’s not the plan that we see for our kids and the future. I just hope the Legislature and the governor will do the right thing and decide what is best for the people."

For his part, Lt. Gov. Ralph Torres is also requesting community members to participate in the hearings and public meetings regarding the draft of the Environmental Impact Statement.

Torres in a statement yesterday said: "We are in a crucial stage of the long-discussed military activities on Tinian and Pagan. In the hearings and public meetings of the coming weeks, we are provided an opportunity to participate in this important process.

"I strongly encourage the members of the public and community organizations to take the time to contribute your thoughts and comments both in writing and during the scheduled public meetings."


CNMI Mayor: Strong Opposition To Pagan Militarization

Militarization and resettlement incompatible

A Northern Marianas mayor says most of the people in his region opposes the United States military's plans for a live fire range on Pagan island.

The military wants to lease the uninhabited island in its entirety so the Navy, Air Force, Army and Marines can practice live fire training as part of plans for a greater presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

But the mayor of the CNMI's northern Islands, which include Pagan, Jerome Aldan, says the island's original inhabitants were hoping to re-settle, but those plans will be scuttled if it is turned into a firing range.

"What do you think about live-fire and live-bombing? For me, it's destruction, contamination and basically after they're done the island is going to turn into a wasteland. I can say about 100 percent are against this, more particularly the folks from the northern islands who are waiting to make good use of the island, go back home."

Jerome Aldan says there are also plans to site a fishing community on Pagan in coming months, but this could now be halted.


08 Dec 2014
By Richelle Agpoon-Cabang - - 
Marianas VarietyV

ALTHOUGH she resides on Guam, local artist Analee Camacho Villagomez is speaking up for Pagan by opposing the military’s plan to use portions of the remote, volcanic island as a training site.
In a recent interview, Villagomez said she loves being a Pacific islander and is deeply concerned about military training sites in the region.
“America has a lot of land, why would they want to take ours?” she asked.
She is concerned about the health of the community, noting that chemicals used in military training will impact the islands’ environment, its air and water.
As a nature lover and artist, Villagomez said she has visited the different islands of the Marianas.

Through the social networking site Facebook, Villagomez is asking her friends on Guam and the CNMI to support “saving” Pagan from the military.
“They want to bomb your island! Pagan…your Marianas…what about your health?” she asked.
“Bikini Island, Runit Island and Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands are all messed up because of U.S. military training. Kohoholawe Island in Hawaii as well…. No means No! We must keep our eyes open not just for the Marianas but for the whole world,” she said.
Villagomez said she is speaking as a concerned citizen and as an ordinary citizen.
“I am just me. I love our islands. Let us take care of what we have,” she said.


Posted on Mar 31 2015
The Saipan Tribune
The 2nd Women’s Summit kicked off yesterday with Guam Legislature Speaker Judith Won Pat citing the military buildup during one of the panel discussions on what the CNMI could do to protect its culture and future.
Speaking as a panelist under the topic of “Empowering Women as Leaders,” Won Pat focused on the construction of live-fire training facilities being proposed for Tinian and Pagan, compared them to two other areas that were proposed for Guam, and how the community voiced their concerns.
“I am aware that the draft Environmental Impact Statement on the military’s plan for training on Tinian and Pagan will be released this Friday—April 3— and Guam has gone through two very major military impact statements since 2010 concerning the military buildup and learned many lessons about leadership in the process,” she said.
“Our community has been divided about the buildup. The popular perception has been that the buildup would result in economic growth and jobs, both of which our island needs. However, it will also result in unnatural population growth [that] will strain our infrastructure and increase the demand on public services,” she added.
Concerns raised about the buildup focused on its potential for negative impact on the environment and the culture of Guam. The most contentious issue, she said, is the need to find a place where the U.S Marines can conduct live-fire training among Guam’s cultural and historical sites.
Won Pat said she studied the situation from all angles and perspectives, read all necessary documents, did additional research, looked at similar situations in other places, and studied the CNMI’s history for answers.
“I wanted to understand as much as what was being planned and how it would impact us. I knew that the plan to move the Marines to Guam was intended to lessen the presence of Marines in Okinawa, so I went to Okinawa to see it,” she said.
According to Won Pat, Okinawa’s community had been protesting the Marine’s presence on their island since 1995, when three Marines kidnapped a 12-year-old girl and raped her.
“I had to ask myself if that is what I wanted for my community. I had to listen…I met with the women and they had valid concerns about the impact on children and the amount of money it would cost our government…I formed a group and became vocal about the need to put Guam first…I was heavily criticized and deemed anti-military, but as a women I would not back down,” she said.
She said the youth empowered her, enabling her to spread the word into Guam’s community and its leaders. Some 10,000 comments were made when the draft EIS came out, which she says the Navy said was unheard of.
“We share the same culture. I invite you to the path we’ve taken and ask yourself: Is this what you want for Tinian and Pagan? We have to learn from each other because no matter what political lines divide us, we are all one family. …My final point is, everything I do as a leader I do from a place of love for my family, island, ancestors, and future generations. …CNMI, you have more political power than we do in Guam because you are a Commonwealth. If you don’t want Pagan to be bombed, you can say no…make it happen,” she said.
In related news, Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan), who chairs the House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs, said that military officials will be sitting with the committee this Thursday to discuss the military’s plans.
Demapan said the military has been holding many stakeholder meetings but never with the Legislature.
“Like what Won Pat said, if they want to be a part of the community, they have to be a partner of the community and that opens that dialogue so that they can become a good and responsible partner and benefit our community,” he said.


Military proposes new training areas, ranges on Tinian, Pagan
Written by
Pacific Daily News

The military today released its proposed plans for the buildup in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which involves the construction of a live-fire unit and combined level range and training areas on two islands in the CNMI.
According to the plan, existing live-fair and training range facilities in the Western Pacific are insufficient to support the military’s training requirements, specifically in the Mariana Islands.
A unit-level range and training area is proposed on Tinian and a combined-level range and training area is proposed on Pagan. When complete, they would be manned by 95 full-time personnel.
A combined level training area allows various units and unit types to train simultaneously, the plan states.
Each year, there would be 20 weeks of live-fire training on Tinian and 16 weeks of live-fire training on Pagan, the plan states.
The military anticipates that live-fire training on those islands could increase to as much as 45 weeks a year, but it would first require another impact statement.
On Tinian, additional property would be acquired through long-term leases, the plan states.
The military would lease all of Pagan, which is uninhabited, from the CNMI government, the plan states.
Public meetings
The military has scheduled informational open houses and public hearings later this month and early next month:
• April 29: from 5 to 8 p.m. at Saipan Southern High School, Saipan;
• April 30: from 5 to 8 p.m. at Tinian Junior Senior High School, Tinian
• May 1: from 5 to 8 p.m. at Garapan Elementary School, Saipan
A separate draft environmental impact statement for the Guam portion of the military buildup is expected to be released by the end of May.


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