Saturday, July 11, 2015

March Stories

In Vivian Dames' dissertation on the Chamorro place inside and outside of what she referred to as "the circle of American belonging" she devotes a chapter to the first three non-voting delegates that Guam sent to the US Congress. She conducted interviews with both Robert Underwood and Ben Blaz, but at the time of her research Tony Won Pat had already passed away and so she instead interviewed his daughter Judi Won Pat, current Speaker of the Guam Legislature (a position her father historically held). She attributed to each of them a different identity as politicians in Washington D.C., a different approach to their job that made them effective despite being simultaneously included and excluded from Congress. Each of them didn't have much power in the formal sense, but were able to capitalize on something in their background or in the political climate that made it possible for them to accomplish things in the center of American power.

Won Pat, took advantage of certain patronizing figures, who thought of Guam as the little guy, who relied on American generosity. He did not stand out too much, or cause much problem, but made himself an indispensable part of the Democratic team. Blaz was the veteran, who had served in the US military, becoming the first Chamorro or non-white man to become a brigadier general in the US Marines. Throughout both Won Pat's and Blaz's terms, Guam was still recalled as a bloody battleground of World War II, and so Won Pat and his respectful, quiet dependency and Blaz and his more steely military exterior fit perfectly. Underwood, became known as the storyteller, his way with words being so appreciated he was often asked to speak during debates on topics or issues that had nothing to do with Guam. In my research, going through old testimony and documents related to Guam from the US Congress, I've come across several statements by Underwood, which all point to his role as a storyteller, who was trying his best to make Guam interesting to a country that could care little about it, while also not diminishing the pride and the culture of the Chamorro people.

Below is one such statement, which was read in March of 2001, on covers several topics, such as Women's Month and Chamorro Month.

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

March 8, 2001
RAU
Congress

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of March's Women's History Month and March 8 as International Women's Day, which is today, here in Washington, D.C.; and I would also like to honor the late Honorable Cynthia Johnston Torres, a distinguished member of the Third Guam Legislature.
Women's history month is a time to pay tribute to the women of our Nation, an appreciation for their contributions to the political, social, economic and cultural development of our country, in recognition of the many struggles and obstacles that women face, and in honor of the integral role that women have played in American history. Women make up, of course, over half of our country's population and have changed our Nation in many positive ways, and women have made their mark in various fields such as science and business, education, health, the public sector, the arts and entertainment, and the list goes on and on.

The progress of women today must be considered in conjunction with continuing challenges. Today, women are affected by the major issues on our Nation's agenda, including and especially health care, Social Security, Medicare, tax reform, et cetera. Most recently, ergonomic issues impact women the most who represent 64 percent of the repetitive motion injuries that result in lost work time and, regrettably, the House voted to eliminate the most recent progress we have made on this issue.
It is encouraging that 6 out of 10 women participate in the labor force. However, employment discrimination and unequal pay still exists. The future, however, looks promising as women are demonstrating increased participation in all levels and branches of government. Unfortunately, we still have many who have unrealistic and outmoded expectations about so-called traditional roles.
Women's History Month has its own history that illustrates the gains that women have made in the last century. In order to reflect on international connections among women, some European nations have been celebrating International Women's Day on March 8 since 1911, following women's suffrage in 1920 and the valuable contributions made by women to the war industries during the 1940s and World War II. Women's issues were pushed to the forefront during the 1960s. The history of women has been finally acknowledged in schools and has become part of the regular curriculum in the 1970s; and in 1981, the National Women's History Project spearheaded the initiative for National Women's History Week. The U.S. Congress passed a resolution in recognition of this week; and in 1987, this week has been expanded to National Women's History Month.

Mr. Speaker, my own island of Guam proudly takes part in celebrating Women's History Month. The Bureau of Women's Affairs holds events recognizing women's accomplishments, addressing women's issues, and empowering women to be the best that they can be. The theme for 2001 is ``Celebrating Women of Courage and Vision,'' and there will be a proclamation-signing not only for Women's History Month, but also for the Year of the Family.

Today, the spirit of community and attention to women's issues in Guam is alive and well, as the Bureau of Women's Affairs and the Guam Council of Women's Clubs celebrated International Women's Day ahead of us, a day ahead of us, because Guam is always ahead, in an event involving the participation of various women's clubs and organizations from the government of Guam and the private sector. These organizations learned more about each other and shared information while many contributions from various cultures that are represented in Guam and artwork of Guam were showcased for all to see.

The children of Guam are also active during Women's History Month, as they have participated in a poster and essay competition in promotion of this year's theme, ``Celebrating Women of Courage and Vision.'' Elementary school children have submitted posters and middle school and high school students have entered an essay contest, all of which are displayed at the center court of the Micronesian Mall. Such an event raises early awareness of women's issues and fosters early recognition of women's contributions to Guam's development.

Finally, at the end of the month the outstanding women for the year 2000 will be honored at the seventh annual awards banquet at the Guam Marriott Resort. Winners from the categories of non-traditional role; grandmother, GovGuam/Federal civil service; mother; community private sector will be announced. The influx of nominations illustrates that, indeed, the island does embrace women of courage and vision. In the executive branch of the government of Guam, Lieutenant Governor Madeleine Bordallo holds the highest position ever held by a woman in the government of Guam, and she currently serves her second term at this most important post. Out of the 60 agencies of the government of Guam, 11 are headed by women, including Andrea Finona of the Guam Passport Office; Sheila Torres of the Agency for Human Resources and Development; Jeanette R. Yamashita of the Chamorro Affairs Department; Isabel Lujan of the Department of Commerce; Rosie R. Tainatongo of the Department of Education; Borah J. Bordallo of the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities; Geraldine ``Ginger'' S. Underwood of the Guam Educational Telecommunication Corporation, KGTF; Taling Taitano of the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority; Dr. Davina Lujan of the Guam Memorial Hospital; Thelma Ann Perez of the Guam Power Authority; and Christine K. Scott-Smith of the Guam Public Library.

In addition, six of these 40 deputy directors are women.

While others have served in acting capacities, Lourdes T. Pangelinan is the only woman who has served as the permanent chief of staff for the Governor of Guam.

As we can see, political representation by women in Guam is encouraged. In fact, Guam law requires that all government of Guam boards and commissions maintain at least two female members in every board and commission. Several key boards have female chairpersons, such as the former Senator, Pilar Cruz Lujan, at the Guam Airport Authority; Lillian Opena at the Guam Council on Youth Affairs; Dr. Heidi San Nicolas at the Guam Development Disabilities Council; Miriam S. Gallet at the Guam Environmental Protection Board of Directors; Corina G. Ludwig at the Guam Mass Transit; Ann Muna at the Guam Memorial Hospital; Bernadita Quitugua at the Guam Museum; and Arlene P. Bordallo at the Port Authority of Guam Board of Directors.

Women's participation in the legislative branch has also increased over the years and is the highlight of Guam's political history. The first elected female to public office was Rosa T. Aguigui of Merizo who was elected to the Guam Congress in 1946; and since 1986, women represent approximately one-third of the membership of the Guam legislature. Female membership was at its peak in 1990 when seven women were elected to serve in the 22nd Guam legislature which consists of 21 members. During 3 separate years, women were the highest vote-getters for a legislative campaign. In 1986, Mayor Marilyn D.A. Manibusan had the most votes. In 1988, it was Madeleine Z. Bordallo, and in 1990, Doris Flores Brooks. Female legislators that have held the highest offices are Vice Speaker Katherine B. Aguon; Legislative Secretaries Pilar C. Lujan, Elizabeth Arriola, Judith Won Pat-Borja, and Joanne Brown; and Rules Committee Chairperson Herminia Dierking.

In 1954, Lagrimas Leon Guerrero Untalan and Cynthia Johnston Torres were the first women elected to the Guam legislature. Currently, three of the 15 members are women: Senator Joanne M.S. Brown, who is legislative secretary and chairperson of the committee on Natural resources; Senator Lou A. Leon Guerrero, who is the assistant minority leader; and Senator Judith ``Judy'' T. Won Pat, the assistant minority whip. Past members have included Lagrimas Leon Guerrero Untalan, Cynthia Johnston Torres, Katherine B. Aguon, Carmen Artero Kasperbauer, Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Elizabeth P. Arriola, Pilar C. Lujan, Marilyn D.A. Manibusan, Hermina Duenas Dierking, Marcia K. Hartsock, Martha Cruz Ruth, Doris Flores Brooks, Marilyn Won Pat, Senator Hope A. Cristobal, Senator Carlotta Leon Guerrero, and Senator Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson, who is currently a Superior Court judge. The highest staff position held by a female in the Guam Legislature is deputy director, held by Dorothy Perez.

Women have also made promising gains in the judicial branch as well. Two out of the seven judges of the superior court are women: Frances Tydingco-Gatewood and Judge Katherine A. Maraman. In the past, two out of the three full-time supreme court justices have been women: Justice Janel Healy-Weeks, who retired about 2 years ago, and the late justice Monessa Lujan. Three out of the island's 19 village mayors are women, including Isabel Haggard, who is in her 4th term as the mayor of Piti and is also a former vice president of the mayor's council; Mayor Rita Tainatongo of Merizo, who is serving her first term; and Concepcion B. Duenas, mayor of Tamuning-Tumon, who is also serving her first term. Three out of the five vice mayors are women, including June U. Blas of Barrigada; Melissa B. Savares of Dededo; and Nancy T. Leon Guerrero of Tamuning-Tumon, who are all serving their first term.

Women have also held high positions in political parties. Marilyn D.A. Manibusan was the first and, to date, the only female chairperson of the Republican Party.

As a native of Chamorro from Guam, I am proud to announce some of the ``firsts'' for Chamorro women, a few of which I have mentioned already. Dr. Olivia Cruz was the first Chamorro woman licensed by the Medical Licensure Board; Frances Marie Tydingco Gatewood was the first Chamorro woman judge of the superior court; Elizabeth Gayle was the first Chamorro woman to be civil engineer; Dr. Rosa Robert Carter was the first Chamorro woman president and the only female president of the University of Guam; Mary Inez Underwood was the first woman of Chamorro ancestry to enter the religious life; Elizabeth Barrett Anderson was the first Chamorro woman attorney general; Rosa T. Aguigui Reyes was the first Chamorro woman elected to public office, as a member of the Guam Congress; Dr. Katherine B. Aguon was the first Chamorro woman to earn a Ph.D.

These women in public service have been exemplary for the entire island and for our navigation, and I am truly honored to represent a district with such strong women.

Historically, the women of Guam have always played an important role in Guam society. In pre-Western times in Guam society, the Chamorro society was based on a matrilineal clan system in which women performed important and powerful roles in the lives of the people. Lineage was traced through the female line, and it was the relationships via the mother which determined wealth, social standing and power.

Even with the onset of Western contact, which was patrilineal in nature, particularly the kind of Western contact that was experienced in Guam, which came primarily from Spain. Despite that, the Chamorro female retained much formal and informal power in Guam society. This has carried itself to the present, and girls and women continue to be influential in some social settings in Guam and quite dominant in others.

Openness to female leadership and women in influential roles have been part of the Guam scene, not because of, because in spite of Western contact.

Mr. Speaker, we must also pay tribute to the women whom I have not mentioned by name, yet who have also had a significant impact on our lives: Working women, who fight for equal pay and nondiscriminatory treatment; the women who stand up against domestic and family violence; the women who teach our children to become future leaders; like my mother and my wife Lorraine and even my own daughter Sophia, all of whom have been and still continue to be teachers in more ways than one, and the women who continue to learn in higher education institutions; the female community leaders who advocate for women's issues, lesbian women who are still fighting for the acceptance that they rightfully deserve.

Last but certainly not least, let us pay tribute to mothers, who provide love and direction so our children are raised to become citizens with decency and values; single mothers who make sacrifices everyday so their children can live good lives; daughters who grow up to become independent women of integrity and diligence; and wives who provide companionship and stability.

These are the women we celebrate in March for Women's History Month, and these are the women that we should celebrate all year round.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to recognize Women's History Month, not only because women's history is key to American history, but because women have contributed so much to our Nation through their strength, courage and vision.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make particular note about the passing of a woman who has provided inspiration to all the people of Guam, the Honorable Cynthia Johnston Torres. It is with a great sense of loss that we commemorate Former Senator Torres, a distinguished member of the 3rd Guam legislature, who passed away 2 days ago at the age of 89 on March 6, 2001.

Senator Torres is a noted figure in Guam politics and society. She holds the distinction of being one of the first women to be elected to public office on the Island of Guam. Along with Lagrimas L.G. Untalan, the late senator was elected to serve in the 3rd Guam legislature in 1954.

They were the first and only women elected to Guam's unicameral assembly during the first 10 years of civil government on Guam.

Although women have previously served as appointees to the Guam Congress, an advisory board to Guam's naval governors during the first half of the last century, Senators Torres and Untalan's election marked the first time that women would serve as elected representatives for the people.
Foremost among the reasons behind the candidacy of Guam's first women senators were two specific objectives. These objectives were to define the character of Guam in and the years to come. The candidates intended to set a precedent. They wanted to have Guam's women involved in civic and political affairs. They believed that women should be independent, assertive and outspoken, just like these two women were.

The significant number of women who have since served in key positions and elected to public office demonstrates the fulfillment of this goal and reflects the contributions of these two women, in particular the woman I want to draw attention to today, Ms. Cynthia Johnston Torres.

The other objectives set forth in the 1954 elections was to break the concept of blocked voting, a practice whereby an X placed by a voter on a large box within the ballot automatically casts votes for an entire slate of candidates. During the elections for the first and second Guam legislatures, the forerunner of the Guam Democratic party, the Popular Party, was the only major political party in existence.

Members of this party had absolute control of the first two legislatures. In 1954, Senator Torres' election as an independent to the legislature earned her a prominent position which ensured leadership status when the Territorial Party, which is commonly assumed to be the forerunner of the Guam Republican party, was formed in 1956. Guam voters have since been known to cross party lines and cast votes for candidates they feel most qualified rather than simply for party affiliations.
Mr. Speaker, as a Member of the 3rd Guam legislature, Senator Torres played a vital role in the passage of important legislation, the most notable being Public Law 42, which established trial by jury in certain cases within the jurisdiction of the District Court of Guam. In addition to a wide range of bills, which codified the island of Guam's administrative and corporate procedures, the establishment of the Guam Memorial Hospital, the only civilian hospital, took effect during the senator's tenure and occurred as a result of her efforts.

Although, undoubtedly, a very distinguished political figure, Senator Torres left a more distinct mark in the field of education. Born on July 27, 1911 to William G. and Agueda Iglesias Johnston, the senator took a path not much different from the ones taken by her parents.

As the daughter of prominent educators, her parents' profession led her to devote her life to the field of education. Having received an education in California, Senator Torres returned to Guam in 1932 to become a teacher.

She married a local successful entrepreneur, Jose Calvo Torres shortly thereafter. Mr. Torres passed away in 1946. The senator took over his business ventures and quickly became a respected member of the local business community.

Having noted the lack of educational opportunities for Guam's handicapped children, Senator Torres decided to sell her business interests in 1958 in order to pursue a degree in education and special education, in particular.

Upon completing her master's degree at the University of California in San Diego, she came back to Guam to become a consultant for the island's only school for physically and mentally handicapped children. She later became principal of the Chief Brodie Elementary School. Under her direction, this school developed and implemented educational and vocational programs which she added to the customary custodial care previously provided by the school to handicapped children.

She retired from government service in 1975, and in recent years, she has served the community through her involvement in civic organizations.

She was a member of the University of Guam Board of Regents, the Guam Economic Development Authority, the Marianas Association of Retired Citizens. She was a cofounder and charter member of the Guam Lytico-Bodig Association. She has served as chair to the Guam Memorial Hospital's Board of Trustees and was a past President of the Guam Association of Retired Persons.

For all her work and accomplishments, Senator Torres was conferred numerous awards and commendations, and she has received commendations in the Guam legislature, which has recognized her and commended her for her love and service for the people of Guam.

Mr. Speaker, in addition, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law Degree from the University of Guam in 1981, and the distinguished leadership award from the American Biographical Institute for Outstanding Education.

Senator Cynthia Johnston Torres leaves a great legacy of service and devotion to the island and the people of Guam. A pioneer in the field of politics and education, her endeavors and accomplishments provided inspiration to the men and women of Guam.

As we mourn her passing, perseverance and energy will live forever in our hearts.

Mr. Speaker, adios, Senator Torres, yan gof dangkalo na si Yu'os Ma'ase ginen todos I taotaon Guam. You are an inspiration to the people of Guam and to our Nation. During women's history month and beyond, we will celebrate your life and your legacy.

Mr. Speaker, March is more than just Women's History Month in Guam. It is also the month in which we celebrate the indigenous roots of the islands. It started off as Chamorro Week. It has now been expanded to Chamorro Month. And, ironically, it was connected to an event which occurred in 1521, which on March 6, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan, Magallanes, one of the world's most famous explorers, who has since become as the first European to lead a circumnavigation of the earth landed on Guam on March 6, 1521.

In observance of this landing, the people of Guam celebrate what has been known as Discovery Day, and this past Tuesday, March 6, 2001, Guam celebrated the 480th anniversary of Discovery Day.
Mr. Speaker, of course, since that time, there has been much soul searching about the meaning of being discovered, the meaning of contact with the West, and the fact that the people of Guam and, indeed, the people of the Pacific Islands as they interacted with Europeans experienced a number of tragedies, including immediate depopulation, either caused by armed conflict or diseases for which there was no natural immunity in these relatively isolated islands. As a consequence, there has been an attempt to balance how we remember these events.

Indeed, when Ferdinand Magellan first came to Guam in March 6th, 1521, he was at the tail end of his move across the Pacific, had rounded the Cape in South America. By the time they arrived in Guam, his crew was reduced to eating all the rats aboard ship and actually boiling some of the leather in their shoes so that they could perhaps get some sustenance from that, and so it was fortunate for the crew. It was fortunate for Magellan that they happened upon to the island of Guam and indeed the people of Guam replenished them, gave them food and water.

Mr. Speaker, an incident occurred at the time in which the Spaniards claimed that the Chamorro people were trying to steal a little boat, a little skiff, which in the old days of these gallon-type vessels, there would all be like a little boat kind of trailing behind. In retaliation, Magellan landed a crew of people and with crossbows proceeded to kill seven Chamorros.

It is of great irony that many, many centuries later the people of Guam who had this experience, first-time experience with Europeans would actually commemorate Discovery Day, although, somewhat in tongue and cheek these days when this landing is recreated as it was earlier this week, it is the Chamorros who in turn killed the Spaniards. So it has taken on different dimensions.

It is part of a constellation of events, which has come to be known as Chamorro Week and Chamorro Month. I have been intimately involved in this process, because as a young teacher in the 1970s, I, along with a fellow teacher at George Washington High School in Guam, first conceptualized the idea of celebrating the indigenous culture and language and food and customs and art of the people of Guam.

Mr. Speaker, at that time, many of these items were thought to be of little social value, of absolutely minimal educational value. It was our intent at that time to not only highlight and celebrate and commemorate this beautiful culture, which had been 4,000 years in the making and which we have inherited for generation upon generation, to try to reflect upon it and the changes which have occurred on it and find room for it in the curriculum of the public schools and, indeed, all the schools of the island.
 
At the time that we did it, it was not originally widely accepted. Since that time, Chamorro Week celebration has become very widely accepted and is now practiced throughout the schools, and in many ways was part of a larger effort to reintroduce the essence of the culture and the language of the people of Guam into the public schools.

Today children in Guam are learning the Chamorro language and learning much about their heritage and much about their past in ways that would have been thought unthinkable when I was in elementary school. We feel very good about that, and we feel that March is a good time to reflect upon that and as we juxtapose the circumstances surrounding the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan and all those things, all of the events which followed that so-called discovery and the changes of this culture that has come to be known as the Chamorro culture of the Mariana Islands, of which Guam is the largest islands, more probably appropriately called the culture of the taotaomonas, the people of the land.

Now, throughout this whole time period, if we go back this 480 years, I take this opportunity to raise the historical background to the House, and I do this annually in order to draw attention to the fact that the people of Guam and, indeed, the people of all small Pacific island societies have a great challenge ahead of them; and that challenge is to survivor this century.

In many ways, the people, the indigenous Pacific islanders of the world feel impinged upon and feel that many of the things that they find familiar will be so dramatically altered over time that they will cease to exist as peoples, not just cease to exist as individuals, but that maybe three or four or five generations from now there will be no one who will identify themselves proudly as Chamorros and understand the meaning of that.

It is with some note of melancholy that I draw attention to this, because one of the most beautiful parts of it is the fact of the use of the Chamorro language, a language which I grew up with and which I know reasonably well. Yet, it pains me to know that succeeding generations do not know it as well.
So we use this opportunity to reflect upon the condition, the cultural condition and the social condition of our people as we engage upon this celebration and as we engage upon this commemoration.
It also provides some understanding to the kinds of legislation which I have introduced, including H.R. 308, an act to establish a Guam War Claims Review Commission which speaks to the experience of the Chamorro people during World War II, and a House concurrent resolution which I introduced in the past Congress and which I will introduce in this Congress, a resolution to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to help Guam achieve full self-governance.

After more than four centuries of colonial rule under Spain, under Japan, indeed under America, the people of Guam are entering a new world of self-discovery. Discovery by others is not nearly as important as discovery of oneself. And definition by others is meaningless if you cannot initially define yourself. And determination of your future pales in significance to self-determination.
So Guam in full partnership with the United States and in its strong desire to remain an integral part of the United States is now undergoing a process of self-discovery and self-definition and ultimately self-determination.

This process will eventually wind its way through this body as it has through the hearts and minds of the people of Guam, and it will call upon each and every one of us to, not only treat with respect the experiences of Guam, but to apply fully the best principles of democracy which makes America the great Nation that she is.

In the coming weeks, I will explain in greater detail H.R. 308 and the concurrent resolution which reaffirms the United States' commitment to help Guam achieve full self-governance. Both of these proposals seek justice for the people of Guam and true and full democracy and fair play as unique members of the American family.

In conclusion, I must believe that the people of Guam celebrate Discovery Day, this ironic holiday for us. It is a holiday in Guam, I might add, to recognize our rich culture and understand our unique history. This will enable us to understand how we are perceived and allow us to articulate our true history so that we, along with the United States, in this new century can redefine and maintain our strong relationship and allow Guam a greater voice in how the island is governed.

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