Showing posts from September, 2015

Decolonizing Death

People ask me all the time what decolonization means or is. Manhoben, manåmko’, taotao sanhiyong, taotao sanhalom, all hear of this term as they go about their lives, but are unclear as to what it might mean. For most it stirs up fearsome feelings about losing everything that makes life possible and so they are seeking some reassurance that decolonization couldn’t mean that. I have a variety of answers, anecdotes, theoretical lens and concept ready to go, but it always depends on the context. Are they speaking to me about decolonization in a political context? Or is it cultural? Linguistic? Economic? Spiritual? People will conceive of decolonization differently based on their particular interests or their set of phobias. Many will instinctively define decolonization in a particular way because of their fears of feelings of dependency. Others will want to define it in a certain way because of their interest in something changing.

You can conceive of decolonization in a very narrow sense…

Påkto: I Hinekka

The film I made with Kenneth Gofigan Kuper titled "Påkto: I Hinekka" is being shown tomorrow at the Fifth Guam International Film Festival at 7:30 at the Agana Shopping Center Theaters. Below is some information on the film itself and its cast.
PÅKTO: I Hinekka - Film Synopsis
            “Påkto: I Hinekka” pins nerd ambassadors Ken and Miget in the most epic battle of their lives. While playing the popular fantasy card “Magic: The Gathering” they once again battle to the death, only this time things are different, this time things are in the Chamorro language. “Påkto: I Hinekka” is filled with nerd humor, drama and glory, but more than anything aims to show that it is possible to use the Chamorro language everyday, no matter what one is doing. 

The Chamorro language has existed for thousands of years and has recently become endangered as it is no longer being actively transmitted from one generation to the next. Part of this decline is due to the …

Chamorro: The Movie

“Chamorro: The Movie” by Michael Lujan Bevacqua The Guam Daily Post September 16, 2015
How many people remember the movie “Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon?” It was directed by cult film-master Albert Pyun and starred Richard “Shaft” Roundtree, David “Kung Fu” Carradine and Carmen “just in one scene” Electra. It was shot in Guam in 2004 lauded locally as “Hollywood coming to Guam!” The filmmakers promised to help create a new film industry on the island and tempted local leaders with the idea that “if we film it, they will come” or once the world sees “Max Havoc” on the big screen, people will be lining up to film their movies on Guam.
Local businesses and GovGuam threw money and support at the film, eager to expedite the Hollywood celluloid rush that was on the horizon. This was all soon proved to be ludicrous. The film made no money and was never even screened in a theater. It eventually became the object of a huge lawsuit between GovGuam and the filmmakers. I’ve long argued that t…

Ground Control to Major Tom

I haven't done many song translations lately, I've been so busy with so many different types of work, this activity that used to take my spare time while waiting for meetings, for movies, while sitting at intersections, riding in planes and so on, has fallen by the wayside in terms of my schedule. This used to be a regular exercise I would do to keep my Chamorro creativity going and active. But lately that part of me has been used up for other pursuits, including story-writing in the Chamorro language.

But I recently rewatched the remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and loved the way they incorporated "Space Oddity" by David Bowie into the narrative. After listening to it again and again over the past two week, I really think I want to translate it into Chamorro. Not only because I like it, but because it is in-line with my philosophy of expanding the possibilities for Chamorro and just using Chamorro for everything I like or love or find passion in. In the s…

Guam and Okinawan Constitutions

On Guam the issue of "the constitution" is always looming.

Chamorro activists sometimes bring it up. Plenty of non-Chamorros, such as Ron McNinch like to bring it up. Politicians from the US and from Guam bring it up. In the imaginings of decolonization it is a type of panacea, an incredibly dangerous and problematic one, and like all forms of snake or toad oil like this, it is incredibly seductive. And like these sort of talismans, no matter how many times you tell people they don't work, they aren't enough, or its just wrong, generations of people will still find it and "discover" it, and feel like it solves all problems, has all the answers. Every two weeks or so it seems, someone approaches me via email in public and wants to know why Guam, instead of decolonizing, why doesn't it just write a Constitution.

This is exactly what the United States Federal government has wanted Guam to do. And if something fits within the Americanized framework of poli…

George Takei on Kim Davis

I have always found it interesting how George Takei went from simply a sci-fi actor to a cultural icon and progressive activist. I remember him from the Star Trek films and original TV show, and knew he had to be important in a general way because he was one of he few Asian American actors I would see regularly on the screen. I did not know at the time he was gay, but eventually he reentered my general view of the world as an activist for gay rights, progressive causes and seeing the funny side of life through his Facebook page. Part of the reason that I really like Star Trek as cultural universe and historical text is because it has some progressive roots. The characters of both Uhura and Sulu were minor, but significant in their day as being examples of regular non-menial role for Asian and African American ctors. Both Takei and Nichelle Nichols have worked beyond the limits of Hollywood and extended into civil rights struggles and movements, using their position and fame to help f…

Those Who Create Futures Rooted in Wonder

This week I'm at the symposium "Creating Futures Rooted in Wonder: Bridges Between Indigenous, Science Fiction and Fairy Tale Studies" at the University of Hawai'i, Manoa. I was fortunate enough to be invited out to speak and participate in workshops. The symposium has been amazing so far, because the discussion is so in line with thoughts I've had for years, the only difference is now I am finding so many others, books and journals that are parts of a conversation I can now join. I've always been into nerdy and geeky things such as comics, science fiction, fantasy, but about 15 years ago I began to care more about Chamorro culture, history and language. I have spent every moment since trying to find ways of bringing together those various passions. At this symposium I've found people from various Pacific Islander and Native American communities who feel the exact same way and have the exact same creative/political desires. 

Here are some of t…

In Land We Trust

The Chamorro Land Trust was a government program born as an idea and hope during an expansion of Chamorro consciousness and then implemented and given life during a period of heated activism and protest for Guam. When we look back at the work of Chamorro rights pioneers such as Paul Bordallo or Angel Santos, the Chamorro Land Trust is a key, tangible piece of their legacies.

The Chamorro Land Trust's mission is to provide land to landless Chamorros and for the benefit of the Chamorro community, but different administrations have always found ways to blur that or to quietly sneak around or shockingly expand what that might mean, giving away lands meant to be held in trust for the Chamorro people to all sorts of public and private enterprises. The late Senator Ben Pangelinan once said, "anggen ta manteni i tano', ta susteni i taotao." If we hold onto the land, we sustain the people. A very true point that is important to remember as Guam is sold off to foreign compan…