Friday, September 30, 2016

Inadaggao Lengguahen Chamorro

Six years ago under the guidance of Peter Onedera, the Chamorro language program at UOG held a Chamorro Language Forum, in which senatorial and gubernatorial candidates were asked questions in Chamorro about pertinent island issues. It was on one hand a great success. Students asked hundreds of questions to the candidates in the Chamorro language. But on the other hand, the format of the forum made it so that candidates didn't have to speak in Chamorro, they could just respond in English. I assisted Peter Onedera with these forums both as a student and a professor at UOG, and so I found it on the one hand inspiring to see a place where the Chamorro language was the focus for political discourse. But it was also so depressing to see so many leaders and would-be leaders not even trying to speak Chamorro, even though they were given the questions ahead of time and could have prepared answers.

Fast forward six years and through my Chamoru Culture class at UOG, we have decided to bring the Chamorro Language Forum back, albeit with a new focus. This time around, we've limited the number of people invited, to only those who will commit to speaking Chamorro during the forum, whether off the top of their heads or through prepared remarks. As a result, we'll only have eight participants, four from each island political party. This year's Inadaggao Lengguahen Chamoru will take place October 10, 2016 from 6 - 8 pm at the UOG CLASS Lecture Hall.

I'll be posting more about it, and possibly writing about it for my PDN column next week. In the meantime, enjoy these articles, which are all about the last time we organized this forum.


UOG's Chamorro Language Program, We Are Guahan, Peace Coalition host gubernatorial, senatorial forums

SEPTEMBER 10, 2010

The University of Guam Chamoru Language program, We are Guahan, and the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice will co-sponsor a series of Chamorro language senatorial forums on Oct. 19-21 and a gubernatorial Chamorro language forum featuring Sens. Eddie Baza Calvo and Ray Tenorio, discussing issues with former Gov. Carl T. C. Gutierrez and Sen. Frank Blas Aguon Jr. on Oct. 25.

All forums begin at 7p.m. and will be held in the University of Guam’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Lecture Hall.

The October 19 forum features:
• Sen. Judith Won Pat
• Sen. Tom Ada
• Sen. Benjamin Cruz
• Sen. Adolpho Palacios
• Steve Dierking
• Sen. Frank Blas Jr.,
• Chris Duenas
• Ray Cruz Haddock
• William Q. Sarmiento
• Vic Gaza

The Oct. 20 forum features:
• Sen. Tina R. Muna Barnes
• Corinna Gutierrez-Ludwig
• Joe S. San Agustin
• Trini Torres
• Sen. Ben Pangelinan
• Sen. Tony Ada
• Mana Silva Taijeron
• Douglas Moylan
• Steve Guerrero
• William U. Taitague

The Oct. 21 forum features:
• Jonathan Diaz,
• Sarah Thomas-Nededog,
• Dennis Rodriguez Jr.
• Sen. Rory Respicio
• Sen. Judith Guthertz
• Sen. Telo Taitague
• Aline Yamashita
• John Benavente
• Shirley “Sam” Mabini
• Velma Harper

Chamoru Language Students enrolled in the fall semester classes at the University of Guam helped organize the event. Emcees for the forums are Ronald T. Laguana, Hope Alvarez Cristobal, Jose Q. Cruz, Miget Bevacqua, Ann Marie Arceo, Rufina Mendiola, Anthony “Malia” Ramirez, Irene Santos Quidachay, and Teresita Flores.

At the end of each forum, the audience will vote for their favorite candidates. All the candidates are being encouraged to have their supporters, family, friends, and party leaders in attendance as well as to post party banners in the lobby of the lecture hall.

Questions from the general public are being solicited and will be asked during the forums. All questions will be translated into Chamorro. Candidates are encouraged to speak in Chamorro, but will be allowed an interpreter/translator for the evening. “


Professor: students' freedom of speech violated
Posted: Oct 22, 2010 4:22 PM
by Lannie Walker

Guam - A professor at the University of Guam is saying students' rights to free speech may have been violated. Professor of Chamorro Studies Peter Onedera says he has held Chamorro language senatorial and gubernatorial forums since 1998, inviting candidates from all parties to participate.

As part of the exercise students are asked to acquire political signs and posters of the participants to be displayed in the hall way of the lecture hall where the forums are held. "For the first time ever during this forum our acting associate dean on Wednesday - mind you, this is Wednesday after the forum had taken place on Tuesday - told me that the posters had to come down because it is in violation of the Mini-Hatch Act," he said.

The Mini-Hatch Act prohibits the solicitation of political candidates by government employees. Onedera says no candidates were being endorsed and says he feels he is being singled out.

KUAM News spoke with dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dr. James Sellman, who ordered the signs be taken down. He says he was erring on the side of caution and that the signs were left up when the forums were not in process. Sellman adds he does encourage the political debates.

Onedera tells us he has written to UOG president Dr. Robert Underwood about the matter but has not yet received a reply. 


"Maolek na Finaisen"
Michael Bevacqua
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Marianas Variety

As I wrote about in my last column, the Chamorro Language Program at UOG is organizing a “Fino’ Chamoru na Inadaggao,” or Chamorro Language Forum, where political candidates will respond to questions asked in the Chamorro language (hopefully in the Chamorro language).

This week there are three forums for the senatorial candidates, and next Monday on the 25th, the gubernatorial teams will face off.

I took some time recently in my classes at UOG to discuss with my students the importance of the forum and give them all the opportunity to write down some possible questions to be asked, which would then be translated into Chamorro. The discussion was very spirited, because I pushed my students to be very intentional about what they were going to ask. I asked them not to fall into the usual traps that these events or these questions take, where politicians are asked the most generic and pointless questions, which don’t challenge them, don’t reveal anything important about them or the issue, and allow them to merely regurgitate something they’ve already said 8,000 times that same week.

I told my students to not be chained to what the “big” and “important” issues are usually thought to be, but to instead focus on something they felt was real in their lives. I knew that the following two questions, “What are your plans to fix the economy?” and “What are your plans to fix education?” were most likely the ones they felt were the most important, but I urged them to resist simply asking what they were supposed to ask, and focus on what they felt needed to be asked.

My students naturally asked, what kind of questions are the ones that “need to be asked?” I gave a number of different examples, such as the following after one student asked whether it would be okay to ask how she might phrase a question about whether or not the candidate could be trusted. Because in my World History class we were covering the origins of Christianity, I decided to give it a bit of Biblical flavor: “Jesus Christ said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the needle of an eye than for a rich man to get to heaven. Is this something that we should take seriously when choosing our leaders? If you are a person of financial means running for office, how can people trust you to make sure that you do not govern to promote yourself or your class, but are truly interested in helping everyone else on the island?” This is something that not only the wealthy should deal with, but all leaders as well. How can you ensure that you are acting for the benefit of all or most and not just for the few who are closest to you?

Some students found this and other similar questions too confrontational, and didn’t feel that this sort of thing was appropriate and that we should be more respectful to those who are our leaders, or wish to be our leaders. I didn’t criticize them, especially on Guam, where it’s very natural to think such a thing. Others found the bluntness refreshing and liberating, and in truth, that was how I was hoping they’d respond. That is after all the feeling of not just enjoying democracy, but actually participating in it. It stems from going beyond that abstract feeling of simply being part of a democracy, but being a part of it which can make intelligent decisions your society, and does not just cast a mindless vote, but actually attempts to educate oneself and find out what is the best choice.

I received several hundred questions from my students, and wanted to share in this column some of my favorites. By far the most blunt, honest and critical question is the last one. The questions:

1) Trash is a very important issue for any island, since your space is very limited. But Guam has very little recycling. We are living in a fantasy world and not facing the fact that if we don’t truly start to recycle and stop importing more trash into this island. We might just end up capsizing! How would you propose to help wake up Guam and start making recycling a big part of our lives?

2) Do you think that we should make it required that all of our leaders in the Executive and Legislative Branches should be able to understand or speak Chamorro since it is an official language of Guam and they are the representatives of the island? Even if we don’t all speak Chamorro now, this could be a great chance to help encourage people to learn!

3) The US military has promised that new troops will be given cultural sensitivity training to help them adapt to living here in respectful ways. What kind of programs do you propose we can develop to help teach them about real Chamorro culture and real Chamorro history?

4) If aliens landed on Guam the day you are sworn into office, what would your first official act in response to their arrival?

5) Senator Frank Aguon submitted a bill last year which would increase the number of senators in the Guam Legislature from 15 back up to 21. With the rapid increase of Guam’s population, do you support an increase of senators in the legislature? Why or why not?

6) So many of Guam’s current and possible leaders have claimed that there is nothing that we can do about the US military buildup and that it is a done deal or not in our power to change. If the power was in your hands, if you were in charge of the buildup, would you stop it? How would you change it? Please do not say that it will happen no matter what, because then frankly you shouldn’t be anyone’s leader.

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