The Guam Bus
This is a new venture that my brothers and I recently started, where we aim to finally find an outlet for all the creativity that we were blessed to be born with. These two items, the book and the comic are just the start. We are already working on other texts. I'm actually writing the next book right now between blog posts. Stayed tuned to the website above and this space in general for more updates.
In the meantime, we have been fortune enough to have received some local media coverage about our books. See the articles from The Pacific Daily News and The Guam Daily Post below. Si Yu'us Ma'ase to Lacee Martinez and Amber Word for their articles!
Bevacqua brothers join forces to create Chamorro-language books as The Guam Bus
by Lacee A.C. Martinez
Pacific Daily News
October 13, 2016
Take a triad of brothers with creative talent and passion for the island and you've got The Guam Bus.
Brothers Michael, Jack and Jeremy Lujan Bevacqua are the creative collective behind two very different publications steeped in Chamorro culture.
Michael Bevacqua, the oldest of the three, is a prominent Chamorro language and culture advocate, who helped launch the Chamorro Studies Program at the University of Guam back in 2013. He's also an admitted nerd who gets to marry a couple of his passions together with The Guam Bus.
"People say the Chamorro language is in dire straights and it's being threatened today," Michael Bevacqua says. "It's because people associate those things with old things. Young people don't want to speak the Chamorro language because they associate it with their grandparents or church or elders talking to each other at one corner of the party. It doesn't necessarily connect to them and the way they see the world."
That's where The Guam Bus comes in with the children's book "Sumåhi and the Karabao" and the bilingual comic book "Makåhna." They're both illustrated and written in a way to relate to those more in tune with today's pop culture.
Carabao talesThe children's book is inspired by Michael Bevacqua's then-infant daughter Sumåhi. It follows the little girl, decked in diapers and baby mittens, as she interacts with a carabao from Chamorro Village.
"The carabao tells her all these stories about what role carabaos played in the Chamorro culture over time," Michael Bevacqua says. "Some of them are based on historical fact and some of them are more fanciful things, more legendary stuff."
There's a story about a carabao who got blown all the way to Rota in a Typhoon, another of the legend of why the carabao and cow have different skins.
"There's a story of a guy who tried to take his carabao into the movie theater one time because he wanted his carabao to watch a cowboy movie," Michael Bevacqua says. "All of these different things are collected from historical research or just research from the elders. For example, the story about the carabao who'd race. Before, they'd have carabao races on the island. All of these things want to bring a little bit of humor but also history, language, cultural elements."
Jack Lujan illustrated the tales of carabao and girl.
Comic bookThe Guam Bus takes a big turn for an older audience with "Makåhna."
"It's still bilingual and still very much in line in the Chamorro culture," Michael Bevacqua says. "This is meant to be fantastical, epic look into the Chamorro past."
The word "makåhna" translates into something like "wizard" or "sorcerer," leading into a story about two makåhna engaging in an ancient battle.
"The two people have magical powers, one who can control the animals and one who can control the elements," Michael Bevacqua says. "As you go through it, you can see both of them as they go back and forth as to whose village is more superior."
Jack Bevacqua illustrated the dark, cross-hatched and mysterious brawls. Initially, he drew out the comic book with all of the sound effects written in English.
Youngest brotherBrother Jeremy Bevacqua is the youngest of the trio, a writer and musician who will begin working on a Chamorro alphabet book.
Although he's not as fluent in the language as his brother is, he shares the same passion to bring more Chamorro stories forward, just like his big brother.
"Promoting the Chamorro culture is very important," Jeremy Bevacqua says. "We need to create art. Not just art, but music as well. I think it's promoting art from Guam, promoting Chamorro culture. ... More stories and any local media are very important in creating more sense of identity in the young population and reminding older generations about it."
The Bevacquas are grandsons of the late Joaquin Flores Lujan, better known as Tun Jack, a legendary Chamorro master blacksmith. The three grew up both in the mainland and in Guam. While here, they'd always stay in the same household with their Chamorro grandparents.
Decided to own itTheir collective name The Guam Bus is sort of an inside joke between the brothers.
"Whenever we would go to family functions or reunions, ... it's very white and not particularly connected to Guam," Michael Bevacqua says. "We would always be identified as the Guam boys because we were the Bevacquas from Guam. We kind of get irked because every time we'd be at one of those things, our dad would yell out: "The Guam bus is leaving!" and we would get so irritated. We would all tease each other over the years when we'd be leaving that the Guam bus is heading out now. We decided to own it. It's also a nice metaphor for a creative company. Come and take a ride on The Guam Bus."
The Guam Bus publications are expected to hit local stores soon, but you can order items off its website at theguambus.com.
"New Works by the Guam Bus hit local bookshelves"
Words and Images by Amber Word
For the Sunday Post
Perched behind a stack of original abstract art, comic books and a colorful ensemble of other authored works, excitement and a keen intellect shone out of Michael Bevacqua’s eyes. “We are a trio of creatives,” he explained.
A staple in the Chamorro culture and language scenes, Bevacqua’s most recent project, The Guam Bus, also incorporates the work of his two brothers, Jack and Jeremy. As a "creative collective based out of Guam, [we are] focused on making creative stories about and for the island.” The Guam Bus aims to generate interesting content and, whenever possible, use Chamorro language and culture.
They began this adventure with the release of their first comic book, “Makåhna,” written by Michael and illustrated by Jack. And yes, even the onomatopoeia sound effects are in Chamorro (like palas for SPLASH). It breathes new life into the heroic past of Guåhan, with the added accent of artistic imagination. This graphic tale of a battle between Chamorro wizards aims to go beyond simply exciting and entertaining its readers; “Makåhna” strives to redefine the role of Chamorro legends and heroes by bringing them into the modern day, taking them from a static idea of the past and recognizing that, “whether our history gets longer and more textured, more nuanced and more full of life, or becomes stale, mafnas, empty and meaningless, depends upon what we do ourselves,” Michael told the Sunday Post.
On a more playful note, The Guam Bus has also released its first children’s book, titled “Sumahi and the Karabao.” The protagonist of the book is a darling Chamorrita in diapers, and was modeled after Bevacqua’s now nine-year-old daughter, Sumahi. She is taken on wild adventures of the mind with her karabao friend, Echong. Each little karabao tale is inspired by “real-life/real-imagined” stories told by Guam’s own manåmko. Bevacqua was the first to admit that his research as a Micronesian Studies graduate student served as the perfect excuse to sit down and absorb these fun-filled stories from his elders. “I really just wanted to talk to old people,” he said.
Bevacqua fondly recalls one such tale, recited to him in his Uncle Juan’s two-room concrete home involving a karabao that snuck into a movie theater to watch an old cowboy movie. The tale is captured perfectly in the vibrant pages of the book, illustrated in a way that is “friendly to the children of today.”
What’s in store for The Guam Bus? Their next release also enlists the talent of Jeremy, the third brother in their trio. This book, titled “Roque Babauta,” puts a spin on the issues of political status and decolonization. They also plan to release a second comic before the end of the year. If you’re looking to score yourself a copy or two, check out their website, www.theguambus.com.