Saturday, November 26, 2016

Setbisio Para i Publiko #32: Isao-hu Magahet Hunggan

If you were to ask me what type of music is my favorite, I will always say Chamorro music. It isn't really that I like every single Chamorro song, but I will purchase every single Chamorro CD or record I can get my hands on, in order to support one of the main ways that the Chamorro language persisted even during the generations which were quietly trying to silence it by not teaching it to their children. Chamorro musicians deserve far more support and credit than most people give them. They are, within recent Chamorro history, the ones who played the most significant, but unheralded role in keeping the language spoken and alive. While most families did not speak it to their children, collections of singers decided to keep using the language to make music, despite immense pressure to simply sing in English and Americanize the way everything else seemed to be going. Within that collection of musicians a few names stand out more than others. There are those who had their names on the albums and lent their voices to the task of ensuring that new generations would have a passing familiarity with the language they weren't learning in their homes. And then there were those in the background who were producing and helping them write their songs. Flora Baza Quan is one of those pioneers. I wrote the following mini-bio for her when she participated in the Chamorro Experience gi Fino' Chamorro lecture series in 2013:
Flora Baza Quan is a renowned Chamorro singer and songwriter who has been performing and recording for more than thirty years. Known affectionately as the “Queen of Chamorro Music,” Baza Quan is a pioneer of contemporary Chamorro music, lending her signature sound and vocal talents to perpetuating Chamorro culture.  Some of her recognized favorites include “Hagu,” “Puti Tai Nobiu” and “Hinasso.”

Flora first achieved fame by being the first Chamorro to win an international beauty pageant, when she won the title of Miss Asia in 1971.  She then went on to team up with other noted musical pioneers such as Johnny Sablan, Tom Bejado, and the Charfauros Brothers to help build the Chamorro recording industry we have today.

One thing that Flora is less known for, but she should nonetheless receive recognition is the oral history project that she conducted for Department of Parks and Recreation. She focused on different themes such as Life in Sumay or Sports History, but provided in-depth interviews of many individuals from our recent history who have long since passed on. For those who want to read up on topics like this, you can find her transcripts and video at MARC or at Department of Parks and Recreation. 
Amongst her songs, I like the usual favorites, such as "Hågu" which has even been taken up by the newest generation and was sung by Pia Mia, Inetnon Gefpå'go and other newer artists. But i mas ya-hu, from the days when I was still sitting at the dinner table in my grandparents' house torturing my grandmother to listen to the lyrics to Chamorro songs and help me decipher them, is this one below, "Isao-hu Magåhet Hunggan." The tune is update, it could very well be the first Chamorro Calypso or Reggae song. But the lyrics are intriguing to me, both simple but also featuring some poetic twists that I found fascinating when I was first learning the language. 

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Isao-hu Magåhet Hunggan
ginen as Flora Baza Quan

Isao-hu magåhet hunggan
Ha bensihu tentasion chalan
An siña dispensa yu’ fan
Isao-hu magåhet hunggan

Anakko maloffan na tiempo
Obligasion-hu hu abandona
Famagu’on konto asagua-hu
Put minagof yan kompañia

I pasiando yan i minagof-hu
Umungak yu’ sasalåguan
Fehman magåhet sinetsot-hu
Ti hu hasngon este chumålan

Isao-hu magåhet hunggan
Ha bensihu tentasion chalan
An siña dispensa yu’ fan
Isao-hu magåhet hunggan

Kompañia, gimen yan minagof
Sen mångge yan na’malago’
Ha sodda’ yu hoben yan bråbu
Iknorånte yan impitosa

Håyi bai hu achaka
Amånu bai pega este na responsibida
Isao-hu pues bai aksepta

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