Sunday, February 25, 2018

Decolonization gi Fino' CHamoru


Decolonization gi Fino' CHamoru:
Future Status Options for Guam Discussed in UOG CHamoru-Language Panel

Mangilao, GU - On Thursday, March 1, 2018, 6:00-7:30 p.m., the Dean of the School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Guam will host a CHamoru-language panel from the Commission on Decolonization to discuss the status options for Guam/Guåhan: Statehood, Free Association, and Independence.     

The event is called "Decolonization gi Fino' CHamoru" (in the CHamoru language).  It will be held in Room 131.  It is free and all are welcome and encouraged to attend. 

The panel, co-organized with Commission Director Amanda Blas from the Office of the Governor of Guam, will include special presentations gi Fino' CHamoru (in the indigenous CHamoru language) from representatives of the Taskforces on Statehood, Free Association, and Independence.  Handouts and other educational materials in English will also be available. 

The taskforces are directed to conduct public outreach and education on issues of decolonization and self-determination.  Support and occasional funding for their efforts is provided by the Government of Guam and the U.S. Department of the Interior, with the invaluable work of dedicated volunteers from the community as well.

The past year and a half has seen increased public awareness and government funding for the pursuit of CHamoru self-determination, as well as court cases and community protests.  This panel offers an important opportunity to celebrate and perpetuate Guam's indigenous culture, language, and traditions, while also foregrounding the discussion of CHamoru decolonization. 

Mr. Eddie Duenas and Mr. Eloy P. Hara are the chair and vice chair of the Taskforce on Statehood; Mr. Adrian Cruz is the chair of the Taskforce on Free Association; and Ms. Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero and Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua are the co-chairs of the Taskforce on Independence.

This event is free and open to the public.  A question-and-answer session will take place following the panel.  

Na'lå'la' i Fino' CHamoru!  (Let's keep CHamoru alive!)

Monday, February 19, 2018

Fina'kuentos Chamorro #6: Si Yu'os, Yu'os...

I have not written one of these posts in a while, although the collecting of Chamorro sayings continues. Fina'kuentos Chamorro is where I post different Chamorro sayings or phrases, they are important in providing us a sense of the Chamorro worldview, both in history and in a contemporary context, and give us a sense of the Chamorro particular flavor to life. Sometimes this flavor can be very familiar to other cultures, sometimes it can be very Catholic, sometimes is can appear to be very tied to the land and people here themselves.

This saying "Si Yu'os, Yu'os. I taotao, taotao ha'" can be both very simple, yet also encompass very deep thoughts. It translates simply to "God is God, man is man."

On the surface it is simply that men should not worry about things that are beyond their control, as those things lie in God's hands and he will determine what happens. It is a simplified serenity prayer.

But it can also extend further into helping understand Chamorro fatalism and also traditional aversion to confronting authority or systems of power. It is possible that this saying was born after the arrival of Catholicism and its genesis is owed entirely to religious blunting of human potential, but it could have earlier origins in Chamorro values such as gaimamahlao.

I find this saying useful in terms of its critical potential in referring to those things that are supposed to be beyond our ability to affect or influence. To this end I have used this saying in my Pacific Daily News columns and even academic articles when trying to discuss Chamorro layers of epistemology.

For example, if you swap out "Yu'os" and "taotao" and replace them with nouns more familiar to political status discussions, you receive the division that animates much of Guam's decolonial deadlock, "Iya Amerika, Amerika, Guåhan, Guåhan ha'." The US is that which brings life, order, prosperity and possibility, Guam is just Guam, and that's it.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


By Jay Baza Pascua

Fo’na yan Pontan hu gågaogao hamyo
Chachalani i famagu’on-miyu

Ginen Pontan na gaige ham guini gi tano’-ta
Ma nå’i ham ni tahtaotao-ñiha

Fo’na yan Pontan hu gågaogao hamyo
Chachalåni i famagu’on-miyu

Ginen Fo’na na gaige ham guini gi tano’-ta
Ma nå’i ham ni’ lina’la’-ta!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Death of the Chamorro Language

Ti siguro yu' håyi tumuge' este, lao interesånte. Guaha meggai na hestoria put i Chamorro gi Islas Sangkattan gi este na ti gof anakko' na tinige'. Hu sodda' este na tinige' ginen i gasetan Saipan, annai manespipiha yu' infotmasion put Fino' Chamorro gi halom i kottre gi Islas Sangkattan. Ti meggai na infotmasion humuyong, lao hu fakcha'i este. Ti hu tungo' i kilisyanu na fulånu ni' tumuge', lao ya-hu i milalåk-ña i hinasso-ña siha. Frihon yan botlon.


The Death of Chamorro Language
March 31, 1999
The Saipan Tribune

For many years, we were active participants in the death of our local vernacular. It started with the golden days in grammar school when speaking your language lands you some corporal punishment, a fine of five cents, scribbling several pages of “I will not speak Chamorro”; picking up trash outside the classroom after school, among others.

Well into high school, there’s the student monitors or JPOs who were authorized to arrest students for speaking their native tongue. At Hopwood, we even had a student court where defendants are brought in to justify why they spoke Chamorro. More often than not, it’s a textbook case and we giggle when the sentence is issued.

But I noticed too that dependents of TTG stateside employees were never arrested for speaking the local language. Of course, English is their first language spoken both at school and at home. But the use of our local and new lingo is divided: we brave use of conversational English at school, scrap the whole bag as we leave campus in the afternoon, return the next day pretending we’re all real Amerrrrican kids bluffing other students with our “Dick, Jane, Sally and Spot” vocabulary.

There were graceful moments too as we struggled to learn the English Language. Our sixth grade teacher, Mr. Frank M. Sablan, once asked the class to name the fruit right next to our classroom window known in Chamorro as “laguana”. There was a moment of silence when a tiny hand in the corner was raised. Declared my classmate: “Legueners!” Man, did the class broke out in laughter. Our wonderful teacher finally volunteered that it’s called “sour sop”.

I remember another classmate who contracted rashes known in the vernacular as “loglug haga`” (rash). He was sent to the main office for attention. At the office, the clerk asked what’s wrong with him. He said: “I have boiling blood”. For nearly five minutes, the clerk disappeared behind the counter trying to tame her laughter for it was the first time she’s heard a new allergy–boiling blood. Well, we were learning English the hard way, yeah? Remember when every male stateside here is named “Joe?”

Then there was my dad who one day admonished me for failing to fulfill my house chores. He asked me questions when I decided to answer in English. The next thing I heard was the loud and powerful slam of his mighty belt in my behind. He must have been offended for my use of English and probably thought I was cussing him. Man, one had to remember when to roll and hold on one of two lingo. A Saina!

Remember the use of the word “fire” when local workers in the old NTTU were warned that anybody caught using the dump truck for lunch in Chalan Kanoa will be fired? The interpreter related to everybody that the entire Chalan Kanoa Village was on fire. So each driver jumped on his truck and headed to the old village. The American boss stood there in awe why the guys are headed out with NTTU’s trucks. Yeah, sometimes it’s good volunteering as an interpreter!

Although I’ve learned to speak, read and write Chamorro (which I sometimes use in this newspaper) just to keep new local recruits (students) learn how to read in their native tongue, it is really a language that is good to know as an indigenous. But it is a completely useless language in my professional career and business dealings too. And it is really shameful that indigenous kids are being taught their native tongue at school rather than at home. We would have turned our vernacular into complete irrelevance in the not too distant future. Think about it if you wish to perpetuate your native tongue.


Related Posts with Thumbnails