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.

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