Showing posts from May, 2020

Setbisio Para I Publiko #39: An Mo'na Hao

For my intermediate Chamoru coffeeshop classes, which during the current lockdown, have been moved online, we translate a Chamoru song into English each week. We listen to the song twice, go over the lyrics, sometimes talk about the cultural dimensions of the song or the metaphors and history that it invokes. It is one of my favorite ways to teach the language, since it involves not only teaching the language itself, but also making connections across generations and sometimes using the nostalgia that people have to encourage further learning.

My lyrics are often from just listening since few Chamoru albums include lyrics. This means that sometimes my lyrics are slightly to noticeably off. But even years after doing this regular assignment, I still learn new things from this exercise, even for myself. Sometimes I hear lyrics in a new way and realize I was singing them wrong for years.

Last week, at the request of one of my students, we translated the song "An Mo'na Hao" …

I Pilan Anggen Mandagi

I once had the experience of being in a short, intense and confusing relationship with someone for a single month. Desde gualafon asta gualafon. From full moon to full moon, we fell in love and then I watched as she, following the phases of the moon, disappeared into the darkness of the sky and rapidly fell out of love. It was a strange experience because it felt deep and felt real, but then disappeared, out of my grasp like trying to catch the moon or its light between finger-lengths. 
At the end of that bewildering experience, I wrote this poem, trying to take stock of what had happened, but also somehow hoping that with the changing of the moon again, she might come back, and the light that lit up her face and the sky might return. It did not. 
Kada puengi  Anai hu atan hulo’ gi langhet Ya hu li’e’ i pilan Bai hu hahasso hao
Ya bai hu na’hasson mamaisa yu’
Na hunggan i pilan yanggen tumaigue Guaha triniste gi tinaigue-ña
Lao hunggan lokkue’, i pilan yan…

A Little Bit Closer

When relationships end, people may fight over pets, fight over furniture, collections, kids. One thing that has always struck me, for certain, but not all relationship apocalypses is songs. Music where affection and attachment were forged and welded together with tunes and lyrics from particular artists. It provides the rhythm to togetherness, to grooves of the “us.”
When a relationship ends, the rhythm of togetherness sometimes sours, turns grimly bitter. What once caused joy, now feels like it creates bone cancer. Songs or artists that I shared with someone and used to make me smile, now make me retch, make the skies insidiously darken in the space between beats. The muscles remember, even what the mind or heart wishes it could forget.
For one particularly tough relationship, the music of Tegan and Sara was part of the soundtrack of us. For years I enjoyed it alongside her. For my girlfriend at the time, she was a twin and adored the duo, and introduced me to their music.
But as our ha…

What Independence Means to Me

I left the University of Guam in January, after teaching there for more than 10 years and probably teaching more than a 1000 students during my time there. Some students I can definitely say I had an impact on because they have told me as much and I've seen them blossom into professional careers.

A few of my former students have become elected officials in Guam and some have PhDs of their own now. For some, maybe the impact was less obvious or pronounced, but there may have been something. Something said. An assignment required. Something gleaned. Who knows what, but somewhere in my scattered approach to how I would hold a class, something stuck with them.

Sometimes I find students, who years later refer to something I said, or a space I created and how it really changed their view of certain things. One thing that former students from UOG would regularly tell me is that they liked that I seemed to care about the island. This, according to them, was a contrast with most of their …