This blog is dedicated to Chamorro issues, the use and revitalization of the Chamoru language and the decolonization of Guam. This also blog aims to inform people around the world about the history, culture and language and struggles of the Chamorro people, who are the indigenous islanders of Guam, Saipan, Tinian, Luta and Pagan in the Mariana Islands. Pues Haggannaihon ha', ya taitai na'ya, ya Si Yu'us Ma'ase para i finatto-mu.
The Bevacqua Bilen
As is the tradition for the Guam Bevacqua family, we put together our family bilen this month.
Each member of the family gets their own figure in the bilen representing them.
This year’s bilen is different however, since part of my gifts for everyone was to get Desiree, Sumåhi, Akli’e’ and Chuguangguang (Lulai) each a nesting doll.
Each was made in Ukraine and was purchased to support Ukrainian small businesses and artists.
Sumåhi is the Pokémon, Akli’e’ is the Star Wars, Desiree is the Dracula and Chuguangguang is the Neni na Yoda.
I forgot to buy one for myself though, so I chose the cassette tape for the Chamoru album by the DPW Singing Bus Drivers to represent me.
The background for our family bilen is the two disc vinyl album from Johnny Sablan “A Chamorro Christmas.”
Si Yu’os Ma’åse to Lulai’s nina Isa for the wooden name tags that came with our gifts this year.
The bilen and many other Chamoru Christmas traditions come into Chamoru culture through Catholicism and so for those who aren’t Catholic, this time of year it can be difficult to find cultural ways to express your identity as a Chamoru. This is one reason why we as a family still practice the bilen, albeit in some very different ways. In the same ways in Chamorus for generations would incorporate local elements into their bilen, by adding in natural materials and sometimes even adding in local animals such as the karabao, we adapt it in our own way.
During the pandemic lockdown on Guam, I was feeling at various points, like so many, stressed and anxious about the world and what was happening and what might happen. I was fortunate to still have a job during the lockdown, and because of technology like zoom and social media, I could still keep up my community work, by teaching classes in the Chamoru language and also history. I also was able to keep up with Fanachu! the podcast for Independent Guåhan. Because of so many people sheltering at home, our audience grew exponentially. One thing that I found myself doing more, like most people with a certain level of privilege and comfort, was watching more things online, on laptops and on my phones. Movie theaters were closed, but Netflix and Youtube were always open, so long as I had data on my phone and wifi in the home. As most people were locked down, sheltering in place, only encouraged to go out and explore for essential tasks or errands, things in general started to shift to becomi
A lot of people end up visiting this blog because they are searching around the internet for lyrics to Chamorro songs. Over the years I’ve pasted a couple here and there, but haven’t really kept up with it as much as I should. I complain all the time about there not being enough internet presence for the Chamorro language and for Chamorro thoughts and so I feel bad when I inadvertently contribute to that absence. På’go, gaige yu’ gi i gima’ iyo-ku grandfather. Desde i ma’pos’ña na mes, kumakatre gui’. Kana’ hineart attack gui’, ya sumaga’ gui’ gi i espitåt para tres meses. Mana’huyong gi i ma’pos na mes, ya sumåsaga’ gui’ gi i gima’, lao ti ha hulat tumohgue sin ayuda. Kada na puengge måtto yu’ gi i gima’-ña para i tetno-hu pumulan gui’. Gi este na tiempo, tåya’ internet, pues siña hu usa este para bai hu fanhasso. Manhasso yu’ put i lina’la’-hu pat i guinife-hu. Buente i chinathinasso-ku siha lokkue’. Tonight, I was trying to figure out what would be the best song to share the lyrics
I was racking my brain recently to determine what was the first ever Chamorro song that was featured in a motion picture. Noon Sunday was the first every motion picture to be filmed primarily on Guam, prior to that some minor filming had been done on Guam for World War II and Godzilla films but nothing substantial. Noon Sunday was not set in Guam, but it was the first film to feature extensively the island of Guam. Guam was the locale for a fictional Pacific island that was being taken over by a menacing Asian power. Almost all the speaking roles went to people from off-island (from the US or the Philippines), and Chamorros ended up playing most of the "extra" roles. As a result the film didn't feature any Chamorro music. You do find documentaries and television programs, all locally produced that feature Chamorro songs of at least Chamorros singing songs. Guam's History Through Songs, made by the late Carmen Santos is a perfect example of this. For those of you u