Thursday, March 05, 2015

Our Voice of the Pacific

Last week I penned a column for the Pacific Daily News on the connection between Ha'anen Fino' Chamoru Ha', a challenge for increasing the amount of Chamorro that you speak for one day at the start of this month and FESTPAC, the largest cultural event in the Pacific. Guam will be hosting FESTPAC in 2016 and representatives from 27 different island will be traveling here to share their own heritage and learn more about what Chamorros have to offer the Pacific. 

Each week the PDN is publishing a column on FESTPAC titled Saonao yan Eyak, encouraging people to support FESTPAC and help prepare this island to become the cultural center of the Pacific. My column focused on the need to bring the Chamorro language to a healthy state in order to help represent ourselves in a deeper way. The theme of the festival focuses on uniting our different voices of the Pacific. What kind of message do we send to the rest of the Pacific if the voice we use is English? A language that has only been in the Pacific for a few hundred years, and not Chamorro a language that ties us to so many other Austronesian peoples and has been here for thousands of years. 

A draft of my column is below:


Hosting a Festival of the Pacific Arts or FESTPAC is one of the greatest honors in the Pacific. The attention of hundreds of islands and peoples across this huge blue continent all turn to you and your culture. It is a chance to become the point at which thousands from different island cultures gather together and share the beauty of their languages and histories. 

The question for Guam is what do we want to show? What part of our heritage will be put forth through the arts, through dance or musical performances? As the cultural eyes of the Pacific turn towards us, we have chanters, dancers, musicians, painters, carvers, blacksmiths, writers and a host of other innovative and creative artists ready to represent Chamorro culture. There will be a diversity of interpretation and styles, just as there is a diversity of cultural possibilities within Chamorro culture. But one thing that should unite all is the use of the Chamorro language. No matter what type of art we use to represent Chamorro culture in FESTPAC, the Chamorro language should be a central element.

In my opinion the Chamorro language above all, is the most enduring and interesting part of Guam’s heritage. You can find the history of the Chamorro people, you can hear their history in their language. Their origins, their influences, their creativity, their emotions, their values. In everything that we organize to represent ourselves for FESTPAC we need to make sure that the Chamorro language component is always present, always oppan (audible).

In recent years however the Chamorro language is being used less and less and therefore being heard less and less around Guam. The exciting cultural renaissance we have been experiencing may have slowed the erosion of the Chamorro language, but it has not reversed it. With each month, more and more manåmko’, people who were born into the Chamorro language pass away, and for a variety of reasons many of them didn’t pass on the language to their children or grandchildren. Because the natural transmission of the Chamorro language has been interrupted, meaning parents or grandparents do not automatically use it with their younger relatives, those wanting to learn have to resort to more difficult means of language acquisition, such as college courses or textbooks.

The key to revitalizing the Chamorro language, the key to bringing it to a healthy state again is to use it. That those who know it, use it with those who don’t know it, and those who don’t know it try to use it around those who do. Standardized curriculum, Rosetta Stones, flashcards and convenient Apps can all help, but at the core of saving the Chamorro language is getting people to use it.

It is with this in mind that myself and a group of friends are organizing for March 1st, Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ or “A Day of Only Chamorro.” Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ represents a challenge to use the Chamorro language as much as possible this Sunday, no matter where you are or what you are doing. This Sunday if you are buying a couch at the Flea Market in Dededo, try to buy the couch in Chamorro. If you are ordering a pizza from Pizza Hut, order it in Chamorro. If you are having an online argument with some troll over a PDN article, type your angry comments in Chamorro.

There is a group on Facebook called Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ that people can join in order to learn more about this challenge and meet others that have committed. You can find tips for surviving and succeeding this Sunday gi Fino’ Chamoru there as well as phrase lists to help communicate with others if you are struggling. People who are unable to spend the entire day speaking Chamorro but nonetheless want to show their solidarity have begun to make videos of themselves speaking Chamorro, with plans to post them on March 1st. Even if Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ is only symbolic for some people it can still be an important step in pushing some to start learning the language in earnest. For both Chamorros and non-Chamorros this can be an important reminder that Guam has two official languages, one of them has been here for about two hundred years, the other for thousands.

I am hoping that through this challenge and also the other activities that GovGuam agencies and social groups have planned for Mes Chamoru next month that we can ensure that a key part of the momentum that is building for FESTPAC is the use and promotion of the Chamorro language. The theme for the 2016 FESTPAC is Håfa Iyo-ta, Håfa Guinahå-ta, Håfa Ta Påtte” Dinanña’ Sunidu Siha giya Pasifiku. The English translation is “What We Own, What We Have, What We Share: United Voices of the Pacific.” The Chamorro language is meant to be the voice of Guam. How loud that voice is however depends on how much Chamorro we learn from our elders and how much we use in our daily lives.

I hope that this Sunday, our Voice of the Pacific is a little bit louder than usual.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Goftaotao Si Spock

George Takei says Leonard Nimoy was 'the most human person I've ever met' George Takei worked closely with Leonard Nimoy as Sulu in the Star Trek series. EW talked with the actor about his favorite memories of Nimoy and the brilliant actor - and friend - he remembers him to be.

EW: What were your initial thoughts upon hearing about Leonard’s death?

GEORGE TAKEI: He was a great man. I learned of his passing in a sad irony. We were in Boston just coming in from JFK now, but I learned at Logan Airport of Leonard’s passing—at his birthplace. It was almost a kind of a bookend. The place where he was born and to learn of his passing there. I know that it’s a very difficult time for his wife Susan and his children, Adam particularly, who himself is a director now. A chip off the old block. I send my heartfelt condolences to them.

What part did Leonard play in fighting for equal pay among the Star Trek cast?

Beyond pay, it’s the job itself. When Star Trek became an animated TV series, they had a budget, and they hired Bill Shatner, and Leonard, and Jimmy Doohan, and Majel Barrett to do the voices. When Leonard found out about that, he asked, “Why aren’t Nichelle and George on board as well?” They said, “We don’t have the budget for them.” And Leonard said, “Star Trek is about diversity, and the two people who represent diversity most are Nichelle and George, and if they can’t be a part of this project, then you don’t want me.” He was willing to walk off that show for us. That takes guts and principles and loyalty. It was because of that strong position that he took that Nichelle and I were hired to do the voices on the animated series as well. He’s that kind of guy.

Can you speak to his accomplishments as an actor and artist?

Leonard was a—you know, the word extraordinary is often used but I think it’s an appropriate word for him. First of all, he was a brilliant actor, but a rare thing about him was that he worked collaboratively with the other actors involved. He understood that what made a scene work was everybody working in concert. I think that helped him be a good director as well. First of all, he had the power to analyze a scene, in depth, very quickly, and be able to communicate that to others. And because we worked together for a long, long time, he was able to communicate in shorthand. He knew our strengths, he knew our weaknesses, and he gave us the reign to do our thing.

I’m particularly impressed by the creation of the character of Spock, which really was Leonard Nimoy’s singular creation. He used everything he had. The Vulcan greeting was from his Jewish faith. The Vulcan pinch, that weakened his adversaries, was something that he invented on the set b/c in the script, one of the early writers had him punching out an adversary, and he said, “Why would logical Spock expend all that unnecessary energy and create all that damage breaking bone and sinew when what he has to do is incapacitate his adversary? Vulcans have great strength and all he has to do is pinch that critical nerve and the adversary is incapacitated.” I saw him create on the set. These sorts of things, I think, make the character of Spock a very original creation of Leonard Nimoy’s.
Watching him work, the second film, I think it was, The Wrath of Khan, he was absolutely brilliant in that. I was most impressed with him in that death scene he had in that radiation chamber.

What did he mean to you as a friend outside of your Star Trek days?

He was a very supportive actor for me. He played Dysart in Equus on Broadway, but when I played the part in Los Angeles in the smaller theater, he came to root for me and when he came backstage, I asked him, “Well, how’d I do?” And he said, “You are better.” [Laughs] Which obviously is a joke, but he’s that kind of supportive guy. When I did Allegiance at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, he drove all the way down from Los Angeles to San Diego to give me that supportive hug backstage. The last time I saw him was this past summer. He came to a screening of our documentary To Be Takei. He was quite ill by that time. He came in a wheelchair and he had that nose breathing device on, but he still came and I was very much touched by that. He’s a supportive friend. You know, Leonard played an alien, but to me, he was the most human person I’ve ever met.

Originally posted March 2 2015 — 2:17 PM EST

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Surviving Ha'anen Fino' Chamoru Ha'

Ha’anen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ is just a few days away. I wrote about this in my column last week, but thought I would revisit it again for those who would like to learn more and hopefully participate. 

Ha’anen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ boils down to this: On March 1st, those who accept this challenge are to spend the entire day only speaking Chamorro or if they are unable to, at least try to use as much Chamorro as possible, as much as they know or can. This challenge means that no matter who you are talking to or where you go on that day, Chamorro is the language that you will be using. If you are ordering food at Kings, do your best to order in Chamorro. If you are using your Whatsapp on that day, Whatsapp your circle of friends in Chamorro. 

After we first announced this challenge, one excited participant, Charmaine West, who currently lives in Idaho created a Facebook page, on which 74 people have already signed up to try their best on Sunday. Charmaine recently became a mother and so that experience has made her realize the importance of passing on Chamorro to her daughter, and so she has become an energetic presence on Facebook for learning and promoting the language. If you are Facebook savvy, please feel free to join the Ha’anen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ group, people have been posting videos and articles and words of encouragement there. 

This past Sunday, Kenneth Gofigan Kuper and I held a small meeting with potential participants and talked about ways to strategize your interactions on Ha’anen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’, to make sure you get as much out of the experience as possible. For many people, trying to speak Chamorro for an entire day, no matter who you are talking to is a real challenge, but we are hoping people will tackle this challenge and therefore help enhance their own learning. One of the problems that people who try to learn Chamorro have is that English is so pervasive and so seductive, that people don’t push themselves to stay in the Chamorro language, but always switch to English when they have difficulty. This works both ways. Those who want to learn, when they hit a speed bump there is always the temptation to just switch to English to communicate. For those who know and can teach the language, there is always a feeling that you should just speak English anyways, since then you can be better understood. The problem with this is that no learning in Chamorro takes place. The chance for learning appears, but the ease of English prevents it. 

One reason that we choose to set this challenge for March 1st is because it is a Sunday and many people may be able to more freely organize their schedule on that day. When I am confronted with people who want to learn Chamorro I always tell them to look at their lives, their social network and think of who they know that can speak Chamorro. Begin to spend more time with those people and encourage them to teach you when you interact. For Ha’anen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’, you can easily make a Chamorro language tour of the island. Go and visit a grandparent, an uncle, an aunt, a nino or nina, a co-worker, a cashier at K-Mart, anyone. Design your day to include as many of these people as possible and tell them ahead of time the importance of supporting you and speaking Chamorro to you even if it is difficult. 

For those of you who have an older relative who grew up in the Chamorro language and for whom Chamorro is their first language, consider spending the day interviewing them in the Chamorro language. Have them tell their story, talk about their lives in Chamorro and even if you don’t understand know, make it a personal life goal to learn enough Chamorro to be able to understand what they said. For those elders their stories are often different if spoken in Chamorro, other details are included or excluded, other feelings are emphasized. What better testament to them and goal for yourself than to have them create that record of their lives in the Chamorro language and have yourself work towards unlocking their story?

Finally, on Sunday we shared a list of basic phrases that can help you on Sunday should you accept this challenge. I’ve listed them below. Good luck to all of those who decide to participate in Ha’anen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’. Remember, anggen un lå’la’ gi Fino’ Chamoru, un na’lå’la’ i Fino’ Chamoru.
  1. Hello! – Håfa Adai
  2. What is this? – Håfa este?
  3. What is that (near you)? – Håfa enao?
  4. What is that (away from you and person you’re talking to)? – Håfa ayu?
  5. How do you say________ in Chamorro? – Taimanu un sångan______ gi Fino’ Chamoru?
    Ex: How do you say “deer” in Chamorro? – Taimanu un sångan “deer” gi Fino’ Chamoru?
  6. What does______ mean? – Hafa kumekeilek-ña ______?
    Ex: What does “matatnga?” mean? – Hafa kumekeilek-ña “matatnga?”
  7. Speak to me in Chamorro please- Fino’ Chamoruyi yu’ pot fabot.
  8. Please say that again- Sångan enao ta’lo pot fabot
  9. Slower please – Ladispasiao put fabot.
  10. What are you doing? – Hafa bidadå-mu?
  11. 10. What am I doing? – Hafa bidadå-hu?
  12. Excuse me. - Dispensa’ yu’.
  13. How are you? - Hafa tatatmanu hao?
  14. Can you help me? – Kao siña un ayuda yu’?
  15. I want to know how to speak Chamorro – Malago’ yu’ tumungo’ taimanu fumino’ Chamoru.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Japanese Revisionist History News

At first I was going to put "revisionist history news" as the title for this post, but the more I thought about it, Japan and Germany, those villains of World War II, are cited the most frequently as being the most forgetful and the nations most likely to erase or whitewash their histories. This is a very seductive discursive proposition, because by focusing on the way other nations wish to hide their shameful violent and inhuman past, it can easily make you righteously oblivious to your own nation's terrifying past. The United States certainly shouldn't treat Japan as some terrible white-washer of history, especially when the United States itself is built on genocide and has several national holidays that perpetuate pathetic myths about the origin of the US, rather than acknowledging that genocidal genesis.

Japanese crown prince says country must not rewrite history of WW2
Naruhito makes rare statement on importance of ‘correctly’ remembering Japan’s role in war as right wing attempts to downplay issue of sex slaves.
Agence-France Presse

Japan’s crown prince has warned of the need to remember the second world war “correctly”, in a rare foray into an ideological debate as nationalist politicians seek to downplay the country’s historic crimes.

In an unusual intervention in the discussion, Naruhito’s mild-mannered broadside was being interpreted in some circles as a rebuke to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a key figure in the right wing drive to minimise the institutionalised system of wartime sex slavery.

“Today when memories of war are set to fade, I reckon it is important to look back (at) our past with modesty and pass down correctly the miserable experience and the historic path Japan took from the generation who know the war to the generation who don’t,” Naruhito said.

The comments, released Monday on the prince’s 55th birthday come as Abe’s controversial views on history roil relations with China and South Korea, and cause unease in Washington.

Abe has openly said he wants a more sympathetic telling of the history of the first half of the 20th century, a period marked by brutal expansionism in Asia and warring with China and the West.

The prime minister last week appointed a 16-member panel to advise him on a statement he is set to make later this year to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender.

Abe has said he will largely stand by Tokyo’s previous apologies, but amid growing anger in China and South Korea over the “comfort women” system, speculation is mounting that he will seek to downplay the issue.

Mainstream historians agree that up to 200,000 women, predominantly from Korea, were forced into sexual slavery during the war.

Right wing Japanese insist there is no documentary proof that the Japanese state or its military were involved in the system on the Korean peninsula and reject official guilt.

Both countries will be carefully watching any official pronouncement on the war.

While Japan’s newspapers remained staid in their coverage of Naruhito’s comments, social media users leapt on them.

“This definitely contains a warning against Shinzo Abe, doesn’t it?” tweeted @Kirokuro.
“It is a regular recognition (of history), but these comments by the crown prince stand out because Prime Minister Abe’s views on the constitution and history are outrageous,” said @kazu—w50
Asked about his views on war and peace, Naruhito told reporters: “It was very painful that many precious lives were lost, many people suffered and felt deep sorrow in the world including in Japan.
“It is important that we never forget people who died in the war... (and we must) deepen our appreciation for our past so as not to repeat the horrors of war and to foster a love of peace,” he said.



Historians agree that up to 200,000 women were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during World War II. 

The women are thought to be predominantly from Korea.
In many cases, they were lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants. 
But once they were recruited, the women were forced to stay in 'comfort stations' and work as organised prostitutes. 
Research suggests that 75 per cent of 'comfort women' died and others were left infertile or suffering from sexually transmitted diseases.
Some were beaten and killed by officers.
Prime Minister Abe once said: 'There is no evidence to prove there was coercion, nothing to support it.'


China-Japan relations have been strained since the 1937 Nanking Massacre and what China sees as Japan's refusal to acknowledge the extent of what happened there.
Japanese soldiers murdered tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of Chinese soldiers and civilians during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
They were accused of raping local women and widespread looting.
Estimates of the death-toll range from 40,000 to 300,000, but revisionists in Japan have contended it is much lower and even suggested that the event was entirely fabricated.
China sees the denial to acknowledge the extent of the massacre and Japan's reluctance to apologise as insensitive.


Japanese revisionists are demanding comfort women newspaper apology
More than 2,000 people are suing the liberal Asahi newspaper to demand that it place international advertisements apologising for its coverage of wartime sex slavery, saying it has stained Japan's reputation, local media said Thursday. The move is the latest salvo in the battle over Japan's history, which pits an increasingly aggressive revisionist right wing against an ever-more cowed mainstream that accepts the country's guilt over its World War II atrocities.

The group of plaintiffs, including Japanese nationals living in the United States, filed the class action in the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday, according to Japanese newspapers, including the Asahi.
They argued that the Asahi's historical reports on the so-called "comfort women" system were instrumental in forging global opinion that the Japanese state and its military were involved in organising a formalised system of sex slavery.

They also claim that the paper's reports contributed to the drive to build statues of former "comfort women" in California and other US locations, which they say led to their mental distress.

The suit demands the Asahi pay 3 million yen ($253,000) in compensation and place advertisements in major US and European newspapers apologising for the coverage.

Last month, some 8,700 people, including conservative lawmakers and professors, filed a similar lawsuit with the district court against the Asahi.

Despite a dearth of official records, mainstream historians say up to 200,000 women, many from Korea but also from China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan, served Japanese soldiers in military brothels called "comfort stations".

Most agree that these women were not willing participants and that the Imperial Japanese Army and wartime government were involved in their enslavement, tacitly or explicitly.

Right-wingers, however, say the women were common prostitutes engaged in a commercial exchange, and are fighting a vigorous rear-guard battle to alter the narrative.

The Asahi has become the focus of their ire because it published a series of articles in the 1980s based on the now-discredited testimony of a Japanese man who said he had rounded up Korean women to work in military brothels.

After years of pressure, the paper retracted the articles, and apologised. The company's president also resigned.

Conservatives leapt on the Asahi's climbdown, and nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe -- who wants a more sympathetic telling of Japan's history -- took the move as proof of a smear.

Mainstream Japanese opinion holds that the state was culpable for the system, and rejects the revisionist drive. Supporters of the position say the Asahi articles were not the only basis for their belief.

Last month, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye urged Tokyo to apologise properly to the "comfort women," saying: "If Japan fails to resolve the issue on will not only strain bilateral relations but also put a heavy historical burden on Japan."

The Asahi said it would respond "in a proper manner" when it receives court documents.


 Japanese global PR could misfire with focus on wartime past
By Linda Sieg

TOKYO (Reuters) - A push by Japan to correct perceived bias in accounts of the country's wartime past is creating a row that risks muddling the positive message in a mammoth public relations campaign to win friends abroad.

The PR campaign, which has a budget of over half a billion dollars, comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to adopt a less apologetic stance on Japan's actions before and during World War Two and ease the fetters imposed on defense policy by Japan's post-war, pacifist constitution. 

History is hardly the sole focus of the PR program. Many of the funds will be used for soft-power initiatives to cultivate "pro-Japan" foreigners, such as supporting Japan studies at universities and setting up "Japan House" centers to promote the "Japan Brand".

But the government is also targeting wartime accounts by overseas textbook publishers and others that it sees as incorrect and damaging to Japan's image. 

One such effort has already sparked a backlash.

Nineteen historians from U.S. universities have written a letter of protest against a recent request by the Japanese government to publisher McGraw Hill Education to revise its account of "comfort women", the term used in Japan for those forced to work in Japanese military brothels.

The request was rejected. 

"We stand with the many historians in Japan and elsewhere who have worked to bring to light the facts about this and other atrocities of World War II. We practice and produce history to learn from the past," says the letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters and which will be carried in the March edition of the American Historical Association's newsletter.

"We therefore oppose the efforts of states or special interests to pressure publishers or historians to alter the results of their research for political purposes," it added.

Abe himself has signaled support for the more aggressive PR push. "Being modest does not receive recognition in the international community, and we must argue points when necessary," he recently told a parliamentary panel.

The effort comes at a touchy time as Asia marks the 70th anniversary of World War Two's end with bitter memories not yet laid to rest, especially in China and North and South Korea.

After a decade of shrinking spending on public diplomacy, Japan's foreign ministry won a total 70 billion yen ($590 million) for strategic communications in an extra budget for 2014/15 and the initial budget for the next year from April - up from just 20 billion yen in the initial 2014/15 budget.


Many politicians and officials worry Japan has been outmaneuvered by the aggressive public diplomacy of regional rivals China and South Korea.

"Many countries are investing hugely in this field and we feel we were not investing enough," said a Japanese foreign ministry official.

Conservatives have welcomed the bigger budget but want priority placed on correcting perceived errors about history.

"When we see lots of misunderstanding or prejudice against Japan's history, we'd like to at least set the record straight," said Yoshiko Sakurai, a journalist and head of the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, a conservative think tank.

"We have already lost (the information war). Now we have to recover," she told Reuters in an interview.

Aware of the danger of a backlash, diplomats seem to have mitigated pressure to make the "Japan House" centers - to be set up first in London, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo in late 2016 - beachheads to market an official view of history. Instead, the facilities could provide what one bureaucrat called a "platform for balanced discussion" on controversial topics, for example, by sponsoring seminars.
Conservative politicians however want bolder steps.

"We are half-satisfied. By mobilizing all means, we must strengthen Japan’s information strategy ... so that in a real sense, we can have (others) properly understand what is good about Japan," said ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Yoshiaki Harada, who heads a party committee on improving Japan's communication strategy.

Experts said government efforts to seek changes in historical accounts would be counter-productive, since it would keep the issue of Japan's wartime past in public focus.

"Dragging people into a long discussion about history ... seems like they are going to brand Japan with that atrocity in terms of its image," said Dartmouth College professor Jennifer Lind. "It’s a losing battle."

($1 = 118.4800 yen)
(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Year in Atate

For the past year I have been assisting one of the men who fought the Japanese at Atate, Jose Mata Torres with the publication of his memoirs, “The Massacre at Atate.” Torres was a young man at the time who and wasn’t a main organizer for the attack but he said that he had never felt more inspired or exciting in his life, than to see the men from his village rise up and in order to defend their families and their lives, face off against their violent occupiers. On February 24th at 6:30 in the CLASS Lecture Hall at UOG, the book “Massacre at Atate” is being released. There will be a reading by Jose Torres and then a panel discussion afterwards. Please come and join us for this important step for Chamorro Studies, but also just the remembering of Chamorro history and in turn Chamorro possibility.

As I come near to the end of this project it reminds me of something I posted earlier, last year titled "Three Massacres." It was originally posted on this blog, but I posted it recently on my new group blog Mumun Linahyan as well.


Chamorro Studies has only existed as a program for a short while, but its existence is questioned all the time. During the Chamorro Experience gi Fino’ Chamorro lecture series one elderly Chamorro man asked me flat out, why people should learn to speak Chamorro when the language is clearly on its way out? During the Chamorro Studies launch event, a middle aged Chamorro women asked why a degree in Chamorro Studies should exist when it cannot help you in life. this despite the fact that she had just sat through a panel presentation explaining how it can help you through life. It is interesting because very few students have made these sorts of comments, in fact despite the short existence of the Chamorro Studies program it already has more than 20 majors and minors. On the launch event we held in October of 2013, we signed up 7 majors and 7 minors in a single day. Over the Christmas break in 2014 we signed up more than 10 more. Although it is easy to lose track sometimes, we probably have around 30 majors now.
But for the older generation it is difficult for them to get by the barriers of the past. Those barriers were created by colonization and later on Chamorros themselves came to decorate those barriers and be sentries to defend them. When Chamorros wanted to start creating dances a generation ago in “native” styles and forms, Chamorros gathered to defend that barrier and continue to deprive Chamorros a feeling of sovereignty over their culture and existence. When Chamorros attempt to revive certain customs or bring to life ideas of long ago, they camp out in front of those colonial barriers like scarecrows preventing attempts at decolonization and mocking those who even try.
Colonization creates a place for the colonized and decolonization is challenging that place.
The Chamorro Studies program is the result of so many movements within the University of Guam, within academia in general, within the Government of Guam, within the wider Chamorro community to collect and build upon those shreds of sovereignty. To try to piece them together to create a Chamorro who is not the pathetic caricature of the past. It is a project that can take place on so many levels, but it is a worthwhile one.
The last person who asked me about why Chamorro Studies is important I gave the following answer.
I asked if he knew about the massacres in Malesso that took place during I Tiempon Chapones.
He said of course, almost insulted that I would ask him such a simple and easy question.
So, as we look back in history, what can we learn from those massacres.
He responded, that the Chamorro people suffered greatly during World War II and that the Japanese victimized them and really punished them. In his answer, he interpreted things the way most do, with Chamorros as victims.
I built upon his answer. This is why, in a sense, Guam has developed the way it has. When we look at our history, the history we accept as ours, we see this victimization and we can see why Liberation Day became a celebration of the United States and how it had saved Chamorros.
This led to some back and forth about how Liberation Day doesn’t have to be about the Americans, Chamorros also celebrate themselves on that day. I agreed that more recently the day has had less and less to do with its historical roots and more about community celebration, representation and marketing.
The problem however is that this history we accept as ours is barely ours. It is a poor testament to the experiences of Chamorros then and poor history to chain ourselves to today.
This led to more back and forth about how I was being disrespectful about those who survived the war and how they would never criticize the United States. I deflected this however by asking the man if he knew what the first Liberation Day celebration was like. He wasn’t alive at the time and guessed there was a parade and some troops marching.
I told him no, the first parade accurately expressed the feelings of Chamorros at that time. It was incredibly Catholic and religious. Santa Maria Kamalen was carried at the front of a procession. All the patriotic stuff came later and came about primarily because of certain groups of elite Chamorros who wished to perform a certain relationship to the United States.
The man was flustered, as most people become when they attempt to take stands on things that they don’t actually know much about and their amount of knowledge has just been proven wanting. He wanted to know what all of this had to do with Chamorro Studies.
I returned to the start of the discussion. I asked him again, how many massacres were there in Malesso during the war. He repeated in an irritating way, “two, Tinta and Faha.”
I said, “Wrong. There were three.”
Generally in conversations depending on your level of ideological commitment, you can only have the discursive floor beneath you pulled away so many times because you just have to admit you can’t stand on the basis of your own knowledge anymore. The more ideologically encased build up their own elaborate defenses to keep that from ever happening, but your average person generally isn’t that invested and can be toppled pretty easily.
“Tinta and Faha are the ones that people remember and commemorate because it fits within the idea that the United States saved the Chamorro people, that is why it historically has been given so much attention beyond just the people of Malesso commemorating the loss of their relatives and neighbors. But third massacre is the one that changes everything and should change the way that we think about our past and ourselves.”
The third massacre took place at Atate, except it wasn’t Chamorros who were killed, it was Japanese. Some men of Malesso, under the leadership of Jose Soriano Reyes, known as Tongko, rose up and killed the Japanese guarding them and then took canoes out into the ocean to try to signal the American ships and let them know what was happening on the island.
This story changes everything because this means that Liberation Day actually starts with Chamorros, the people of Malesso who liberated themselves prior to the Ameicans reoccupying the island.”

Sunday, February 22, 2015

No Longer America's Mayor

Ilek-na na Si Rudy Giuliani na ti ha guaiya Si Obama Amerika. Ai adai. Mas put patida este na sinangan kinu minagahet. Parerehu Si Obama yan todu i otro siha na presidenten Amerikanu. Manhongge gi put Amerika na uniku gui', na mas takhilo' gui' kinu todu i otro nasion siha. Lao Presidente Obama mas ti sesso ha puni i isaon Amerika pat i West, lao manhohongge ha' put i uniku-na i US. Gi fino' Ingles ma fa'na'an este "exceptionalism." Gi este na isao i bida-na i US sasahnge yan i bidan-niha todu i otro na nasion siha. Anggen manhatme i US otro tano', sahnge este yan otro na hinatme ginen otro na nasion. Si Rudy Giuliani ha sen hongge este. Anggen i US chumo'gue maolek ha', lao i otro ahe', cha'-niha. Si Obama ha hongge este lokkue', lao i sinangan-na mas mesklao, mas lebok. Ha admite na ti perfekto i US, ti taiisao, lao ha sapopote ha' sinembatgo ayu na hinasso na sina ha cho'gue maseha hafa malago'-na.


Giuliani manages to sink to new depths
Steve Benen

It’s been 18 years since Rudy Giuliani actually won an election, but the former Republican mayor still fancies himself an important political player. Indeed, his self-proclaimed relevance leads him to make all kinds of public appearances, where Giuliani has an unfortunate habit of saying dumb things.
Take last night, for example.
Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.”
The former New York mayor, speaking in front of the 2016 Republican presidential contender and about 60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types, directly challenged Obama’s patriotism.
According to the Politico report, Giuliani told the audience, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a likely Republican presidential candidate, was ostensibly the featured guest at the event. He was seated near Giuliani during his condemnations of the president, but said nothing.
On Fox News this morning, Giuliani added, “I’m not questioning his patriotism.”
No, of course not. All Giuliani is saying is that the war-time president who rescued the country from the Great Recession doesn’t love America or Americans. Why would anyone see that as an attack on Obama’s patriotism?
Look, I realize Giuliani has effectively become a caricature of himself, and there’s no point in getting worked up every time the mayor makes a stupid comment, because it happens far too often. The poor guy doesn’t even seem to understand what the word “patriotism” means anymore.
But there’s a broader context to this that shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.
For one thing, it’s striking that after six years, lazy partisans are stuck repeating the same old garbage. For much of 2008, assorted far-right hacks based much of their campaign rhetoric on the notion that Barack Obama was The Other and they deemed his love of country short of their standards. It was based on nothing but bigotry and ignorance, and the American mainstream rejected it.
And yet, in 2015, the cheap, toxic rhetoric lingers. Unwilling or unable to engage the president on matters of policy, too many Republicans find it easier to attack the president personally, based on imaginary slights against the country.
Dear Rudy, at the height of U.S./Russian tensions, you went on national television to declare Vladimir Putin a great leader. Maybe the president isn’t the one whose patriotism needs questioning.
As for Walker, it’s obviously not fair to blame the governor for Giuliani’s buffoonery, and I seriously doubt Walker knew what Giuliani was going to say in advance. But Walker now has an opportunity to make clear to the public that he finds such ugliness unacceptable.
It’s a test of leadership – is the Wisconsin Republican willing to distance himself from ugly and stupid attacks on the president’s patriotism? Walker was on CNBC this morning and could have denounced Giuliani’s nonsense, but he didn’t. Will that soon change?
I think it’s safe to say that if President Obama was on the campaign trail, and an ally declared that Mitt Romney doesn’t love America or Americans, there would be an expectation that Obama condemn the comments. Indeed, many would expect Obama to agree not to campaign alongside that person again.
So what’s it going to be, Gov. Walker? Are you comfortable with Giuliani’s drivel or not?

Giuliani falls in ditch, just keeps digging
by Steve Benen
Rudy Giuliani is apparently under an odd impression: the problems he creates by saying dumb things will go away if he just keeps talking. Someone probably ought to tell him he has this backwards.
The New York Republican declared Tuesday night that President Obama doesn’t love America or Americans. By Wednesday morning, Giuliani insisted this was not necessarily an attack on the president’s patriotism. By mid-day, the clownish former mayor seemed eager to embarrass himself further, insisting, “President Obama didn’t live through September 11, I did”
And by last night, Giuliani’s descent into farce was complete.
Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York on Thursday defended his assertion that President Obama did not love America, and said that his criticism of Mr. Obama’s upbringing should not be considered racist because the president was raised by “a white mother.”
He added, “This isn’t racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.”
I see. So, by this reasoning, it seems as if Rudy Giuliani as positioned himself as pro-colonialism.
In the same interview with the New York Times, the failed GOP presidential candidate “challenged a reporter to find examples of Mr. Obama expressing love for his country.” In other words, by Wednesday night, Giuliani, who tried and failed to hedge on his own ridiculous condemnations, was right back to where he was on Tuesday night.
I suppose it’s possible that some of the president’s more unhinged detractors might still find Giuliani’s garbage persuasive. Fox News’ Sean Hannity is on board, as is Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). Giuliani himself, with his challenge to a reporter, genuinely seems to believe there are no examples of the president “expressing love for his country.”
How about last month’s State of the Union address?
“I know how tempting such cynicism may be. But I still think the cynics are wrong. I still believe that we are one people. I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long.
“I believe this because over and over in my six years in office, I have seen America at its best. I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California, and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, New London. I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tucson and Newtown, in Boston, in West Texas, and West Virginia. I’ve watched Americans beat back adversity from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains, from Midwest assembly lines to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in 10 Americans call home.
“So I know the good, and optimistic, and big-hearted generosity of the American people who every day live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper.”
When Republicans panicked over the Ebola threat, Obama reminded Americans about the importance of our nation’s leadership role in the world and celebrated the work that only the United States could do. When Republicans couldn’t figure what to say about ISIS, the president celebrated American greatness once more.
“Our technology companies and universities are unmatched. Our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. Energy independence is closer than it’s been in decades. For all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history. Despite all the divisions and discord within our democracy, I see the grit and determination and common goodness of the American people every single day – and that makes me more confident than ever about our country’s future.
“Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny. It is America – our scientists, our doctors, our know-how – that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola. It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so that they can’t pose a threat to the Syrian people or the world again. And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, and tolerance, and a more hopeful future.”
Maybe Giuliani just doesn’t listen to the president much. Or maybe he flunked listening comprehension.
There is a larger question, though, about why the unhinged wing of the Republican Party finds such nonsense appealing. To be sure, the GOP hated Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter every day of their presidencies, but I don’t recall ever hearing prominent Republican figures invest time and energy into arguing that the previous Democratic presidents just didn’t love their country. Clinton and Carter were attacked constantly, but their patriotism was never really part of the equation.
There seems to be something different about President Obama that brings out something uglier and more visceral from some GOP critics. It’s probably not his policy agenda – the president endorsed Mitt Romney’s health care plan, John McCain’s climate plan, and George W. Bush’s immigration plan – so there must be something else

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Massacre at Atate


“The Massacre at Atate”
by Jose M. Torres

This memoir tells the story of the courageous people of the village of Malesso’, who under Japanese occupation, fought and killed their captors, and liberated themselves.

Published by the Micronesia Area Research Center

February 26, 2015
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
UOG CLASS Lecture Hall

The evening will feature a reading by the author, a panel discussion about the events in Malesso’ during World War II and a chance to meet the author and buy copies of the book.

Refreshments will be provided.

For more information contact Professor Michael Lujan Bevacqua
At 735-2800 or

Friday, February 20, 2015

Youtube Ta'lo

I've had a Youtube account for many years now, I think 8 or 9, lao ti siguru yu'. I didn't post many videos for a while, and I'm not sure why, perhaps because I got a better camera a few years ago and with the not that great internet in the various apartments I've lived in, it takes several hours to post videos nowadays. I recently started publishing videos again, after starting a number of video projects and being inspired to engage in this media form. My Youtube videos are frequently shaking and suffer from very bad audio and never edited in anyway. But still they can provide an interesting view into certain events on island and elsewhere. Every once in a while I get a message from someone who couldn't be at an event or who was looking for information on something that has happened in Guam and they thank me for my shaky almost avant garde looking movie.

Here are some recent videos that I've posted.

A video from the 2011 Inachaigen Fino' CHamoru. The next Chamorro Language Competition is coming up in two weeks!

Matua Sablan (lahin Johnny Sablan, i kakantan Chamorro) singing for a fundraiser for the Chamorro focused kids' show "Nihi."

Si Howard Hemsing un senmatungo' na activist Chamorro giya Guahan, tumestitigu gui' gi me'nan i Liheslaturan Guahan put un maproponi na bill put para u diroga i hinatsan suetdo para i manmailihi na pulitikat siha giya Guahan.

Last semester at UOG we offered a course titled Klas Tinifok, which taught students the basics of weaving in the traditional Chamorro way. The class was taught by Art Pangelinan and Tony Mantanona of Pa'a Taotao Tano'.

UOG News report on the play Pagat that I wrote with Victoria Leon Guerrero and was performed at UOG last April. The play was a big success!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ha'anen Fino' Chamoru ha'

Ha'anen Fino' Chamoru Ha'
by Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Marianas Variety

A constant question in my life, something that I am always considering and pondering and people around me always bring to me seeking answers is, “How can we save the Chamorro language?” Students ask me in class. Elders ask me in line at the grocery store. Random people come up to me at the mall and ask me. Last week someone started talking to me about it while we were at urinals next to each other. People are always seeking big ideas or fantastic innovations. They want to hear about plans involving Rosetta stone or language apps or TECH talks or fancy new curriculum created by people with shiny degrees or ancient words that reveal the true nature of Chamorro cosmology. These are all cool ideas but saving the language can be so much easier and simpler than all that. All we need to do to save Chamorro is that those who know the language use it with those who don’t and those who don’t know how to speak it, learn from those who do. As UOG President Robert Underwood wrote recently, using the language is the key to saving it.

The problems are that those who can speak Chamorro, the majority of whom are elders, don’t normally use the language with those younger then them. They speak it to their peers and others who already speak the language, but rarely do we find the oldest generation passing on the language to their children or grandchildren anymore. Those who don’t speak it, but might want to have to turn to books, dictionaries and classes to try and learn the language. This divide exasperates the issue of language endangerment, because it means that those who possess the knowledge aren’t taking advantage of those that they are most directly connected to in order to transmit the Chamorro language. And those who want to learn can’t learn the language through normal, natural transmission but have to do it through classroom learning. Learning in a classroom can be effective, but is nowhere near as effective as using the language in the home with those who are young.

Much of my work both in the classroom and the community is connected to trying to get people to overcome this divide. Get those who already know the language to speak to those who don’t and push those who can’t speak but want to, to learn and make the language a part of their daily lives. Unlike many endangered languages, we still have tens of thousands of speakers of Chamorro and so if we were to encourage those who know the language to those who want to learn, we could easily save Chamorro. The key, as I said, is using the language, keeping it a part of everyday life, rather than something just found in dictionaries.

To this end, I have been helping a friend and colleague of mine Ken Gofigan Kuper organize an event titled “Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’” or “A Day of only Chamorro.” This event, set to take place on March 1st, 2015 is a challenge to anyone and anyone willing to take it to spend the day using the Chamorro language in all their interactions. On March 1st, no matter what you are doing or where you are at or who you are talking to, the goal is to use the Chamorro language, even if the people around you might not be able to understand. If you are posting on your Instagram on March 1st, post in Chamorro. If you are ordering food at Taco Bell, order in Chamorro. If you are chatting with friends at the beach, chat in Chamorro.

The motivation behind this day is not only to encourage people to speak and use Chamorro, but also to act as a reminder that the Chamorro language is an official language of the island and that it is an essential part of the island’s heritage. The Chamorro language is being used less and less today. For a small portion of Guam’s population, which is according to studies primarily an elderly demographic, the language is living, audible, something that is always part of their everyday lives. But for most people, including most Chamorros, the Chamorro language is not something they are constantly surrounded by. It is something they hear during Mes Chamoru, or when their grandparents talk to each other, or perhaps in the background of a fandango, but as they go about their days, English is everywhere. Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ is meant to be a symbolic act, where we can, at least for one day, increase the amount of Chamorro that is spoken, increase the amount of Chamorro that is heard, and hopefully inspire as many as possible who want to learn to learn it, and those who already know it, to teach it and pass it on.

For those wishing to participate in Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’, there is a Facebook page where you can join the event and receive information. Updates will also be made available through the UOG Chamorro Studies Facebook page and also the website Mumun Linahyan ( For those still learning Chamorro, 24 hours of speaking the language can seem daunting. Ken and I are organizing a meeting this weekend, February 22nd at Port of Mocha in Tamuning at 12:30 for those who want to learn more. We’ll be helping people strategize their own personal Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’, and giving them tips for succeeding and surviving a day in Chamorro. We hope that as many people as possible will join this event.

Nihi ta na’lå’la’ i fino’-ta! 


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