Thursday, November 26, 2015

More than Sports and Scores

I am currently working on an exciting comic project for a friend of mine. My brothers Jack and Jeremy are joining me in the project (and spearheading it), which will look at Guam's political status in a very new way, through the unlikely narrative of sports. To comic will follow the story of Roque Babauta, a Chamorro basketball player who gets wrapped up in national and international politics. As part of it, I wrote up a concept draft which outlined everything the way I was seeing it. Jeremy has gone on to shake things up and make flow better and add in more realism and details. Part of it is a sequence where a sports commentator is ruminating on the connection between politics and sports. Here is the first draft of it:

Too often even we who love sports, dismiss it as a diversion, as an opiate for the masses, a distraction from the world. But sports is the world itself. It is not a diversion, but a reflection, a mirror image. The wars between nations, sometimes settled on battlefields, sometimes in stadiums. In Roque Babauta, we see echoes of Vivian Richards, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Muhammad Ali and others who stood for issues that sometimes waited just outside the consciousness of the time and fought against the prejudices of the time. In their fights, and with Roque’s gamble, his challenge to the most powerful nation in the world, he is reminding us that there is so much more at stake in sports than just the score. 

I wrote recently on Vivian Richards, the cricket player from the West Indies who, along with his team, helped to turn the world of cricket upside down in terms of racial superiority. They went on to dominate a sport which their colonizers had long used to establish themselves as being superior, even after decolonization had formally taken place. Muhammad Ali is very famous and probably needs little introduction to anyone who reads my blog. But John Carlos and Tommie Smith are more famous for a particular image of themselves than anything else. Below is an article from 1968, the year those two African American athletes (with support from their fellow white medalist) stood and raised fists high at the Olympics in solidarity with Black Power and Black Unity.


1968: Black athletes make silent protest
October 17, 1968
BBC News
Two black American athletes have made history at the Mexico Olympics by staging a silent protest against racial discrimination.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medallists in the 200m, stood with their heads bowed and a black-gloved hand raised as the American National Anthem played during the victory ceremony.

The pair both wore black socks and no shoes and Smith wore a black scarf around his neck. They were demonstrating against continuing racial discrimination of black people in the United States.
As they left the podium at the end of the ceremony they were booed by many in the crowd.

'Black America will understand'
At a press conference after the event Tommie Smith, who holds seven world records, said: "If I win I am an American, not a black American. But if I did something bad then they would say 'a Negro'. We are black and we are proud of being black.

"Black America will understand what we did tonight."

Smith said he had raised his right fist to represent black power in America, while Carlos raised his left fist to represent black unity. Together they formed an arch of unity and power.

He said the black scarf represented black pride and the black socks with no shoes stood for black poverty in racist America.

Within a couple of hours the actions of the two Americans were being condemned by the International Olympic Committee.

A spokesperson for the organisation said it was "a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit."

It is widely expected the two will be expelled from the Olympic village and sent back to the US.
In September last year Tommie Smith, a student at San Jose State university in California, told reporters that black members of the American Olympic team were considering a total boycott of the 1968 games.

'Dirty negro'
He said: "It is very discouraging to be in a team with white athletes. On the track you are Tommie Smith, the fastest man in the world, but once you are in the dressing rooms you are nothing more than a dirty Negro."

The boycott had been the idea of professor of sociology at San Jose State university, and friend of Tommie Smith, Harry Edwards.

Professor Edwards set up the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) and appealed to all black American athletes to boycott the games to demonstrate to the world that the civil rights movement in the US had not gone far enough.

He told black Americans they should refuse "to be utilised as 'performing animals' in the games."
Although the boycott never materialised the OPHR gained much support from black athletes around the world.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The American Colony of American Samoa

Everytime Dr. Carlyle Corbin from the US Virgin Islands visit Guam I love listening to his stories of the times when Guam's governors were passionate about political status and decolonization and, at least at the governmental level, there was alot more collaboration and communication. I say this now because Guam's current Governor Eddie Calvo speaks every once in a while on the issue of political status, but doesn't seem to have a real interest or passion for the issue the way some of his predecessors did. Previous Governors invested heavily in the idea of educating people on the issue and working towards making decolonization a reality. This Governor, even now in his second-term where he is no longer running for election or re-election, still doesn't seem to really care about the issue and isn't investing in the process. It is unfortunate, as the longer we wait, the more difficult it becomes. 

One reason I really enjoy seeing Carlyle is because he brings me up to date on the world of decolonization. For example, American Samoa, one of the fellow current official colonies of the United States (as opposed to those who are unofficially colonized) has been much more active in terms of talking about their political status and conceiving of it as colonial and in need of decolonization. Here are some article to give you more background.


American Samoan Governor Keen to Review Political Status
Radio New Zealand International
November 14, 2015

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga says the American Samoa Government is submitting a proposal to the US Department of Interior to fund an office that will begin the work of reviewing American Samoa's political status.

Our correspondent says this was decided at a meeting that the Governor held with Fono leaders and Congresswoman Aumua Amata Radewagen this week.

Governor Lolo told KHJ News that the proposed office will have one or two staff members and from the review of the political status he hopes to convene a constitutional convention.

Lolo says he would like to handover a government and territory that can make its own decisions.
The Governor has been increasingly frustrated with US federal policies that have negatively impacted the Territory, such as the minimum wage, fishing treaties and conservation regulations.

The last constitutional review was held in 2010 and changes that were approved were put to voters in a single question that was defeated in the general elections that year.


American Samoa still listed as colony in latest UN annual report
By Rili Sagapolutele
Samoa News

The United Nations annual report on American Samoa, submitted in March by the Secretariat to the UN Decolonization Committee, covers several issues such as economic and social conditions but cites no new position by the territory’s administering power (the United States).

The 14-page report provides part of last year’s testimony by the territory’s representative Lelei Peau, Commerce Department deputy director, where Peau recalled for the Decolonization Committee that American Samoa in past years has called to be removed from the list of world colonies (or Non-Self Governing Territory) because its “unincorporated and unorganized” status was akin to that of a self-governing Territory.

Peau noted that, while the territory’s position is unchanged, it was time to be more concerned about how American Samoa could progress politically and economically while respecting the concerns of the United States and the United Nations in the process. (See Samoa News story on Jun. 9, 2011 for full details).

Congressman Faleomavaega Eni’s September 2011 letter to the decolonization committee was also recalled in the report, part of which “highlighted the importance of resolving the ambiguities in the two deeds of cession that formed the basis of American Samoa’s relationship with the United States before seeking further negotiations on the Territory’s political status.”

Faleomavaega recommended that the leaders of Tutuila, Aunu'u, Swains Island and Manu’a should officially declare a union as one political entity or governing body and that a territorial convention should be called to discuss the existing political relationship with the United States.

The UN report cites the territory's June-July 2010 Constitutional Convention where several amendments were proposed to the current constitution — including those related to the prohibition of further individualization of communal lands in the territory which were all overwhelmingly defeated in the November 2010 general election by voters.

Also included in the report was the federal government’s official position of the U.S. pertaining to American Samoa.

The Assistant Secretary of State said, in a Nov. 2, 2006 letter to Faleomavaega, the status of the insular areas regarding their political relations with the federal government was an internal United States issue and not one that came under the purview of the Special Committee. Furthermore, the committee has no authority to alter in any way the relationship between the United States and those territories and no mandate to engage the United States in negotiations on their status. This was echoed by Faleomavaega in his September 2011 letter to the committee. (See Sept. 13, 2011 Samoa News story for more details).

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, responding to Samoa News queries on American Samoa pushing to be delisted as a “colony” during her stopover in Pago Pago in November of 2010, said, “…I, of course, reject that characterization… “We think it’s not accurate, [and] does not describe the relationship we have had over all of these years.”

“But, I do think we have to work more closely together to meet the needs of the people of American Samoa and that is my pledge to you that we will do all that we can to ensure that we have a very close respective working relationship, now and far into the future,” said Clinton.

The UN Decolonization Committee confirmed last month that this year's Pacific Regional Seminar will be held in Ecuador’s capital Quito, from 30 May to 1 June, to review progress in the UN decolonization process.

The Governor’s Office has yet to release who will represent American Samoa this year at the annual seminar which rotates every year between the Pacific and Caribbean areas.
- See more at:


Amer. Samoa Governor Calls for Political Status Modernisation

Now is the time to revisit our relationship with the U.S. says Togiola

Samoa News
 By Fili Sagapolutele
June 29, 2010

American Samoa’s relationship with the U.S. government is becoming a difficult one with no relief in sight, says Gov. Togiola Tulafono, who calls on the community to revisit this relationship in order to resolve matters dealing with federal influence as American Samoa moves forward to find a better future.

Now is the time for American Samoa to discuss this important issue and for American Samoa to move towards greater self-governance without more outside influence, Togiola said on his weekend radio program.

Although there is a consensus for American Samoa to continue the close relationship with the federal government in the areas such as economic development, the Governor says there will be no relief for the territory in the future unless there is a solid stand on self government.

This means American Samoa should enact laws for itself without the current status, which requires federal approval for any new laws before they are enacted, he said, adding that this requirement is something that he is pushing to be removed.

Whatever laws enacted in American Samoa are created by its people and should not require outside approval, he stated, adding that a big problem now facing the territory is local economic development being affected by laws created outside the territory, without thinking about their impact on American Samoa. He cited, for example the federally mandated minimum wage hikes.

He said he believes that there will be no improvement in the future as a new generation of Americans enters the U.S. Congress and this new generation is not familiar with American Samoa as compared to past Congressional members (and some current ones) who served in World War II and are familiar with the Pacific and their unique needs and circumstances.

He said these past Americans from the 1950s and later years, have been to American Samoa and the Pacific and witnessed the difficulties faced by island residents.

Based on research, Togiola said these Americans made it easy to move issues on American Samoa in Washington, but he noted that that has changed.

According to the Governor, the territory can constantly raise with Washington the point about long standing military service by American Samoans as well as the high number of American Samoan casualties in wars, but no one will consider it anymore.

Togiola says his big concern is that American Samoa has no power to stop a U.S. Supreme Court decision when it comes to our land.

He said current laws require certain Samoan blood percentage to own land and it’s one issue that may be challenged in the Supreme Court if American Samoa’s lands becomes permanent lands of the United States.

The Governor says there is a similar case pending with the court in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and it has not yet reached the Supreme Court, who looks at the entire U.S. and not just one sector. He said American Samoa has made it through the past 110 years, but in the last 20-years many changes have occurred in our relationship with the U.S. and many of those changes are not beneficial to the territory.

Togiola said he expects a lot of criticism regarding his views and statements and many in the opposition are concerned with what will happen to federal grants and programs for American Samoa.

He said these concerns can be addressed if a good agreement is in place with the U.S. so that American Samoa has more self-governance of its own affairs in the areas such as law and operation of the judicial system, which he feels should be in the hands of American Samoans.

The Governor says American Samoa needs to stop the practice of dependence on the federal government and strive for more self reliance. He said this is the big problem he sees — that residents are depending more on others.

Togiola said he raises this issue as part of public discussion, as American Samoa prepares for the two-week Constitutional Convention set to begin on June 21. He encourages the public to share their views on this issue.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bill 160

I've been involved in some form or another with the issue of indigenous fishing rights for Chamorros since 2009. I've attended dozens of meetings, worked on dozens of documents and talked to hundreds about the issue. It has been a largely frustrating endeavor, as the issue is so heavily laden with ideology, that even before you have said anything, people, often with little to no thought or information have already determined their response. What is so strange about Bill 160, is the way it seems to avoid or ignore what progress we've made on the issue of indigenous fishing rights, while creating another layer of government, which could conflict with existing layers of government resource management. I'm supposed to write up a response to Bill 160 and the discussion around it, and so I wanted to share some of the recent articles about it.


Contentious public hearing for fisheries conservation legislation
by Sabrina Salas Matanane
November 17, 2015

After the hearing was called off last week,  the controversial Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015 finally had its public hearing this morning at the Guam Legislature. Right from the start, Bill 160 ran into some rough waters.

Senator Jim Espaldon said, "If the author felt his original bill was inadequate I think it would be appropriate to move to remove the bill and make the real changes and reintroduce the bill." At issue was what the senator felt the hearing shouldn't have been held because the author, Senator Brant McCreadie,  said he would be substituting the original bill with a new one to reflect feedback he'd received from several sectors of the community.

McCreadie said, "My intention for this bill is to get everyone together to get the professionals the island community and come up with something that we can all put our arms around."

Despite the objection the hearing proceeded. Bill 160 creates a special council to coordinate and promote the conservation of Guam's oceans, fisheries, marine and freshwater resources.  It would also establish a funding source for the construction of boat ramps in Yigo and Talofofo. And although Senator McCreadie received a petition with over 300 signatures in support of his bill,  during Tuesday's hearing there were still many questions and concerns from fisherman like Ronald Laguana who alleged there was a hidden agenda.

"I am in opposition of this bill currently because it allows the micromanagement of our fisheries resources to certain groups of individuals the council of themselves. I'm not a member of the Fishermen's Coop or Farmers Coop because the regulatory matter control us do not allow us the free market," he stated.

Tom Camacho is the president of the Guam Organization of Saltwater Anglers. He testified that people have a hard time swallowing change. Change can be good or bad but if we don't start somewhere we're not going to get anywhere. He urged everyone to take the time to thoroughly read the bill. "And I've heard that we've got an agenda, that GOSA has an agenda, that the Co-op has an agenda, MUFF has agenda - what agenda we want to go do good for island for our people and we want to be sustainable if we continue to go the way we are , we are not going to be sustainable, no," he said.

At the end of the hearing Senator Tina Muna Barnes committed to holding a mark up on the bill by no later than the end of the year.


 Lawmaker calls for better marine preserve enforcement
by Robert Q. Tupaz
Guam Daily Post
August, 25, 2015

AN ISLAND lawmaker wants stricter enforcement of regulations concerning marine preserves around Guam. As a result, the senator has proposed legislation that would require permits and fees be implemented for the harvesting of fish and other marine life and commercial marine operations in the waters of Guam. The fees would help fund enhanced protection of the areas.

Sen. Brant McCreadie introduced Bill 160-33, the Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015. The measure, according to the lawmaker, “seeks to improve enforcement efforts of Guam’s Marine Protected Areas.”

The measure proposes the creation of a Guam Ocean and Fisheries Management Council whose operations would be funded through a Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation and Development Fund.

McCreadie said in a media release that his proposal will provide more enforcement to protect the island’s designated marine protected areas around the island.

The protected areas include Tumon Bay, the Piti Bomb Holes, Sasa Bay Marine Preserve, Achang Reef Flat and Pati Point.

Conservation officers

Initially, funds generated would be used to hire conservation officers and purchase equipment to patrol the preserves, McCreadie said. In addition, provisions in the legislation seek to construct boat ramps in the northern and southern parts of Guam. “The boat ramps will be strategically placed to allow access to the northern and eastern waters of Guam for first responders, emergency personnel and the general public,” McCreadie said.

The council would have the duty of overseeing the use of the funds through the Guam Department of Agriculture in hope of promoting sustainable use of Guam’s oceans, fisheries, marine and freshwater resources within various communities on Guam, McCreadie said.

“The Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015 is a measure to ensure that Guam’s marine resources are protected and will be available for generations to come,” McCreadie said.

Guam Liberation fishing event eyed

In tandem with Bill 160, McCreadie introduced Bill 161-33. The measure expands the island’s annual Liberation Day festivities by including a Guam Liberation fishing event.

“The Guam Liberation fishing event aims to encourage participation among the sports fishermen from Guam and from neighboring islands in the Pacific,” McCreadie said. “To ensure the success of the events, the governor will appoint a committee of fishermen and interested individuals to work with the Guam Visitors Bureau to plan and promote the events.”

McCreadie added, “The intent of this bill is to incorporate the existing fishing derby, with the addition of the spearfishing challenge and shoreline challenge, with the island’s Liberation festivities. Bringing these events together is a win-win situation for the island’s fishermen and the people of Guam.”


 Guam Marine Preserve Measure Divides Fishing Community
by Robert Q. Tupaz
The Marianas Variety
November 15, 2015

HAGÅTÑA — Legislation to set a $2 fee among other provisions contained in Bill 160 raised native right concerns during a public hearing held on the measure earlier this week.

According to Sen. Brant McCreadie who introduced the bill in August, the Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015.seeks to improve enforcement efforts of Guam’s Marine Protected Areas.

The hearing got off to a rocky start as Sen. James Espaldon questioned committee chairperson Tina Muna Barnes about the appropriateness of hearing a measure that the author committed to amending ahead of any hearing. 

Barnes announced that McReadie wanted to make changes and would speak about those changes with his introduction. Espaldon felt that the measure hearing was improper because Barnes announced that the author already intended to make significant changes in spite of the public notice stating that Bill 160-33 would be heard — not an amended version. “If there are changes to be made, it’ll be made after the public hearing,” Espaldon said. “It is not to be presented right here, right now.”
Barnes disagreed. “I am just telling the community that the author of this Bill wants to make changes.” Barnes said she would allow the hearing to continue and accept testimony on the original version.

Espaldon maintained his contention that the measure be withdrawn and reintroduced with a proper announcement of the version McCreadie marked up. Still, Barnes continued with the hearing, which Espaldon stayed for the duration.

Barnes, chairperson of the committee, explained that the measure was referred to her in her capacity as chair of the legislative committee with oversight over tourism because the proposed seed money would be raised through a $2 occupancy tax. McCreadie said with the fee, the fund could generate $2 million to $3 million annually.

A Guam Ocean and Fisheries Management Council administered out of the Department of Agriculture would oversee the funds and direct the operations of the entity.

The council would have the duty of overseeing the use of the funds through the Guam Department of Agriculture in hope of promoting sustainable use of Guam’s oceans, fisheries, marine and freshwater resources within various communities on Guam, McCreadie said.

Certain individuals raised concern about the composition of the council asking how the make-up was conceptualized.

The funds raised would help with stricter enforcement of regulations concerning marine preserves around Guam. As well, the proposal would require permits and fees be implemented for the harvesting of fish and other marine life and commercial marine operations in the waters of Guam. The fees would help fund enhanced protection of the areas.

The protected areas include Tumon Bay, the Piti Bomb Holes, Sasa Bay Marine Preserve, Achang Reef Flat and Pati Point.

Ron Laguana a self-described subsistence fisherman who is recognized as a perpetuator of the Chamorro culture said he opposed the measure. “I am in opposition of this bill, currently,” Laguana said. “It allows the micromanagement of our fisheries resources to certain groups of individuals — the council themselves.” Laguana said he was concerned that as a non-member of the fisherman or farmers coop, his hands would be tied in how he dispenses with his daily catch.

Manny Duenas, president of the Guam Fishermen’s cooperative, spoke in favor of the measure. McCreadie said Duenas was instrumental in crafting the legislation. “It empowers the people of Guam,” Duenas said. “He added, “We need to build this infrastructure if we want to build fisheries.”
Funds generated would also be used to hire conservation officers and purchase equipment to patrol the preserves, McCreadie said. In addition, provisions in the legislation seek to construct boat ramps in the northern and southern parts of Guam. “The boat ramps will be strategically placed to allow access to the northern and eastern waters of Guam for first responders, emergency personnel and the general public,” McCreadie said.

Mayor Doris Lujan said she supported with amendments to repair a current boat ramp in her village, Bill 160. Lujan said she specifically agreed with the construction of boat ramps on the north-eastern, south-eastern and eastern coasts of Guam.

“The Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015 is a measure to ensure that Guam’s marine resources are protected and will be available for generations to come,” McCreadie said.
Several persons asked that Barnes conduct a second public hearing at a time when more island fishermen could attend.


 Fishermen Concerned About Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015
by Clynt Ridgell
Pacific News Center
November 10, 2015

Some fishermen aired their concerns about the Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015 during a public hearing on the bill on Tuesday. 
Guam - Senators had some heated debate over Senator Brant McCreadie's Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015. During today's public hearing some local fisherman came out to tesitfy in opposition to the measure.

 "Madame chair I still object even if it's duly noted. If it's duly noted then we should at least discuss it because again I understand but we are presented with a bill and if there are any corrections that need to be made they will be made at the public hearing at which then the committee will come and add whatever reccomendations on top of everythying and still make the changes on the floor but right now it still seems impropper to say that we're gonna hear both bills,” said Senator Jim Espaldon. However Senator Tina Muna Barnes opted to continue with the hearing.
 Cathy Flores McCollum is concerned that this bill may ruin the efforts of indigenous fishing rights. "Bill 160-33 COR is a very precarious approach to indigenous fishing rights,” said McCollum adding, “Permit fees fair or too much? Who will be profitting?" McCollum also asked "When one profits from the sale of fish and is Chamoru should he be exempt from these permits and take the normal route of licensing for profit?" 3:20
 Local fisherman Ronald Laguana testified against the bill. "I am in opposition of this bill currently because it allows the micromanagement of our fisheries resources to certain groups of individuals the council themselves,” said Laguana adding, "To allow me to pay fees and fines for regulatory purposes is an injustice.” Laguana is skeptical of the motives behind the bills. "Are they going to guarantee to regulate the coop? And this council is going to regulate these fees for those people or what about themsleves? Are they going to be waived for these council members these coop members?" said Laguana adding "I'm only fighting for the rights of the indigenous people and the future generations of our children and our Chamorus." Laguana also asked for the hearing to be held after business hours as many local fisherman have told him they couldn't make today's hearing becuase they were working. "I suggest that you reschedule this to allow other fisherman to come out here because many of them are surprised about this,” said Laguana.
 Meanwhile local fisherman Joe Chargualaf said he is in favor of the bill because it would help regulate the fishing industry. "The sooner this bill is worked on I think it would be for the benefit of the entire community on this island."

 At the beginning of the hearing Senator McCreadie told the public that he already had another version of the bill ready to be introduced based on a lot of the meetings he's held with various stakeholders.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dos na Ofisiat na Lenguahi

Fihu manmaleleffa hit na guaha dos na ofisiat na lenguahi para i isla-ta. Unu sen hongga pa'go, sen oppan, ayu i Fino' Ingles. Lao i otro, mas tahdong, mas umaya gui' yan i estorian i isla yan i mismo taotao-na, ayu i Fino' Chamoru. Gi i 1970s, i difunto Paul Bordallo ha chalani i Liheslaturan Guahan para u fama'tinas lai put este na asunto. Sigun ayu na lai, guaha dos na ofisiat na lenguahi. Impottante ayu na bidan-niha, sa' para noskuantos na siklo, i mismo lenguahi-ta ti ma respepeta ni' taotao sanhiyong. Humuyongna, i Chamorro lokkue' (ko'lo'lo'na gi ma'pos na siklo) ti ma agradesi i bali-na i lenguahi, ya despues di i Tiempon Chapones ma yute' i lenguahi, ya ti ma fa'na'gue maolek i halacha na henerasion.

Ya-hu este na video, sa' gi un mas kabales na tano'-ta, siempre taiguihi i fina'tinas yan i nina'huyong i Gobetnamento. Para u fama'tinas todu gi i dos na ofisiat na lenguahin Guahan.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Neo gi Halom i Gima'yu'us

Sometimes I get depressed about the state of the Chamorro language. Whenever I am talking to an elderly Chamorro about how our language is dying and the culture is being forgotten and I see them speaking to their grandchildren in English, it makes me want to explode. Everytime I hear elders complain about the young today and how soft and weak and spoiled they are, but who allow their children to be glued to iPads at dinner or in public, it makes me want to run away. When I sit in a meeting where everyone thinks that the solution to the saving of the language lies with an app, or software, but ignores that basic fact that what we really need is just more inter-generational use of Chamorro, the speaking of Chamorro not across a generation, but rather between generations, I want to set something on fire. Whenever I have a conversation with someone who tells me that Chamorro is only supposed to be used like this, or is only meant to talk about this or that, and doesn't want to expand the language to make it something that people today will see as living and contemporary, it makes me want to learn Mongolian and live in the Gobi Desert.

The bane of my existence for the past 10 years has been what I call "language losers." These are people, who may sometimes be very well-meaning, sometimes may be very knowledgeable about Chamorro language or Chamorro issues, but ultimately because of some part of their attitude or their praxis, does more harm than good in terms of helping to revitalize the Chamorro language. There are different types of language losers. There are those who are explicit in terms of their anti-Chamorro language ideologies, who may speak Chamorro themselves, but argue against its use or transmission because of ideas of it being useless and having no economic value to it. There are those who have tremendous knowledge and skill in the language, but let their particular vision or narrow mindset, interfere with successfully passing on that knowledge. These people can sometimes be overly judgmental or critical and deter language learning, because rather than being language supporters they become language wardens. Most language losers however are passive, and simply don't consider what they are doing. They speak Chamorro, but just don't speak it to those younger than them. When pressed as to why they don't do this, they respond with strange sounding ideas, like the kids don't want to learn, its too hard to speak Chamorro, and the old standard stupid idea that speaking Chamorro to the kids would confuse them and make them less intelligent. These people are watching while the language dies, but do nothing, blaming the Department of Education, the Government of Guam and anyone else, instead of just using it with those younger than them, such as grandkids and great-grandkids, who they regularly see or visit.

One thing that always lifts my spirits, is the articles by Peter Onedera published in The Pacific Daily News. He writes in Chamorro about current events, and it is such a fine example for the rest of us, in terms of how we can use Chamorro in everyday life to talk about everything that is important to us. Here is his latest article below, about the current drama between parts of the local Catholic Church.


Kulan oppotunidåt para guåhu na taigue yu’ gi iya Guåhan sa’ kulan tumalakhahalom yu’ ginen sanhiyong ya hu lili’e’ otro na kåndet ya i siñente-ku hu pega na maolekña bai hu suhåyi håfa i sinisesedi tengnga.

Numa’ hu menta este tåtkumu Katoliku yu’ ya sumaonao yu’ gi nuebu na Guma’Yu’os put mås iya San Pi’us Mina’dies guini gi iya Chula Vista ni’ hu atetendi misa kada Damenggo, humåhanao yu’ kumomfesåt, yan guaha aktebedåt siha ni’ hu fattoigue esta. Guaha na biåhi na kulan ti hu dingngu Guåhan sa’ parehu ha’ i siñente gi este i nuebu na Guma’Yu’os yan i Gima’Yu’os San Jude gi i sengsong-hu Sinahånña.

Guaha Knights of Columbus guini. Guaha nubena yan lisåyu ni’ na’magof na debosion. Guaha kapiya para minantienen-maisa yan para tinayuyot gi i dirånten i simåna, i pale’ gof na’magof yan maolek sensiå-ña ni’ parehu lokkue’.

Sesso, ha yåyama atension-hu i setmon-ña sa’ todu i tiempo tåddong mensahen Yu’os ya i ebangheliu ha papacha kurason-hu sa’ ha na’lili’e’ yu’ na lå’la’ este na kinalamten tåtkumu ginen i mensåhi ni’ ma tataitai gi tinaitai gi misa.

Kumombetsasion yu’ yan dos na atungo’ ni’ despues manafa’maolek ham tåtkumu ginen sumaonao-hu gi un prugråman Guma’Yu’os na aktebedåt. Hu faisen siha kao guaha Neocatechumenal Way gi este na Guma’Yu’s osino parehon mubimento ni’ kulan esta ha håtme yan ha hulat lameggai na Guma’Yu’os gi iya Guåhan.

Tåya’ na ma hungok put este. Ilek-ñiha na sigun gi enteru lina’la’-ñiha guini yan hihot-ñiha guatu gi i Gima’Yu’os Katoliku yan i kumunidåt, tåya’ idehan-ñiha put håfa finaisesen-hu. En fin, hu eppok siha para u hålom gi iyon Tim Rohr na Jungle Watch ya u ma taitai put håfa maloloffan gi iya Guåhan ya ma osge yu’ sa’ despues senhinengngang put i emfotmasion ni’ ma taitai put i isla.

Ti åpmam despues guaha pumalu manhålom lokkue’ ya ma taitai ya tengnga yanggen umali’e’ yu’ yan håyi gi iya Walmart, Costco, osino Ralphs yan Vons, manmåfatto guatu gi iya guåhu ya ma kuentutuse yu’ put i Jungle Watch na attikulu muchumås put i mina’gas i atsobispo.
En fin, ti ma tungo’ lokkue’ ni’ lameggai na CHamoru ni’ mañåsaga guini gi iya San Diego put i Neocatechumenal Way yan håfa efektibu-ña kontra guatu gi ginen un tiempo manggof bråbu na påpulasion Katoliku gi i isla.

Gi i Sons and Daughters of Guam Club of San Diego, gof rigulåt i nubena para såntos patron ya, guini gi alacha, ha silebra i misa si Påle’ Eric Forbes para i kompli’åños-ña tåtkumu pumåle’ yan lokkue’ un dinibotu para si Pådre Pio, un senmaolek na såntos ni’ ginen este i maloffan na siklo. Kantidå na CHamoru siha manggof siri’osu put Katolikon-ñiha ya ma gogof atendi i Gima’Yu’os-ñiha guini taiguini iya guåhu ni’ gaige yu’ på’go gi i Gima’Yu’os Katoliku San Pi’us Mina’dies.

Hu tataitai kada diha i PDN yan i Guam Daily Post pues hu tungo’ put lameggai na asunto put i Neo sigun ginen i tinaitai-hu. Hinasso-ku ginen i ittemo-biåhi na mångge’ yu’ put este na esta måhgong osino ma konne’ tåtte si Monsiñot James Benavente yan si Påle’ Paul Gofigan yan ma asi’e’ siha lokkue’ lao kulan humåhnanao ha’ ti pumosipble este ya esta gof malingu ha’ i kaosa.

Bula tinayuyot yan diniroga ma susedi kontra håfa maloloffan gi i Gima’Yu’os Katoliku gi iya Guåhan. Un atungo’-hu ni’ gaige guini lokkue’, ha kontrebuyi kuentos ni’ esta ha na’fanhasso yu’ ya bongbong ha’ kurason-hu didide’. Ilek-ña na ha adibibina na håfa maloloffan gi iya Guåhan på’go, nå’i ha’ asta 2030 pat hulo’ gi 2050 na såkkan ya bula Guma’Yu’os manma huchom siempre sa’ put tåya’ sinapotte osino manmå’pos i taotao petmanente. Ludimås, ha huhungok esta na bula taotao manmalålagu para otro na Guma’Yu’os ya ayu na man hohosme misa yanggen ti taotao Neo i pale’ guihi.

Hu i-mel parentes siha ya hu faisen siha håfa yan amånu na manggaige siha put este na asunto tåtkumu i muma’gågasi i Gima’Yu’os ni’ måtto di ha na’fanlelebbok yan ha na’fambububu kantidån taotågues ni’ hagas hu pega na manggof maolek yan praktikao na Mangatoliku. Guaha sumanggåni yu’ na mamåra siha manhosme misa yan mangetu ha’ sa’ håfa ma lili’e’ måtto di na’desganao ya ti båli i tiempo yan atension esta. Guaha dos na primu-hu humåhanao para otro na Guma’Yu’os Kristi’ånu ya ma atetendi i misan-ñiha. Gof atburutao yu’ nu ayu. Hu kebense siha para mungnga mamåra yan para u famfitme gi i hinenggen-ñiha. Senmacho’cho’ i tinayuyot sa’, guåhu, mismo unu, hu båtga yu’ gi as Yu’os tåta para u såtba i prublema ya u mungnga na u dañuyan mås i tano’.
Put fin, maolek na taigue yu’ guini esta. Må’pe’ kurason-hu yanggen hu sodda’ na ti siña yu’ humånao para Guma’Yu’os San Jude esta.

Imel Peter R. Onedera giya

 The Neo group is fully entrenched in Guam’s Catholic Church

Being away from Guam sort of gives me the opportunity to look in from the outside and see things in a different light, as well as feeling that it is best to sometimes remove oneself from a given situation.
I bring this up not just because I’m Catholic but also because I have joined the parish of St. Pius X here in Chula Vista where I attend mass every Sunday, go to confession, and get involved in some parish activities. I often feel as if I never left Guam, as the atmosphere at my new parish is similar to what it was like at Saint Jude parish in my home village of Sinajana.

There are Knights of Columbus. There is a rosary and prayer group whose devotions are phenomenal. There is a chapel that is available for just personal reflection and prayer during the week, a priest who is very friendly and has a wonderful sense of humor.

Often, his homily catches my attention as it is always so full of God’s message and the gospels always hit close to home as he connects everyday situations to the message that we get from the readings at Mass.

I got into a conversation with a couple of parishioners whose acquaintance and eventual friendship I made at one particular parish program. I outrightly asked them if there is a Neocatechumenal Way in the parish or anything remotely familiar about the movement that seems to have completely taken over many of the parishes on Guam.

They had never heard of it. Both have lifelong connections to the Catholic church and the community here, so they have no idea what I was talking about. Instead, I encouraged them to access Jungle Watch and to read the goings on that Tim Rohr and many others have posted quite often and they were shocked about some of the things they learned about what was happening on Guam.

It wasn’t long when others whom I’d meet either at Walmart, Costco or Ralph’s and Vons would come up to me and mention that they have logged on to Jungle Watch and have been reading up on the latest, especially with our archbishop.

As a matter of fact, a lot of the CHamorus who live here in San Diego have no knowledge of what the Neocatechumenal Way is all about and the effect that it is having on a once vibrant population that was largely Catholic on the island.

At the Sons and Daughters of Guam Club of San Diego, rosaries for many patron saints are a regular thing and, most recently, Påle’ Eric Forbes was here celebrating the liturgy that included his jubilee as a priest and a moment devoted to Padre Pio, one great saint of this past century. Many CHamorus seriously take their Catholicity to heart and are very devoted to their adopted parishes much like how I am now to St. Pius X Catholic Church.

I’ve been getting the PDN on a daily basis as well as the Guam Daily Post and I read all that have been brought up about the Neos. I thought from the last time I wrote about it in my column that things have subsided or that Monsignor James Benavente and Father Paul Gofigan have been reinstated and forgiven but apparently it’s turning out to be a lost cause.

Prayers and protests have been waged against what is happening to the Catholic Church on Guam. One longtime friend of mine who now lives here, too, contributed a comment that made me stop and think and my heart kind of raced a little. He said that he predicts that whatever is happening on Guam now, give it perhaps up till 2030 or upwards to 2050, many churches will close on the island because of non-support or non-attendance of parishioners. Apparently, he’s heard that many parishioners are now leaving their own village parish churches and attending Mass where the presiding priest is not a practicing Neo.

I’ve asked some relatives through email what and where they stood on this whole issue especially with the leadership that seems to be fostering discord and dissension among many whom I’ve always thought were good, practicing Catholics. A number of them have said that they stopped attending Mass and are staying away because what they are seeing is so disheartening and not worth their time and attention. Two of my distant cousins have decided to check out a Christian church and are now attending their services.

I was dismayed. I pleaded to a few not to give up and to please keep their faith strong. Prayers do work and I, for one, look to divine Providence for a solution to what someone said has already a nightmare on the island.

Email Peter R. Onedera at

MMA Culture

I hope to one day be a speaker in the UOG Presidential Lecture Series. It is unlikely to happen though because I'm here and the speakers are usually guests visiting Guam. Olaha mohon na un diha ma'ayek yu' yan i inaligao-hu pat i hinasso-ku siha para este na klasen onra.

In the meantime, I'll probably go tonight and attend the lecture by the 28th speaker in the series, Royce Gracie, a MMA champion. Taya' tiningo' put ayu na dibetsion, lao gof annok gi iyo-ku Facebook na i taotao guini gof yan-niha. Este na dibetsion rumepresenta un interesante na enkubukao. Kao ta disisde hafa i kottura-ta put hafa hagas ta cho'cho'gue lao buente ti ta cho'cho'gue pa'go? Pat kao mas presisu hafa mismo ta cho'cho'gue pa'go, achokka' ti gof tradisionat? 


Royce Gracie, a pioneer of mixed martial arts (MMA) and UFC Hall of Famer, will be the 28th speaker in the University of Guam’s Presidential Lecture Series. The lecture will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 17 in the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences (CLASS) Lecture Hall on the UOG Campus.  Gracie’s lecture is entitled "The History and Philosophy of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu."
]The event is open to the public. Seating is limited. For more information about the lecture, contact Jonas Macapinlac at

About the Lecturer

Royce Gracie is one of the most prolific and influential mixed martial arts (MMA) athletes in the sport’s history. He became an “underdog” hero while changing the landscape of combat sports and revolutionizing martial arts.

After winning the first UFC tournaments (UFC1, UFC2, UFC4), he proved that with the knowledge of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a "David" could beat a "Goliath." Royce is the only fighter in modern MMA history to defeat four opponents in the same night; unlike today, these tournaments had no weight divisions, no time limits and no real rules. He holds a the record for submission victories in the UFC at 11.

In 2003, Royce was the first fighter inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Independent Okinawa

I got a copy of the journal of Okinawan Studies a few years ago, and ever since I've had an article in my head. I've been working for years with a growing independence movement in the islands, and I've done countless interviews, attended several conferences and giving several dozen talks to groups both big and small on the topic of decolonization and independence. I've been thinking about what would be the best approach to writing an article on this shift. If we compare it to Hawai'i's sovereignty movement, we can see so many similarities, including the various ways in which independence is articulated, and how its genesis is discussed. For some it is rooted in a previous political epoch and the form of sovereignty at that time. Some in Hawai'i argue in terms of the "Kingdom" and a royal family and the Hawaiian nation-state that was overthrown. In Okinawan you have a similar discourse, where there are those with strong ties to that previous political era, and those who argue for the Ryukyu Kingdom, as being still existing, still sovereign and something to be reinvigorated. Others see independence as necessary because of the frustrating realities of today, in particular the militarism that pervades both islands. Anger over this has been boiling in Okinawa for decades and now, independence is being seized upon more and more, as being the only solution since Japan refuses to respect the desires of the majority of the people in the Okinawan islands.

What I have found even more intriguing than the movement itself, is the way the media is slowly shifting in order to accommodate this new way of conceiving social movements and social ire in Okinawa. After Scotland's plebiscite last year which almost opened the door for its independence from the UK, I began to notice a greater acceptance in the international media for Okinawa's growing push.


Japanese police officers in riot gear are dragging away grandparents; protesters are linking arms and lying down in front of military trucks. A local mayor is accusing the central government of lawlessness, and a governor is denouncing “iron-fisted rule” from Tokyo.
That is the tense and ugly situation in Okinawa, where an old battle is intensifying over Japan’s plan, hatched with its strategic partner the United States, to vastly expand an American military base over the long-held, impassioned objections of Okinawans.
For 20 years the American and Japanese governments have been trying to close a Marine base in crowded Ginowan, a city on Okinawa’s main island, and to build a bigger one in a northern, less populated area, Henoko Bay. Okinawa, the poorest and most put-upon of Japan’s prefectures, has long chafed under the American military presence, and many Okinawans argue that the Henoko Bay plan perpetuates their burden. They say it will just shift the dangers, noise and environmental degradation of militarization to another part of the island. They are particularly alarmed at the plan to build giant runways on landfill dumped into a pristine ocean bay, home to coral reefs and an endangered population of a manatee-like creature, the Okinawan dugong.
Okinawa’s governor, Takeshi Onaga, last month revoked permission for construction. The central government ignored him and on Oct. 29 began building a work area for the landfill project. As Mr. Onaga vowed to continue resisting Tokyo, the protesters clashed with the police.
There is a great injustice at the heart of the Okinawans’ resentment. Japan wants the security of America’s military presence, but it wants Okinawans to pay for it. This has been true since the end of World War II, when the bloodiest battle of the Pacific war left Okinawa shattered and a quarter of its civilians dead. It was the only part of Japan invaded and occupied by Americans, who never left. Okinawa, which is less than 1 percent of Japan’s land mass, has more than half of the 50,000 American military personnel in Japan. The island is choked top to bottom with military bases — built on land seized from Okinawans — and the problems that come with war machinery and troops: noise, deadly accidents and assaults against women by American troops.
Japan and the United States see themselves as nations committed to peace, human rights and democracy. Those claims have been tested by the failure to resolve the Henoko standoff.


Okinawans Dream of an Independent Country

Okinawa, November 03: The movement in the city of Naha, capital of Okinawa in southern Japan where a small group is dreaming of a new country, has a long way to go, according to a global media report.

A recent poll of islanders, the report says, put support for independence at just 8.0 per cent. But another 21 per cent back full devolution and 88 per cent want greater self-determination. This, the report adds, is a sign of a growing alienation from the rest of Japan that could have profound consequences for regional security.

The Ryukyu chain of whose kingdom Okinawa was once a part, stretches in a 1,000km arc from Taiwan to the Japanese mainland. They are a natural barrier between China and the Pacific, the report adds.

The island of Okinawa is a cornerstone of the US military presence in Asia, with US bases covering about 20 per cent of its land area.

There is a range of opinions on security in the independence movement, according to Chousuke Yara, a perennial  electoral candidate for the movement. But his vision of a nonaligned and pacifist republic would send shivers down the spine of any US military planner, the report adds.

Resentment over the US bases has been a running sore in relations between Okinawa and the mainland following incidents such as the rape of a local schoolgirl by US servicemen in 1995 and the crash of a US helicopter in 2004.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to relocate the controversial helicopter base at Futenma to Henoko Bay in the north of the island, but locals want the base shut or moved off the island altogether, according to the report.

The dispute over the US bases, the report recalls, is the most significant issue between Okinawa and the mainland but the island is diverging from Japan in other ways.

With Japan’s highest birth rate, its population is ageing more slowly. And unlike on the industrial mainland, the island economy is growing fast, the report says which noting that Asian tourists are drawn by Okinawa’s blend of subtropical beauty and urban culture. Visitor numbers rose 10 per cent last year to more than 7.0m, with the number of Chinese tourists more than doubling, the report added.

Okinawa is also trying to promote its strategic location to business as a potential logistics hub. The economy’s dependence on the military bases is down to about 5.0 per cent, it points out.

Monday, November 09, 2015

The Darker Side of Guam and Okinawa

I came across this article while looking for examples about the way American media frames Okinawa, its history, its relationship to the United States, and the "problem" that it presents to US interests. The usual way in which the United States relates to places where it has bases, is through gratitude or lack of gratitude. If the people support the presence of the bases, then the media represents them as appreciative and understanding about how the US, as the greatest country in the history of the world, has helped protect them, develop them, given them freedom and democracy and capitalism. This is the case, even when those countries were former enemies of the United States and the bases were placed there during or after times of war. Even then, the US media and scholarly class has a way of making it seem as if the people there should appreciate the lesson they were taught about the world and global power. Hami i Yu'us, Hamyo taotao ha'. 

But if the governments are not "cooperative" or the people are not supportive, the media portrays them sometimes as being irrational, suicidal and crazy. They have bad memories. They don't understand the way things are in the world. They aren't appreciative of all the wonderful things America has given the world. Okinawa is one of those places that gets alot of attention as the protests just never seem to disappear. In other countries, such as South Korea or the Philippines, the protests against the US presence/bases there vanishes very quickly in the United States, but the Okinawan problem always persists. The international media helps to ensure that, but also the Okinawan people themselves, who continually in both large and small numbers protest. It helps that they have an array of numbers and facts on their side that make the story so compelling. For such a small place to host such a large military presence, for a 12 year old girl to be raped by three US servicemen, for 85,000 people to protest the fact that 16-18% of their islands are US military facilities, that so much of the protest hinges on a large sea mammal, the dugong, that Futenma base was once referred to as the "most dangerous base in the world." All of these things create an insistence, whereby even if people wish the Okinawan problem would just vanish the way other foreign problems, do, it can't.

In this article, the darker side of Okinawan history, which deals with bloodshed and atrocities during World War II, but also the dangers and damages associated with the US military presence are chronicled. I have long thought about a similar article for Guam. Many have been written about the darker side of Guam's history in terms of Japanese brutality and terror during I Tiempon Chapones, but less has been done about the darker side of Guam in general. Something that deals with the racism, the discrimination of the past and present. The deadly damage of militarization and the places where you can still see and feel it today. The less than stellar parts of Guam, that nonetheless carry important truths. Even if we were to focus it simply on I Tiempon Chapones, the darker side wouldn't necessarily focus on the evils of Japan, but draw out the stories that people refuse to tell (for a variety of reasons). Comfort women in Guam, for example is something that everyone knows existed on Guam during the war, but few know any details about them. It was something where much of the knowledge and stories were not passed on to the next generation because of the trauma and sensitivities involved. But connected to that are also stories of how families, in order to survive, encouraged their daughters to go and be nice and friendly to Japanese soldiers. There are also many lost and silenced stories of Chamorros using that new power to take from others and victimize others. Perhaps the darkest and most silenced stories are from those Chamorros who preferred the Japanese to the United States, and did not see the war as a terrible disruption, where their precious colonizer was now cut off from them. These Chamorros saw Japan as a potentially better colonizer, and preferred this master over the last one. Just in the same way that when America arrived in 1898, some Chamorros celebrated while others longed for the Spanish.


"Exploring the Darker Side of Okinawa"
by Nicholas D. Kristof
New York Times
January 21, 1996

IT has been half a century since the Battle of Okinawa, but in the inky depths of a cave in the center of the island it suddenly came alive for me last June. Dozens of people had committed suicide in the cave, to avoid the rape and mutilation they expected from the American troops who were outside, and then the cave had been forgotten in the aftermath of that bloody summer of 1945.
The cave formally opened to the public a few years ago, and as I shined my flashlight around I saw things that horrified me more than any museum exhibit possibly could have.
There were bones, mostly little ones, belonging to the children -- the youngest was 2 -- who were killed by their parents to save them from the supposed American demons. There were old water bottles, bowls, combs, a pair of dentures, knives and other detritus of war, with teeth scattered about.
It was grisly, but then the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 was even grislier. More than 200,000 people were killed in the battle, the last major campaign of World War II -- more than many of the estimates of the death toll in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Some 545,000 American troops stormed Okinawa, in the biggest land-sea-air invasion in history, and 14,000 Americans died in the battle. Since then hundreds of thousands of Americans have served military tours on the bases that take up 20 percent of the island.
Many tourists come to Okinawa for the beautiful beaches and great scuba diving, but I came to explore its darker side. Okinawa played a crucial role in World War II, and there are exceptional war memorials and museums that record what happened.
Perhaps the most famous is the memorial that opened on June 23, the 50th anniversary of the end of the battle. Situated in Peace Memorial Park in the southern end of the island, where fighting was particularly fierce, the memorial is the most impressive and warm-hearted tribute I know of to the dead of any war.
Set on a beautiful lawn not far from the beach, it consists of black granite slabs engraved with the names of all the war dead: Americans as well as Japanese, civilians as well as soldiers. There are 234,183 names, variously in English, Japanese and Korean writing systems.
A computer in the center of the park allows a quick search, in English or Japanese, to find where a person's name is engraved. Many visitors make rubbings of the names of loved ones and take them home.
In the same park is the Peace Memorial Museum, with two floors of displays about the battle. Opened in 1975, the museum was intended to exhibit primarily artifacts of war, and it does have bullet-riddled helmets and the like. But the curators soon decided that artifacts could not really tell the story, and so they made the centerpiece the written testimonials of citizens who endured that terrible summer of 1945. Most of the testimonials are in Japanese, but there is one huge book in which the accounts of survivors have been translated into English.
A typical grim sampling, by an adult Okinawan who was then a 14-year-old boy, recalls how a woman and her two children could find no room in any cave to hide in. So they stayed under a tree outside the cave where the boy was staying, perhaps hoping that someone would leave so that they could move inside. The mother was struck by a shell fragment and killed. "The children were safe," the entry reads. "The baby was sucking at her mother's breast, while the older one was leaning on her body. They stayed alive like that for three days. But when I came out again to relieve myself, I found the kids lying dead beside their mother, soaked in the rain that had fallen all night long."
Some museums in Japan gloss over Japan's own brutalities, portraying the Japanese as victims rather than aggressors. That is less of an issue in the museums in Okinawa. It is true that they do not fully explain the background that would lead the United States to invade Okinawa, nor do they acknowledge the brutal Japanese military occupation of China, Korea and other countries. Yet the museums do emphasize the viciousness of the Japanese Army, noting that Japanese troops often evicted civilians from caves to face the shelling, or even killed them outright. The exhibits suggest that the Americans undoubtedly killed huge numbers of civilians with their shells, but that many were uncommonly kind to those they captured. According to numerous accounts in the museum and other recollections by survivors, American soldiers regularly risked their lives to save those who had just tried to kill them.
A 10-minute drive away is the Himeyuri Peace Museum, dedicated to 320 students at Okinawa's best girls' school who became student nurses. Of the 320 only 103 survived; the rest were shot or shelled, or committed suicide to avoid the rape and torture that they had been told to expect from the Yankees.
There are several rooms in the museum, but most haunting is a huge room with a double row of pictures of the schoolgirls who died. They stare out, 15 and 16 years old, in cheerful school photos, and then one reads testimonials -- in English -- about how their jaws were blown off, about how they were napalmed in their caves, about how they used hand grenades to kill themselves.
From Peace Memorial Park, it is a 15-minute walk along the seaside cliff to the last bastion of the Japanese defenders. A trail leads by a series of memorial stones and plaques and on up to a cave that was the redoubt of the commander of the Japanese Army, Lieut. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima. In this cave, when it was clear that the battle was lost, General Ushijima committed seppuku -- ritual suicide by slashing his stomach with his sword.
Okinawa was the only major battle in which both sides lost their commanders. Just six miles from General Ushijima's cave is a hillock marked with a memorial showing where Lieut. Gen. Simon B. Buckner Jr. was killed as he observed the enemy.
The caves of Okinawa were the focus of the entire battle. Soldiers and civilians alike hid in them, and it is possible to get a sense of how the Japanese Army operated by visiting Tomigusuku cave, the former navy command center burrowed into the soil by the sea. One enters by a set of stairs, improved for tourists, into a warren of dozens of rooms and minor shafts leading off from a few main tunnels. It was in this labyrinth that the Japanese Navy officers hid from the American forces and plotted strategy. Some of the rooms are pockmarked, a sign that they were used by officers to commit suicide by exploding hand grenades. But to me, the most painful place of all will always be the cave where I found the bones. It is called the Chibichiri cave, a natural cavern about 100 feet deep, used by 140 villagers to hide when the Americans landed. In the 1980's interviews with elderly Okinawans about their war experience turned up accounts of what had happened in the cave, and several antiwar activists found it and eventually succeeded in turning it into a war memorial. Shoichi Chibana, an antiwar activist who led the restoration effort, told me what happened.
The villagers in the cave had been told by the Japanese Army that the Americans would torture and kill everyone.
When the Americans approached the cave, on April 2, 1945, two boys charged them with the only weapons they had -- bamboo spears -- and were shot and killed.
The Americans, at the mouth of the cave, pleaded with the villagers to come out and surrender. They dropped leaflets in Japanese explaining that everyone would be treated well, but no one believed them.
"Mommy, kill me!" shouted an 18-year-old girl, Haru Uechi. "Don't let them rape me!"
The mother killed her daughter, setting off a mass killing within the cave. Parents killed their children, then killed themselves.
In all, 83 people in the cave died at their own hands or at the hands of their parents. The family members of the dead have taken away most of the bones, but they left some as a kind of memorial. For the same reason they left the debris of those days in the recesses of the cave.
ONLY the entrance to the cave is formally open to tourists; the remainder is blocked with a sign saying that it is dangerous. Perhaps there is some potential earthquake danger, but the cave has lasted many decades, and the real reason, according to Mr. Chibana, is that relatives do not want insensitive tourists wandering about gawking at the bones and teeth, or pilfering them as souvenirs. However, they are willing to allow in visitors who will treat the site with the respect it deserves. It is best to write in advance, in English, to Yukei Murakami, the head of a group of volunteers who conduct tours of war sites. Mr. Murakami explains that the group wishes to give tours only to those who want to learn about the tragedy of war and offer condolences to the dead; they are wary of Americans who wish to commemmorate the victory.
Mr. Murakami's address is: 2994-2 Ikehara, Okinawa-City, Okinawa 904-21, Japan.
Visitors should go only with a permission, flashlight and a guide. Potential dangers include deadly snakes called habu, which live all over Okinawa, not just in caves. In addition, when I went in the cave, I spotted a huge scorpionlike creature, perhaps five inches long, hanging on the roof above me.
In that dank cave, haunted by the stories of what had happened there, I felt the horror of the Battle of Okinawa as I never could from a museum exhibit.
What to see, what to read
Getting There
Flights to Okinawa go to Naha, the prefectural capital. The best hotel in Naha is Harbor View, (81 98) 853-2111, fax (81 98) 834-6043. A double is $220, calculated at 100 yen to the dollar. Many other resort hotels are found along the beaches. Tour packages are available from travel agents who include air fare and a resort hotel at a much cheaper price than is possible trying to book directly.
Peace Park and most of the sites in the south of Okinawa can be reached by the Nos. 32, 89, 33 and 46 buses from Naha. Get off at the "Himeyuri no toh mae" stop, (fare $4.70), which is where the Himeyuri museum is situated. Buses leave there every hour for Peace Park.
Alternatively, taxis can be hired for $30 an hour. More detailed instructions and English-language pamphlets can also be obtained from your hotel.
The Sites
The Peace Memorial Museum, 997-2874, is open from 9 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. every day except Monday, when it is closed. Admission is $1.
The Himeyuri Peace Museum, 997-2100, is open from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. every day. Admission is $3.
The navy caves, 850-4055, are open every day from 8:30 A.M. to 5 P.M. Admission is $4. For further information about various sites, contact the Okinawa Visitors Bureau, 961-6331.
One site that is not strictly war-related but that is well worth a visit is Shuri Castle, the old seat of power for the king of the Ryukyu Islands before Japan seized the territory in 1879. Shuri was demolished during the fighting, but was rebuilt from photographs. It is open daily from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. Admission $8.
There are many books that describe the Battle of Okinawa. My favorite is "George Feifer, Tennozan," (Ticknor & Fields), a very readable 602-page paperback survey of the war and its victims.
Another engaging account is "Okinawa: The Last Battle of World War II" by Robert Leckie (Viking).
The Governor of Okinawa, Masahide Ota, has produced a coffee table-sized book with riveting pictures and an English text, "The Battle of Okinawa," which does not list a publisher but is available for sale at some hotels on Okinawa.
For a general history of Japan's role in World War II, try "The Rising Sun" (Bantam), by John Toland.

 The Atmosphere
There has been a good deal of publicity about the movement in Okinawa to evict the American bases. It is true that there is widespread hostility to the military presence, but that does not lead to ugliness or discourtesy toward Americans; on the contrary, local people are very friendly and helpful. N. D. K.

Photo: Names of those who died in the 1945 battle are carved ingranite. Japanese visitors to the Chibichiri cave listening to an account of what happened there in the Battle of Okinawa. (pg. 19); Part of the seaside walk from Peace Memorial Park. (Nicholas D. Kristof) (pg. 26) Map of Japan
NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF is chief of the Tokyobureau of The Times.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Hami, i Taotao

Hami, i Taotao Guahan
by Michael Lujan Bevacqua
The Marianas Variety
July 29, 2015 

On December 17th, 1901 a group of more than thirty men, primarily Chamorros gathered in Hagatna. Most prominent on their minds was the political status of their island Guam, which had been taken by the United States during the Spanish American War three years earlier. Since the transfer of power, confusion over Guam’s future hung like dark foreboding clouds. Although the American flag flew over Guam, the United States had not set up a government in which Chamorros would now enjoy the glories of American democracy. They had established a military regime which the US Navy total control over the lives and lands of Chamorros.

The group that gathered in Hagåtña represented some of the largest landholders, the wealthiest families and some of the most educated Chamorros of the day. They carried last names familiar to us today, such as Perez, Torres, Dungca, Quitugua, Martinez, Diaz, Calvo, Untalan and Sablan. The result of this meeting was a document, a petition directed towards the United States of America and its Congress, requesting that they please do away with the military government they had created and instead allow a permanent civilian government on the island. The petition begins like so,

We, the undersigned, citizens of the Island of Guam, a dependency of the United States of America, respectfully and humbly petition Congress, asking its attention to the following exposition of the actual conditions that obtain in this island.
The present government was established in August, 1899, its legal status being that of a military government of occupation, under the authority of a naval officer, the commandant of the naval station established in the island.

By 1901 it was apparent that the United States had little interest in living up to their ideals in Guam, and was going to govern the island in a paternalistic manner, treating Chamorros like children, too immature or primitive to know what is good for them. Faced with this basic contradiction of American principles, these men had to choose between an acceptance of their new American colonial status (which was actually a regression from their status under Spain) or seek to improve their status, through whatever means they could. From the language of the petition, we can see that the men who drafted it knew what they were talking about and had no illusions as to their colonial situation. Here are two quotes from the petition that I have found to be particularly important in showing the quiet, but profound critiques the Chamorros launched at the United States:
We believe that actual conditions contain grave defects, inherent in the system of government, which can be remedied only by Congressional action. A military government at best is distasteful and highly repugnant to the fundamental principles of civilized government, and peculiarly so to those on which is based the American government…
It is not an exaggeration to say that fewer permanent guarantees of liberty and property rights exist now then when under Spanish domain. The governor of the island exercises supreme power in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, with absolutely no limitations to his actions, the people of this island having no voice whatsoever in the formulation of any law of the naming of a single official.
UOG President Robert Underwood in his afterword for Penelope Bordallo Hofschneider’s book Campaign for Political Rights on the Island of Guam refers to this moment as the height of Chamorro chutzpah. An unexpected moment as we look back in time, where Chamorros spoke plainly about their colonial status, seeking some way of changing it, instead of finding ways to blind themselves or justify their colonization. There is an intelligence in this petition, an ability to see both the limits of their connection to the United States, but also the possibilities.
This document is a petition that should be given to all students in our schools to read. As an island that has been a colony of the United States for 117 years texts like this should be just as important, if not more important to our understanding of the world than the Constitution of the Declaration of Independence of the United States. Things have thankfully changed over the past century, but the fundamental political relationship, that of Guam being a possession of the United States has not.

On Guam, we spend so much energy creating an illusions of our relationship to the United States. Each July for example, we imagine that the political connection that people here have with their colonizer is one based on suffering and starving Chamorros in Manenggon reaching up to the helping hands of liberating Marines, who carry with them chocolate, powdered milk, Spam and applications for food stamps. These are powerful images and moments from our past, but these are not what defines our political relationship to the United States. This is too often the moment where we forget colonial realities, cover over them with patriotic reds, whites and blues and fantasize that we are just another part of the United States.


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