Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Saving the Chamorro Language

This article, written in 2013 is a surprisingly complete look at issues of language revitalization in Guam today. The discourse on the death of the Chamorro language is common in the media, I myself often resort to using it in order to make a dramatic point. But these articles on the impending demise of the Chamorro language tend to be overly simplistic in a number of different ways. They can focus in very negative ways, by writing one-dimensional laments about the remaining life the language has. They can be cluelessly optimistic, by taking one positive example to mean "hallelujah" the language has been saved! I like this article because it approaches it from different points, from different perspectives and the projects that are being organized in order accomplished the shared goal of language revitalization. It would be interesting though to compare articles of this sort over time, to see how much changes and how much remains the same. If the same valiant individuals make the same arguments over and over and advocate the same strategies, but never get real support, than the whole endeavor may be pointless.

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Guam Celebrates Chamorro Language Month
Youth encouraged to learn language of the elders
By Joy White

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, March 12, 2013) – Over the past 30 years, the number of Chamorro speakers on Guam has declined steadily – from 35,000 in 1990 to 25,000 as of the last census in 2010.

Such decline, according to scholars and cultural activists, underscores the need to preserve the language that has been pushed to the periphery due to the pre-war ban on the language, coupled with Western influence and the influx of immigrants.

Saving the Chamorro language from the brink of death is the focus of this year’s Chamorro Month celebration with the theme "Learn the Language of Your Elders and Practice It Every Day."

"It’s all about getting the language taught," said Joseph Artero-Cameron, director of the Department of Chamorro Affairs. "The theme this year is to get that language to our children in any shape or form."

The theme, according to Artero-Cameron, seeks to encourage the daily use of the Chamorro language, "whether it’s in the school system or at home."

Language ban

According to linguists, Chamorro constitutes a possibly independent branch of the Malayo-Polynesian language family. Unlike on Guam, the language is still common among Chamorro households in the Northern Marianas.

Chamorro language was suppressed on Guam in 1917, when the Naval Government Executive General issued Order No. 243, which banned speaking Chamorro and designated English as the only official language of Guam and ordered that "Chamorro must not be spoken except for official interpreting."

According to Guampedia, speaking Chamorro was also forbidden on baseball fields, a sport growing in popularity, to encourage English use. "In the early 1920s, ‘No Chamorro’ policies were implemented and enforced within the schools and playgrounds. Public school students were reprimanded or penalized for speaking their native language. This policy continued after World War II."

In recent years, Guam is seeing a cultural resurgence to learn the language.

School setting

Artero-Cameron believes the key to promoting the language is through the Department of Education’s Chamorro Language Curriculum.

"Students need to be able to use the Chamorro language for real communication by speaking; understanding what others are saying; reading; and interpreting written materials – all in the Chamorro language," Artero-Cameron said.

"For too long, Chamorro language students in Guam have been judged by the number of years they have spent in the classroom rather than by their actual performance in the Chamorro language," he said, adding elementary, middle, high school, and higher education instruction programs must be better articulated.

In 2011, Public Law 31-45 introduced by former Sen. Mana Silva Taijeron expanded previous legislation requiring Chamorro language instruction for elementary schools and one year at each level of education, to all grade levels in elementary and middle school and two years in high school. The law also mandates a reformation of the curriculum to incorporate a new curriculum for Beginning Chamorro (Introduction to Chamorro Language), Intermediate Chamorro (Basic Usage and Application of the Chamorro Language), and Advanced Chamorro (Conversational Chamorro).
By the new school year, 2013 to 2014 course work in the 7th grade should start and by the following school year, 2014 to 2015, the course will be included in the 8th grade. High schools should start the required course work by 9th grade, with the 10th grade mandated program starting in school year 2014 to 2015.

In addition, the law requires a Chamorro Language Department and department chair for all programs to be created at all schools to develop and implement the curriculum.

Competition

Rosa Salas Palomo, educator and coordinator of the University of Guam’s Chamorro language competition, stresses that oral competency must come hand-in-hand with social or cultural literacy.
The competition, themed "The Chamorro Language: Learn, Use, and Show," starts at 3 p.m. today
"Aside from the language, we also have the linguistic competency, where they can speak the language but we also need to focus on the cultural or social competence, because sometimes we have someone who is using Chamorro but behaving like a mainlander and they contradict each other. Sometimes it’s difficult for children to grasp this, but there are mannerisms associated with individual languages. You need to make sure they are intact, that they match," Palomo said.

"It’s our obligation as teachers to teach this, as well as the language because they go together. Why teach a language if you're not going to teach how to use it competently?" Palomo added.

Private efforts

Private individuals are also trying to create venues to learning the language more accessible.
For example, Troy Aguon created the Learn Chamorru! DVD and website for children.

Born and raised on Guam, Aguon worked in Las Vegas for about 13 years. When he returned with his two young children, he found there were no kid-friendly learning tools for Chamorro.

After being away for so long, he promised he would learn to be more fluent in the language and teach his children.

"My desire is to put as much Chamorro lessons, games, trivia and challenges on the LearnChamorro.com website for mom and dad to learn with their children in a fun and interactive new media resource tool (Internet audio/video, SMS, email, and smart phone). We believe teaching the language must start in the home and reinforced at home. Without language, there is no culture," said Aguon, who is also partnering with Pay-Less Supermarkets to promote the Chamorro language.
The partnership promotes the language by identifying grocery items in the store and providing interactive activities, such as a scavenger hunter promotion that will be tied in with the website.
In addition, Aguon is working on volume two of the Learn Chamorro DVD and other technological tools, such as mobile friendly website software that will help children learn the language.

Marianas Variety Guam: www.mvguam.com
 
Copyright © 2013 Marianas Variety. All Rights Reserved

Monday, April 25, 2016

Decolonization Debate






Friday, 22 April 2016
Decolonization Debate Held at Tiyan High
Written by  Clynt Ridgell
Pacific News Center

The Governor's office and the Commission on Decolonization facilitated a student debate on decolonization.

The debate was held at Tiyan High and it featured students from various GDEO high schools. The students were broken down into three groups one for free association one for independence and one for statehood.

 "We may fear that we will lose our citizenship and federal programs but if you look at the Federated States of Micronesia also known as the FSM they have their own passport their own citizenship yet they can travel to anywhere in the United States without a Visa and they can still obtain their federal help,” said Fredalyn a student from Tiyan High who represented the free association group.

 "With independence we will be able to have more control and finally vote for all of our leaders we can sign our own treaties and make deals with the countries we want to have relationships with. We will finally have the ability to make decisions for ourselves. Some think we will be poor but there are so many things our government can do to make money as an independent nation. For example we can have the military pay for the land they use,” said Peter Cruz of Tiyan High.

 "Increasing tensions in the Asia pacific region has highlighted the importance of Guam's strategic location. The escalation of these current events have created the urgency for statehood. which means the ability to govern ourselves as long as we don't conflict with federal regulations or interests,” said a GW High student who spoke on behalf of statehood.

 Governor Eddie Calvo has said that he would like Guam to hold a vote for self-determination during this year's election in November.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Quentin Tarantino Interview

Last year I got the chance to work with a great group of people on a film project. It is tentatively titled Lalahen Sinahi. I co-wrote the script with Kenneth Gofigan Kuper, and we made it almost entirely in Chamorro. We had an intense couple of weeks filming it, only to have some of the scenes disappear on us. Ken is currently off-island attending graduate school, but when he returns next month we'll need to figure out what to do next with the project, if we should shoot it again or try to salvage what we have. 

As we were writing the screenplay, a specter who was always shadowing our discussions was Quentin Tarantino. His dialogue driven stories was something we both wanted to capture in small and large ways. Sometimes people can get irritated with that type of storytelling, but when it works, it is incredibly effective and ridiculously engrossing. The flavors that he infuses into the dialogue, the tension he builds can be amazing. I am hoping that in either this project or others, one day I can write dialogue in a similar way. 

Below is an interview Tarantino did with Entertainment Weekly last year prior to the release of his most recent film The Hateful Eight.  

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Quentin Tarantino: The Hateful Eight Interview
By Jeff Labrecque
Entertainment Weekly
December 31, 2015

Quentin Tarantino has Westerns in his blood. His mother named him, in part, after Quint Asper, Burt Reynolds’ character in Gunsmoke, and he grew up consuming Hollywood’s Wild West — the good, the bad, and the ugly. With 2012’s Django Unchained, he infused the genre with his provocative brand of cinematic vim. In The Hateful Eight, which opened limited on Dec. 25 and expanded nationwide on Dec. 30, Tarantino rides again. 
Set a few years after the Civil War, this bloody, brain-splattered whodunit strands a bounty hunter (Kurt Russell) and his captive (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in a desolate mountain stopover in the middle of a blizzard. Trapped with them are a Union major (Samuel L. Jackson), a Confederate general (Bruce Dern), and a motley melange of suspicious dudes, including Tarantino regulars Tim Roth and Michael Madsen. Paranoia — and racial rancor — run high.
Those themes were magnified in real life when Tarantino drew fire for his comments at an October anti-police-brutality rally. Police unions threatened to boycott his films, casting the director as a black hat. But Tarantino’s not hiding out from the posse. If anything, he’s scrapping for a fight.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’m going to steal my first question from Tom McCarthy, who once mentioned that when he’s with other directors talking about each others’ films, he always asks, “What was your biggest gamble on this picture? What were you most nervous about? What didn’t you know was a sure thing?”

QUENTIN TARANTINO: That’s a good question. I think if you go through the majority of interviews with me, rarely do I talk about technical stuff. I usually talk about the material or cinema in general. I’m never the guy who gives an in-depth interview in American Cinematographer. Just let [cinematographer Bob Richardson] do those and I’ll give them a few sound bites. But in this one, the thing that wasn’t a sure thing wasn’t the idea of shooting it in 70mm. That, we figured would be okay. Other people have done it before. Using the lenses that we used — those Ultra Panavision lenses from the late ’50s, early ’60s — that was the thing that wasn’t a sure thing. We did tests on them and everything. So we knew they worked. We wouldn’t be mounting this entire production with one foot on a banana peel and the other on a roller skate. But the fact that we would be in the freezing cold was an issue. I just had to assume that there would be times that the lenses would freeze, or that the big camera would freeze. We’re dealing with a really tricky technical process and we’re doing it in a very untricky way, being open to the elements the way we were. And I’d already had a bad experience with that to some degree or another at least on one important day on Django when we were shooting in the snow. Even the guns didn’t work. And that happened to be the day we were doing Django’s fast draw. So literally in between takes, you got a hair dryer on the lenses and a hair dryer on the guns to make sure that they were warm enough. But literally, Gregor Tavenner, our first AC [on Hateful Eight], just did all the leg work that he needed to do in order to make sure that we were never down because of camera. And we were never down because of camera. That stuff never happened. 

The other dangling participle was just the weather itself. As you can see, we got all the weather we needed. But it was never easy. We were at the whims of the weather and you could never trust a weather report that was any more than three days in advance. So depending on what the weather was, we’re either doing this or we’re doing that. There was no, “Oh, okay, we’re going to start a scene and then work it to its emotional integrity until we’re done with it. And then we’ll do some other scene and work it to its emotional integrity.” No. It was: drop and pick up, drop and pick up, drop and pick up pretty much the entire time we were in Colorado. Which is not my normal way of working, or my preferred way of working. Having said that, there can be energizing things about doing things outside of your comfort zone and rising to the occasion for a purpose. And our purpose was we wanted to capture that weather. So it was a good trade, and it was actually kind of neat to be a bit of an old dog, having to deal with new tricks.  

After Django, there were critics and members of the African-American community who weren’t happy. The film touched certain third-rails — slavery, race in America, violence on screen. And as I watched Hateful Eight, I was like, “He’s doubling-down.” I think some artists are very sensitive to any type of criticism, and just the fact that it’s a hassle can deter an artist from swimming in the same shallows again.
That’s actually well said. That would be one of the reasons an artist would censor themselves — not because they feel they’re being censored by this totalitarian regime. But it’s a hassle. It’s a pain in the ass. Maybe I can take a break on it for this next one. Brian DePalma used to talk about that all the time, about all the s–t he had to deal with, at every single junket. Roman Polanski was one of the best makers of horror films that really got under your skin. But at a certain point, he got sick of it, because he just got sick of being put on the hot plate about it so much. But where I’m coming from is, social critics don’t mean anything to me. It is my job to ignore them, because their critiques are about right now: 2015. My movie is not a carton of milk that has an expiration date. It’s going to be available 20 years, 30 years, hopefully 100 years from now. Those critics will come and go, but the movie will be the movie. My revenge is I’m going to win their kids and grandkids over. They’re going to be stuck, an old man at Thanksgiving, having their granddaughter talk about how she’s taking a Tarantino class in college, and it’s the most stimulating class that she’s taking. They’re going to fry an egg on their bald pate while their grandkids exalt my virtues.



So you said you had no problem ignoring the social critics. But does it work the other way… where you almost wanted to — not antagonize them — but do you feel emboldened—
Am I just trying to be a provocateur?

Well, not just, but I mean, after Django, was there a feeling of, “Know what…? F— them. I have this other story that’s going to make their heads spin.”
To put things in there just to stick a weed up the social critic’s ass ultimately is the exact same starting point as censoring yourself — to appease them and give them a break. People can say that there’s a provocateur aspect going on in my work from the very, very beginning and that might very well be the case. But the reason it’s the case is because, I don’t give a f— about it. Not because, “Oh no, I give a f— and I’m going to teach you a lesson. I’m going to show you.” [My dialogue is] literally the things that the character said in that hot-house environment that I trapped them in. If nobody had written that stuff, that would’ve been what they said. If everybody wrote that stuff, that’s still what they said. I hope that’s where I’m coming from. 

The Hateful Eight is set a few years after the Civil War—
Actually, I made it ambiguous, as is almost everything about this script. It’s kind of up for you to decide about almost every important aspect in the piece that reveals itself. But in the script, I actually wrote that it takes place six, eight, or 10 years after the Civil War. 

Yet there’s so much in there about race that resonates true in 2015. The line where Walton Goggins says white folks are safest when blacks are scared. Then, Samuel L. Jackson turns it around, and says it’s only safe for blacks when whites are disarmed. Is all that stuff intentional or does that just sprinkle in during the whole evolution of the writing? 
Literally, it’s sprinkled in just during the hot-house environment of writing this piece. I felt that by throwing a black cavalry officer in the middle of this mix and knowing that I was going to have a Southern general and, like, the son of Quantrill in this mix, that I’d be kicking a can that deals with these issues. How much that can would be kicked and how much would spill out, that I didn’t know. And that was just the surface, the process of writing the material. The film that I ended up making ends up being a really serious examination of both the Civil War and the post Civil War survivors. But I really was coming more from a mystery angle, creating a little Agatha Christie thing. That was what got me putting pen to paper. Obviously, I knew I was going to deal with the Civil War. But I didn’t know it would end up being so serious when it came to that issue. I was realizing when I was watching it about [seven] weeks ago that this could almost be a post-apocalyptic movie, to some degree or another. It’s like this frozen wasteland, and the apocalypse has destroyed every semblance of their society and their way of life, and these survivors are huddled together in this pitiless wasteland shelter. And suddenly they’re all blaming each other for the apocalypse, but the apocalypse is the Civil War. But that wasn’t what I was necessarily thinking about on page 72 in my bedroom when I was writing it.

During the movie, I think I scribbled down that Major Marquis Warren is half-Shaft, half-Obama…
We didn’t call him Shaft, we called him Hercule Negro.

Did Samuel L. Jackson say anything specific about his big monologue when he read the script the first time? 
He was like, “This is my Iceman Cometh and that’s my Hickey monologue.”

Race is a recurring theme in your films. Are you working through your own experiences with race via film?
No, I think me dealing with race in America is one of the things I have to offer to cinema. That is one part of my interest in American society, and so the fact that it bleeds into my work makes perfect sense. In particular, it’s what I have to offer the Western genre, because it’s really not been dealt with [there] in any meaningful way.

Mel Brooks once said when he was doing a Blazing Saddles, whenever he felt like he was in trouble with the N-word, he would just kind of rely on Richard Pryor, who was the co-writer, who would say, “Oh, that’s fine here,” or “No, not there.” Do you have— 
No. 

No? 
I would never ever give anybody that kind of expertise on my work. I am the expert on my work. Absa-bloody-lutely.  

At the Rise Up October rally, you became the story after referring to some police officers as murderers. Did you say exactly what you intended to say? Or, looking back, do you think, “I should’ve been more careful with my words”
No, I stand by that. I mean, I was completely misrepresented. I didn’t say all cops were murderers, or every single police shooting was a murder. We were talking about very specific instances. Chicago just got caught with their pants down in a way that can’t be denied. But I completely and utterly reject the “few bad apples argument.” Yeah, the guy who shot [Laquan McDonald] is a bad apple. But so are the other eight or nine cops that were there, that said nothing, did nothing, let a lie stand for an entire year. And the chief of police, is he a bad apple? I think he is. Is [Chicago Mayor] Rahm Emanuel a bad apple? I think he is. They’re all bad apples. That just shows that that’s a bulls— argument. It’s about institutional racism. It’s about institutional cover-ups that are about protecting the force as opposed to the citizens.

When the police unions threatened a boycott, they also promised that they had a “surprise” waiting for you…
The cops’ response to it has made my point for me in so many ways. Civil servants, even rhetorically, shouldn’t be threatening private citizens. They sounded like bad guys in an ‘80s action movie. It was like Jim Glickenhaus wrote their dialogue for them. That’s a reference. [Laughs]

A, did you anticipate this, and B, have you encountered any type of—
No, no, no. I haven’t encountered anything like that. I actually don’t believe the police is some sinister Black Hand organization that’s going to target me and screw me in in any way. The only question that I had going in was just natural human trepidation because I knew a lot of fans that were police officers, and I did have a little apprehension about the fact that a lot of them could misread what I was saying and a lot of them might jump to conclusions and not take in the nuance of what I might say or mean. All of a sudden, some regular on-the-street patrolman who would now be like, “Oh, look Tarantino. F— that guy. F—in’ doesn’t know s–t.” Did I feel bad that they’re not going to kiss me for this? Yeah, a little bit. But not as bad as I feel sitting on the couch watching literally people being gunned down and then the cops just facing some Mickey Mouse cop tribunal and just being put on desk duty.

A boycott could effect the box office of your movie, though. You’ve worked with studio head Harvey Weinstein from the beginning of your career, and he’s releasing Hateful. What was his phone call to you about this like?
If he was Rupert Murdoch, I’m sure the conversation would’ve gone a slightly different way. Harvey’s a known liberal. He called me up to tell me he was proud, because he’s never seen me take a political stand about anything publicly before. At the same time, I’m sure it was a gigantic pain in the ass that he didn’t need. And it did have an effect on the film: we had some really interesting commercial tie-ins that went away because of the cop boycott.  

What kind of stuff are we talking about — not fast-food restaurants? 
Well, one of them was a fast-food restaurant that were going to do little Happy Meal kind of things, with character cups of the different eight and everything. And that would’ve been really fun and really cool; we would’ve been breaking new ground for such a tough movie, to have those kind of tie-ins. But [those companies] got scared, and I understand why they got scared.

That really sucks because—
Yeah, that f—ing sucks! [Laughs] It really sucks! 

I didn’t mean to be flippant, but what really sucks — on top of the obvious impact on your film —  is that the Weinsteins and other studios are aware that [these opportunities] went away and why. And they might be more cautious in the future for another film or filmmaker that’s slightly controversial. 
Uh-huh. Look, I’m involved in a big commercial endeavor. It would not be right for me to be completely flippant about the fact that I’ve put an undue burden on this big commercial endeavor that I have partners with. And I don’t think we’re going to pay a price later, but we’ve paid a price now, as far as that’s concerned. But at the same time, what made me want to talk about it is I do feel that this type of police brutality and this type of abusive power, and this institutional disease that has infected the police forces in America has to stop. 

Why are you and Harvey Weinstein so good together? Not everyone has a great experience with Harvey.
Yeah, I know. One answer to that would be — and this is a good thing and a bad thing — is we kind of love each other. We’re literally like family members. I’m some weird version of his little brother and his son, and he’s a weird version of a big brother and my father, to some degree, especially as far as this industry is concerned. We have genuine affection for each other. Now, that can be a good thing and a bad thing because we take things way too serious, and we’ll take things way too personal. Some of our fights are the fights you have with family members where things get way out of hand way too quickly, because you’re talking about everything else other than what the argument is really about. But there is also the idea that I’m not just working with somebody who got this job at a given studio and they will be there for a certain amount of time depending upon how good their slate does. This is Harvey’s studio, and the buck stops with him, and he still works from a gut. He has that old mogul aspect about him that is romantic because you are dealing with somebody. It’s a double-edged sword, you know. He can get the wrong thing in his mind and just be on the wrong road, and it takes a Herculean effort to get him on the right road. But in its own way, over a course of a long period of time, that is preferable to somebody just trying to keep their job and is trying to back up anything they’re saying with statistics and market research about this or that or the other. Harvey’s not really coming from things like that; he’s coming from his own tastes and his own experience. He doesn’t need market research to back up his own perceptions of things.

One of the common themes of your characters is how they are often pretending — they are hiding something. This goes back to Reservoir Dogs, and this film is full of these types. 
It must be an obsession of mine to some degree or another. In movie after movie, characters go undercover as somebody they’re not. But it wasn’t necessarily the intention. I wrote most of these characters for these actors — I called them the Tarantino Superstars. They can handle my material. They can handle my dialogue. It sounds good coming out of their mouths. They understand the rhythms, but also — and this is probably the most important part — they get the jokes. They know when, even when it’s not officially a joke, they know there is a laugh there. But that’s not for everybody. Not every actor is born from that kind of theatricality that is required in my pieces. 

Jennifer Jason Leigh is amazing in the film as Daisy Domergue, and I don’t know if you’ve seen her voice performance in Anomalisa.
Not yet. I’ve heard it’s terrific. 

It’s terrific, and it’s the perfect bookend to what she does in your film. She’s the sweet, kind of meek-voiced character in that animated film. And in your film, she’s a Valkyrie. Why did you cast her?
Well, there’s a really cool aspect about writing a character for an actor you like because you’re writing for what you think they can do really well. You know maybe some of their limitations. You know some of their pluses, and so you write to their strengths, and you have a good sense. When you close your eyes you can kind of see them doing it. When you read the dialogue, you can kind of hear them doing it, to some degree of another. But if you’ve done that for a lot of characters in a piece, then you start getting completely enamored and fetishistic with the one character that you’re not writing for an actor. And that character, I’m not worrying about an actor’s limitations or their pluses — it only is the character. That character can really go and find itself any way it can, and hopefully, it completely exists on the page. Now you have to find somebody that can take it from the page and take it even further. And if they’re not right, then what was special about them on the page will only stay on the page.

A super example of that would be Christoph Waltz’s character in Inglourious Basterds, in so far as I didn’t know Col. Landa was a linguistic genius until writing him. He just ended up being able to speak every language that he was encountered with. I didn’t know that at the start, writing that farmhouse scene, but it just kept revealing itself. Now, if I was literally writing it for somebody else that I knew, I wouldn’t have been able to go in that direction, because they wouldn’t have been able to pull it off to that degree. In this situation, I just let Landa be — and literally, if Filipinos had walked in to the middle of Inglourious Basterds, he would have been kicking it in Tagalog because he can talk any language he wants. But consequently, I needed to find an actor who was a linguistic genius, or else that aspect — which was a very important aspect of Landa — would always just remain on the page, and there would’ve just been an actor trying to do it. 

So that’s a little look into when you’re not writing the character for an actor. Now in the case of Daisy Domergue, it was almost an impossible role to cast in a conventional way — i.e., an actress coming in the room and knocking our socks off, and us saying, “Oh wow, that’s Daisy.” Because if you’ve seen the movie, you know that the way she is in the last chapter is not necessarily the way she is in the chapters building up to it. So, with that in mind, I wasn’t necessarily looking for someone to nail her speech in that final chapter. I ended up looking at a few different actresses that all were more or less from the ‘90s, what you would think of as young actresses that were kicking ass and doing a really great job particularly in the ‘90s. That’s the era that most of my actors made their bones, and that’s the era when I made my bones. There was a throwback to Reservoir Dogs quality to this whole [movie] so there was this kind of full circle quality going on. So I was like, the actress should be from that same boat as the [other] actors, and there were about three actresses from that period that really kind of made an indelible mark on me. I started going on little film festivals of the three, and frankly, it was the Jennifer Jason Leigh film festival that I enjoyed the most.

Single White Female
Single White Male was definitely one. I watched that one on my laser disc. But it was more kind of the combination of Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle and Georgia and Miami Blues and The Hitcher. I watched Heart of Midnight. I watched The Men’s Club. I watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Another big one that helped was a Paul Verhoeven movie she did, Flesh+Blood, with Rutger Hauer. She’s terrific in it. So I literally was just having a ball with this Jennifer Jason Leigh film festival. It was a nice little reminder that in the ‘90s, she was like a female Sean Penn. You didn’t just cast her in girlfriend roles; you cast her in movies where the whole movie was about her performance. So it got me very, very excited about seeing a performance-dominated Jennifer Jason-Leigh movie.

She doesn’t fit into this category of three actresses, but there were reports that there was a brief flirtation with Jennifer Lawrence.
Well, I’m a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan. I think I’ve been on record of saying that her and David O. Russell’s relationship is very William Wyler-Bette Davis like, and that’s a good thing to be like. And I can see her doing a good job with this role, so we went to talk about it and everything. She was just doing me a courtesy to see me, I think. She was doing Joy. She had to do all this publicity on the Hunger Games movies. There was just no f—ing way in the world that she was available. Having said that, I’m glad I didn’t cast somebody that young. I think I absolutely positively made the right choice, as far as the ages of the characters. 

There’s a lot of s–t to worry about in the world, so I know this isn’t high on anybody’s list, but it always bugs me at the Academy Awards when studios try to shoe-horn a lead performance into the Supporting category. Going back to Pulp Fiction, Sam was in the Supporting category. To me, he was a lead or at least co-lead in that film. Do you care about such things? Is Sam a lead actor this year? 
Oh, yeah, he absolutely is the lead actor this year. [I care] only when it’s absolutely positively completely egregious, and I don’t think Sam in Pulp Fiction qualifies. I mean, he can qualify as a lead, but I don’t think it qualifies as a egregious or a travesty, because frankly in the casting of it, no one was talking about Jules being one of the leads. They were talking about Vincent being the lead, and everybody else was supporting — even Butch was supporting. We offered it to an actor before Sam, and his people talked him out of it because [they said], “You need to be doing the lead now.” So now the fact that everyone talks about Jules as the lead, that’s not what everyone was saying earlier on. But where it actually is a thing maybe is Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation — she’s obviously the co-lead. Actually, he’s co to her lead, in many ways. You see the movie through both of their eyes, so she’s not a supporting. That was obviously an attempt to get her nominated and I think it actually backfired. At the same time, like you said… with all the things to worry about in the world, they were just trying to get her a nomination so ultimately who f—ing cares? 

I have to ask you about the music in The Hateful Eight from the legendary Ennio Morricone. It’s very different in the first half and the second half. 
Well, I play around with it a little bit. In the first half of the movie, you never hear movie music when you’re in Minnie’s Haberdashery — until the music kicks in during [Sam’s] speech. I get rid of that idea in the second half, but in the first half, I wanted to play by Reservoir Dogs rules, which was it was the dialogue that was carrying it. It was the tension that was carrying it. It was the threat of violence that was carrying it. 

I feel like Morricone did something completely different too. You’ve done homages to his classic Western themes, but no one’s going to listen to this and be like, “Oh yeah, vintage Morricone.” It actually reminded me of Bernard Herrmann in Psycho, with the pounding strings.
I didn’t expect a soundtrack similar to the The Five Man Army or Two Mules for Sister Sara. I expected something very, very different, and I got it. He gave me pretty much a horror film soundtrack, with that kind of music box theme that kicks in from time to time that’s really creepy and spooky. Well, that is my movie. That’s what he was responding to. He was responding to the claustrophobia and the paranoia of the characters trapped in this situation together. He even told me, he goes, “I just had this idea in my head when I read the script for a theme… It would suggest two things: it would suggest the stagecoach — moving forward and moving forward and moving forward — yet it would also suggest the violence that would come later.”

You’ve talked about not wanting to be an “old” director. You’ve said you’ll retire after your 10th film. Hateful Eight is No. 8. Is that still your plan?
Almost to the man, most directors actually think they have more time than they do. They all talk about five or six movies that they want to make in the future at some point in time. Because when it comes to stories in the proverbial incubator, maybe I have four that are in that incubator, waiting to see how they come out. But it’s a lie. What do you want to do [right now]? I think there’s something really vital and exciting about thinking: I only have two movies left. What do you want your last two statements to be? How do you want to wrap up your persona for future generations? I think that’s a really creative way to look at it, and I do like the idea of there being an umbilical cord from Reservoir Dogs to the last movie?

I’m going to ask a personal question, but let me explain why. Do you want to have kids? And the reason is because kids change who you are, everything. And there’s part of me that would want to see a Quentin Tarantino Dad movie — I’m not talking about Mrs. Doubtfire.
Yeah, I know what you mean.  

I’m talking about who you would be as a father and how would that impact your filmmaking. Do you think about having kids? 
I did. There was a time about 13 years ago that I had a baby fever, that I really thought about having kids. Usually, it’s a situation like that where somebody very close to you has a kid, and you kind of experience vicariously though them the joy of a child, and the joy of the love of a child. And I was thinking about it a lot. And I was getting a lot of encouragement in thinking about it, in so far as people telling me what I great father I would be. And that was very moving. But that fever has passed. I had baby fever, and the fever broke. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to have kids, but right now, perfectly thinking, I want to do the 10 movies — without distractions.

Do you know what your next movie will be? Everyone keeps whispering about a third Western. 
There are a lot of people writing about that one right now. But it’s the loophole that doesn’t count as one of the 10 because I would do it as a miniseries, so I wouldn’t count that as one of the 10. 

I was always interested in the World War II movie about black soldiers rampaging across Europe, Killer Crow
Yeah, that’s definitely in the old incubator. That definitely is one of the ones that I could do. And the fact that I have about half of that written goes a long way towards hearing the microwave ding. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Calvo's 2016 State of the Island Address

Governor Eddie Calvo's 2016 State of the Island Address
Posted: Mar 31, 2016 5:21 PM Updated: Mar 31, 2016 7:21 PM 
State of the Island Address 2016

Lt. Gov. Tenorio, Madam Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, Congresswoman Bordallo, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, but more importantly…

Manelu’hu, manaina’hu, yan I man’hoben,

Welcome to the Guam Capitol District! Look at how beautiful this city has become. This museum will be open in a few months. Paseo renovations are underway. I can’t wait to deliver next year’s address in the Guam Congress Building next door. And I have to tell you, as a son of Hagatna, a resident of Agana Heights, and a worker in the capital, I’m so happy that some of the best restaurants opened up shop here. We welcome even more business. We welcome artists, performances, tours, and the return of the government of Guam to the seat of government.

We have even bigger plans for this place. I received the Hagatna Master Plan for consideration. And in it, this city really looks like the Paris of the Pacific.

I was inaugurated at the Plaza Kiosko over there five years ago. That’s where I laid out my goals as your governor. My agenda, in whatever we did with the issues at hand, was to restore confidence in ourselves, and to get us believing again in our ability, ingenuity, and place in this world.

I followed that speech a few months later by declaring the state of our island was fragile. Then in 2012, I said the island was improving. The next year, we were growing. And then we were strong, and growing stronger.

Today the state of our island is growing confident.

It’s time we confronted the fact that, for nearly 400 years, the state of the island has also been colonial. It is the unchanged and unrepentant shadow cast upon our unshackled destiny.

Confidence may be the one trigger that can change our colonial state once and for all.

Evidence of our collective confidence abounds.

More businesses expanded or opened shop the past year. That probably explains the additional 900 jobs and growing paychecks.

More people earning more money meant that the poverty growth rate would slow. It didn’t just slow. It reversed. In 2015, we recorded the first reduction in SNAP utilization in 10 years. The homeless count also went down, while more families moved into homes.

This improvement in the economic stability of so many on the fringes – seen just five years ago as unrealistic – is the result of your hard work and every pat on the back that you gave your neighbor to succeed.

Our focus on poverty and the middle class stirred a culture of empowerment. Once people got their heads above water, they began to exercise and make healthier choices. The data backs this up with the number of fitness centers, sports enrollment, and preventive care going up. This is in addition to data showing that we’re buying less alcohol. These dramatic improvements will translate into fewer diagnoses of obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Healthy people are happy people, and happy people pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Our children and teenagers, whom we call iGen, understand that we prevent poverty by creating opportunity. This generation is paving its way to success. The graduation rate has been going up, while the drop out rate is on the decline. More students are going to college at GCC and UOG.

All these indicators of the state of our island are promising. But it’s the explosion of interest in the arts and the humanities that makes me beam with pride. Like never before, we are seeing young people picking up instruments, dancing, acting, protesting, singing, painting, sculpting, writing, rapping, filming, and debating. And for the first time since the 2,000 census showed a decline in Chamorro language use, we now have data showing that we’re turning the river back. Over the past five years, the Hurao Academy has produced 615 new Chamorro-language speakers.

I want to thank all of you artists and cultural revivalists. Because of your work, I get to hold my head up high when I open the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts right here in this city. Ladies and gentlemen, this will be a sight to behold. Over 3,000 Pacific artists will join ours in the world’s most beautiful display of solidarity, fellowship, and progress. This is a time for us, my dear people, to rediscover our roots and bond in the glory of our history and our customs. Celebrate the talent and courage of Guam’s greatest thinkers and masters of our traditions. Discover just how brilliant this Pacific Ocean shines with the cultures and talents of islanders throughout.

An event this size requires years of planning. For reasons we don’t need to dwell on, my office was informed less than two years ago that FestPac would fail without our intervention. So we took over the coordination. We raised the money. We organized the partnerships. And we managed the progress of 88 subcommittees that all pulled together to turn this story around. I want to thank everyone involved with this remarkable effort, especially my Deputy Chief of Staff, Rose Ramsey, who is the lady in charge of this whole thing.

What I described above is how the state of our island has improved the quality of life of many people. But there’s more to do, because there are more people whose lives need to improve as well.

These are my initiatives to improve the state of the island in the short term:

First, we’re going to put more families in affordable homes in two ways. One, we’ve brought a developer who will build beautiful, family-sized homes for below $100,000 on Chamorro Land Trust lots. Two, we’re going to infuse Guam Housing Corporation with the money to issue more mortgages for families who the banks deny. In order to do this, I will introduce a bill that assesses a fee on major real estate transactions… and I’ll be speaking with Sen. Barnes over the next few days to get this done.

Second, we’re going to market and promote the technology, cultivation, and consumption of locally-manufactured products, starting with agriculture.

Third, we’re going to push even more resources into our wellness and health outreach programs, and into the facilities we need to encourage fitness. Those programs are working. They are convincing more residents to exercise and eat better, to stop smoking, stop drinking, and to stay off drugs. We’re going to match this vigor with more sidewalks, bikepaths, rehabilitated parks, sports fields and facilities in the villages, a new fishing platform, the new farmers’ market, and the renovation of the Paseo Stadium.

Fourth, Senators, I want to work with you to figure out the ways and means to build more athletic facilities and to pave more village streets. I’d also like to see how we can further support Dr. Judy Flores’s plans for Inarajan.

And lastly, the Hurao Academy’s success at producing hundreds of Chamorro language speakers says that immersion works. We’re going to work on a way to support our mayors so that they can provide immersion programs in every village. We must increase the number of Chamorro language speakers.

The state of the island is confident partly because the state of your government is strong. It is a government that manages its resources and finances responsibly, values its employees, and delivers services better as a result.

I could run through a list of agency achievements, but we don’t have all week. So let me summarize with some perspective.

We are now on the fourth year of paying tax refunds on time, without borrowing a cent. By the end of April, we’re set to release another $40 million in refunds. That will cover the next 13,000 refund checks.

You haven’t heard of a payless payday in the executive agencies, or the cutting of hours, or the trimming of services. As a matter of fact, we’re providing more services. Thank you, GovGuam employees.

If you want to know where the biggest increases in cost have come from, I’ll gladly tell you. EITC has doubled in just one decade. That’s an unfunded federal mandate. The solid waste federal receiver decided to stop paying debt service on the Ordot Dump bond. So we’re paying for it now. Another federal mandate. And, finally, Medicaid costs are ballooning.

Yet, we’re paying the bills, even the ones Uncle Sam left for us. And despite the occasional cash crunch or procurement problem or overtime that wasn’t budgeted, finances are no longer what cripples government. The financial condition of your government has bred progress in services.

How else could there be resources to fix potholes and pave village roads? From school buses to sanitary inspections and hot meals for the elderly – this government functions, and it prioritizes its resources to its three most important services.

You all remember the crime wave that started in 2011 and consumed us for the next two years? Lt. Gov. Tenorio made it his mission to rebuild  the Guam Police Department and shuffle resources. He hired more officers, increased patrols around your homes, established neighborhood watch programs. The police let the criminals know that they were watching. Indeed, thieves think twice about stepping foot on private property now that Sen. Tony Ada’s Castle Doctrine is law. The facts speak to a community that took back the streets. The numbers of reported burglaries and assaults have gone down. Of the reports that were made, the data shows a dramatic increase in the rate of arrest. This means that even with fewer reports of these crimes, our police officers are catching more criminals than they could just five years ago. That, my dear people, speaks to the commitment to excellence of the Pacific’s finest police force.

When I was a senator, the daily problem had something to do with the Department of Education. There were threats of payless paydays. Millions in salaries were withheld from teachers. The facilities were just rotting. No toilet tissue for the kids. Aircons breaking. Books gathering mold in storage rooms when there was a shortage. That’s not even 10 percent of the list.

We addressed many of these problems, and perhaps we can list those accomplishments another day. All throughout the country, states and territories that adopted the Common Core standards were warned: expect test scores to drop when you implement the Common Core. This is because the standards are higher. They’re more rigorous. And it’s true… test scores dropped throughout the country. But not in Guam. Almost every grade level tested with higher proficiency in English, reading, and math.

I’m sure there are many reasons for this upward trend in education, but allow me to focus on a few. First, it is proven that the biggest influence in a student’s success is the classroom teacher. Teachers, great job. Kudos go to the principals, parents, support staff, the mayors and community leaders, and to the students themselves.

The improvements that led to these achievements are the result of leadership that is inclusive and unafraid of change. When it comes to public education, I no longer worry like I did in 2011. Jon Fernandez, you and your team along with the Board of Education have really changed this island for the better.

The government has made some significant progress, but we still have our faults and failures. We still face the frustration of issues that persist, despite our hard efforts. Well, we’re just going to try harder.

The most important of these services is medical care. Guam Memorial Hospital provides life-saving services from the most caring doctors and nurses around. And no matter who you are or how much is in your pocket, they will care for you. That makes GMH the worst business model you can think of. That hospital is bleeding cash and needs a transfusion right away. It also needs new and renovated facilities, both for current services and for new services.

To make this all possible I am withdrawing my bill that appropriates the Legislature’s lapses to GMH and I’m encouraging a better solution. I am asking the Legislature to support Sen. Rodriguez’s partnership with us in financing $120 million in capital improvements, $30 million of which will be an immediate cash infusion. This is on top of revenue-generating programs we are implementing. We can secure a low interest rate if we do this now, and we identified the repayment source. If we do this, along with Sen. Rodriguez’s bill that authorizes public-private partnerships, we will stabilize GMH for the foreseeable future.

The next priority requires our Washington Delegate’s help. Congresswoman Bordallo, I’ve sent my support to Congress and the President for Puerto Rico’s EITC measure. That will fill the tax refund account to full capacity within just two years if it becomes law. I implore you to lobby that issue and follow up our push for Medicaid and TEFRA parity.

It’s also time for DOE’s third-party federal agent to pack its bags. And it’s time for the solid waste federal receiver to pay his bills and leave. We can free up $160 million if we just get some equity and justice on these federal issues.

But just as we get that movement going, another federal problem happens. Tourists are waiting 3 hours in line at U.S. Immigration at the airport. We have brought this issue up to the federal folks on the ground here, and their bosses in San Francisco. Nothing has changed. We even offered to pay for more officers to get the lines going. Still, nothing. And then they surprise us with the sudden drop of visas for skilled workers. This action will cripple our construction and medical industries, among others. Margaret Metcalfe will be knocking down some doors in Washington over the next few days. And I’m going to call the Secretary of Homeland Security and reason with him. The federal government is strangling us everywhere. Now, their actions are affecting our number one industry! It is unacceptable and, more importantly, it’s damaging to Guam.

While the root of many of our problems in government stem from federal law or regulations, we, too, are guilty of problems we either created or failed to resolve.

First is transparency. We came to office and we opened everything up. We rescinded gag orders. We took pride in giving the media the information they asked for. What we weren’t prepared for was the increasing frequency of requests for information, and the scrutiny that mounted with it. Reporters, I want you to know that I understand you are doing your jobs. I want you to know we’re committed to transparency, and we’ll keep working at it.

To help with that is another objective that has been painfully slow. And that’s our IT initiative to get more services and information online. I’d rather save everyone’s time  and put all public documents on the government’s websites. Instead of you waiting four days for a FOIA response, you can just click on a site and be on your way. We’ve got nothing to hide, and you’ve got every right to access your government.

And last, I know the negotiations are happening in good faith, but it’s taken so darn long to deliver a teacher contract. I promised I would sign it and I am eager to keep my promise. I want to thank the negotiating teams for the progress they are making. I just ask that we get that contract on my desk soon.

There are other problems that need greater attention, I understand. But Rome wasn’t built in a day.

A few days ago in that city, Pope Francis said this, “We see and will see problems both inside and out. They will always be there. Let us not allow darkness and fear to distract us and control our hearts.”

Some of my advisors lament the criticism we get in the media. Every now and then there’s the feeling that some people are being nit-picky about things.

Let me show you what the media was reporting in 2011, when we started.

Now let me show you some of our recent headlines.

I’m glad that teenagers have the drive to protest and stand for what they believe in. I think we are blessed that the daily story isn’t how we’re going to survive, but what we can do better with every little thing. Five years ago, we were worried about the government’s inability to deliver life-saving services that paying tax refunds on time wasn’t even on the radar.

Together, my dear people, we raised the level of conversation. The standard of living has improved to the point, where people can breathe with their heads above water and notice the imperfections of paradise.

We now have time and give attention to the environment we sacrifice in the face of development. We can have public discourse about a tree. We dissect the investment we make into the arts. These were not discussions we were having just five years ago. We were just trying to survive then.

Do we have problems? Of course we do. But boy have we solved a lot more problems than we have now. The problems that remain – they’ve always been there. We just now have the luxury of thinking about them because we’re not drowning in the others.

The criticism that I really like, though, is that we’re dreamers… that the things we want to do are just too far from the realm of possibility.

We were told we couldn’t pay refunds on time.

And that we couldn’t eliminate the almost-$400 million deficit.

Or that we couldn’t work harmoniously with Jon Fernandez to institute education reforms.

Or that a Republican governor would open the statute of limitations in favor of sex abuse victims, and agree with the Democrat vice speaker to raise the minimum wage

And even when we accomplished what the cynics said we couldn’t do, the so-called experts said that making the once-impossible a reality was just wrong. Here’s an editorial that says building a museum at Skinner’s Plaza would ruin Hagatna:

I don’t know. Look at it. It’s here. What do you think?

I chose this place and I’m standing this way for a significant reason. Because behind you are the remnants of our past…

In front of you, on this wall, is a message for the ages ascribed on this edifice of our enduring heritage, our commitment to the liberty, achievement, and contribution of the people of Guam, starting with the exercise of our inalienable right of self determination.

I have been reading the Prayer of St. Francis in Chamorro. It was my daily prayer during Lent. The Chamorro inscriptions here inspired me… this from Chief Hurao, and the monument to the welcome we made to the Catholic Church when Chief Quipuha gave that land to Rome. And so I thought to strengthen the blessings of our ancestors tonight by joining the foundations of our heritage today. (PALE JOSE VILLAGOMEZ READS THE PRAYER).

Thank you, Pale Jose Villagomez, for blessing us tonight.

Behind us are the ruins of our colonial past. In front of us, the promise of our future, determined by us.

So what are we waiting for?

Self-determination is a powerful path for a people to take. It waits for no one, and requires the collective control of the conscience and choice of the community. Years ago, as the military buildup was hot in the news, I dreamed that one day, our community could come together and build our own vision of Guam. I didn’t want us to peg our future to someone else’s dream. We needed to come up with it, and we need to make it happen with the work of our hands and the genius of our children.

A singular, long-term vision of Guam has never been created. All the planning and operations have happened in silos. No plans pegged to a vision. Not even the last Guam Master Plan, adopted in 1967. How does the government know what to plan without knowing what the people want in the end?

So last year, we started the Imagine Guam initiative. And we involved students from the get-go. The public was invited to join a group of thinkers, mainly educators, to put into words the foundation of any vision that would be created: the values of this community. After much debate and public input, they said that the vision of Guam must value Chamorro culture and language and the sustainability of our environment. From these roots grow strong families that blossom with health, education, self-reliance, and sustainable development. The team also adapted the Hurao Academy’s Sisteman Kostumbre to help guide the understanding of our culture and its core values: aguaiya, agofli’e’, a’umitde, afa’måolek, arespeta, amamåhlao, ageftåo, yan a’adahi.

From there, a major effort went underway to identify residents from all walks of life and every corner of this island. About 400 students, teachers, artists, homemakers, professionals, academics, business people, single mothers and fathers, activists, and more – all very different people with very different views about things – came together three times this year. We hosted three conventions, open to the public, where strangers came to volunteer their thoughts… no one was turned away. In these conventions, these 400 islanders got into 17 teams, each representing different disciplines of society’s makeup. They had one main objective: design Guam in the year 2065 – 50 years from now.

They were lively in their debates and discussions. You could see their passion growing about Guam as each hour passed. And finally, every team emerged with a vision. We compiled that vision to produce the island’s first singular, long-term strategic vision: Guam 2065.

It is a beautiful vision that says this about your grandchildren and the place they will live in 50 years:
- The Pacific will look to us as the leader in renewable energy development, sustainable practices, shipping, agriculture, science and research, medical care, education, the arts, tourism, and athletics.
- We’re going to be 100 percent free of fossil fuels and we will generate zero waste
- Our grandchildren will be the healthiest and happiest people in the world, ranked first in the index of Gross National Happiness
- The technology and practices we invent will lead the Pacific in adapting to climate change
- We will be multilingual, and we all will know and speak Chamorro
- And no matter how modern things get, we will always have abundance of green space, time for family, and faith in God.

These are just six points I’m highlighting. I encourage everyone to visit imagine.guam.gov to read the full vision. For those of you here tonight, we’re passing it out for you to see.

To make this official, the people of Guam, through this Executive Order, are adopting this strategic vision with my signature tonight. (SIGN)

Thanks to the imagination of the hundreds who contributed, we now have the basis for a major planning effort that will transform this government and our community. Transform into what? This vision.

I announced at the end of the last convention that I was ordering the creation of the Guam Master Plan, to be based on this vision. The executive order I just signed also officially charters the Guam Master Plan under the direction of my office through the Bureau of Planning. All agencies and instrumentalities of the executive branch are now to coordinate all planning efforts with the Bureau. All existing master plans are being overlaid. And everything we do from here out must be done in open collaboration and coordination.

To build the Guam Master Plan, I have commissioned the creation of eight component plans. They are to be developed from the ground up – engaging the grassroots first. The eight components are
- The Guam Land Master Plan
- The Guam Capital Improvements Plan
- The Guam Tax Code Plan
- The Government of Guam Modernization Plan
- The Guam Social Stabilization Plan
- The Guam Workforce Rehabilitation Plan
- The Guam Career Paths Plan
- And the Guam Education Blueprint

In five years, we turned our island from an era of despair to a state of confidence. I know that we can figure out how – in 50 years - our grandchildren will be the healthiest and happiest in the world. The reason we’re doing all of this is more common sense than make-believe in CandyLand. If you’ve ever run a successful company, then you know how important strategic planning is. You know that it’s based on the values and vision of your organization. You know that its most important asset is its workforce. And you know exactly how to train your workforce to do the job that achieves your vision.

Imagine Guam is about building that workforce, so that it is our children who build and benefit from the industries of the future. It is a creation of the people of Guam, and not someone else’s design.

I know that we can do this. We can determine for ourselves the course we will take to achieve the dreams we set. In a sense, that truly is self determination.

But it is incomplete until we exercise our right of political self determination.

Are we ready to determine our future? Are we mature enough to decide for ourselves? It’s funny that no one asked us these questions when they took our determination from us.
- We survived a wave of disease, war, and genocide brought by the Spanish conquest. Of course we are ready!
- We adapted 300 years of cultural and political change, together with a Catholic heritage that runs through our veins. Of course we are ready!
- We sacrificed our identity throughout the 20th Century so that we could be patriotic Americans. We’ve paid our dues, and our time has come.

There’s this thinking among some that Guam is not ready. That we need a guiding hand because, all too often, we fail at what we’re supposed to do. Ask yourselves this, though. What was it that we failed to do? What rules did we fail to follow? And then ask yourselves, who made those rules?

I get it. I understand that we failed as a local government to do some important things in following federal laws. But could it at least have been a partnership for improvement and progress, rather than a parent slapping his child? Could there have been a conversation of two people at the table, instead of a command from the master to his subject? Better yet, could we at least have had a say in those federal laws – laws that we are paying for - with even one vote in Congress? And how about a check mark at the ballot box that counts to elect the President, who sends our sons and daughters to war?

These inalienable rights have been denied us. Yet, even if granted a voice in the U.S. political process, one inalienable right remains and blankets all others. Before you include us, can you ask us if that’s what we want? Because, it has been nearly 400 years since anyone asked us that. It’s been centuries since we had a choice.

Colonial sympathizers are now hopping off their seats to point out that we made a choice in 1949 when the elected Guam Congress petitioned President Truman and Congress for citizenship. Let me explain this for those of you who don’t know the history of these things.

Before the Organic Act, the Chamorro people did not have the freedom of speech or religion in three centuries. The supremacy of colonizers over what we could say and where we could say it was so great that the very language we spoke was forbidden and systematically brought to the brink of extinction. All it took was a paragraph on a piece of paper signed by a Naval captain, and his will be done. But these weren’t the only rights deprived from us. We neither had rights to privacy, trial by jury, property, education, nor the plenary power of local law established by a legislature of our election. We were subjects.

What the Guam Congress of 1949 petitioned the federal government for wasn’t a political status choice. It was recognition of our human rights and dignity, and the application of the law to protect our rights. For what is an island of people and no citizens? It is a colony of subjects.

President Truman, at the will of Congress, transformed us from a colony of subjects to a colony of citizens with human rights. The key part there is, ‘at the will of Congress.’ So, as things go in this world, we should be thankful that in 1949 Congress was populated by enough progressive thinkers, who determined that the Indios of its outlying possession deserved human rights. It was possible then, as it is possible now, that a majority of its members can press a button in the House and Senate chambers and take all our rights away. We are not citizens by virtue of the Constitution. We are citizens by virtue of a benevolent Congress. And what Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away. Some people want to build a wall to keep non-Americans out of the country. I’ve oftentimes wondered whether that wall already exists, and we’re the ones stranded outside the fort. What more if another wall goes up? Will we be considered Americans when we knock at the gate?

The progressive movement of 1949 was seven decades ago. We’ve since established local governance. We manage our finances far better than our federal parent. As measurements of maturity go, we care for one another, we carry the burdens of the downtrodden on our shoulders, we are masters of industries that sustain our economy and propel our workforce, and now, we are confident. Manelu’hu yan manaina’hu… man’mapos manaina’ta… ekunguk yu yan in komprendi este todu i Linala’ta… after almost 400 years, it is time we make a choice.

If we are committed to our self determination, then there’s no reason to wait for another election to pass. There are two triggers to conduct the political status plebiscite, according to Guam law. The first is that an education campaign should be conducted before the vote happens. But in order for the vote to be scheduled, the law says 70 percent of the native inhabitants eligible to vote must be registered to vote.

We can certainly conduct a massive registration drive, but it won’t matter. How do you determine 70 percent of the eligible voters if 100 percent of them aren’t already registered? There is no mathematical way of determining how many native inhabitants must register to vote to meet the 70 percent requirement.

If the Legislature would like to change this law, I welcome it. But this has been a known problem to all of us who served as senators. It is just too controversial an issue to touch. We have to get over that. We need to do what is right. It’s been 20 years!

As the Chairman of the Commission on Decolonization, I have ordered its staff and my office to design a massive education campaign. We will not create any content. We leave that to the academics at UOG, in partnership with the three status task forces. But we will do something that we do well: carry out a winning campaign. Our strategy starts with a major information campaign that helps people understand what self determination is, why it’s important, our history, and the facts and myths of the different status options.

If, by mid-July, indications are strong that voters will be ready to choose, I will ask the Commission on Decolonization to release equal portions of funds to the task forces. The task forces then will have a four-month period, with equal resources, to make their case. This is a realistic timetable for an education campaign. We just have to be committed to it.

As for the changes needed to law in order for the plebiscite to take place in the November General Election, I will not hold my breath. There’s an old saying that if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain. And go I shall.

Tomorrow morning, I, registered native inhabitant Eddie Calvo, will submit, a draft measure to petition for the referendum of the political status plebiscite. I have organized a campaign to secure the required signatures. I’m not changing any of the status options or even the wording and order of the plebiscite question and choices. A second question will appear below the status choices. It will ask the voter whether he or she was made a U.S. Citizen by virtue of the Organic Act of Guam, which is the definition of “Native Inhabitant.”

We will aggressively seek the required number of signatures, making this a grassroots decolonization effort. If, by mid-July, we determine that the education campaign is succeeding, I will file the petitions, and we will vote – FINALLY – on our political status.

Some may fear this issue or feel removed from it. Look at me, and look at my name. I am the great grandson of an Scotch-Irish-American named John Francis McDonald. The Calvo name? It came from my great great great grandfather, Felix Calvo, a Spanish officer in Manila, whose Philippine-born son married a Chamorrita. Baza didn’t come from the Chamorro language either. I am proud of my heritage as a Filipino, a Spaniard, and an American. I do love America, very much.

But I’m also the descendent of Hurao. His words here, spoken in this city to Chamorro warriors who did not submit to their colonizers, reverberate through my heart. While we all claim pride in heritages and cultures throughout the world, we all owe our lives in paradise to the Lord and to the ancestors of this land. Self determination isn’t about loving or hating the United States. It’s about our right to be part of something, or to be on our own. It’s a choice that was taken from us with the blood of this great man and all those who died so that we could choose. This unfinished business looms upon our heritage. It is our legacy.

The burden of this duty looms heavily on my conscience. I would like to recognize that there are many leaders, past and present, who have taken this mantle. Besides our former governors, the late Speaker Ben Pangelinan – for all that we disagreed on – I bow my head in prayer and reverence for his leadership on this issue. It is something that Speaker Won Pat and Sen. Respicio have been lobbying me to focus on.

But I came to this idea after I had a meeting with Victoria Leon Guerrero, Melvin Won Pat Borja, and Moneka De Oro. They were upset with me a few months ago because of my statements in support of the military buildup. Their point was that if we, as an island community, were to embrace the buildup of a sovereign power in our land, should we not – at the least – determine that this was by the consent of the governed? Should we not at least self-determine how this should move forward in the context of a political status?

Here’s the part that weighs on me, and I’ll never forget it. They said, “You are our Maga’Lahi. You are the one we look to first, who should be standing at the front of this.”

They are right. I’m not simply the governor of Guam. I am the descendent of Hurao – I am the Maga’Lahi. And while my duty is to the administration of government, my allegiance belongs to Guam and the inalienable rights of her people.

What I’m saying, my dear people, is that, I love America, lao hu guiaya Guahan mas.

Si Yu’os ma’ase yan Hita I man taotao tano!

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