My two PDN columns on the need to protect language learning at UOG. If you aren't familiar with the issue, please head to this website UOG Language Drive, to learn more and sign the petition. If we combine both online and paper signatures, we have collected over 1500 and are still working on getting more!


Protect Language Learning at UOG
Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Pacific Daily News 
December 30, 2016

At present at the University of Guam, each undergraduate student is required to take two language classes (eight credits total) as part of their General Education or GE requirements. UOG offers courses regularly for Chamorro, Japanese, Tagalong, Spanish, Mandarin, French and can also offer courses in Chuukese and other Micronesian languages upon request. UOG is also home to the Chamorro Studies Program, of which I am a faculty member and this program is unique in the world in terms of focusing its courses on the history, language and culture of the Chamorro people. UOG serves and is supported by a diverse community in this region and the many language courses that are offered illustrate that.

The University of Guam is currently planning on reducing the language requirement so that in the future students will only be required to take one language course, or a single semester in order to graduate. With this change, individual major programs may require a second semester or more for their own requirements, but overall this would still impact negatively language learning at UOG. To cut the requirements in half, would mean losing a number of language courses every semester, which would mean less money to support teachers of Chamorro, Japanese and other regional languages. The loss of these classes would also mean that programs such as mine which are language focused, would have limited ability to expand or grow, since institutional support at UOG is largely dependent upon the amount of courses you offer.

In college, much of your focus is on your major courses because they are meant to reflect your chosen path in life. But as many who have attended college will tell you, your GE courses are usually the sources of your most unexpected epiphanies. In college your major is usually where you are meant to derive your most important skills or lessons. GE classes are supposed to be dreary dreaded experiences, where you are forced to take courses not because of what interests you, but because of some academic consensus about what all students should at least be familiar with before moving to the next stage of their lives.

But those GE classes are often the places where we learn some of the most important and surprising lessons, because they educate or enlighten us from outside of the comfortable confines of our discipline or profession. Your major courses often reduce the world to a basic set of theories or ideas, which in truth really apply to only a portion of what you will encounter in your work or life. Your GE classes represent a sometimes frustrating, sometimes enriching reminder that there are far more things in heaven in earth than in your degree requirements young undergraduate. This idea might be truest in terms of language learning. In my column next week I will discuss more about the ways in which learning a new language, or for many students learning your heritage language, can represent a defining moment in terms of development and eventual identity as a person.

For today, myself and several other faculty at UOG are currently holding a “Protect Language Learning at UOG” petition drive in hopes of convincing the administration at UOG to not reduce the amount of language classes required for undergraduates. If you would like to sign the petition or learn more about this issue, please head to the website


Language Courses are Important
Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Pacific Daily News
January 6, 2017

Last week I wrote about current proposals at the University of Guam to reduce the General Education (GE) requirements for language learning from a full year of course work (8 credits) to just a single semester (4 credits). I am part of a group of UOG faculty members and concerned community members who feel that this will be detrimental to the learning of UOG students and also does not reflect the realities of our region. We have a website and a petition which we are encouraging people to sign in order to convince the administration at UOG to reverse this course and protect language learning at UOG.

In my classes at UOG, I generally cite our president, Robert Underwood when describing the value of education, namely that it is not about memorizing facts or figures, but rather giving students a set of intellectual tools to help them confront the diversity of challenges they will face, from a position of strength. This means, that through their General Education and major courses, you cannot teach them everything or prepare them for everything, but the courses you require them to take will help them confront difficulties in their personal and professional lives with a greater sense of purpose and possibility.

Major courses are meant to prepare someone for different professional paths, but GE courses represent a deeper foundation. Each college’s GE curriculum is a mixture of established international or national norms developed over centuries and also a particular institution’s relationship to the communities or the regions around it. A GE curriculum cannot represent everything under the sun, but the local components tend to reflect certain key relationships, most notably through history, language and culture courses.

In May 2015 I helped organize a forum at UOG focused on the importance of learning second languages in today’s world. The event was attended by more than 200 community members and undergraduates. We passed out surveys and 185 out of 186 respondents expressed their support for keeping the existing language learning requirements at UOG. At that forum Dr. Laura Souder Betances, a noted Chamorro activist, scholar and educational consultant made several statements which have stuck with me today. Here is one I find particularly relevant for this discussion. 

Universities exist to universalize students.  And how do we universalize students?  We universalize them by providing them with different universes in which to learn, to make decisions, and to operate, and to be successful. If we’re going to operate and be successful in the global reality, we need to know more than one language.  Fortunately, many – most – of us are bilingual.  But we need to know many languages, because in order to be successful, you have to negotiate in many parts of the world.  In order to have an economic future, we need to be able to speak the languages of the people that we are trading with. Diminishing the capacity of students to learn more than one language…is diminishing the capacities of universities to fully function as universalizing places for students.

My argument is that Guam is a multicultural and multilingual community whereby languages in addition to English are essential in not just how we communicate with those in our region, but also communicate our respect for what they provide to the university, whether through taxes, student tuition or community involvement. The reduction of the language requirement in the GE curriculum means a weakening of that potential connection, which is strongly symbiotic. As communities around Guam want to see their cultures and languages reflected at UOG, so too should students benefit from the learning of languages in order to better interact with those groups or even feeling stronger connected to their own cultures through beginners courses in their heritage languages.

For me, this is something fiercely personal. When I attended the UOG as an undergraduate, I did not speak much Chamorro or care much about my culture. I took Chamorro to fulfill my language requirements and didn't think much of it at the time. But taking those courses and learning the basics of my heritage language changed me in so many ways and reshaped my consciousness. It pushed me to become fluent and to become more connected to my culture and my elders. Not all students will have that same transformative experience, but in my opinion, it is important that we use the General Education curriculum at UOG to give students from all ethnicities on Guam that chance to explore both new and familiar universes.

Repost: @minagahet

Håfa na Klasen Liberation?: The True Meaning of Liberation

 It is so intriguing the way in which local media covers Liberation Day in Guam, the holiday meant to commemorate the American re-taking of the island from Japanese forces during World War II. Objectively, the American reoccupying of the island in 1944 was not a liberation, at least not in most senses of the word. It's level of "liberation" depends largely on whether or not you exclude the Chamorros, the indigenous people of Guam, who have called this island home for possible thousands of years. 

It is very bewildering how we predicate the idea of Liberation Day being a liberation on the experiences of the Chamorro people, because so many of them express it as being a liberation, but calling it a liberation requires suspending their human rights and reducing their to a mere colonial effect of the United States. 

You can refer to July 21st as a liberation from Japanese occupation, as a liberation of US territory from foreign clutches. Even if Chamorros themselves may call it a liberation, because of the joy and relief they felt by having the Japanese and the myriad of daily horrors they represented gone from their lives. But how can it be a liberation in an full formed or true sense if it meant a return to colonial control? If the Chamorro people were liberated from one master and then returned to the control of another? 

If you don't believe me and think I am just an ungrateful young person who didn't experience the horrors of Japanese occupation and don't understand why we must refer to it as a liberation, don't take my word for it. Take the words of one of the US soldiers who did the liberating, who hits the beaches and expelled the Japanese and partially freed the Chamorro people. Here are the words of Darrell Doss in 2003:
"Fifty-nine years ago, on July 21, 1944, I and more than 57,000 Marines, soldiers and sailors came ashore on the beaches of Asan and Agat, and were honored to be referred to as 'liberators.' But in the end, we failed to accomplish what we had come to do -- liberate you. More correctly, our government failed both of us by not granting the people of Guam full citizenship. Another injustice is not allowing Guam to have equal say, as we in the states do, in governing your island home. Please remember, we men who landed on your shores July 21, 1944, shall never be fully satisfied until you are fully liberated."

That is why it is so interesting when the media attempts to grapple or explore what the true meaning of the day is. Patriotism is constantly mentioned as being what the root of the event is meant to be. Patriotism to the United States and gratitude for what they did in freeing us from Japanese oppression. The problem though, as we look to the future and look to our postwar history, is that this traps us in a particular subservient relationship to the United States, and becomes a way of enthusiastically and patriotically explaining away our colonial present. The most common way in which patriotism or our potential attachment to the United States is articulated is not critical, does not move us forward, but pushes us to accept what we currently have, and that we should appreciate everything Uncle Sam is kind and generous enough to gift us.

Instead, we should re-imagine Liberation Day in a way that benefits us, provides the lessons for us looking to the future. Gratitude to the United States can be a part of this, but not patriotism to a country which is our colonizer and our most formal and fundamental connection is that they own our island and our rights. We can commemorate this event as it is so important in our recent history, but we should organize it in such a way that it pushes us forward, towards true liberation, self-determination or decolonization.

Malessu' vs. Malesso'


This is part of the U-vs-O debate.

Chamoru? Or Chamorro?

Guåhu? Or guåho?

Since Chamorros are (in the main) used to writing in Chamorro, no system is going to be easily accepted by the great majority of people. An official orthography exists, but the majority of people writing Chamorro do not access it. Many who do have disagreements with the official orthography.

Of the small number of people who write in Chamorro (compared to the vast number of people who hardly ever write in Chamorro), many will write it as they hear it.

And the fact is that some Chamorros favor the U sound when they speak. Listen to them. 

But a good number of other people, especially the older ones, favor the O sound when they speak. Listen to them.

I'm in favor of allowing people to spell it as they speak it, for the time being, because I don't think we have arrived yet at a commonly accepted orthography. We have an official one. But not a commonly accepted one yet.

But there is a bigger difference between a U and an A, compared to a U and an O.

Malessu'/Malesso' has a minor difference between them, in my opinion, compared to kampanåyu and kampanåya.

Call a guy fulånu is the same as calling him fulåno.

But call him fulåna and there may be trouble.


KAMPANÅYU? KAMPANÅYA?...That is the question.


 Now how does one say "bell tower" in Chamorro?If you go down to Malesso' and look for the signs at the bell tower, you will become very confused. You will see it called Kampanåyu, with a U.

And you will also see it spelled Kampanåya, with an A.

Even the village name gets spelled two different ways. With an ending U, or with an ending O.

So which is it?

Well, the word is borrowed from Spanish and the Spanish word for bell tower is
campanario. The word for "bell" itself is campana, which we also borrowed in Chamorro - kampåna.

Since the Spanish word
campanario involved the Western Y sound in the last two syllables - RIO - the Chamorro is going to have difficulties with that since we don't have that Western Y sound. We change it to our own DZ sound represented by the Western Y letter. Thus, Yigo and Yoña are pronounced Dzigo and Dzoña.

The Wonderful & Informative post by: @paleric

Fest Pac, Guam: A Voyagers Welcoming

An  assemblage of photos taken on the Sakman Fanhigayan.

Navigators from across the Pacific disembark upon Guam's shores to celebrate and share culture and arts for the Festival of the Pacific Arts. 


Photo Credit: Che'lu Noly

Ginen i mås Takhalom

Ginen i Mas Takhalom

Last week Saturday  was a Great Celebration of Chamorro Arts and Culture.

A gallery of work presented by some of Guam's most gifted artisans. The Barcinas sisters (Lia, Rita & Arisa), Dr. Patricia Taimanglo & Philip Sablan (Taotaomo'na Tatu')

Hosted by the Hotel Outrigger, Guam

Photo Credit: Lia Barcinas, 
Amber Word, 
DonaMila Taitano 
Dave Sablan (taotaomona tatu') on FB

Mamfok Guahan

The Art of Weaving = Mamfok

A sneak peek of the intricate items that will be displayed for Fest Pac 2016

The Gifted work of si Sinot Joe "Dagu" Babauta