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.

Repost: @paleric.com

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

Bridge to Bridge

Right of Way

San Antonio Bridge (Tollai Åcho)

We have very few left on the island, but the bridges of Guam built during Spanish times were made for their times, meaning, they were very narrow.

Traffic was light to begin with and the only vehicles were bull (or karabao) carts. A few elite people, like military officers, might ride a horse.

So when motor cars made their appearance on Guam in the early 1900s, there was trouble when two cars going opposite directions wanted to use the same narrow bridge at the same time.

A rule was agreed on : cars heading towards the center of Hagåtña had the right of way.

Cars leaving the center of Hagåtña had to move to the side and give way to the other one.

Man's laws are never perfect. The question remains : When inside Hagåtña, and two cars want to use the same bridge, like the one above, who goes first?

When in Malesso...
The unwritten Law in Malesso states that, Who ever approaches the bridge first has the right of way :)

Blog Post from @paleric