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Friday, December 24, 2010

Life in Wonderland: Heartbroken

I made the mistake of reading the local paper's online edition today.  I should have known better.  After reading the comments from the first article I clicked on, I found myself sad, frustrated, and disgusted.

War reparations removed: Senate takes out measure for war survivors


Just 24 hours after being told she and other survivors of the Japanese occupation of Guam may finally receive war reparations, Rita Santos Cruz had to be informed that the war reparations provision had been rejected by U.S. senators.
To be honest with you, then if that is the case, then no buildup. Forget it," said the 73-year-old war survivor. "You know, the leaders of Guam better wake up, because we, the manamko', are not kidding them."
Language in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011, passed by the House of Representatives last week, provided $100 million for Guam war reparations. The reparations plan provided $10,000 to $25,000 for victims of the occupation or the living relatives of those killed during the war, who could submit claims until 2016.
Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo had expressed optimism that the provision finally would be accepted when the Senate worked on a compromise defense authorization bill. But yesterday, Michigan Sen. Carl Levin announced that the language providing for the claims had been rejected by the Senate, according to Bordallo's office.
"I am extremely disappointed in the decision by Senate leaders to remove Guam War Claims from the compromise defense authorization bill," Bordallo said in a statement. "I will be meeting with House and Senate leaders tomorrow to discuss the way forward for this important legislation."
The Senate is currently considering an amended version of the defense authorization bill passed by the House of Representatives.
According to Bordallo's office, the Senate can pass the defense authorization bill only by unanimous consent. Because Senate leaders knew that several senators continued to object to the war claims language in the defense authorization bill, they made the decision to amend the bill and pass it without war claims.
As of yesterday afternoon, the bill had not been passed by unanimous consent in the Senate.
For advocates of war reparations on Guam, the decision is a blow to a decades-long fight to receive recognition and compensation for the suffering of those who survived the Japanese occupation.
"How many times do we have to go through this? How many more years? What is it going to take?" asked Sen. Frank Blas Jr. yesterday. "Are our people worth it?
The president of the Guam War Survivors Memorial Foundation, Blas has been pushing for the reparations through a traveling exhibit sharing the stories of survivors, as well as through a newly launched website,
"Obviously I'm disappointed," Blas said. "Greatly disappointed in the decision to remove what was supposed to be a compromise."
He said he was disappointed with the Democratic leadership in Washington, as well as with Bordallo's efforts.
He said even if Guam received funding from the federal government to support the buildup, it wouldn't compensate for the lack of funds for war survivors.
"In lieu of this, Guam is going to be receiving so many billions of dollars in construction money? Tell that to an 85-year-old war survivor who's not going to be around," said Blas.
Cruz, who was just 7 years old when the first bombs fell, said she watched Japanese soldiers brutally beat her pregnant mother during the occupation. Even though she was a little girl, the soldiers forced her to work.
She said that after years of pushing for reparations from the U.S. government, she was so frustrated she would even consider legal action to get reparations for the island's aging survivors.
"I'm getting pissed off already, because they are treating us like toys," she said.

Some of the comments:

chinpoko wrote:

Shouldn't we be getting war reparations from Japan? I mean they are the ones who committed the atrocities, not the U.S. Why does the U.S. have to pay for the crimes of the Japanese?
 I thought this way too, until one day I asked my dad this question.  He explained to me that our right to                     ask Japan for reparations was given away, not by us but by the U.S.  Japan was forgiven by the U.S. and we didn't have a say in it.

fiestaman wrote:

One would think that Guam would say to the USA:

THANK YOU FOR COMING TO OUR AID IN TIME OF NEED AND MAKING US A PART OF YOUR COUNTRY. (Thank you for ditching us and coming back after realizing you want need our land.  Thank you for bombing the crap out of our island without regard to the people who were loyal to your country even when they weren't citizens.  They didn't need homes after the war, since they had the U.S. flag to keep them warm and dry.)

THANK YOU FOR PROVIDING EVERY FAMILY ON GUAM EVERYTHING THEY NEEDED TO MAKE SOMETHING OF THEMSELVES.  (Thank you for taking our land and making us dependent on your "handouts."  Our island once provided every family on Guam everything they needed to make something of themselves and now every family relies on scraps from the U.S.)


THANK YOU FOR LIBERATING GUAM FROM JAPANESE OCCUPATION AND FROM THEIR TORTURE. (Thank you for reoccupying our island on a greater scale than before the Japanese occupation.  Thank you for being a gentler occupier.)


THANK YOU FOR PROTECTING US FROM OTHER COUNTRIES THAT MIGHT WANT TO DO GUAM HARM. (Thank you for using our land to protect other countries.  Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to protect the rights and lives of real American citizens while Chamorro soldiers' families living on Guam are second class citizens made to feel like they owe their lives to the red, white, and blue.)


In other words, there is NO NEED for war reparations, because the USA has done this island RIGHT and CONTINUES TO DO SO. (Ignorance is bliss. If only were all so lucky, we'd all be fanatically patriotic.)


 I guess fiestaman is not from here! If that's what he thinks,then one would be "WRONG" ! The U.S. forgave Japan of their war crimes against the people of Guam & beause of that Japan is not liable for what they done to the people here during that time. We do Thank & Appreciate the U.S. for Coming to our aid, but they got what they came for & then some "PROPERTY"! The Chamorro people has lost in every way anyone can ever "LOSE"! I say,let them take back what they think their giving us,& give us back our "ISLAND"!

 albertfujmori2 wrote:

 guam generates its revenue from payments from the military is way to low.the kind of activites the united states conducts in this area,the local government should be collecting a couple billion annually for the privilge.(!!!) no sucessful organization would agree to the terms put forth by the united states.

Your being grossly underserved by the congressional representative and the rest of the local governments heiarchy.

the united states is in decline anyway,the asians will replace them as the dominate force in the world.perhaps its time to forming alliances with nations in the neighborhood like china,russia and the middle east. since albert enjoys the american holiday christmas,a gift for the PDN comment section.

We deserve more from respect from the U.S. and from our own people. This Christmas I want Santa to bring us an island wide education campaign on our island's history and political status.  Then maybe next Christmas he can take that campaign to D.C.

To read the article and more of the comments go to:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Life in Wonderland: Support small businesses!

This holiday season I want to try to support small businesses in my community.  Last night I went walking with a couple of friends and we stopped in to a little store.  Trick Stop is a small business in Tumon that sells all kinds of magic tricks and novelty gifts.

I want to make more of these little videos to share on my blog and Facebook to help our small businesses.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Viewed in Wonderland: One of the many reasons why Pagat is so important.

This was filmed at one of We are Guahan's Heritage Hikes.  I couldn't make it to the hike because I had to work.  I'm glad this footage was shared though.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Viewed in Wonderland: The past is coming soon! Must See and must share!

I was really excited this morning when I logged on to You Tube. This clip is from a film that a friend is directing and producing.  It's a look back at our past and I think it is an amazing and important piece of work.  It uses local talent for the acting, filming, music, and even props and costumes.  I'm really excited to share it with you all.

If you watch it in full screen you'll be able to see the subtitles better.

Did you see the credits?  Both my brother and my boyfriend were in the film, but not in this scene.  And you probably didn't notice the Spaniard's costume much, but I sewed the burlap tunic and the pants.  :D

Thursday, October 21, 2010

life in Wonderland

I haven't been super happy lately.  I have a lot that I want to blog about, but I've been distracting myself with lighter thoughts.  These thoughts come mostly in the form of shows on Hulu and random vids on You Tube.  What would I do with out those sites?  I'd probably be more productive.  I guess I just need to find a balance.  I'm not sure if that is actually possible.  I am a text book Gemini after all.

Oh well, with in the next few days I should be posting video and pictures of the Micronesian Islands Fair.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Life in Wonderland: wondering

I read an article, in the PDN, yesterday about the Independence Day celebration for Palau.  The President of Palau was on island for the local Palauan community's celebration.  He mentioned in the article that their sovereignty has allowed them the freedom "to adapt and enforce policies without a higher authority."  That sounds nice.  I wonder if the Palauan community, as well as the other peoples of other sovereign nations who have made Guam home, would support the Chamorro's quest for self determination.

Nations like Palau and the Philippines were once war prizes just like Guam, but now they are their own.  They reclaimed their sovereignty and dignity.  I wonder if they would stand in support of our decolonization if we asked it of them.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Community in Wonderland: rallying to realize our destiny

On October first, over 500 people got together at Adelup.  Rallies on our island are often associated with political parties.  This was different.  This was about coming together to say, the U.S. Department of Defense's record of decision will not determine our destiny.  They refused to hear us out.  They won't give us a voice in our own future?  Well this is our home.  And we are not going anywhere.  We will do everything in our power to make sure that the destiny we envision for our island will be realized. 

Our local media was present, but as usual they turned the story in to something else.  They made it seem like we are all completely anti military and want them all gone.  They took something that was beautiful and put it under dim lights with their biased reporting.  They helped to feed the fire in the nasty hearted people who comment on their articles.  I try not to care what they say anymore.

But the truth is that the rally was a positive event.  It gave people a place to share their dreams for our island.  It gave us a place to let out our frustrations about our DEIS/EIS comments being replied to with generic responses.  It was a place where generations of our people could share stories and laughter and hugs.  It was also about spreading awareness to those who wanted to know more about what is going on and the impacts the build up will have on us.  It was about giving the side of the story that our media often spins until it is unrecognizable.

Here are my highlights of the rally:
  • There were so many families in attendance.  Many of them were young families who want to know that their children's future will not be narrated from the pages of the EIS.  I heard a young mother talking to her daughter in Chamorro and another mother making sure her two young sons understand why they were there.
  • There were many students at the rally.  They were having conversations about their concerns regarding the build up.  They weren't just whining.  They were making very legitimate points.  I think it is great that they are conscious of what is happening around them, but at the same time I'm worried that we may have to do more to help these young adults cope with this. 
  • There was a table where you could sign up with the Chamorro Registry.  This is awesome!!  So many people may want to do this, but don't know where to go and what is required.  
  • There was a table where people could create their own signs.  This is a great outlet for our frustrations.
  • There were fact sheets and fliers for upcoming events.

Community in Wonderland: Behind the scenes - the art from Realize Our Destiny

I put together this video using the pictures I took at our late night art sessions.

:(  I just realized that I misspelled organized in the credits. Oh well.  I'll fix it in the morning.  It's 3 a.m. here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Life in Wonderland: It is worth it!

I've never had to be more careful with my choice of words. I've hand written pages of blogs and started to comment on Facebook statuses only to not publish them because I don't want to unintentionally hurt anyone.  I look forward to those events where I feel like I can breathe with out something jumping out of my mouth that may sting someone I barely know or even worse, someone I care deeply for.

Sometimes when I talk to people about events relating to the build up I get responses like, "that sounds depressing."  Maybe it does sound depressing, but honestly I haven't felt depressed at any of these events.  Even when there are few people in attendance, I leave feeling better than I did reading the headlines the day before.

While the circumstance that is bringing us together may seem cruel and disheartening, the fact that we are gathering against it is empowering. What would be truly depressing is if no one cared.  If no one felt it was worth the discomfort and struggle that would be depressing.

In the beginning I thought about if it would be easier to go on like nothing was happening.  Sometimes I do step back and spend a few days away from articles and conversations regarding the build up, but it still looms over me like this shadow I can't out run.  I realized I want to be a part of the shadow over the build up and the best way to do that is to stay informed and active.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Life in Wonderland: Come together

When I start to feel sad or scared about the future of our island I like to watch videos posted on You Tube of our community coming together.  It always makes me feel better.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Life in Wonderland: energy crisis

I've been absent from my blog for some time now.  I've been busy with work and I just got over a cold.  I'm also running out of things to say at the moment.  I'm feeling a little numb to all that is happening around me.  It feels kind of like while we're all stuck in this crazy traffic that big fish is circling our island. It's getting ready to take out some more big chunks of land and displace families.

I'm trying to process everything and figure out the best way to spend my energy with out getting burnt out.

I'd really like to become more educated on my island's history prior to colonization. I'd like to learn more of the language.  I want to spend more time appreciating the beauty of our island and maybe that will replenish my passion.

This evening Allan and I attended a public hearing on a local legislative resolution in support of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People.  We were late, but managed to make it in when the last panel of speakers started.   I'm glad we did.  I enjoyed hearing the testimonies and we were able to get a copy of the resolution.    We also got to hang out with some friends afterwards.  It was a positive evening and I'm hoping to spend the rest of the week enjoying more positive moments.

In light of my whole energy budgeting and positivity trip I'd like to spend the month September sharing positive energy experiences with my blog readers.  So expect happy stories from my childhood and lots of pictures of my island home.  I'm hoping to have a beach day and maybe even go on a hike.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Community in Wonderland: Getting more involved and making friends

I took this picture at the Agat Night Market.  I was there on Tuesday passing out fliers for the community action We Are Guahan is organizing for tomorrow.  I had a lot of fun doing the outreach.  My friend Colleen and I made 2 new friends. Erica and Tina actually live in California, but came out here to help for a bit.  Isn't that amazing?  Aside from making new friends we were at such a beautiful location.  Just look at those flowers and that sky.  We were right by the ocean too and got to watch the sunset.  Colleen and I were a little nervous at first about talking to strangers about such a touchy subject, but once we got started it was easy. Some people were really in to it.  One family was asking questions and sharing information with us. They even let us leave some fliers with them.  Some people were polite, but just not that interested. One family just said no when we offered them a flier.  But most people at least pretended to be interested.

Last night was another good night.  Another Guahan blogger, Desiree, from The Drowning Mermaid, hosted a sign making party.  I got off at 7 and Colleen and I headed over there shortly after.  I had a lot of fun.  It's nice being in a fun environment, but still at the same time getting work done.  Kisha, another new friend, and I made latte stone signs as we talked about the history of colonialism in the Pacific and it's impacts to the health of islanders.  When Colleen and I left around 10 the other girls were still working hard.  I can't wait to post pictures of the signs that were made.

As emotional and busy as this week was, it was worth it.  I hope a lot of people show up tomorrow, but either way I already feel better about the future of our island.  Just knowing and physically feeling that I'm not alone, in the emotions and frustrations and dreams that I have in dealing with the build up and all the other issues of my home, give me hope.  So to all my sisters, in this struggle, whether I met you years ago or just this week, I'd like to say thank you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Community in Wonderland: Shared info

This is from a link that was shared on Facebook. This is absolutely disgusting.  The military occupies 31.14% of Guam, an unincorporated territory.  The state that comes closest to us is California and the military only occupies 3.83% of the state.

Percent of Land Occupied by the U.S. Military on Guam is Much Higher than Elsewhere in the U.S. | Agriculture and Natural Resources Program

Percent of Land Occupied by the U.S. Military on Guam is Much Higher than Elsewhere in the U.S.

Everyone on Guam knows that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) occupies about one-third of the island and DoD is demanding additional land in the Pagat area on which to build a new firing range.
After yesterday's public meeting on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Guam military buildup, I was asked how the military footprint on Guam compares to that for other places, such as Hawaii. As you can see from the following table, the proportion of land occupied by the military on Guam is much higher than elsewhere in the U.S.
State or TerritoryTotal Area (sq. miles)Area Occupied by DoD (sq. miles)Proportion of Total Area Occupied by DoD
Northern Mariana Islands18424.5913.35%
Puerto Rico3,51541.351.18%
Rhode Island1,2144.720.39%
American Samoa770.170.22%
Data Sources

Community in Wonderland: Some appreciated help for Pagat

Law firm to review final EIS, protect Pagat area | | Pacific Daily News

Local and national historic preservation groups have retained the services of a mainland law firm to ensure the military follows the required environmental process if it creates a new firing range in the Pågat area of Mangilao.

The Guam Preservation Trust and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have retained the law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, according to a written statement from the Guam trust.
The military plans to build a firing range close to the Pågat area, which contains the remnants of an ancient Chamorro village and a cave filled with fresh water. The military has stated the area won't be damaged by gunfire and the public will not lose access to the cave completely.
The Guam Preservation Trust is a nonprofit Guam public corporation with the goal of preserving Guam's culture and historic sites. The National Trust, which was created by Congress, earlier this year placed Pågat village on its annual list of the nation's 11 most endangered places.
Joe Quinata, chief program officer for the Guam Preservation Trust, yesterday said the law firm, which is working for free, is very experienced in the National Environmental Policy Act process and will review the final environmental impact statement for the Guam buildup, which is scheduled to be made public later this week, although the military has said the plans for the firing range remain unchanged.
The federal environmental law requires the federal government to take into account the environmental impact of its proposed actions and to consider reasonable alternatives to those actions.
There will be legal action if necessary, Quinata said.
Quinata said the law firm's involvement is being announced, in part, to let the community know "there is still some hope" for preservation of the Pågat site.
More details about the law firm and its role are scheduled to be discussed during a press conference 11 a.m. today at the governor's complex at Adelup.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Community in Wonderland: More on the Pagat rally

According to the email I received from We Are Guahan, there was over 300 people at Pagat last Friday.  For  a usually complacent community that is a good turn out for a protest.  Considering it was a week day and it was also extremely hot, I wasn't expecting there to be that many people. I was a little worried that not enough people would show up.  Thankfully I was wrong.  This sends a great message to the visiting officials, our leaders, and the rest of our community.  I was really glad that I was able to attend.  This is history in the making and thankfully we had some documentary film makers at the event.

Speaking of film, here are some videos I found on You Tube.

We Are Guahan did a great job organizing the event.  They had volunteers shuttle people from the parking area at the Guam Raceway Park to the trail head through out the event.  They had ice cold water being handed out by volunteers.  They led chants that even I was yelling along to.  I don't usually raise my voice for any reason, but it felt good.  It released a lot of frustration in a healthy way.

And the police did a great job too. You'd think they would be intimidating during a protest, but they just made sure that everything was safe.  We were lining a road during a busy time and they made sue the motorists slowed down when approaching the area.  Someone actually sped through and was stopped by the cops.

As great as the community action event turned out to be, I'm sure there is more work to be done.  I think one of the most important things is awareness and commitment.  We need to make as many people as possible aware of what is happening on Guam. They need to know that the people of Guahan are still being treated like second class citizens by the U.S., a country that has become the world police.  Who will police them???  And we need to be committed to spreading awareness and not letting them push us around anymore.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Community in Wonderland: Biba Pagat!

I'm so exhausted.  I had to work at 7 a.m. this morning and shortly after getting off I went with my parents to Pagat.  The sun was blazing, but it was the intensity of the situation that really set us on fire.  How did we allow it to get this far?  What kind of world are we living in where the beacon of democracy is about to take one of the nation's 11 most endangered historical sites and use it as a firing range?  This is so unthinkable, I can't even believe that we have to protest to protect Pagat.

Here is some media coverage on it:

I'm off to get some rest. I have to work at 7 again tomorrow.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to put down in words what I'm feeling and also more details and links about the community action that took place today.

Before I forget, thank you!  Thank you to everyone who made it out and thank you to those who couldn't, but still have Pagat in their hearts and thoughts.  And a big thank you to all the volunteers and the police officers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Community in Wonderland: Liberate Pagat!

Today is the day we celebrate Guam's liberation from the Japanese.  As a child, my grandmother would have our mothers get all of us together.  We'd go to the parade and watch as all the amazing floats rolled by.  The floats are always really amazing. It was so much fun for us kids, but for my Grandma it was deeper than just candy, music, and floats.  When she was our age they weren't marching in parades.  The marching they did was different.  My grandma is gone now, but I still respect today as her day.  I see today more as a memorial day for those who lived through and those who lost their lives, during the occupation and ending it.

Instead of going to the parade or even watching it on t.v., I decided to stay home and make posters for the rally on Friday.  We will be lining route 15 to show the military officials and the CEQ that we care about Pagat.  And really, it isn't just the ancient village that is being affected.  There are families who will be asked to give up their land.  The Raceway Park, that has helped to keep our roads safe from illegal drag racing, will have to relocate.  How long will it take for them to rebuild?  There is also an endangered species of Butterflies, the Marianas 8 Spot Butterfly, that calls Pagat home.  And then there is the noise pollution and environmental problems that the firing range can cause.  Not to mention, the military already has 1/3 of the island.  What will be left for us when they're done?  Will they ever be done?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Community in Wonderland: climate change and the military build up

Last night Nella and I watched The Age of Stupid.  And it made me think that climate change is like the military build up on Guam.  Just because you think it is inevitable doesn't mean you shouldn't do what you can to make things better.  We should at least try to make our island, and the world, as pleasant as possible for future generations.  It's almost selfish not to try.

"Won't be asked to do my share when I'm gone ... Can't be singing louder than the guns when I'm gone ... Can't add my name into the fight while I'm gone ... Can't live proud enough to die when I'm gone - So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here"  -Phil Ochs

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Community in Wonderland: Update on the briefing

I'm using the Blog This! feature to share this article. 

Briefings held on USMC's training/firing ranges -
Guam - With the release of the final environmental impact statement just around the corner, it seems there's still some confusion as to where the military plans to construct a firing range to accommodate the Marines' training. During a teleconference lawmakers as well as others in the community voiced their concerns, as they feel that they might not have a say when the military does decide just where that site might be.
There were two meetings held today for elected leaders and stakeholders to learn more about what went into deciding the preferred training ranges needed for the Marines. The first was held at one am this morning via teleconference; while the other was held just before lunch time via videoconference between the Joint Guam Program Office and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
The event was facilitated by Guam Congressional Delegate Madeline Bordallo's office, but we were denied access.
Although we were turned away, KUAM News was able to sit-in on the teleconference held at 1am Tuesday this where senators gathered to listen to a presentation made an ocean away in the nation's capitol. The purpose of the teleconference was to allow the JGPO and the U.S. Marines Corps the opportunity to present to the CEQ how they went about selecting the proposed sites and preferred alternatives for the firing and training ranges needed for the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
JGPO Executive Director David Bice said that the process in selecting property for a Marine firing range came under the direct guidance of the Department of Defense to maximize federal property on Guam, as well as consider the safety of those using the range along with the surrounding community. Bice says JGPO ruled out a number of proposed sites due to the size, including Navy Barrigada, Apra Heights, Drydock Island, Mt. Santa Rosa, Naval Hospital, and Potts Junction. Other areas ruled out due to incompatibility for surrounding areas include Andersen Air Force Base, Northwest Field, Andersen South, Tarague Beach, Orote Point, and Naval Magazine.
We Are Guahan representative Leevin Camacho was at briefing at the delegate's office this morning, and said, "One of the reasons why they got rid of the other options is because of anticipated public concern, we're all here and Pagat has been such a tough issue because the public is concerned." And Pagat was the biggest part of the discussion, as the military has deemed the preferred site a good location for Marine training.
Marine Corps Head of Range Development Tom Shear explained the types of ammunition the Corps will be using, which includes several training rounds that emit an orange powder in an effort to prevent any fire hazards. He adds that there will be no damage to the lusongs or lattes on the historic site if it is selected.
Lawmakers raised several concerns about the use of the Pagat land and questioned why Resolution 275 that states no action on Pagat be taken seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
"It's a dog and pony show for me," summarized speaker of the 30th Guam Legislature Judi Won Pat. "They gave us papers to follow through but no matter what we said if this was the preferred site, why don't they just come right out and say this is it, stop dragging us through all this and say it's notional, tell us and stop it right now and let's start talking then."
Said Shear in response, "If it wasn't made clear earlier we were trying to make it clear that the no action alternative or not using these training ranges is one of the options at the end of the day, when the decision has to be made in the record of decision that will follow the final environmental impact statement, so the consideration of not going to these training ranges is on the table. The object of this briefing was to describe what actions could be considered should the decision go forward with the relocation of Guam. So that's why we tried to emphasize throughout this briefing that these things were notional."
Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz expressed disappointment about the lack of notice on the briefing, as he feels the military's notion of Pagat is misleading. Senator Frank Blas, Jr. also questioned what the military plans to do if the preferred site in Pagat does not work out. However, the feds reacted to most of the concerns by stating that nothing is official, and that most of the details will become clearer in the final EIS. The military also admits that the final EIS would explain why other areas like Tinian were not selected to host a firing range.
The feds also mentioned a range management plan that would keep the public informed of the training activity, as well as let the community know when they can visit the site. However, more concerns were raised by the a representative from Fuetsan Famala'oan's Lisa Cipollone, who asked National Historic Preservation Trust officials how they felt about Pagat being considered as it was recently designated as one of America's 11 most endangered historic sites.
In the meantime, participants like Department of Agriculture's Tino Aguon feels the briefing only led to more unanswered questions from the feds, saying, "I believe there are more questions that came out of this. And so we look forward to seeing future discussions and how this will impact."
Military Buildup Chair Senator Judi Guthertz also expressed frustration, stating that those providing the briefing deflected pointed questions about Pagat's range plans. Guthertz says she was not satisfied when she asked how the military plans to get the land, and Bice stated, "negotiate". Likewise, some felt that the two-hour briefing did not allow them enough time to have their concerns addressed, such as Senator Tina Muna Barnes, who feels the feds think that the people of Guam are, in her words, "third-class citizens".

1 a.m. in Wonderland: Uninvited

This morning I received an email about a meeting that will be taking place in D.C. discussing the dreaded Final E.I.S, regarding the military build up on Guam.  As I looked in to it more I realized that the initial media reports made it out to be a public meeting, that residents could join through a conference call at 1 a.m., but it now seems that it is only actually open to those invited .  They will be discussing why the location chosen as the preferred alternative for the firing range is so ideal.  The preferred location is our historical Pagat area which seems like the most unideal area for a firing range since it is an ancient village.  It's hard to imagine people, across so many miles, discussing how our ancestors' resting place is the perfect place for the military to use as a firing range.  It's hard not to close your eyes and see spirits waking to the deafening sounds of machine guns going off.  I wonder what our ancestors would say to the people at that gathering, if they were invited.

When we went to Pagat, on January 1 this year, I was hoping for something.  I was hoping for hope.  I wanted the experience to erase my fears and I wanted to walk out of that jungle knowing it was safe and would always be there for me, when I needed my spirits lifted.  As I stood at the edge of the cliffs with the beautiful ocean ocean in front of me and that comforting jungle behind me I was just mad that anyone could even consider taking  that moment and making it loud and ugly.  And I felt so incredibly sad knowing that if it happens it will be our fault.  So off we went to the meetings armed with signs and my shirt with a picture of Pagat printed on it.

Now I'm just wondering if all that time spent reading that insane document and trying to write intelligent comments, all that time feeling intimidated and disheartened at those meetings was where I should have focused my energy?  After all, it seems like it was all just a formality for them.  Sometimes I think I should have ran in to Pagat and just woke my ancestors myself, to warn them about what is to come and to apologize for all I can't do or say.  I want some miracle ending straight out of a blockbuster hit, where all the living things on the land and in the ocean join us in saying "NO!, this stops here."  It sounds silly, but so does the idea of a man walking on water.

some links I've gathered for your further reading

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Community in Wonderland: Weaving Solidarity

A little while back myself and other members of the local community were contacted by a Graduate student in the Department of Anthropology and International Development at The George Washington University in Washington DC.  Hermon Farahi and his partner are trying to come out to document the Chamorro social movement against the military build up.

I recently received a message that I'd like to share with all of you, in case any one would like to help.

Friends and Family,

I would like to cordially invite you to join us in support of our newly initiated KICKSTARTER Project, entitled: "Weaving Solidarity: Indigenous Chamorro Movements & The US Military Buildup of Guam". Help us to conduct valuable social-anthropological RESEARCH, and to produce a DOCUMENTARY FILM, as well as PHOTOGRAPHS, depicting the issues facing the Indigenous people of Guam and The Northern Mariana Islands.


The Indigenous Chamorro people of Guam and The Mariana Islands are facing the impacts of the single largest military base expenditure in modern history, with an estimated budget of $16 Billion USD. The US already occupies a third of the island for Military purposes, and seek to further dispossess the local inhabitants off their land. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed the buildup as “environmentally unsatisfactory”, attributing the worst possible rating to the proposed plans. All this is in the context of 500 years of continuous colonial occupation, which has not changed til this day.

We NEED your HELP to make our project a reality. Please Visit our Kickstarter Page to learn more and donate to both the cause and the project!

We're also offering some pretty cool rewards for your pledge/donation, so you'll get something back in addition to supporting an important cause and project! 

Si Yu’us Ma’ase!
Hermon Farahi & Jeannae Flores

Weaving Solidarity: Indigenous Chamorro Movements & The US Military Buildup of Guam from Hermon Farahi on Vimeo.

What is happening on the island right now is really interesting. Speaking out against the military is something very rarely done here. We've been raised to be appreciative of our liberation and not to question the intentions of the military. Those that did were looked down upon and ignored.  But now it's almost like our people are waking up. People are beginning to openly discuss our history and our future and how much we are willing to give up.  This is an important time.  This is history in the making and it should be documented, whether it goes our way or not. It'll be nice to be have proof that we did what we could to have a say, to finally have a voice on our island.

Life in Wonderland: lunch time

It always takes forever for Allan and I to decide what to have for lunch.  I'm incredibly indecisive and Allan gets tired of having to name places to eat.  Today it took a while, but it was definitely worth it.  We decided to go to Chamorro Village for lunch.

This is the vendor that we usually eat go to.  

I had the fiesta plate.  Pancit, red rice, ribs, bbq chicken, salad, shrimp patty, and beef kelaguen filled my tummy.  It's not the prettiest meal, but it is one of the tastiest!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Viewed in Wonderland: So very disappointed

When Allan and I found out that they were making a movie out of the cartoon Avatar we were so excited.  We used to see my nephew, Mikey, watching it at my parents house and one day I came home from work and Allan insisted I watch this cartoon with him.  We feel in love with it.  Allan and I have slightly obsessive personalities and when we get hooked, it's serious.

Of course we later found out about the casting decisions and were put off on the movie, but after seeing the previews we decided to give it a shot.  And so we woke up early yesterday to make sure we could make it to the morning showing in 3D.  Wow!!!  We were so disappointed in the first 30 minutes that we had to leave.  Everything was going by fast and heavy with narration and the dialog seemed awkward.  It's one thing that they didn't really look like the characters in the cartoon, but their personalities were different too.  They even pronounced some of the characters' names differently.  It was so awkward I felt awkward watching it. It was really sad.  But you don't have to take my word for it.  I'm not super movie know it all.  I've been known to like some generally considered lame movies.  :P  Go watch it and let me know what you think!

I love my 3D glasses though!!  Instead of putting them in the box to be recycled Allan and I kept ours.

Allan used his as eye protection while he worked in our tiny yard, later that day.  :P