life (132) community (99) guahan (70) crafting (57) gallery (50) viewed (45) Celebrate (43) album (41) shopping (24) cast (16) oishi (12) hooping (5) growing (4)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Life in Wonderland: GUAHAN

Recently, in his state of the island address, our Governor expressed that he would like to work with the legislature to reclaim the indigenous name of Guam, Guahan.

This excites many people.  Some welcome the name change.  Some are against it.  After reading many of the comments on PDN I think many people are frustrated that our Governor, of all his choices for a last effort in office, has chosen this.  I think many are upset that he side stepped other important issues and went straight to something that would tug at emotions and be more symbolic than concrete.  This act will ensure him some pages in our history books and he admitted that it would be his legacy.

Guahan is a strong name for our island.  It means "We have" and it is the name our ancestors used to refer to the island that sheltered and provided for them. Yes, to give our island back her name, would mean so much, especially at this point in time.  But I don't believe it should be the governor or the legislature that does this.  I feel it must first come from the people.  Like most things in life, this reclaiming of her name, must start in the home.  It must start with each of us, individually.

When I first heard about this, I started thinking about names of countries.  As an example, Japan is Japan to the world.  The Japanese refer to their home as Nippon.  We refer to the natives of Japan as Japanese, but they are nihonjin, or nipponjin, in their language, nihongo.  What the world calls them does not affect who they are, because they know who they are.  Another example is my name.  I work in the tourism industry and many agents have a hard time pronouncing my name, Andrea.  I've been called Angerika, Angela, Andolia, and many other names, besides my own.  At first it bothered me, but then I realized that this is a minor thing.  My family and friends matter most and they know my name.

I'm not saying that I don't want our island to hear her native name ever again.  I just want her to hear it from her people first.  All the legality and print changes won't matter if it is not being spoken.  To the world she may be Guam, but as long as her sons and daughters know she is Guahan, that is what gives her name beauty and strength.  That is what matters most.

If our leaders want to encourage a cultural renaissance, I suggest they focus on the communities and schools.  Maybe they can offer weekly CHamorro classes at the mayor's offices for a donation that can go to cultural programs and groups.  Guam's school system could use a more advanced CHamorro language and Guahan history curriculum.  They can encourage the development of more television and radio programs that focus on our history and culture.  I think it would also be helpful to support a dialog between our culture and the other cultural groups that we share our island with, returning Guahan back to her hospitable and inclusive roots.  Helping people understand what they have and what our island gives us will cause the name change to happen naturally and more effectively.  This is the kind of change I'd welcome.

This is just my opinion.  I'd love to hear other's thoughts on the name change and what you feel can be done to encourage Guahan's reclaiming of history and culture.

Here are some links to related posts and articles:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Morning in Wonderland: Once more, Tell me what you're fighting for . . .

For one of her classes, Nel had to create a list of 10 things she loves about Guam.  Sounds interesting.

Here is my list:
  • family .  Guam is home to the people I hold dearest.  They may not all still live here.  Some may not have even had the chance to visit, like my younger nieces, nephews, and cousins.  But Guam is still home.
  • friends . I have some of the best friends ever!   And I know that where ever life takes us, we can always come back to Guam.  When your friend leaves, you know they will be back, because this is home.  ;)
  • community . Our island is made up of many different people, many different communities, but really are all one.  We see this most during natural disasters.  The aftermath of typhoons are softened by the beauty of the community coming together to share and rebuild.  
  • resilience .  We have survived colonialism, occupations, war, and natural disasters.  Granny said it best, when she refused to leave her house before a storm, "This is my home. I'm not going anywhere."
  • food . Food on Guam is amazing!  If I had to live off the same meal for the rest of my life, I hope it'd be a fiesta plate.  Another great thing about food on Guam is that there are so many choices of different ethnic foods.
  • beaches . I don't go to the beach every weekend.  Sometimes I go months with out visiting the ocean.  Yet, I can not imagine not having her near.  I can't imagine not seeing her every day.  
  • flora .  I love the beautiful scenery our island offers us.  The flame trees in Hagatna, the papaya tree in my tiny backyard, and Grandma's "heirloom" orchids in mom's garden - I love it all.  Seeing ixora always reminds me of my childhood.  We'd suck the sweetness out of the flower's from Granny's yard, in Ipan.  And when I was in Florida, the smell of plumeria got me through my homesickness. 
  • matrilineality . My female ancestors where just as important as my male ancestors.  It's a bit difficult to explain, but as a woman on Guam, I feel empowered.  Even though we take on men's last names, I still feel that our lines are traced through our mother's and our grandmother's names.
  • trips down south . Stopping at Ipan Mobil for ice cream, after a long scenic drive, is amazing.  Visiting Gef Pago' for a tour of the old village, or even just for natural sea salt, is a great way to spend the day.  Splashing around Inarajan Pools or watching Viva swim at one of the beaches down there is extra special.  Whether I'm with friends or family, being down south has an inexplainable feeling, like finding home after a long journey.
  • the past mingles with the present . While Guam has been developed and modernized, some things don't change.  Subtle things hint back at our history.  To this day, we still ask Guela yan Guelu for permission to enter the jungle.  Latte stones stand in the midst of contemporary homes.  Tanks and war bunkers are the missing pages in World History books.  The sinahi hangs off men's necks above collared dress shirts.  The women of Guam are still heads of their modern households.
What are some of the things that you love about your home?  I'd love to hear them.

While you're thinking about that, you can listen to the Mad Caddies.  :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wondering in Wonderland: State of the Island

Last night, while the boys were conjuring up Tako Yaki in the kitchen, my girls and I were discussing the build up.  I got to thinking about what would happen if the build up goes through as planned.  If our government is not prepared to make the extreme infrastructure improvements, what will happen to us?  For so long, our infrastructure has been lacking and they've been unable to bring it up to decent standards.  With our utility bills already rising, how will we cope?  Even if the federal government gives our local government some money to help, we'd need nothing short of a miracle to make this work in such a short period of time.  This could turn out to be a man made super typhoon for us.

I'm not trying to be negative, just practical.  Should we be preparing our build up emergency kits?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Viewed in Wonderland: We're not afraid of change. We welcome it!

Breather in Wonderland: Stop and Breathe

Lately I've been stressed with work, school, and the DEIS.

But last night since my Japanese class was cancelled for the week, I spent some time with Nella.  We went to this coffee shop near the schools.  I forgot the name, but it was cute.  Viktoria Sayrs art covered the walls and Nel bought a couple of earrings made by another local artist.  Wish I had thought to bring my camera.  Oh well, maybe next time.

When I got home Allan made me watch this You Tube video.  He always finds the best stuff on You Tube.

Okay, I caught my breath.

Here is one of my recent DEIS comments:

It is a known fact that there are Superfund sites on Guam, that were caused by the United States military activities, on the island.  Until all these sites are completely cleaned up, the U.S. Department of Defense should not even consider any actions that may further damage the environment on Guam.  The military build up and the preffered alternative actions described in this D.E.I.S. will further negatively affect the environment of Guam and consequently should not be considered at all.  If this build up happens, and the Guam environment further degrades due to the actions of the military, it will be a crime not only against the people of Guam, but also the people in the United States of America and Japan - who will unknowingly have to pay for; the destruction of coral reefs and mangroves, the depletion of the people of Guam's fresh water, the poisoning of land from firing range activities, the disposal of more toxic waste, the creation of more landfills, and all the inadequate mitigation measures this D.E.I.S. proposes.  Until all military Superfund sites on the island are cleaned up and this D.E.I.S. is found to be adequate, by all our local leaders, officials, and environmental and economic scientists, than the only proper alternative is the No Action alternative.
If you'd like to review and submit a comment on the DEIS please visit:

If you'd like to learn more about the Guam military build up please visit:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010