“Håfa Adai!”

Buenas todus hamyu!

“Håfa adai!” is the most renowned Chamoru greeting in all of the Marianas. It’s a spirit of warmth, hospitality, and love, residing in the hearts of all those who perpetuate it. It’s an icon of the Chamoru culture, illustrated on many hats and shirts of local brands. Many Chamorus and Guamanians alike are bringing this Chamoru greeting back to life by using in their everyday lives. Even local companies have taken the “Håfa Adai Pledge” in which they swear to greet everyone with håfa adai. It’s a small but awesome step for our people towards revitalizing our culture through language.

“Håfa adai”, to me has always been a simple Chamoru greeting, until recently when my uncle Tony Ramirez, accomplished Guåhan historian and my mother Rita Nauta, managing director of guampedia.com shed light on the true meaning and depth of those words.

I mañaina-hu said that håfa adai is actually short for håfa un adadahi hao meaning, “how are you caring for yourself”. In that moment, it all came together… Our culture teaches that we are supposed to treat everyone like they’re family, so showing love and care for someone, even a complete stranger is (supposed to be) our initial response to assoda (meeting) them… like second nature.

Knowing the meaning of håfa adai is only half the job; the other half is to perpetuate the values that are in the meaning itself. Like si nanå-hu said, in our culture, we practice universal love–loving everyone selflessly. Doing this, however, has become quite difficult with Western influence and what the Westerners did with our hospitality. Western ideals and culture are much more individualistic, which clash with our collectivistic Chamoru values. It’s also hard to be welcoming and caring for everyone because as a people, we are scarred. We were so grateful to Uncle Sam for saving us from the Japanese in World War II, but what they did and are doing to us now is beyond chenchule’. They’ve taken our land without adequate compensation; made us second-class citizens on our own island; seized ancestral, spiritual lands; denied us access to those lands; and infected our culture.

A great step in the direction of cultural-identity and self-determination is knowing and practising the values of our culture, such as the håfa adai spirit. Love your neighbor like he’s your che’lu. Respect people and their property like it’s your grandma’s own. Spread pås yan guinaiya (peace and love).

Si Yu’us Ma’åse for reading

Tåya Filter Pågo

Håfa Adai Famagu’on Guåhan!

I want to apologize to all my readers… For my writing, I tend to look at the brighter side of our island where it’s all sunshine, rainbows, and happiness, however, our beautiful little island is not “paradise”. I have been a bit misleading and have turned away from today’s realities, filtering the bad stuff and only writing about the good.

There are a lot of ugly things happening in our home. Our leaders are intoxicated with greed; our sacred, ancestral lands are being taken away from us; thousands of soldiers are slowly cramming our island against our will; pollution, and the economy is tearing our families apart (I will elaborate on this in a later post). What’s even scarier is that there are worse things happening in the rest of the world!

Since some of my goals are to help preserve the culture and nourish our island back to health, thinking about how much of a fight reaching my goal might be would be daunting and discouraging, so I looked the other way and followed the light. I also didn’t want to give any of you a negative impression about our island. Please don’t get me wrong, there are still many great people here and great things happening, there are just important issues that need our immediate attention.

Looking at the bright side can be a bit misleading sometimes, but that’s what keeps us going. From now on, I will include pressing issues and controversies in my writing, along with the sunshine and rainbows. I’ll make time to read the newspaper more, and I encourage you to do the same as well. We should all get involved because this is OUR home, i gimå-ta (our home).

Pås yan guinaiya, si Yu’us ma’åse for reading.

My Journey Continues

Buenas yan håfa adai!

As I have said in “Pot Guåhu”, I am on a journey… We all are. I don’t know exactly where I’m going, but I know that I am moving forward. My destination in this chapter of my life is learning, loving, and living my culture. This blog is definitely a part of it, as is hiking to spiritual, ancestral, and beautiful places here on Guåhan to find peace and meaning. My journey for knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and experience continues, not in the jungle… but in the classroom.

I have enrolled full time at the University of Guam, and plan to major in International Tourism and Hospitality and Pacific Island Studies. I am furthering my knowledge of my language, history, and island through academia. At the same time, I hope to continue my spiritual healing in Guåhan’s natural beauty, grow, learn new trades and skills, nurture and develop the skills I already have, stay healthy and active, and spend time with loved ones and i familiå-ku (my family). Sounds like a lot on my plate right?? Well I have to try!

Since this is my first semester in college, I’m taking general education courses, and one of them happens to be Elementary Chamoru I. Si Siñot Ed Benavente iyo-ku ma’estro (Siñot Ed Benavente is my teacher). He is one of the pillars of i Sagan Kottura which is located in Tumon (left turn before Hilton going northbound) and is accomplished and wise. I hope to learn much more than the language in this class. If you are going to school or plan on doing so, I encourage you to take a Chamoru language class! I’ll let you know how it goes.

I hope that I get more than a degree from college. I want to build life-long friendships and connections, broaden my horizons, become a better citizen of my island and this world, and grow!

No matter where you want to go in life, don’t be discouraged by time, or other limitations of this world, just keep moving forward.

My journey continues. Where does yours begin and where does it take you?

Dångkulu’ na si Yu’us ma’åse for reading.

We Are Not Free

Buenas yan Håfa Adai!

“Liberation Day” was about two weeks ago, and if I saw you that day, I probably greeted you with “biba reoccupation!” Here’s why.

I have mixed feelings about Liberation Day. On this holiday, we celebrate the liberation of our island from Japanese occupation thanks to the U.S. military with fiestas and a big parade in Hagatña. What I think we are forgetting to do and should be doing on this day is remember the suffering that our manåmko (elders) endured, commemorate the struggles that i taotao-ta (our people) overcame during the war, mourn the lives that were lost, and honor the people who lived through World War II.  If you’ve been to the Liberation parade, it’s all about the military and thanking Uncle Sam for coming back for us. It was only 71 years ago, and we are already forgetting what happened. Truthfully, I don’t know everything that happened, but I probably know more about the World War II Era more than any other era in the history of Guåhan. If your grandparents or great-grandparents aren’t with you anymore and unable to share their war experiences with you, I highly recommend that you read An Island In Agony by Tony Palomo. This book is a collection of written accounts of Chamoru war survivors and their experiences. I read it halfway, and had a hard time reading further because it was so wretched… This is what the book looks like, and you can probably find it in any book store.

IMG_5354

Liberation Day seems like a very joyful holiday on our island, but is it really? It seems like there’s more celebrating than commemorating, but what are we celebrating?

Our people were very thankful for help of the U.S. military in World War II, as am I, but what they did with our thanks is quite controversial. The United States of America, the Land of the Free, has stripped us of 1/3 of our ancestral lands and denied us the right to govern ourselves all those years ago. They took advantage of our size and location, and took took took. People were forced out of their homes, their ranches, their farms, and were forced to live in poverty. They promised us American citizenship, and gave us the title, but not the rights. We can’t even vote for what happens to ourselves and our island. We are second-class citizens with no voice. For detailed information of all the injustices we suffered during and after WWII, there are books and many documentaries, one of them being War For Guam. DVDs will be released soon (I will keep you posted). There are many others, all eye-opening, stomach-wrenching, and haunting, which I strongly advise you to watch.

You and I are colonized people and have been so for over 400 years. In fact, we are the longest colonized nation in the entire world. Che’lu-hu, WE ARE NOT FREE. So on July 21st, “Liberation Day”, I mourn. I’m angry. I don’t rejoice. Thanks for coming back Uncle Sam, but no thank you for your abuse, greed, colonization, and reoccupation.

 Please educate yourselves, get involved, be proactive, and free your minds. Remember, WE ARE NOT FREE.

Si Yu’us Ma’åse for reading

Image

Hita i Tasa 

Håfa adai!

I have found a love in the art of photography over the past year and am striving to nurture and develop it. I feel that it’s about perspective, focus, depth, and emotion, all portrayed in a litråto (picture). This photo means a lot to me and was taken by my prima, who is a blogger herself (kadadiha.wordpress.com check her out fan).

The meaning behind this photo is…

The Åcho Latte were two separate rocks joined together to serve as the bases of the ancient Chamoru guma siha (houses/huts). The bottom part outlined below is called the haligi. 


And the top part or cap stone outlined below is the tåsa. 


Family and the home are so important to our culture, and the lattes are what literally supported them. This is our foundation, our rock. It’s a symbol of who we are and what we are capable of.

The latte in my picture was taken at one of the beautiful beaches at Urunao. According to the caretakers of this land and my mañaina, this guma’ latte probably belonged to a high status Chamoru woman. It is old, but very much alive and standing. They have been standing since our ancestors put them up (if I’m not mistaken).

We have our haligi, our base. It is our elders, our traditions, our values, and our land. Our haligi still stands deeply rooted not ready to fall. Hågu, guåhu, hita, (you, me, us) i mañelu, must be the tåsa. We must use our kånnai siha (hands) to build up and hold up our guma’ again, our culture, ourselves.

We can do it. The lattes weren’t carved and placed overnight. It will take time and love, but using our hands, our brains, our hearts, and our connection to keep our culture and language living within us is definitely possible.

Now please, tell me about your perspective on this photo…

 
Si Yu’us Ma’åse for reading!

Video

My First GoPro Video: Palau

I hope you enjoy some of the footage I caught in Palau! I would’ve had more and of different places, but it was raining almost the entire time we were there, so we couldn’t do as much swimming as we wanted to ): We all enjoyed our stay regardless of the weather, and we are due for another trip very soon.

Special thanks to my cousin Pedro for letting me borrow his GoPro hahaha

Enjoy!