In Dependence

Buenas yan hafa adai!

I have just completed my first semester of college, and it was an adventure! I loved a lot of things about it, and disliked things too, but overall, it was a learning experience that I’m grateful for. In a couple of weeks, I’m going to start my new adventure: Spring semester. Yayyyy. Well writing for my classes has taken up a lot of my personal writing time, as it may have shown throughout the last few months. However, I killed two birds with one atupat and wrote about things pertaining to our Chamoru culture, island, and current issues. Here is my final essay for Freshman Composition called In Dependence without all of the APA citations. I hope you enjoy…

In Dependence

            Guam needs change. Guam is currently one of the last 16 colonized, non-self-governing nations with the longest colonial history in the world. Guam was colonized by Spain in the 1600s then given to the U.S. in 1898 as a spoil of the Spanish-American war. Although the native people of Guam, the Chamorus were forced to stop speaking their language, forced to convert from their indigenous spiritual practices to Christianity, forced out of their own land, suffered genocide in the Chamoru-Spanish War, and held as second-class citizens in their own home, they have remained resilient and managed to keep much of the culture and language alive.

Guam’s current political status is “unincorporated territory” of the United States of America, meaning that it is a possession of the U.S. that has limited self-government and is at the disposal of the U.S. According to Guampedia, the people of Guam are US Citizens and while they may acquire full political equality as individuals, if they move to any of the fifty states, they are in a subservient political condition if they remain on Guam. They are unable to vote for president, select members of US Congress with voting power and congress can overturn any law passed in Guam and decide which parts of the US Constitution apply to it” (Underwood 2014). Guam has no voting delegate in Congress or seat in the United Nations. This has and is still affecting our island’s infrastructure, culture, resources, and people in mostly negative ways. As an unincorporated territory, Guam is unable to manage immigration suitable for the island, therefore our infrastructure is not up to par for the amount of residents and visitors. Under the U.S. Department of Education and economy, Guam has become more “Americanized” with little to no Chamoru culture and language taught in schools and no use for Chamoru in everyday life. Guam is also dependent on the U.S. federal government monetarily, using thousands of federal dollars each fiscal year for programs such as food stamps, welfare, and even our tax refunds to name a few. As an unincorporated territory of the U.S., the federal government can take whatever land they want and is currently controlling one third of Guam’s landmass, not properly taking care of the resources within. Guam’s government and citizens have limited freedoms due to its political status which may be changed through decolonization. Decolonization is the freeing of a colony to become self-governing or independent.

In order for the indigenous Chamoru people of Guam and the migrated people who call Guam home to decolonize themselves, they must undergo the process of self-determination. Self-determination is the process in which the people of a colonial territory express their desire for a self-governing status. The people of Guam have three options of self-government: statehood, free association, and independence. If permitted by the U.S., in statehood, Guam will become the 51st (fifty-first) state of the United States of America in which residents abide to the laws and receive constitutional rights. Free association is in essence a bargain through which a degree of external sovereignty is freely exchanged in return for a defense commitment and the promise of significant economic assistance. Independence is becoming a sovereign nation. Each status will affect Guam’s land and resources, the residents’ rights, immigration, culture, legal system, education, and foreign affairs. Each status has its pros and cons, however, I believe that independence is the best status option for Guam. According to the Independence for Guam Task Force of the Guam Commission on Decolonization, “Independence is a chance for the people of Guam to truly determine our own destiny. For many centuries, Guam’s political course has been dictated for us—our people, our land, and our resources have been used to benefit other countries leaving us at a greater loss each time. Currently, Guam is stuck with a dependent and underdeveloped relationship with the United States. The colonial status of Guam keeps us trapped – economically, politically, mentally, and spiritually. Independence will allow us to work together as a community to grow into a more sustainable and regionally integrated people, who will no longer be stunted as a colony of the United States” (Hafa Ilek-mu Self-Determination, n.d.).  The native and indigenous people of Guam should declare independence from the United States government because of its dictatorial history, to protect the Chamoru culture and language, and to manage the resources to sustain themselves and future generations.

The United States government has expressed no interest in the wellbeing of the Chamoru people and the perpetuation and protection of the Chamoru culture many times throughout their colonialism on Guam. As stated earlier, Guam was purchased by the U.S. in the Treaty of Paris in 1898 as a spoil of the Spanish-American War. The U.S. bought Guam, the Phillippines, and all inhabitants as if they were animals and not human beings. Following the Treaty of Paris, the Navy assumed the position of the government of Guam. According to one of the first appointed Naval governors Governor Dyer, the Chamorus were to be Americanized and, “…taught, at once, to help themselves in ways to make themselves useful to us . . .”. After Guam was seized by Japan in WWII, the military leveled the island with thousands of pounds of explosives regardless of the presence of the local people. The U.S. then reclaimed Guam in 1944 and seized one third of the island’s landmass without adequate compensation, leaving many Chamorus homeless and poor. According to my grandmother Engracia Pangelinan, WWII survivor, the schools established by the Navy discouraged the use of the Chamoru language and forced English upon them in hopes of Americanizing the Chamorus. The Chamoru people resented the way the government treated them and sought for a fair government and civil rights. They believed that becoming U.S. citizens would give them U.S. civil rights and fought for such. They were granted citizenship in the Organic Act of 1950 which was modeled after the U.S. Constitution, but were not granted all the constitutional rights including the right to vote for President. There have been many efforts by the Chamoru people to decolonize themselves, but due to the lack of support from the federal government and education amongst Chamorus, they have failed. Today, the U.S. still owns one third of Guam’s landmass and is continuing to take more. They have recently finalized the taking of Litekyan- a wildlife reserve, ancient village, and sacred place to the Chamoru people to be used as a firing range. The U.S. plans on taking more for the highly anticipated military buildup- the relocation of thousands of marines and their dependents to Guam. Some say the buildup will be good for Guam, but many native Chamorus feel that it will be further detrimental to the land, culture, language, and survival of the Chamoru people in their own home.

Choosing independence for Guam will better allow the preservation and perpetuation of the Chamoru culture and language. Guam’s educational system is and has always been parallel to that of the United States, in which students learn the same things as students in the continental U.S., and are compared to American standards and statistics. My father Rick Nauta, whom does not speak Chamoru but has Chamoru-speaking parents asked his mother why she did not teach him Chamoru. She said that she did not want it to affect his English and how well he did in school. As one can see, the U.S. has affectively devalued the importance of the Chamoru culture and language in Chamorus themselves. Today, there are few courses in high school that teach Chamoru language, dance, history, and practices, however in my experience, they seemed underfunded and unimportant to the education of a Guam student as a whole. Public elementary students are only allotted 20 minutes each day for learning Chamoru. What can possibly taught, learned, and comprehended in 20 minutes? The perpetuation of the culture is obviously not a priority for the Department of Education, so if our culture and language is not taught, it will die. In Decolonization Through the Self-Determination of a People- An Overview of Guam’s Status and Options by the Guam Commission on Decolonization, independence will engender the “continuation of existing standards with large resource allocation directed to long-term residents… the local school system empowered to develop locally/regionally relevant curriculum”. As an independent nation, not only will Guam be able to implement Chamoru values and language into the curriculum, but teach the curriculum in Chamoru. In An Analysis of the Economic Impact of Guam’s Political Status Options by Joseph Bradley, “it is anticipated that there will be a resurgence in the Chamorro language and culture in the independent nation of Guam.  There is even the remote possibility that the use of the Chamorro language will be mandated for some of the island’s governmental activities”.

As an independent nation, Guam will regain access to all of its natural resources and manage them according to the needs of the people. As a small island with only 212 square miles of land, Guam is limited in resources including soil for agriculture and freshwater sources. The federal government currently owns land that has many resources including but not limited to the Mt. Santa Rosa Reservoir, Agana Springs, Tarague Natural Wells, the Tumon Bay Recreational area, and the Fena River Reservoir, totaling in over 43,000 acres. That land was taken from many Chamoru families whom were inadequately compensated, including my maternal grandmother Engracia Pangelinan. The military exploits the resources in those lands to benefit themselves and even sells the products back to the government of Guam. They do not properly care for the land as seen in their ownership of Tiyan. The military claimed it after the war, dumped biohazardous waste on it, and gave it back to the government when it was deemed toxic and inhabitable. There are actually 95 toxic sites on Guam alone, many results of mistreatment and disrespect. As an independent nation, Chamoru property rights will come first and local law will be redefined to accommodate local conditions and economic development. As an independent nation, Guam will also be able to control immigration and the use of public land to better stabilize infrastructure (Guam Commission on Decolonization, n.d.). All 43,000+ acres of land under the military’s control will be distributed back to their rightful owners, and the rest could be used for agricultural development or economic enhancement.

Many people believe that Guam is not ready for independence, however the longer we spend preparing and planning, the more land is taken away, the more our culture and language die, and the more our island becomes a big military base. It is going to be a drastic and difficult change, but it is possible. For guidance and reassurance, we can look to our sister island of Palau. With education of its people, government involvement, self-determination, and great effort, they have become their own sovereign nation where their culture and language thrive, their resources are loved and taken care of, and their people are interdependent on each other and their land. If Palau can do it, Guam can do it too. We must educate ourselves, join hand in hand, and vote for our right to be our own nation. “The foundation of Guåhan is the Chamoru culture in all its expressions. The ancients arrived thousands of years ago. The future generations will continue this journey in search of the expression of the human experience.” –Anthony J Ramirez. Guåhan is tano i man Chamoru—the land of the Chamoru people, and we should keep it that way. Together we can change our status from in dependence to independent.

Si Yu’us Ma’ase for reading.

Biba Santa Marian Kamalen

Håfañelus! (Hafa adai Mañelu)

Håfa manatatmanu-hamyo? Long time, no?

As many of you may or may not know, today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception in which Catholics on Guam honor and venerate the patron saint of Guam Santa Marian Kamalen. The tradition is to have mass at the Cathedral followed by a procession around Hagatña, then pray to and venerate the historical statue of our Blessed Lady.

Santa Marian Kamalen has historical significance here on Guam. According to the stories of mañaina-ta, a group of fishermen were fishing down in Malesso when one of them saw crabs carrying the statue underwater, swam to her, and brought her in. The statue allegedly came from a sunken Spanish galleon off the coast of Malesso. For the full history of Santa Marian Kamalen here on Guam, visit guampedia.com or ask your grandparents to tell you the legend.

Although today is a day of celebration, it’s also a sad day. On this day 74 years ago, the Japanese bombed Guam and began World War II. The entire island was preparing for the nobena, lukao (procession), and misa (mass) in their own villages when the bombs dropped and war was declared around 9:oo AM. My grandma Engracia Diaz Pangelinan whom was present that day said that many parishioners cheered because they had never seen planes before and believed that it was a blessing from God, only to end up screaming in terror.

Growing up, procession was kind of fun, kind of not. I got to see a lot of people, but it would get hot and I would be sweating in my Saint Francis uniform or my confirmation shirt. Today, it means so much more. This is the one day dedicated to the Patron Saint of Guam Santa Marian Kamalen, the person that our people, the Chamorus have prayed to, and through her intercession, overcame many difficult things, including World War II. Today, I am celebrating our people’s patronage, spirituality, and faith that has kept us alive and together, remembering the history of our once broken people, and keeping the tradition of lukao para Santa Marian Kamalen alive… What is this day to you?

Biba Santa Marian Kamalen! Si Yu’us Ma’åse for reading.

P.S. Procession is at 4 at the Cathedral followed by mass, and if you’re unable to attend mass, watch the Voices of Our Elders – Santa Marian Kamalen Retold section on Guampedia (:

“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!

Belau Is the Place to Be

Håfa Adai and Alii!

I have stayed in the Republic of Palau or Belau with my family for a week and am so excited to share my experiences with you. My parents have been visiting Palau for 15 years. I have been to Palau once before in 2011 for the 15U Micronesia Basketball Tournament Western Division and my cousin’s wedding, which was a week later. My family (aside from my sister who is killing it in summer classes at UOG) had the opportunity to come to Palau again when my dad’s close friend decided to get married here. To me, this trip has been a beautiful celebration, a tremendous learning experience, our first family vacation in over 15 years, and a much needed getaway from the hustle and bustle of Westernized life.

Here are some facts about Palau. Palau is an archipelago of more than 500 islands, part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific Ocean, well known for its scuba-diving and snorkeling sites. The population is just over 20,000. Palau has a constitutional government in free association with the United States. The Compact of Free Association was entered into with the United States on October 1, 1994, also marking Palau’s independence. Palau has three branches of government. The President is directly-elected and serves a four year term. The President and Vice-President run on separate tickets. The Council of Chiefs, comprised of the highest traditional chiefs from each state, acts in an advisory capacity to the President on traditional laws and customs (http://palaugov.org/about-palau/). You can easily research Palau on the internet, but there are some things that you have to experience for yourself. What I have seen, learned, and experienced in Palau, which I will share with you in this post, have me convinced that Palau is the place to be.

Firstly, the Palauan culture is very much alive and well, evident in everything from its people, food, art and architecture, and government. Although introduced to various cultures over the course of hundreds of years, Palauan traditions, values, and ideals are still a part of everyday life. For example, almost all Palauans are fluent in their native language, which they teach at school and at home, they eat mostly locally grown/caught foods including fish, taro, tapioca, bananas, pineapples, papayas, and fish to name a few, and some homes are shaped like the traditional bai. The keepers of the beautiful Palauan culture (which I don’t know very much about), the Palauan people are so nice, generous, and hospitable. If you think that Chamoru hospitality is all that, Palauan hospitality is peerless. I was so happy to meet everyone that I did, especially Rimuu, and hope to see them again some day! 

Secondly, the people of Palau, whether local or not, all live in harmony with the life around them. This is an observation that I made myself, which could probably be proven through a survey or something. The first thing I noticed was how much life was in Palau. It wasn’t just the people, but there were so many birds, insects, trees, plants, animals, and aquatic animals/plants, and they were all HEALTHY! Even the stray dogs were healthy and beautiful. It was so amazing and new, and I felt as if all their energy was energizing and revitalizing me (which is probably why my appetite was relatively small). The trees in Palau are huge, however they weren’t obstructing anyone’s view or taking up yard space. It seemed like the people were coexisting with the life that was there. Rarely would anyone cut down a tree or cut into the landscape to shape it how they wanted to. They make use of all the natural materials around them for decorations, furniture, and jewelry to name a few. Palau is also very eco-friendly! I was so excited to see recycle bins, solar panels, and smaller, fuel-efficient cars. Underneath it all, I think that the Palauan people care about their homeland and its entire ecosystem, which is why they are on top of everything. It’s extremely admirable, especially from a colonized-islander’s perspective. We all should care about our sacred lands and fragile ecosystems like our brothers and sisters in Palau, which is another reason why it’s the place to be.

Thirdly, Palau is self-organized. They petitioned to be their own, sovereign country in free-association with the United States in 1994 because they didn’t want to be an unincorporated territory. What is even more impressive is that they incorporated their culture into the government by making Chiefs their own branch, counseling and guiding the executive branch based on their traditional customs and values. Their museums and aquariums were awesome too! The museum was organized, well-managed, and beautiful, and had extensive information on everything in the history of Palau, even information about Guåhan and the Marianas islands! There were beautifully preserved artifacts, vivid pictures, and even an outdoor portion (which I couldn’t see because it was raining). The aquarium was also impressive and very well-put together. There was a government agency for everything from conservation, culture preservation, resource management, tourism, and more! Even though Palau is a small country, it is organized and self-sustainable, which makes it the place to be.

Lastly, Palau is beautiful. The word beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe it. Palau is actually a renowned diving destination, and even described as “the eighth wonder of the world”. Billionaires from around the globe would sail to Palau on their yachts to dive and just see its wondrous beauty. If you ever have a chance to, you should really visit our sister Palau. Personally, it meant a lot to go to Palau because our ancestors frequently traveled there and to the other islands in Micronesia. They are our brothers and sisters because we all came from the same place.

I’ve constantly said that Palau is the place to be, and it is, however, that’s not where I want to be. Palau is our sister, but not our mother. Guåhan is my home, my mother. I’m partially writing this post to show what we can do and what we can be! Palau is amazing, and they have worked hard for what they have. They actually CARE!!! My brothers and sisters of Guåhan, i che’luhu, we have to start caring! We need to organize ourselves and become our own sovereign country. We need to get off all the perks of being an unincorporated territory, which are very limited and not even worth it. Those perks are just blinding us from the heinous injustice that have been done unto our guellas and guellus (great grandmothers and great grandfathers), ourselves, and eventually our future generations if we don’t act soon! It is up to us.

Put fabot, get involved, educate yourselves, and care! Our island is being taken from us more and more every day. If Palau can do it, we can do it too.

FANOHGE CHAMORU!!!

Si Yu’us Ma’åse for reading!

When Hiking

Håfa Adai!

Hiking, in my opinion is one of Guåhan’s best pastimes. There are so many beautiful places to hike to, each of them holding an adventure waiting to happen. I love going with friends and family, but I like to keep the group under 10 people just so nobody gets left behind.

I could tell you all the things you need on a hike, how to prepare for it, etc., but it’s pretty easy and different depending on where you go. However, there are a few things that you should know and practice when hiking here on Guåhan.

Primet (firstly), before beginning your trek, ask permission. Our ancestors still dwell on our lands and we must respect that. Asking in English is okay because they can feel your vibes. What I always say is “Saina-hu, kao siña hu mammokat i chalan-miyu?” which means, “my elders, may I walk on your path?” It was part of a chant I learned in Chamoru class in elementary school and I thought it fit. We ask permission to be acknowledged by our ancestors in hopes of not disturbing them. These are our lands, este i tano-ta.

Secondly, leave nothing but footprints and bubbles. On almost every hike I’ve done, I’ve collected at least one kitchen-sized bag of trash. It really disgusts me and breaks my heart to see how people have no regard or love for our island. It’s so ironic! They hike to see Guåhan’s natural beauty yet soil it with their trash. After being frustrated and upset for a little bit, I just do my part. Every time I spend time in the outdoors whether it be at the beach or on a hike, I take a bag with me and pick up trash. I really encourage this practice, however, it can get pretty difficult carrying that up a steep hill or be a hindrance when you need your second hand. I do my best because I care.

Lastly, appreciate. Appreciate the world of life around you; the trees that have taken decades to grow, the animals, big and small that live together and give life to each other, and how all of them make a beautiful song. When I feel all of nature’s energy surging through my body, I feel so empowered, yet I feel so small. Being in nature reminds me that I am small but I am a part of this big world and its circle of life. Always take pictures, but don’t be rapt in your phone/camera.

Wherever you go, do your part as a loving, appreciative, responsible resident of Guåhan and keep our island clean! Enjoy her beauty and keep her beautiful. Go outdoors, explore your island, have an adventure! And while doing all that, have respect.

Si Yu’us Ma’åse for reading, pås yan guinaiya! (peace and love)