Pågo

Sailing through the clouds in a metal canoe,

I knew I was perpetuating what my ancestors used to do.

They used to voyage from home to another Pacific land

to share, explore, and understand.

They shared technology, wisdom, and trees

to take back to home island and plant the seeds.

That wisdom and those trees sprouted with fruit,

forever connecting our islands via canoe.

Colonialism abruptly cut our Oceanic ties,

starving us of sovereignty and feeding us lies.

But the indigenous peoples we still remain

in our home islands, though never the same.

My family continued to speak our native tongue

but did not pass it on to me when I was young.

They raised me with culture, they raised me Chamoru

forever a child of the land–un taotao tåno.

My ancestors called on me to reconnect with our past,

so I left Guåhan for Oceania, the vast.

They called me to remember the language of the land,

to look to the stars and in the dirt, plant my hands.

 

In navigating the ocean, one must know from where they come

to know where one is going once the journey’s begun.

I know my past and I carry it with me

to ground me and nourish me when I am in need.

So a successful future looks like our past

because this modern lifestyle on Earth won’t last.

I am crafting this future starting with myself

by decolonizing my mind, body, and health.

I’m learning and using my language every day

as it holds our culture and our ancient way.

I’m embracing Hawai’i as my new home

incorporating her culture into my own.

I mālama ‘āina every day of the week

because the ancestors in the land have the answers we seek.

Working and doing is another way that I learn

so my work educates me as it provides the wages I earn.

I work for service-learning at KCC

to reestablish love for ‘āina in our community.

My group is rebuilding a garden at Lē’ahi

to increase the hospital’s sustainability.

I work for Central Middle After-School All-Stars

to help underprivileged students realize they’ll go far.

I teach them sports, lessons for life

and that they can attend college no matter the price.

I interned at Kāko’o ‘Ōiwi over the summer,

an opportunity for myself and Hawaiians to learn from each other.

They taught me how to plant kalo and manage a farm.

I shared Chamoru culture and linked with them by arm

to make Hawai’i sustainable, starting with our lives

with the ‘ulu and hō’io ferns that grow and thrive.

I work with Mālama I Nā Ahupua’a

making Hawai’i sustainable through various lo’i and mala.

We connect students with the land they live on

to mālama native ecosystems and culture before they’re gone.

 

My journey in Hawai’i has not been easy

but my humble beginning is a tool for me.

My family was never rich nor poor,

lived simply and shared with those who needed more.

We used what was around us, everything that we had,

caring for the good and fixing the bad.

My family provided for me as I was in school

which enabled me to excel in everything I pursued.

My family and culture built me tough

to be resourceful when the sea gets rough.

Because resourceful is what I have to be

to sustain my life here in Hawai’i.

I continue to pay for tuition and rent on my own.

Working multiple jobs is all I’ve known.

KCC tuition I am able to manage and pay,

but I cannot afford Mānoa, so my education will be delayed.

From FAFSA, I don’t receive any financial aid

because of the amount my parents get paid.

But they are unable to help me paying their bills and debt.

Together though apart, we ensure ends are met.

They grew me to work hard and earn what I need

to work well with others so we all succeed,

so we can craft a future better than our present state

of colonization and militarization before it’s too late.

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Ha na Liliti i Kurason-hu as Litekyan

Hafa adai mañelu-hu yan mañaina-hu! Biba CHAMORU!!!

A few weekends ago, I went on the first tour open to the public for Guampedia to the rediscovered ancient latte sites in Litekyan (stirring place)–not Ritidian. Our ancestors named it Litekyan because it is where the eastern and western currents meet and form whirlpools. Indeed, Litekyan made my heart stir– Ha na liliti i kurason-hu as Litekyan. Litekyan is not only a cultural heritage site, but an official National Wildlife Refuge containing thousands of trongkon niyok and other indigenous plants, lush coral reefs, yan meggai na man aniti lokkue (and many spirits as well). The latte’ sites are unbelievable; many are still standing, surrounded by countless pottery shards, lusongs and lommoks, and other remnants of our ancestors’ lives. In fact, our ancestors still reside in Litekyan which some can feel upon entering i halom tano (the jungle). There are tours of Litekyan daily from 8-4pm that are absolutely free.

My experience in Litekyan was almost magical and definitely spiritual . I was in awe at how beautiful it was and the abundance of life, but a little disheartened at the small amount of trash I collected. Our hike was like a journey through time because we visited different sites of different eras. I almost couldn’t believe that these places were homes of my ancestors where they would cook and eat the food they caught and farmed, where they would talk to each other and tell stories, and carve lattes and lusongs. These latte’ sites are tangible links to our past and reminders of who we are that must be protected. The fact that they are so beautifully and naturally preserved, almost locked in time, reassured me that we aren’t going anywhere.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Litekyan. The U.S. government wants to take OUR culturally, historically, and environmentally rich WILDLIFE REFUGE to use for military training purposes. They already built a barb-wire fence around the premises! Do I even have to say what’s wrong with this??? Ha na lalalo yu! (It makes me so mad!) Like I said in In Dependence, when the government takes land, they take the best land as if they don’t have enough. The latte’ sites within those fences are OURS. If they take them, what will we have to show our future generations? They too will be further disconnected from our past than we already are.

Put fabot, hånao yan bisita fan Litekyan. Go on a tour, look around and experience the magic for yourself, and remember that everything there could be destroyed for military target practice, unless we do something about it.

Si Yu’us ma’åse pot i tinaitai-miyu.

Quote

“I feel like the chain of the Marianas is like a broken spine. We can’t stand up for ourselves until it’s reconnected. I haven’t been to an island in the north since I was two, and until I do I’m going to feel like the world is keeping something from me. When I meditate, I hear them calling.”

-Franceska DeOro, fellow Hagan Guåhan, hipster yogi, and beautiful Chamorrita