My grandfather was honored this past week by Louis Vuitton.
They created a cultural master fellowship program several years ago and through it my grandfather has been teaching me how to blacksmith.
Can’t quite believe I STILL haven’t blogged about Tun Jack Lujan’s amazing knife I got right before we left island, but I love it! There are precious little hunting opportunities in SF, though, so it’s relegated to much less exciting duties. Cucumbers, BEWARE!
There is now a Chamorro Studies BA degree at UOG.
Guaha Prugramma pa’go gi Inestudian Chamorro gi UOG.
If you are interested in majoring, minoring or double majoring in Chamorro Studies send me a message.
Anggen gaiinteres hao nu este na major, na’tungo’ yu’ ya para bai hu ayuda hao.
I chalan ginnen Tanguissan asta Hila’an.
The road to HIla’an.
The road to Hila’an is full of sky. Near my favorite beach in the world (where dear Kate was defeated by a coconut), this ancient village is the place I most readily felt the spirits. It was probably all the latte sites, but I really wish I could find the same feeling here at home in SF. Maybe the history’s not ancient enough, or maybe I need to get more in touch with the Ohlone experience? I’d love to hear tips!
My submission to the White House’s “What’s Your Story?” Challenge.
In it I discuss the Heritage Hikes that I organize for the group We Are Guahan.
Good stuff from Michael! It’s so nice to hear some Chamorro spoken, too!
Pop on over to No Rest For The Awake for all the details on the Gupot Fanha’aniyan Pulan Chamoru, or Lunar Calendar Festival. So wish I could be there!
I took a break from the heat of the day to visit the CNMI Museum, something I was disappointed I didn’t have time for on the last trip. There’s nothing like this on Guam, and although the collections were NMI-based, a lot of the history overlaps with our little piece of the Marianas Islands.
It was definitely worth checking out, and it was great to have the small museum to myself. Housed in a historic hospital (from when Saipan was a Japanese outpost), it traces the history of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas from Carolinian and Chamorro arrival through Japanese times and WWII and on to the covenant/trust territory era. There were also some great prints and translations of the Freycinet explorations. I picked up some fantastic local art in the gift shop, also worth a visit. As usual with learning about history, it just leaves me wanting more…
I took this shot down south, the location of which is best left unsaid because it’s very cool and there’s no need for any tattletaling and covering up.
According to my super awesome Chamorro language master contact, this translates in English as:
Awake! Stand! Rise!
Although it was strange as a professional translator to ask a linguist to translate for free, it’s a good cause. Angel Santos, one of Guam’s most important activists, is the man pictured, who you may remember from the post about my trip to Latte Stone Park.
I’m a big fan of stencil art in general, and that of an assertively rebellious nature really does it for me. I’d love to know the artist, but in the meantime, ask yourself what you’re doing today to be awake, to stand, and to rise.
After The Professor and I checked out cannons in Agat, we continued on south toward Umatac. I really love how the name of this village is pronounced: You-MA-tick. But more importantly, it’s the site of Magellan’s landing on Guam in 1521. In 1565, another explorer claimed the island for Spain, and so began the colonial history of this island, starting with the expected burst of village-burning and religious conversion. Sharper minds than mine tackles these issues, so let’s concentrate on the tourism aspect. Cop-out perhaps, so I’ll segue with a really cool legend that begins in Umatac: Chief Gadao and The Three Feats on Strength.
This sign warmly welcomed us into the bay area and then around to the village. (I think that’s the first time that I’ve not capitalized “the bay area”! But it is in fact as area of a bay. Just a different one than the one by my hometown…)
Another fantastic sunset. This is the mouth of Umatac Bay.
Since I’m such a fan of carabao, I had to give this one a nosetug. I know he’s a tourist trap, but I could tell he knew we had a connection. When I turned to leave, he looked oh-so-wistfully toward the village… Never mind that it’s likely a female.
Here’s the church at Umatac in front of some of those beautiful southern hills…
…And here we have the bridge at Umatac, which is the main road to point further south (and then back around on the eternal loop that makes up this island’s road system.) I’d love to hear what others think of this color scheme, because I love its Playmobil-esque aspect.
All right, Umatac, it’s been real. Let’s head up the hill!
Michael Lujan Bevacqua brings it with a great post flowing with all kinds of language issues. Click above!
Chamorro is yet another language I really wish I knew. It’s added to the list that’s already pretty long: Arabic, Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch, better Spanish, better German, did I mention Arabic, etc., not to mention the fact that I wish I could be more familiar with other French besides the kind I translate to English: Old French, Créole, Québécois, anything spoken in the former colonies and in the DOM-TOM…
Normally I leave my translator and general language nerd role out of this silly blog, but Mr. Bevacqua’s post really reminded me that there are just SO MANY LANGUAGES TO LEARN AND SO LITTLE TIME.
When reading one of Michael Lujan Bevacqua’s latest posts on insularity (and related issues of being on an island with Guam’s political status), I was quite struck by the art in the post. (This is not to discount his excellent prose and important message, but hey, I get distracted by shiny things…) Thankfully, his citation led me to discover the Isla Center for the Arts. Road trip to the U of G campus!
Clicking on each image will lead you to the image on Picasa with attribution information.
Good art needs no commenting.
Above is detail from a painting that really captured the plant for me.
Above is detail from a very powerful piece.
As usual, more images of art from Isla Center for the Arts and my U of G trip here. I took a few pictures of the juror’s notes from the paintings; if you’re interested in a certain piece, I may be able to shoot you more information about it.
Our second half of the hike began with a much-need break, after the intense trip down. We snacked and rehydrated along the shore, and partook in the refreshing post-descent activity of swimming in the sea fully dressed. Since we’d been trudging through mud and wet already, it was actually beneficial to rinse off and, more importantly, cool off. Since this is the west coast of the island, we were swimming in Cetti Bay off the Philippine Sea. (The Pacific Ocean is on the other side of the island.)
Then we left to hike along the coast to the next bay and begin our ascent, being careful not to slip on the rocks or trip on vines and coconuts.
We took a final break at the Spanish Bridge on Sella Bay, part of a road system built during Spanish control of this island. That ended in 1898 when a new power took over, the same one of course that still has control today. Speaking of control, one of the goals of this hike was to educate us around the military build-up issues facing the island. This bay, for example, was the proposed site of a Navy firing range. (Please correct in the comments if you have more detail on this and all historical info.) As is often the case, it was only through grass-roots activism that protection was secured for the area. This was of course history repeating itself; at the beginning of the hike, we got a break-down of the first resistance movement in 1970 from a participant, who outlined the politics in detail and how it’s playing out today with Guam’s current political players. As I didn’t take notes, the organizations linked in my Veterans’ Day post should fill you in on the rest.
A smaller group of us broke off from the majority to do a bit of exploring before trekking back up. We found ancient latte stones and took the “wet way” up, meaning going upstream in the river. I didn’t take too many pictures of this part because it was all I could do to keep up the pace and safeguard my camera from the water. There is apparently another path, but our little group of seven was hardcore and definitely paid some serious boonie-stomping dues.
I have to say that this was definitely the most intense hike of my life; I did things I didn’t think I was capable of (scaling up waterfalls, trudging through endless turns in the river, this one being much less predictable than the one coming down, rescuing myself from falls, jumping to a mossy log with the help of a couple in our group, etc.) and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to participate in such an epic experience. The Professor and I debated me calling this epic; he thinks that something so incredible and unique has to happen to earn that title. I agree, but I’m thinking that defying my own perceived limitations might qualify.
The rope behind me in this picture, for example, was to aid in climbing the easier of two levels. On the upper level I slipped a bit and ended up clinging to muddy roots before regaining my footing. One of the payoffs from climbing was a sweet swimming hole at the top, which was super refreshing.
It was at least a two-hour trek to the top, and there was a huge feeling of relief among the group when we hit the savanna after so much river action. Savanna gave way to swordgrass path, which gave way to the Sella Bay Overlook parking lot, where another member of We Are Guahan was waiting for us with water and donuts. It took as an hour longer than the main group to complete the second half of the hike, but it was well worth it. We shuttled back to our starting point (in the back of a pick-up, whoohoo!) and it was all over, almost 6 hours after go-time.
I cannot adequately thank the members of We Are Guahan, Michael Lujan Bevacqua and all my fellow hikers (especially in our break-away group) for leaving me with a powerful understanding of the importance of education and organization as tools of resistance and change, as well as motivating me to complete an incredibly challenging journey through impressive terrain. Luckily, I have the bruises, scratches and extreme muscle soreness to remind me for a few days how intense it was. And I cannot wait to do it all again. In the meantime, here are plenty more pictures.
Si Yu’us ma’åse’ and fanatåtte. Until the next time!
Behold beautiful Cetti Bay, as viewed from the Cetti Bay Overlook near Agat, Guam. This was the starting point of the heritage hike organized this weekend by the very cool folks at We Are Guahan. There was also plenty of historical and cultural insight provided by Michael Lujan Bevacqua. Big thanks to my brother’s friend Alex, whose post on West Coast Famoksaiyan pointed me in their direction. I am always looking for outdoor adventure on this beautiful island, and when I heard about the educational aspect, I was sold. Little did I know what awaited me…
As you can tell from the picture above, the bay itself is quite a ways down. I didn’t take any pictures on that initial descent down to the river level (where the lush palms are in the middle of the valley) because it was basically a controlled fall down gravel-covered boulders. But beautiful ones, with fantastic waterfall views and carabao-spotting, not to mention tons of wild (but not native) tiny purple field orchids. When the rains came, as they always do here, it was a pretty sweet sludgy mess all the way down.
I learned a new Chomorro word: Doggin. (I welcome any spelling corrections, as this language is new to me.) This is your derrière, which is apparently the preferred mode of travel down this muddy part of the trail, along with your feet to aid in braking. Everyone helped each other out and there was quite a bit of bonding among hikers between grasping the swordgrass along the sides to control the sliding and giving each other insight as to the least scary way down any certain section. I am very grateful for the warnings to wear gloves on the website and from the Professor after his own hiking experience. My gardening gloves truly saved me, and the only swordgrass cuts I have are on my forearms. Now it looks like I played with a kitten. A very rambunctious jungle kitten.
Once we reached the river level, everyone rinsed off their muddy doggins, had a snack and generally frolicked. Our trail to the sea was now obvious: it was the river we were standing in. Before proceeding, and as we had done at the top, we asked the spirits for permission to pass through their lands peacefully. This ritual was very moving and set the mood for a powerful trip.
The terrain was breathtaking, with lush foliage, coconut palms, twisty vines and roots, beautiful river stones, all excellent distractions from the often-difficult task of making our way to the sea in the river. We passed banana tree patches and a lovely bamboo grove alongside this volcanic rock formation:
At the very end, there was a deep silt/mud stretch, which almost claimed my sneakers a few times. As was necessary at many spots along the way, we held our backpacks above our heads and waded through.
Our reward for the 2+ hour journey down? Beautiful Cetti Bay.
Today is Veteran’s Day on Guam. I’m celebrating by remembering that sacrifice is universal and that all are affected by war and violence, including indigenous peoples.
Although I am guilty of treating my time here like a vacation, there are Real Things happening on Guam. (And let’s be honest, I treat everything like a vacation, no matter where I am.) Few people, even those in the social justice loop, are aware of the massive, historically unprecedented military build-up happening on this island. The casual visitor and temporary resident like me would notice little sign of this, save for the occasional “No Buildup” sign along the road.
We Are Guahan is a great place to start in educating yourself, as is Guam Blog and Decolonize Guam. Also, check this from Time. Just today, West Coast Famoksaiyan brought us a disturbing story of racism and the military officials directing the build-up.