Hãfa Ådai hamyu! Kao maolek håo todu?
Hello everyone! Are you all good?
This month we’re going to be doing something a little bit bit different from the usual! Time flies doesn’t it? We are now in March which, if you weren’t aware, is CHamoru Month for everyone on the island and those who know in the mainland. A whole month dedicated to celebrating our heritage and culture! It’s a pride month that the CHamoru can be proud of!
CHamoru is the word used to identify the indigenous people of Guåhan (Guam) found in the Marianas Islands. It is the largest island of the Micronesian chain of the Pacific Islands. As small as it is, the whole island itself can be traveled around in less than a day. That’s to give you a perspective of just how dikike’ (small) Guåhan actually is! Although the island isn’t that large in land mass, there are still many things to see and do.
However, that’s enough about the island itself and back to the topic of CHamoru Month. What is it exactly? The concept dates back to the 1970’s as a project that began at the public school level. Eventually though is expanded as a community wide effort. On island, local businesses and local federal entities showcase the beauty of Guåhan through their own decorative efforts. There’s also historical re-enactments and other special events for everyone to participate in.
But what about here stateside?
With much distance between our home island and the United States, how connected are we to our culture? As the older CHamoru generation continues to age, there begs the issue of torch carrying out our customs and knowledge. Educating the youth has definitely come to the forefront in order to keep our rich history alive for years to come. To get an idea of where they stand, we decided to get some input from our younger members of the group to the question: What do you think it means to be CHamoru? Here are a couple responses from our not-so-timid famagu’on (children).
“Being CHamoru means a couple things to me. One of them is sharing my culture by telling stories through dance. An important part of being CHamoru is showing respect to elders. Being CHamoru takes a lot of responsibility to keep our culture alive and remembered. Having that responsibility to focus and remember all the songs and dances is sometimes hard. It is important so that those who are watching don’t mistake our culture for another. My favorite thing about the CHamoru culture is the food. I love being able to experience all the different foods.” -Avani, 12
“I think being CHamoru is being lucky because we have a great culture. I get to share my culture by dancing. When we dance we are representing our culture. Every year we have the Pacific Islander Festival. We were not able to perform last year for 2020 because of COVID-19. I hope we get to this year. Everyone should be able to experience the CHamoru culture.” -Aiden, 13
“I don’t know how it feels because I’m not CHamoru. However, the culture is cool and I feel connected to the culture when I sing, dance and chant in CHamoru.” -Alexza, 16
“I think for me, being Chamoru is like embracing another part of me! I love being able to dance, food, and be with my family while also learning more about the culture and language. What I love most is the dancing and singing because while I do that i’m able to visually show others what we’re about. It really inspires me and makes me happy whenever we perform because being with my family and friends makes me feel great. :)” – Taliya, 17
“For me, being CHamoru means to share and preserve our culture. I strive to keep our culture alive in anyway that I can whether it be through dance, history, and language. I especially love dancing as it feels like my ancestors live through me and my other fellow dancers to tell their stories. I also enjoy being able to sing songs and recite chants in CHamoru as it assists in learning my native language. Lastly, I personally love to learn the history of our culture and its traditions. Overall, I’m proud to say that I’m CHamoru because it is an important part of me.” -Jaymee, 18
What about you? What does it mean to be CHamoru to you? Let’s use this month to pause and reflect on not only ourselves but the CHamoru heritage as a whole!
CHamoru Vocabulary Used:
- Guåhan – Guam
- Dikike’ – small
- Famagu’on – children
- CHamoru Month Journal Spread by @doyoungbun on Instagram
- History of Chamorro Heritage Month: https://www.visitguam.com/blog/post/2046/