Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chamorro Cultural Fest--A Party I'll Never Forget!

It’s been 5 days since CHE’LU’s Chamorro Cultural Fest in San Diego and I believe I’m physically recovered. Having Guam Books and Beads there for its second year was wonderful.

I met many friends, relatives and supporters. My favorite encounters were with former JFKHS students. I feel a sense of security in our heritage when I see that they have grown into successful adults with families and some with the cutest nenis ever!

The fest was buzzing from sunrise to sunset and with the dedicated Board of Directors and committee volunteers our mission was accomplished:
Chamorro Hands in Education Links Unity (CHE’LU) is dedicated to the Chamorro community by strengthening our native language, culture and health through education.

I was happy to see the enthusiasm of vendors, many skeptical of their first time at the fest and later hearing wonderful feedback about their experience. Having Marissa Borja and John Damian from Pacific Home and Garden on Guam cover the fest was a great reprise. Can’t wait to watch the coverage soon. I love that many traveled from Guam to, Judy Flores-Batik Artist, Chris Malafunkshun, Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio, Zoriesonly-Doyon Ahn and the talents of Vince Reyes and Inetnon Gefpa'go. And to the vendors who shared their products from all over the mainland, thank you! (Gerard Aflague, Bahakke Brand and Tony Mesa-Hafabrown Designs).

Another favorite moment was getting a visit from Kat Gardner, author of Myths of Guam from the 80s. Her support of our writing efforts was wonderful validation.

Our tireless photographer, Bryson Kim captured everything! His wonderful photos help preserve the event and are a testament that the Chamorro spirit lives on.

Entertainment was packed and the amphitheater never saw a dull moment.

I’m happy to be a part of such a wonderful group as CHE’LU. Our team is working on all cylinders and supports each other with love.

With that said, no matter where the Navy takes me and my family, I know that I will do my best to make the trek back to San Diego--the one city that CHE’LU has established as the Chamorro Cultural hub of the west coast. Until March 2013, Biba Chamorro!

My favorite part of the music line up, Jason J. Alex Lugwa...Mighty Mellow Massive.

Friday, March 16, 2012

This Blog Entry is a Shameless Attempt to Solicit Votes for My Book, Attitude 13! Go, Tritons!

“You create your opportunities by asking for them.”--Shakti Gawain

With that said, I’m casting my talaya (fishing net) via the inter-“net” to garner votes for my book, Attitude 13: A Daughter of Guam’s Collection of Short Stories (2010 Authorhouse).

My Alma mater, University of Guam is celebrating its 60th Anniversary and to commemorate this, they are selecting “60 for 60” books for their Robert F. Kennedy Library. In their words, “Help by voting for book titles that you believe shares the history, culture, literature, and life of Guam or Micronesia.”

I found out my book was nominated because a poetic colleague, Craig Santos Perez posted it on Facebook. (Please BOTA for him too! Under the GUAM section, "from unincorporated territory" by Craig Santos Perez (2008 and 2010) [poetry]). Curious, I wanted to see if Attitude 13 or Sirena, or my mali—Alison Taimanglo Cuasay’s book Tasi and Matina made the nomination list (you can add these titles to the suggestion portion of the survey too).

I was excited to see Attitude 13 under the Juvenile/Young Adult section. My Facebook and email barrage began immediately. I am ending my tirade with a blog entry because I’m excited (and I would love for you to Bota/Vote!).

Another wonderful Chamorro cultural partner is batik artist, Judy Selk Flores, Ph.D. with her work also under the GUAM section, "Estorian Inalahan: history of a Spanish-era village in Guam" by Judith Selk Flores (2011). Bota, bota!

There are so many wonderful Chamorro authors/poets to choose from and I’m glad UOG is doing this! Voting continues through April 2nd and the winners will be announced on April 30th.

In advance, I thank you for your vote!
Please cut and paste the following link to vote under JUVENILE/YOUNG ADULT, Attitude 13 Tanya Taimanglo


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me?

"It takes a long time to grow young."--Pablo Picasso

Okay, I’m 38 years old. I remember being 13 and thinking, “Eww, 30-somethings are so old!” But, here I am and I feel like I’m still growing as a person. Does that ever stop? At this point, I don’t think so. Now, I look at 13 year olds and think, “Aww, they’re so young!” I often feel so sad when I hear of a twenty something on the news losing their life, thinking, “Wow, he’s still a baby!” I guess that makes Justin Bieber a zygote to me.
Well, being from Guam and knowing that they are one day ahead, I’ve had the blessings of birthday well-wishers for two days straight, and I love it. It’s amazing how a simple greeting from someone on your Facebook wall can make you smile, especially if it’s from someone on your list you deemed dormant since you and he or she have not made any contact aside from being on each other’s list. I’ve spent the last day and a half thanking each person with a comment.
So, I have much to be thankful for as I venture into my 38th year. Wonderful children who keep me on my toes, a supporting thoughtful husband who works hard for our family and a great circle of family and friends.

Below (My father, Tedy Gamboa Chargualaf and a 3 year old me! Circa Asan, Guam 1977).

The one thing I miss on my birthday is my dad. He died five years ago this month. I could always depend on a thoughtful card signed in his beautiful handwriting. He was always good about remembering people on their birthdays, especially his children and his god children. That is something I hold true in my life. The year before I got married, I asked my dad if he thought throwing a Power Puff Girl party was a good idea (my favorite cartoon then). It was for my 29th birthday. He excitedly said, "Yeah! And let's get a jumpy house!" So, we did. And we had a pinata for the kids and adults and a ton of food, family and friends. It was a blast! So, with my father and my memories of him fresh in my head today, thanks everyone for making another birthday wonderful.

Oh, and I’m excited to say that I will have another appearance in the University of Guam’s Storyboard 12. (I have poetry in Storyboard 6 and two short stories in Storyboard 11).

Receiving the e-mail from the editor late last night was a welcomed birthday gift. “Reach” is a short story I wrote about my mom and her journey from South Korea to Guam. I will be featured with 27 other artists/writers selected by blind review from over 180 entries. For that, I’m proud and excited! Biba Chamorro Writing!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On Being Chamorro...

“Fine manners need the support of fine manners in others.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is my personal take on being Chamorro. It’s not a matter of “how much” Chamorro I am—although there have been many times when I had to prove my percentage, but for clarity, my late father is Chamorro and my mother is Korean. I grew up on Guam and was essentially raised in a Chamorro household with my wonderful mother adopting, implementing and educating us in the ways of being Chamorro. Don’t get me wrong, kim chee was and is a staple in our home. And many of my self-deprecating and accommodating manners are ingrained in my DNA from being Asian, and I love it.

Being a part of CHE’LU, Chamorro Hands in Education Links Unity, has been an ethnic lifesaver for me--one who married a Chamorro man and left the island in 2004. I feared leaving the island because I didn’t know a life outside of it. I was comfortable in my teaching career. And because of cultural norms, I was fine having my mom and dad living in the home they helped me purchase in Mangilao. I was 25 and my father’s one goal for his children was to give us a leg up in obtaining our own “hut.” Being the only daughter, naturally they followed me to this new home and we settled in, my dad saying, “Girl, mom and I will move out when you get married.” Newly single at the time and resigned to the idea that I could live the rest of my life solo, I was okay with that, even thankful. And when my parents began getting blueprints drawn up to build a studio on the same property so they could be extra near, I was still okay. This was the Chamorro way after all. Being “near” and being “supportive.” Some might say, parents never really letting go, but I turned out okay, I believe.

When I lost my father in 2007, I was set adrift. I had no direct, trustworthy source to my ethnic heritage. Just because you grow up on Guam, doesn’t mean you have a total appreciation of your culture, the language and the customs. I’ve never even been to Talofofo Falls! That’s how I explain taking my island for granted to others.

So, leaving Guam again after my father’s funeral (his 5th year death anniversary is this March 31st), I feared for my cultural preservation, for the type of Chamorros my children would be. I wanted them to have their Tata Tedy in their lives, but fate would dictate otherwise.

Fast forward to 2010, when Alison, my mali’ and I formed Guam Books and Beads. I didn’t start our business to make a statement, but to pay homage to my heritage and mostly my father. The statement came naturally afterward. The books I authored and share with my kid brother artist, Sonny, were meant to be something tangible for my children. I’ve received praise from old friends, family and new friends. What I’ve noticed is that some people in my circle either do one of three things: 1. praise/support me, 2. ignore me, 3. attempt to criticize/belittle my endeavors. I’ve grown a thick skin in the last two years. I embrace those who have a kind word. Even, critical, like the “uncle” who bought my book, read it and proudly pointed out a typo within the first half hour of my first major event. Anyone who knows me—control Type A, perfectionist when it comes to my writing, knows that his actions were an affront. (But, I digress. I smiled at “uncle” and thanked him.) I appreciate friends and family who provide support and encouragement. And, more importantly, I ignore category 3. Pile on the constructive criticism, but not the destructive toxic words.

I’ve found that as the timer counts down to the 3rd Chamorro Cultural Fest, the supporters of our work are shining through. I thank them. If we are to survive as a people, we need more positive energy. We need to network. We need to extract the Chamorro pride in some, which is dormant. Don’t allow your children, teenagers to roll their eyes at being from Guam.

Since I was a child, and being a person whose face can confuse people (I’ve been greeted by Filipinos, Chinese, Hawaiians, Vietnamese, Mexicans…etc as one of their own, you get the point), I’ve always had to prove my “Chamorro-ness”. I guess it’s something I will continue to do. I am a spokesperson to the non-Chamorros who wonder about Guam and Chamorros. I educate them on my experience, on what I know to be true. If you are creating a product or providing a spotlight for our culture, then I’ll be a cheerleader for you! We need this networking to be strengthened and not torn down by our own people.

I’ve heard some in our community say that we aren’t an industrious, business minded people. Not True! I’ve heard that we keep our own kind down. Maybe somewhat. But, I’m working on the spotlight I have to redirect it into the darkness for others to come forth. I want to see our people doing well, finding success and more importantly SUPPORTING each other. Like the Latte Stone that is symbolic for our people, our definition of it has changed over time. It used to be a functional and symbolic tool to show status. They elevated the huts high off the ground where the lower class live. Now, it’s a universal symbol that means, I AM CHAMORRO. So, there is hope for our community to strengthen, to change our mindsets, to become better, contributing individuals to our world, no matter where we reside.

Do we have one million Chamorros in the world? I wonder. I doubt it. Yes, we’re kind of everywhere, but what are the stats? We’ve been on the US Census and from the facts I’ve heard and read, there are 140,000 Chamorros on the mainland. The 2000 US Census documented over 92,000 Chamorros/Part Chamorros nationwide.

Do we want to perpetuate our culture and our people? Heck, yes. And next time you see your fellow Chamorro doing something good for the culture, please applaud their efforts, spread the word and thank them. Because we’ve come a long way, baby. From the first, indigenous Chamorros who set foot on Guam 4,000 years ago, I’m proud to say I’m part of the lineage. I'm a survivor. You should be too, even if only your pinky finger is Chamorro.

With that said, I say, Si Yu’os Ma’ase to those who have supported me and my books. I am back in the “labs” working on three new projects (Puntan and Fu'una, Attitude 13 VOLUME 2 and Shades of Chamorro)


A Story of a Stolen Mermaid--(and the Infringement of an Artist)

Fact: I wrote Sirena: A Mermaid Legend from Guam in 2010. Fact: My brother, Sonny Chargualaf is the talented artist behind the imagery. ...