Monday, May 16, 2005

The Plight of the Chamorro; My People

Gather round my children and listen closely to my words,
The story of my people of long ago
who lived and died on this island we call Guahan

My Chamorro ancestors were tall and strong
Proud bearers of Micronesian and Polynesian descent
These hardy people traveled by flying proa, guided by the stars
An island they saw in the distance and knew it was their home
They settled and bore strong children,
tradition and culture were born.

Their ancestors, the aniti and taotaomonas,
the ancient spirits of past
watched over the people--the proud ones
From the land, they harvested taro, papaya and tapioca
From the sea, they gathered fish, eel and crabs
Every evening, they came together
and praised the gods for their good fortune
But it was soon to end.

One day, the Spanish with their Bibles and guns,
sailed into the harbor
They killed the mighty warriors
and taught the villagers to deny their gods
And replaced them with a man named Jesus Christ

With the Spanish came the plague that killed half of the Chamorros
The strong grew weak in health, heart, and spirit
The women were dying at childbirth
and the children lived with the manamko
Then the Spanish left,
but indoctrinated their Catholic legacy.
But it was soon to end.

One day, soldiers from the Land of the Rising Sun
flew warplanes over our sky and dropped deadly bombs.
Many islanders were in Church,
worshipping the Legacy of the Spanish priests and soldiers.
All ran to save their families, but alas, many died,
and many more marched as sheep to slaughter
to live in concentration camps.

Women were raped and men were humiliated in front of their family,
just to see a smile on a Japanese soldier’s face.
But it was soon to end.

Uncle Sam came and took Guahan from the Japanese,
driving them away
And the Chamorro people cheered. The war was over.
The Americans stayed and inculcated their western ways
Today, we eat hotdogs, drink beer, drive Chevrolets
Our children’s Chamorro heritage is learned in books,
Strangers to their language and culture

Our children see the old Chamorro ways
as backward and old-fashion
The ways of the ancient ones have been replaced
by televised ads of slim bodies,
white skin, and perfect teeth.
This is the way of our culture, of our heritage,
from our once proud ancestors
whose generation grows weak and die young, day by day.

The Chamorro people, a distant memory in my mind;
the distant echoes of the ancient ones lament,
for the spirits no longer protect and bless us.
Ancient Chamorro lands desecrated with impunity
in the name of economic growth.

Listen well, my children and re-learn the ways of the forgotten ones.
Their blood runs deep within you. Reclaim your heritage.


Blogger Robbie said...

This is a beautiful piece of poetry. It's been quite a while since I've been choked up over something I've read.

5:16 AM  
Anonymous MandT said...

We had the same feeling. A knot of noble grief. Beautiful. So glad you're back and running. M

10:43 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

When I read this, I heard a track by Black Eyed Peas that begins much the same way. Beautiful :)

11:56 AM  
Blogger Helen said...

I want so badly to write something. A compliment, something profound. Nothing comes to me. I've passed your blog a few times tonight and have stopped each time and re-read. Still, no words.
I enjoyed this very much.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from the sounds of all I read all I think of is the change apon change from something that was so unique... first the spanish... then the japs now the Americans my mind turns to think.. who next will try and erase the old and start the new for it saddens me to think that the chamorros are made to do as a chalk board and be erased and re-written, how many white streaks are now left on the once untouched surface. I hope that the young see the roots of the old and learn not to forget where they started.What is a man,woman or child without a past.

You know who I am ... my Hermit. I watch over you always.

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading "The Plight of the Chamorro: My People":

Dear Hermit,
Please keep educating people on the plight of the Chamorros, and their sacrifices. We have seen what happen to the American Indian and African Americans, hold on, carry on, never give up.

9:05 AM  
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