Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guamanian v. Chamorro

Chamorro versus Guamanian:
Terminology in Calvo speech draws criticism

Written by Brett Kelman
Pacific Daily News
March 16, 2011

Gov. Eddie Calvo apologized yesterday to any Chamorros who were offended by his word choice in his State of the Island speech, but he didn't apologize for his extensive use of "Guamanian."

During an interview yesterday, Calvo explained that he used the word Guamanian to include all residents of Guam -- regardless of their ethnicities. The term includes Chamorros, but not solely Chamorros, he said.

"We have Asian Guamanians, we have Filipino Guamanians and a host of people from other cultures," Calvo said yesterday. "These are people who are not Chamorro by birth, but they live here. They have made a home on Guam ..."

'Back of the bus'

During his 70-minute speech on Monday, Calvo used the word "Guamanian" six times as often as the word "Chamorro." After the speech, Democratic Sen. Ben Pangelinan said the Chamorro people were missing from the speech.

" ... It's sad we're relegated in our own homeland by our own governor to the back of the bus," Pangelinan told Pacific News Center in an interview after the speech.

Yesterday morning, Calvo took a call from a K-57 radio talk show on Pangelinan's comment. Calvo said on the show he apologized if anyone was offended by his speech.

"As a person, I don't like to offend people, so I feel bad about it," Calvo told the Pacific Daily News yesterday. "But I'm comfortable with what I said."

So what did he actually say?

According to a copy of the speech released by the governor's office, Calvo used the word "Guamanian" 26 times, but used only "Chamorro" four times.

All four uses of the word Chamorro were referencing ancient Chamorro communities, and one of those is a quote from the late Gov. Ricardo Bordallo.

Here is an example, where Calvo discussed the ancient village of Hila'an, which was recently returned to Guam's civilian communities by the federal government:

"The latte stones at Hila'an are remnants of what used to be," Calvo said in the speech. "Bring to life the illustration of those latte. They stood together on our western shores, with homes filled with Chamorros, prosperous and innovative."

In contrast, Calvo's statements using the word "Guamanian" are general references to the island's modern community as a whole, regardless of ethnicity. He also used the term "my fellow Guamanians" or "the Guamanian Dream."

For example, Calvo said: "The people of Guam want their tax refunds now. ... Paying the refunds in full, right now, will, without a doubt, solve the financial troubles of thousands of Guamanians."

Calvo also said he wanted to welcome Marines from Okinawa with "Hafa Adai, my fellow Guamanians."

Yesterday, when questioned more about his criticism, Pangelinan said he was troubled by the speech because Calvo spoke about Chamorros when he looked to the past, but spoke about Guamanians when he looked to the future.

Pangelinan said the perseverance of the Chamorro culture should have had a larger presence in the speech.

"In being all inclusive, to me it felt Chamorros were being excluded. That
really is how I felt. It's a gut reaction," Pangelinan said. "I really felt sad for the Chamorros. We just weren't relevant."

When referring to a common desire for tax refunds, it would have been more
appropriate to use "people of Guam," Pangelinan said.

The senator wasn't alone in his frustration.

Peter Onedera, a University of Guam Chamorro language professor, said he
listened to Calvo's speech on the radio, cringing every time the governor said "Guamanian."

Eventually, Onedera said he just turned the speech off, disgusted.

"In essence, the word Chamorros encompasses our indigenous roots," Onedera said. "To me the term Guamanians -- and Saipanese, Tinianese and Rotanese -- is a term that was given to us. And I would think it happened without our permission in the first place."

Not just indigenous

UOG political science professor Michael Stoil said yesterday that Calvo had no choice but to use Guamanian. Calvo governs all of Guam, not just the indigenous people, Stoil said.

"For him to replace the term and talk about the benefits of governments for Chamorros, or the need of governments to be responsive to Chamorros, that would be no different than a governor in the mainland saying that his government should be responsive to whites," Stoil said.

1 comment:

  1. I agree w/Senator Pangelinan that "the people of Guam" would have been a more appropriate term to use...if he was really thinking about it.

    What I have learned is that Guamanian was a constructed term, as was Saipanese, Tinianese and Rotanese. They are artificial boundaries that make us see each other as separate from ourselves.

    How ironic/interesting that it is now used to disappear us.