Sunday, December 13, 2015

Puengen Minagof Nochebuena 2014

Puengen Minagof Nochebuena
by Michael Lujan Bevacqua
December 3, 2014
The Marianas Variety

THE Chamorro Studies Program at the University of Guam organizes numerous events and programs each year. We host or co-host forums, such as the female candidate forums and sexual harassment forums held earlier this year. We offer Chamorro language classes and over the past year Chamorro dance and weaving courses. We hold regular colloquia where people speak on issues important in a contemporary or historical sense to the Chamorro people, including last year’s “The Chamorro Experience gi Fino’ Chamorro” a lecture series in the Chamorro language. But amidst all these activities there are two primary events that the program organizes each year, I Inachaigen Fino’ CHamoru or the Chamorro Language Competition, each March on Charter Day and Puengen Minagof Noche Buena, a Chamorro Christmas celebration each December.

This year’s Puengen Minagof Noche Buena will be taking place this Friday, Dec. 5 starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Humanities and Social Sciences building atrium at UOG. It is a collaborative effort of the instructors and students for all the Chamorro languages classes at UOG in the Fanuchan’an (fall) semester.

Normally, the evening features a bilen-making competition, however this year is different. A bilen is a Nativity scene, usually featuring a baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, some shepherds and the Three Kings (Wise Men). Nowadays many people buy a set or use a set bought in previous years, but in the past a family would collect moss and wood from the jungle and build the scene themselves. In the past, classes would use found objects and natural or recyclable materials to build their bilens and they would be pitted against each other to see whose was the best. The competitive aspect will still be present this year, but instead students will be constructing latte stones. They will still have to use natural and recyclable materials. Judges will be scoring the latte stones in the following categories: Most Beautiful, Most Relevant to the Theme and Most Creative. There is an additional category where those attending Puengen Minagof will be able to vote for their favorite in the People’s Choice Award.

A must for each Puengen Minagof is the enjoying of Chamorro Christmas songs. Students will be singing a wide variety of songs both traditional and more contemporary. Come and join UOG students and sing along to old favorites such as “Dandan i Pandaretas” or “Kantåyi gui’” or “Ta Falågue Sahyao.” You can also hear contemporary Christmas songs such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “Jingle Bells” and “Silver Bells” translated into Chamorro. Here’s an excerpt of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or “Rudof” translated into Chamorro:

Rudof agaga' i gui'eng-mu/ lålamlam kada puengi,/ ya kada ma attan i gui'eng-mu,/ sigi hao di ma kasse,/ todu i mangga'chong-mu,/ sigi hao di ma kasse,/ sa' hågu ha' nai na binådu,/ sasahnge yan na'ma'se'.

I am proud to present that for this year’s Puengen Minagof, we will also be featuring Chamorro weaving demonstrations. This semester the Chamorro Studies program has been working with the group Pa’a Taotao Tano’ to offer a class in Chamorro weaving. For the past few months, students in the course have been learning how to weave items such as the gueha (fan), katupat (rice pouch), guafak (woven mat), piña (pineapple), puti’on (stars), ala (basket) and tuhong sakman (canoe hat). The instructor is Art Pangelinan from Pa’a Taotao Tano’, who has been teaching the students to weave with both hågon niyok (coconut fibers) and akgak (pandanus fibers). The students will be presenting the items they have learned to weave this semester and also be offering some demonstrations for those interested in trying their hand at a kaputat, a puti’on or a apacha’ (grasshopper).

There will be other displays and demonstrations, including the screening of Chamorro language film projects by students and the introducing of a new virtual dictionary website. Professors Gerhardt Schwab and Rosa Palomo of UOG have been working on developing a virtual database and learning resource for the Chamorro language. Students in CM301, or Advanced Chamorro, have been working this semester to add words, dialogues, grammatical lessons to the website which will hopefully be launched sometime next year. Rosa Palomo has been teaching Chamorro at UOG for many years. Gerhardt Schwab is actually a social work professor at UOG, but recently declared himself a Chamorro Studies major and has since returned to school to learn the Chamorro language.

Finally, what is perhaps the most exciting aspect of Puengen Minagof for people is the food. This year’s table will feature a variety of exciting types of buñelos, or donuts. According to the students coordinating the table, there will be buñelos dågu, buñelos aga’, buñelos månglo, buñelos kalamasa, buñelos kamuti, buñelos manha and perhaps several other surprises. 

I want to thank Dean James Sellmann of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences for hosting the event. I also want to congratulate the fafa’na’guen Chamorro at UOG for all their hard work in making this event happen: Sinora Palomo, Sinora Flores, Sinora Mendiola, Sinot Franquez and Sinot Benavente. They are all part-time faculty who are dedicated to the promotion and protection of the Chamorro language and each year organize wonderful events like this to that end.

Biba Puengen Minagof! Biba Chamorro! Biba UOG!

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