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September 17, 2016 @ 7:34 am

Ep. 249 “One Thousand Paper Cranes and Other Actions for Peace”

Ep. 249  “One Thousand Paper Cranes and Other Actions for Peace” (hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman and Robert Wang) was recorded 7/31/16 and airs 9/2/16.  


This episode begins with a short presentation made by 10 year old Maria Jessica Schwab to her fifth grade class at St Francis Catholic School on Guam about the book entitled Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (1977) by American-Canadian author Eleanor Coerr. This story is based on the letters of a girl who was two years old when she survived the horrific atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August  6, 1945 but died ten years later of leukemia caused by the radiation.

This is followed by my interview with another Hibakusha, or victim of the atomic bombing.  Hideko Tamura-Snider is a retired social worker who worked in the field of child welfare and mental health in the United States for forty years dealing with issues related to trauma, loss, grief and healing. Since 1979 she has been appearing before professional organizations, university classes, and community groups across the United States and in her native Japan, telling her story and encouraging people of all cultures and nations to examine the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and to work toward peace and nuclear nonproliferation. She has authored a memoir One Sunny Day (1996) and a children's picture book When a Peace Tree Blooms (2014).  In 2007 she founded One Sunny Day Initiatives to educate people about the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and to plant seeds of peace, hope and reconciliation through educational presentations and cultural exchange programs. In 2013, she was honored by appointment as Peace Ambassador for the City of Hiroshima. From 12/23/15~1/5/16, she visited for the first time the islands of Saipan and Tinian, the launching point for the atomic bomb attacks against Japan (see http://www.saipantribune.com/index.php/hiroshima-bombing-survivor-advocates-for-peace/). 

In the second half, I speak with Arthur ‘AJ’ Taimanglo and Raymond Lujan, sons of Chamorro men who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, who have represented Guam at events in Japan to remember the atomic bombings and to promote solidarity and peace. These events are sponsored by Gensuikyo (Japan Council Against A and H Bombs) which was established in September 1955. Since then it has waged various kinds of campaigns for: the prevention of nuclear war; the total ban on and the elimination of nuclear weapons; and support and solidarity with Hibakusha. The council's founding followed the first World Conference against A & H Bombs, held in August of the same year in the wake of the U.S. hydrogen bomb testing in the Marshall Islands. 

AJ Taimanglo first visited Japan as a cultural exchange student while in middle school. In 2014 he returned as one of seven international delegates to participate in the nationwide anti-nuclear Peace March. This annual 90 day relay began in 1958 and covers all 47 prefectures using 11 main routes. The other delegates were from Japan, the Philippines, India, and the United States. At that time AJ was a social work student at the University of Guam. He is currently a social worker at Catholic Social Services working with the elderly and adults with disabilities who have encountered some form of abuse.  

Ray Lujan was also in middle school when he first visited Japan as a Junior Peace Ambassador for the Asia-Pacific Children’s Convention. He recently returned from representing Guam at the 2016 Peace March, as well as the World Conference Against A and H Bombs held August 2-9 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He chaired two breakout sessions at this conference and also toured the Japan Red Cross A Bomb Hospital in Hiroshima. He is currently a social work senior at the University of Guam and a practicum student at the I Famaguon-ta Program at the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center where he works with at-risk children and youth and their families.  

This episode includes the musical selection “Thousand Cranes” by Hiroshima, an American-Asian jazz fusion band, as well as a CNN audio clip by Will Ripley about President Obama’s May 27, 2016 visit to Hiroshima.   

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July 17, 2016 @ 4:13 am

Ep. 248 “Decolonizing Oceania and the Festival of the Pacific Arts”

Ep. 248  “Decolonizing Oceania and the Festival of the Pacific Arts” (hosted by Dr. Tiara Naputi and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman) airs 7/15/16. 

This episode is dedicated to the late  Eddie “Uncle Ed” Leon Guerrero Benavente, a Chamoru rights activist and longtime supporter for the decolonization of Guåhan, who passed away on July 6, 2016.

This episode features commentary from Chamorus who discuss the issue of decolonization at the 12th Festival of the Pacific Arts, hosted by Guåhan from May 22-June 4, 2016. The festival’s theme, "Håfa Iyo-ta, Håfa Guinahå-ta, Håfa Ta Påtte, Dinanña' Sunidu Siha Giya Pasifiku" or "What We Own, What We Have, What We Share, United Voices of the Pacific" provided an opportunity to consider the shared histories and contemporary realities throughout Oceania. 

Commentary is provided by six of the twelve Guåhan delegates who staged a strategic action during the Festival’s closing ceremony on Saturday, June 4th  calling for unity across Oceania. Standing in solidarity with the decolonization struggle of other indigenous communities throughout Oceania (especially the Kanak, Kanaka Maoli, West Papuans, and Rapa Nui), these delegates unfurled their wraps as banners that carried the message “Decolonize Oceania” and “Free Guåhan.”  They share their stories, describe their roles in this political action, and discuss how decolonization was woven throughout FestPac in various ways: 

Desiree Taimanglo Ventura

Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero

Kisha Borja-Quichocho-Calvo

Kenneth Gofigan Kuper

Monaeka Flores

Joseph Certeza

This episode also includes an interview with Monica Guzman, the Programming Chair for the 2016 Festival of the Pacific Arts,  who shares her response to this strategic action at the closing ceremony, and broader political issues addressed at the festival.

For related commentary published in the Pacific Daily News written by Kisha Borja-Quichocho- Calvo, “Political Statement at FestPac Necessary” (June 9, 2016) and by Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero and Michael Lujan Bevacqua, “We Deserve to be Free” (June 19, 2016),  go to: https://www.facebook.com/beyondthefencekprg/ . 

Additionally, a short film is being produced by the Independence for Guam Task Force to share the story behind the strategic action that took place at the closing ceremony.  To view some information about this film (anticipated for release in September 2016),  go to: https://www.facebook.com/1768523633376324/videos/1798543663707654/

Guest host Tiara Naputi (Ph.D. The University of Texas-Austin) is a member of the Chamoru   diaspora whose interdisciplinary work focuses on indigenous studies, rhetoric and cultural studies. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado-Boulder

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July 17, 2016 @ 4:08 am

Ep. 247 “The PROMESA and the Colonial Crisis in Puerto Rico”

Ep. 247 “The PROMESA and the Colonial Crisis in Puerto Rico” (hosted by Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman) was recorded 6/2/16 in Managua, Nicaragua and airs 7/1/16. 


This episode features an in-person interview with Wilma E. Reverón-Collazo,  an internationally recognized human rights activist and attorney practicing employment, civil rights, and family law in Puerto Rico.  

In recent weeks the news of an economic crisis in Puerto Rico has been widely reported in the media. The local government is more than $70 billion in debt and the island is suffering with an unemployment rate of 11.4% and a poverty rate of 45%.  Basic public services in health care and education have been dramatically affected and the island is experiencing a rapid brain drain as those who have the means to leave, are doing so.


What is rarely reported by mainstream media is that much of Puerto Rico’s current dire financial state is due to its long-standing history as a U.S. colony, and past and existing laws that have kept it, as some scholars suggest, as a “laboratory of neoliberalism.” This implies that certain predatory or Malthusian social and economic policies that are currently being imposed on developing countries around the world, were first piloted in Puerto Rico. Current U.S. and Puerto Rico law restrict this commonwealth’s ability to respond to its financial crisis, for example by requiring that it pay its debtors each month before it takes care of its basic services; also, by preventing it from declaring bankruptcy in order to restructure its debt.


On June 29, the U.S. Senate passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA, which translates to promise), on a bipartisan 68-30 vote, three weeks after  the House overwhelmingly backed the measure.  This vote came just two days before Puerto Rico is due to make a $2 billion payment to creditors. Puerto Rico is scheduled for its next round of debt payments and is unable to meet them.  This supposed “rescue” legislation affords an opportunity for Puerto Rico to restructure its debt by placing it under the control of a seven-member federal fiscal board whose authority supersedes any local law or elected official.  

Attorney Reverón-Collazo discusses the colonial origins of the current debt crisis and how, in her opinion, the PROMESA only promises to create more problems. 


This interview was conducted by Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua on June 2, 2016 at the United Nations Committee of 24 (Special Committee on Decolonization) Regional Seminar held in Managua, Nicaragua.    

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June 27, 2016 @ 9:50 am

Ep. 246 “A Tribute to Daniel Berrigan: Prophet of Peace …and More”

Ep. 246  “A Tribute to Daniel Berrigan: Prophet of Peace …and More” (hosted by Francis X. Hezel and produced  by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman and Robert Wang) airs 6/24/16. 

Father Daniel Berrigan—American Jesuit priest, poet, author, teacher, anti-war activist, prophet, controversial figure—died April 30, just nine days shy of his 95thbirthday.   

Berrigan made his first mark on the nation in the midst of the Vietnam War–a war that increasingly divided the United States.  Berrigan was one of the towering figures of that era–and perhaps one of the most divisive. Together with his late brother, Philip, the Berrigan brothers stood as radical spokesmen for peace even as their own country was waging war. They burned draft files in the parking lot of the Catonsville, Maryland draft board and trespassed onto the General Electric nuclear missile facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania were they damaged nuclear nuclear warhead nose cones, in acts of resistance to U.S. militarism. The Berrigan brothers' felonious forms of nonviolent protest led a nation of Catholics, and millions of others, to both loathe and love the brothers, who together made the cover of Timemagazine in 1971 for their work in opposition to the Vietnam War. 

This episode features interviews via Skype with Fr. Raymond A. Schroth, a Jesuit, journalist, and teacher who was a colleague of Berrigan’s. John O’Gorman, who was a student of Berrigan’s in 1989 in a Seminar on Peace & Justice at Loyola University-New Orleans; and Gerry Drummond, a former Jesuit and friend. They share personal reflections about this remarkable man, his peacemaking legacy and impact on their own formation of conscience about war, and his wake and funeral in May. 

This episode includes the poem by Berrigan entitled "Some" which he performed 6/10/06 at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City; two poems of Berrigan read by Gerry Drummond; and a clip from the film “King Of Prussia”, excerpted from Democracy Now, “Remembering Father Daniel Berrigan - A Prophet”, which aired 5/30/16.  The episode concludes with the songs: “Peace, Love, and Understanding” performed by Nick Lowe and “War” performed by Edwin Star. 

Guest host Father Francis X. Hezel, S.J, has lived and worked in Micronesia since 1963.  At different times, he has served as a high school teacher, school administrator, pastor and regional superior to the Jesuits in Micronesia. He is now serving as parochial vicar in Santa Barbara Catholic Church in Guam after 40 years as director of Micronesian Seminar, the public education program for the Catholic Church in the Caroline Islands.  He has written and spoken widely  about the impacts of social change on island societies and has authored several books on Micronesian history. You may view his May 6 , 2015 commentary on Dan Berrigan at www.wheresfran.org/


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June 27, 2016 @ 9:48 am

BTF EP 245

May 26, 2016 @ 5:45 pm

Ep. 244 “Our Pasts Before Us: Militarization in the Marianas”

Ep. 244  “Our Pasts Before Us: Militarization in the Marianas” hosted by Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman) was recorded 5/20/16 and airs 5/27/16. 


This episode features three Chamorro scholars who discuss “Militarization in the Marianas”, a panel presentation at the 22nd Pacific History Conference held May 19-21 at the Hyatt Hotel in Tumon, Guam. This year’s conference theme “Mo’na:  Our Pasts Before Us” calls for an examination of the past to learn how this has shaped the present and may etch the future. This biennial conference brought together about 275 participants representing 21 countries and Guam [for more conference details, go to: www.uog.edu/phaconference/sessions-and-abstracts]

In the first presentation, “Sindålu Stories;  The Role of US Military Service in Shaping Contemporary Chamorro Identity” Michael Lujan Bevacqua (Ph.D. University of California, San Diego) discusses how the US military presence on Guam has provided a means through which Chamorros have developed a closer, patriotic attachment to their colonizer, but also through various policies helped foment Chamorro desire for  decolonization and greater political autonomy. Dr. Bevacqua is the coordinator of the Chamorro Studies Program at the University of Guam where he teaches the Chamorro language and the History of Guam [for coverage of Dr. Bevacqua’s ‘walking tour’ of the Guam Humanities Council Sindålu exhibit, download Ep. 194 (7/18/14), “Sindålu: Chamorro Journeys in the U.S . Military”]. 


When the U.S. Department of Navy announced in 2009 that the ancient village of Pågat was its preferred alternative in Guam for a Live Fire Training Range Complex, diverse groups came together in unprecedented ways to protect this sacred site.  In the second presentation, “Pågat: How a Community United to Save an Ancient Village”, Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero (MFA, Mills College) discusses the community efforts that went into saving Pågat and what this critical moment in Guam’s history reveals about resistance to  the military buildup.  At the time of this Save Pågat Protest in 2010 (video available on Youtube) referenced in her talk,  Ms. Leon Guerrero was a co-organizer with We Are Guahan.  She is currently the Managing Editor for the University of Guam Press [for related episodes, download Ep. 20 (6/4/10) “Pågat Under Fire:  Resistance through Historic Preservation”, Ep. 48 (12/31/10) ,"The Lawsuit to Save Pågat Village --- And More”, Ep. 160 (8/23/13) “The Marianas Under Siege: Farallon de Medinilla, Pågat, Tinian and Pagan”, Ep. 181 (4/18/14) “Theatre on Sacred Ground”, Ep. 184 (5/9/14), “From Pågat to Ritidian:  The Live-Fire Training Range Complex (LFTRC) Controversy Continues”].   

Tiara R. Naputi (Ph.D. University of Texas-Austin) is a member of the Chamoru   diaspora whose interdisciplinary work focuses on indigenous studies, rhetoric and cultural studies. In her presentation, “Forward from the Marianas: Navigating with Our Ancestors through Waves of Militarization”, she “launches from the Marianas to navigate ancestral and decolonial strategies that challenge colonization and militarization throughout Oceania … to destabilize historical and contemporary U.S. national narratives and colonial forms of representation about the Pacific.”  Formerly a member of the faculty in Diversity and Community Studies at Western Kentucky University,  Dr. Naputi is assuming a new position as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado-Boulder [for related discussions, download Ep. 95 (12/2/11)   “We Are the Many - Across the Pacific Blue Continent, Part I” and Ep. 97 (12/17/11) “We Are the Many - Across the Pacific Blue Continent, Part II”].

Music selection:  Oceanic Realm by Brandon Fletcher .  

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May 24, 2016 @ 10:02 pm

Ep. 243 “Guahan, Vieques (Puerto Rico), and Hawai’i: Island Relationalities and Feminist Demilitarization Movements”

Ep. 243  “Guahan, Vieques (Puerto Rico), and Hawai’i: Island Relationalities and Feminist Demilitarization Movements”(hosted by Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman and Robert Wang) was recorded 5/16/16 and airs 5/20/16. 


Program guest is Ms. Rebekah Garrison, a PhD candidate in American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California (USC). Her dissertation research in progress is  a comparative examination of how female Indigenous activists on Guahan, Vieques (Puerto Rico) and Hawaiʻi, link the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea through demilitarization, as the core of their social movements.  

Vieques is an island in Puerto Rico that the U.S. Department of Defense used as a site for bomb testing and training between 1941 and 2003.  Kaho’olawe in the Hawaiian Island chain was also used for similar purposes from 1941 thru 1990, which ended as a result of actions and litigation brought by the Protect Kaho’olawe‘ Ohana (PKO). Through a decolonial framework, Rebekah examines community mobilizations that resulted in the expulsion of the US military and its allies from Kahoʻolawe, Hawaii in 1990 and Vieques, Puerto Rico in 2003.  She is on Guahan for extended fieldwork to explore demilitarization tactics within the contemporary Mariana Islands.

Using a combination of archival research, interviews, and participant observation, she attempts to write a history of “island relationality”, wherein she uses an alternative approach to the singular study of islands and instead, demilitarizes colonial cartographies for comparative analysis.  Rebekah focuses on the International Women’s Network Against Militarism (IWNAM), and examines how members of this organization construct their own decolonial theorizations of geography.  By creating a network of relations, participants redefine the parameters of thinking through islands as comparative units.  In her research, she articulates how the histories of Kahoʻolawe and Vieques circulate within Guahan and cognitively map decolonial forms of island relational experiences between Pacific and Caribbean islands.  The IWNAM provides a new discourse regarding the ways in which female indigenous activists across multiple islands mobilize solidarity, disrupting histories of colonialism while also imagining a future free of US military imposition.

Music selection: Canción para Vieques (Song for Vieques) performed by various artists.  

Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad is an associate professor of social work at the University of Guam. She is also the organizer and chair of the Guahan Coalition of Peace and Justice, a member organization of  IWNAM.  She is serving as interim coordinator for Beyond the Fence.     

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May 24, 2016 @ 9:49 pm

Ep. 242 “Motherhood and Activism through Publication”

Ep. 242 “Motherhood and Activism through Publication” (hosted by Desiree Taimanglo Ventura and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman) was recorded 4/29/16 and airs 5/6/16. 

In celebration of Mother’s Day (May 8) , this episode features conversations with three creative Chamoru mothers who seek to preserve their indigenous language and culture through education, community action, and publication. They discuss the challenges of balancing motherhood and activism, their efforts in the classroom to promote awareness of local issues, and the inspiration behind their creative and published works.  

Our first guest is Moñeka De Oro, mother of 7 year old Ma’ase and a Master’s student in the Micronesian Studies Program at the University of Guam (UOG). Her academic and community work focuses on the traditional healing arts, cultural preservation and environmental protection of the Marianas Islands.  She is an educator who has been involved with Our Islands Are Sacred, the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice,  and We are Guahan. She is also an occasional guest host for Beyond the Fence.  

She authored Amot Famalao’an: Traditional Healing and Holistic Living for Women of the Marianas in March 2014, a publication made possible with a grant from the Guam Preservation Trust. She talks about the creation of this unique work, as well as the 2011 publication of  her poem Para I Lahi-hu (For My Son) in UOG’s Storyboard 11: Navigating Our Future

This is followed by a conversation with sisters-in-law, Dana Bollinger and Simone Eugenia Perez Bollinger, both language teachers who co-authored a new Chamoru children’s book, Ma Guaiya Yu’ si Nåna yan si Tåta (Grandma and Grandpa Love Me) published by Taiguini Books, a division of the University of Guam Press.  This book is  beautifully illustrated by Cielo de los Reyes, artist, educator and mother of three. 


Dana has been teaching Spanish at John F. Kennedy High School for over ten years and has two children, Amaya and Andrew.  Simone is an English instructor at the Guam Community College who has published numerous creative works dealing with local issues, cultural identity and teaching. She is a member of the Festival of Pacific Arts Literary Arts Committee and will be representing Guam as a delegate. She received the 2015 MagPro Award for Excellence in Higher Education and was listed in the AGA Who’s Who in the Government of Guam, 40 and Under. She has also been working to develop post-secondary Chamoru language curriculum for institutions of higher education in Hawaii, Guam, and the CNMI through an ANA grant. She has a two year old daughter, Ena Ramone. 

Music selection:  “Nanan Mami” by J.D. Crutch 

Guest host, Desiree Taimanglo Ventura, recorded the conversation with Dana and Simone in her Yigo home, where she and her guests could comfortably include their young children. Desiree is currently on leave from the Guam Community College. where she teaches English, to care for her son, Vincent, and new born daughter, Lilia Grace.

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May 24, 2016 @ 9:37 pm

Ep. 241 “Environmental Leadership and Island Sustainability in Micronesia”

Ep. 241 “Environmental Leadership and Island Sustainability in Micronesia” (hosted by Dr.  Vivian Dames and produced by Tom Maxedon  with assistance from Alan Grossman) airs 4/22/16. 

In recognition of Earth Day (April 22), this episode features three leaders in Micronesia who are widely recognized for their commitment to protection of the environment which is essential to the sustainability of our islands and of the cultural identities of our diverse indigenous peoples.   

Program guest in the first half of this episode is Tommy Remengesau Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, who was interviewed March 4 while in Guam to present the keynote address at the 6th Micronesian Non-Profit Congress hosted by Payu’ta, Inc. (“Our Umbrella”, in Chamorro).  

Remengesau is the eighth president of the Republic of Palau and the first Palauan to be elected president three times. He is running for re-election in November 2016.  In 2007, Time magazine named him one of the heroes of the environment for initiatives such as the Micronesian Challenge. In 2014, the United Nations Environmental Programme, awarded him with its top accolade -- The Champion of the Earth award for his leadership in strengthening Palau’s economic resilience through national initiatives to protect its biodiversity.  Also in 2014, the environmental organization, Rare, presented Remengesau with its first Inspiring Conservation Award. President Remengesau is now spearheading an historic effort to establish a marine sanctuary covering 80% of Palau’s territorial waters, providing even greater protection for Palau’s environment while further enhancing Palau’s tourism revenues. 

This first segment concludes with the audio track of a video entitled “Modern Day Uab” (GEF /Pacific IWRM Project/Roll’em Productions, Palau/Secretariat of the Pacific Community) which is about a Palauan legend that mirrors what is happening today globally and in the Pacific Island region and the steps that Palau is taking to conserve natural resources for future generations. 

In the second half we feature the welcome address of Dr. Robert Underwood followed by the keynote speech of Tony deBrum at the seventh regional conference on island sustainability co-hosted by the University of Guam (UOG) and the University of Alaska- Fairbanks that was held April 11-15 on Guam.  

Dr. Underwood, UOG President and former Guam Delegate, established the Center for Island Sustainability (CIS) in 2009 which is becoming a focal institute for adapting and modeling sustainable technologies that meet the needs of island communities.  Dr. Underwood also seeks to promote change by “leading change” through an array of Go Green initiatives on the UOG campus.  

Tony de Brum  has dedicated a lifetime of public service in pursuit of an independent, secure and sustainable Marshall Islands and has courageously advanced his people’s vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.  As the former Foreign Minister, he and his legal team took the unprecedented step of filing lawsuits against all nine nuclear weapons states in the International Court of Justice in 2014, seeking to hold them to account for their failure to abide by the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law.  For this work, they have been nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. Also, as architect of the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, adopted in September 2013, de Brum has also been instrumental in securing the commitment of Pacific Island States to adopt concrete measures to combat climate change.

This episode concludes with the poem “Tell Them” composed and performed by Marshall Islander Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner at the opening ceremony of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City in 2014 and at the Paris Climate Change Summit in 2015. 

[For related episodes, see Ep. 203 (10/10/14) “Marshallese Poet Speaks To World Leaders at U.N. Climate Summit” and Ep. 233 (1/5/16)  “From the Front Line on Climate Change - Micronesia”.]  

Special thanks to Jonas Macapinlac and Michelle Conerly, UOG Office of Integrated Marketing and Communication, for providing these selected audio recordings from the 2016 Island Sustainability Conference .    

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April 17, 2016 @ 9:42 am

Ep. 179 “I Taotao Sumay (People of Sumay): Forced Exiles and Resistance Identities” Rebroadcast

Ep. 179 “I Taotao Sumay (People of Sumay): Forced Exiles and Resistance Identities” (hosted by Dr.  Vivian Dames and produced Joy White) first aired 4/6/14 and re-broadcast 4/15/16 (with assistance of Alan Grossman and Robert Wang). 

Program guest is James Perez Viernes, historian and educator from the village of Santa Rita and i Taotao Sumay (people of Sumay) descendant. His 2008 master’s thesis “Fanhasso i Taotao Summery: Displacement, Dispossession, and Survival in Guam” examines the displacement of the people of Sumay village by the U.S. Navy and the pervasive “Taotao Sumay” identity as manifested in the post-World War II development of Santa Rita village.  

James earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature at the University of Guam and worked for several years in the island’s government and private sectors before going to the University of Hawai’i- Manoa to complete a Master of Arts degree in Pacific Islands Studies. This thesis garnered the Norman Meller Research Award for best MA research paper in the social sciences and humanities that focused on the Pacific Islands. This research has been published in partnership with the Guam Preservation Trust as “Sumay: Rikuetdo para i Famagu’on-ta (A Legacy for Our Children). 

At the time of this 2014 interview,  James was a doctoral candidate in the University of Hawaii’s Department of History and an adjunct faculty of the University of Guam. Dr. Viernes is now an assistant professor of Chamorro Studies and History at the University of Guam and a member of the Board of Directors of the Guam Preservation Trust. His doctoral research examines the intersections of Chamorro masculinities and American military colonialism during the first Naval era on Guam (1898-1941).

The village of Sumay in southern Guam, once known as the “Pearl of the Pacific”, was occupied by Japanese forces during World War II and destroyed by U.S. Forces  bombardment in the retaking of the island in 1944.  The people of this village were relocated to a temporary refugee camp adjacent to Sumay which they went on to develop into the present-day village of Santa Rita.  According to Perez, the people of Sumay became “forced exiles” and the only group of Chamorros explicitly and permanently forbidden to return to their home village after the war. This area, once a picturesque and thriving coastal village, is now enclosed by U.S. Naval Base Guam, a Navy-controlled installation that was combined in 2009 with Anderson Air Force Base, in northern Guam,  to form Joint Region Marianas.   

In the past,  i Taotao Sumay and their descendants were allowed to visit the Sumay cemetery on All Souls Day.  However, such access depends on the base commander and became more restricted after 9-11.  In 2009, U.S. Naval Base Guam, in cooperation with the Santa Rita mayor’s office, began to sponsor an annual Back to Sumay Day when those outside the fence are allowed to visit and to celebrate Mass at the barren site of the former Catholic Church and what remains of the Sumay cemetery.  The seventh annual Back to Sumay event was held April 9th. 

Music selection is the song “Kantan Sumay (Song for Sumay)”, lyrics by Dolores Lizama and performed by Helen Claveria de Guzman from the album Ai Haga-hu, Haga-hu (Korason Productions, 1993) which tells the story of the eviction of the Sumay people and their resettlement in Santa Rita. 

This episode concludes with a reading by James Viernes of his 2001 poem “Beloved Sumay” which has since been published.  It is now a reading component  in the History of Guam and English composition courses at the University of Guam. 

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