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November 24, 2014 @ 3:06 am

Episode 94 (Re-broadcast): “Native Narratives: Chamoru Women Reflect on Thanksgiving”

 (hosted by Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero with production assistance of Lydia Taleu)  first aired 11/25/11 and re-broadcast 11/21/14 with the assistance of Marlon Molinos and Alan Grossman). 

Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving on Guam, an island that is oceans away from Plymouth Rock? Why do our native Chamorus, who share many of the same struggles that Native Americans face, honor this holiday? As an unincorporated U.S. Territory, the people of Guam have adopted this American holiday and have blended it into the local culture, making for a very interesting Thanksgiving table and narrative.

This episode features an in-depth discussion among three Chamorro women educators/writers about Thanksgiving. The discussion is inspired by the theme of an anthology of contemporary native women’s writings called Reinventing the Enemy’s Language edited by Joy Harjo and Gloria Bird. As described in the book’s introduction, “Reinventing the Enemy’s Language was conceived during a lively discussion of native women meeting around the kitchen table. Many revolutions, ideas, songs, and stories have been born around the table of our talk made from grief, joy, sorrow, and happiness. We learn the world and test it through interaction and dialogue with each other, beginning as we actively listen through the membrane of the womb wall to the drama of our families’ lives.” This episode aims to emulate such a discussion.

Sitting around the Beyond the Fence table are host Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, a University of Guam writing instructor who has focused much of her creative and academic work on the struggles and triumphs of the Chamoru people; Desiree Taimanglo Ventura, who also teaches college writing, has studied rhetoric and narratives about women, and is the author of the blog The Drowning Mermaid; and Kisha Borja Quichocho, a writing teacher at both George Washington High School and the University of Guam, poet and Pacific Islands scholar.

In the first half, we discuss how we approach Thanksgiving in our classrooms. We share our students’ reflections on this holiday and discuss the many ways in which the history and struggles of Native Americans mirror the history and struggles of  Chamoru people.  We also address the irony of celebrating a holiday like Thanksgiving on Guam.

In the second half, the discussion shifts to an exploration into the role of native women in preserving culture and keeping native communities alive.  Program guests share their thoughts and poetry about native Chamoru and Micronesian women.

Music selections: This episode features music by native peoples from America and the Philippines.  It opens with a recording of Native youth participating in the Fifth Annual American Indian Market and Powwow in San Francisco’s Mission District. The song “Ome” by Ras K’dee, a Native American hip-hop artist, is featured in the middle of the program. And the episode ends with the song “Champion” by the Filipino hip-hop group Native Guns.

Also found in the middle of the program are three songs selected by University of Guam students who were asked to choose songs that reminded them of Thanksgiving. These songs are “Heaven” by Brett Dennen, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Deff Leppard, and “Hand in My Pocket” by Alanis Morissette. 

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November 18, 2014 @ 3:47 am

Episode 206, “The State Department Boys: Philippine Diplomacy and Its American Heritage”

(hosted by Dr. Donald Platt with production assistance of Vivian Dames,  Marlon Molinos and Alan Grossman) was recorded 11/10/14  and airs 11/17/14.  

Program guest is Marciano R. de Borja, author of The State Department Boys: Philippine Diplomacy and Its American Heritage (2014). This book is set in July 1946 and focuses on a group of pioneer Filipino diplomats chosen to become the first officer corps of the Philippine Foreign Service. The group was affectionately known as the “State Department Boys.  Trained at the U.S Department of State in Washington, D.C. and at selected American Foreign Service posts, this group played pivotal roles in Philippine diplomacy and helped the Philippine Republic find its place in the international community.

De Borja is a career diplomat who arrived August 2014 to assume his duties as Philippine Consul General in Guam with jurisdiction over the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. He most recently served as Senior Special Assistant in the Office of the Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila. Previously he served as Minister at the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York where he was in charge of Security Council Affairs and the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary Affairs) of the UN General Assembly. He was also assigned to the Philippine embassies in Japan, Chile, and Spain as well as in the Department of Foreign Affairs where he served, among others, as Director for the United States Division.

He finished his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and European Languages (cum laude) from the University of the Philippines and his M.A. in History and Geography from the University of Navarra (Spain) as a Spanish Foreign Ministry scholar. He has also studied International Politics at the University of Tokyo as a Japanese Government (Monbusho) scholar.

This episode begins with excerpts of the remarks given by Dr. Lilnabeth Somera, Associate Professor of Communication and member of the Philippine Studies Group, at the book launch hosted by the University of Guam on Wednesday, November 15.  This is followed by excerpts of the talk given by Consul General de Borja about this seven year project.  

The interview with Consul General de Borja was conducted by guest host Dr. Donald Platt, a Professor of History at the University of Guam where he teaches several American History courses as well as the History of the Philippines and Recent U.S. Military History.  Platt’s Ph.D. dissertation focused on US-Philippine relations during the 1945-1954 period that overlaps with a portion of the time period covered by de Borja’s book. 

The State Department Boys: Philippine Diplomacy and Its American Heritage is available for purchase online at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training website  and  from Amazon.com. It will soon be available locally at Bestseller Book Store.  

The music selection is one of the sound tracks from "Once Upon a Time in America" entitled ‘Friends’ by Ennio Morricone, selected by Consul General de Borja as the music bed for a short photographic presentation about the “State Department Boys.”  

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November 9, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

Episode 205, “Honoring Filipino Veterans”

(hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames with production assistance of Alan Grossman) was recorded 8/13/14 at the Agana Shopping Center and aired 10/25/14.    

 

This episode features coverage of the Guam Humanities Council (GHC) panel presentation by Mariles Benavente, Roy Adonay and Capt. Kristen Ramos entitled ‘Honoring Filipino Veterans.” This tribute was held August 13, 2014 at the Agana Shopping Center and was part of the GHC-Smithsonian national exhibit “Journey Stories” and the local companion exhibit, “Sindålu: Chamorro Journeys in the U.S. Military which explores the many significant and often unrecognized journeys of Chamorro men and women who currently or have served in the U.S. military [see Ep. 194 (7/11/14) for coverage of the opening of this exhibit and walking tour lecture ]. The August 13th event expands and builds upon the Sindålu exhibit by highlighting the narratives and contributions of several local Filipino veterans and service members. Comprising nearly one third of the island population, the Filipino community of Guam includes a large number of veterans and service members in all branches of the U.S. military.   

 

During World War II, some 250,000 to 400,000 Filipinos served in the U.S. military in units including the Philippine Scouts, the Philippine Commonwealth Army under U.S. Command (known as the US Army Forces of the Far East, or USAFFE), and recognized guerrillas during the Japanese Occupation.  As of January 2013, ten thousand surviving Filipino American veterans of WWII lived in the United States and an estimated fourteen to eighteen thousand surviving veterans are in the Philippines. The US Government promised these Filipino veterans all the benefits afforded to other veterans. However, in 1946 the U.S. Congress passed the Rescission Act of 1946 which stripped these veterans of the promised benefits. For decades these Filipino veterans, their survivors and supporters have protested this discriminatory treatment and fought for the reinstatement of these benefits with some success, but often too little and too late.  

We begin this episode with commentary (recorded 10/29/14) from Dr. Donald Platt, a professor of history at the University of Guam where he has taught History of the Philippines for 26 years. He also teaches Recent US MilItary History which is a required course for all students in the ROTC program.  He provides an historical perspective on this particular chapter of service of Filipinos in the U.S. military during WWII and the ongoing struggle for recognition, compensation and equity in benefits for these veterans.  

 

In 2008, after nearly 50 years of controversy, the U.S. Congress finally decided to grant the

‘pensions’ promised to the ‘irregular’ soldiers who fought the Japanese in the Philippines  during WWII and their widows.  Mariles Benavente, one of the nine children of the late Honorable Ramon V. Diaz, a retired Superior Court Judge and Catholic Deacon, provides  a little known account of her father who was an attorney and member of the Philippines Commonwealth Army inducted into the USAFFE in 1941.  Judge Diaz was a survivor of the Bataan Death March which followed the formal surrender to the Japanese of some 76,000 American and Filipino soldiers in April 1942.  Diaz emigrated to Guam in 1951 and was the first Filipino appointed to the Superior Court of Guam. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 93, six months after he was notified that his application for compensation as a USAFFE veteran, for which Mariles tirelessly advocated on his behalf, was finally approved. Compensation to many other USAFFE and Philippine Scouts veterans and their survivors have been denied or are still pending. 

 

In her remarks, Benavente references the book, by General Rigoberto J. Atienza (1985). A Time For War:105 Days in Bataan (published by his wife Eugenia S. vda. de Atienza). This rare book was given to her by a friend of her father, also a survivor of the Bataan Death March, the late Antonio Dimalanta,  Mr. Dimalanta was a Philippines Scout veteran and the first president of the Filipino Community of Guam, a non-profit umbrella organization for all Filipino organizations, established in 1955. 

 

Roy Adonay is the current president of the Filipino Community of Guam. Born in the Philippines and raised on Guam, Adonay is the son of US Navy veteran, Anthony Adonay, and the father of a US Marine, Marlon Roldan.  Roy is also a former service member who served in the USAF for four years assigned to AAFB-Guam.  In his presentation, Adonay places the participation of Filipinos in the U.S. military within the context of the history of Filipino migration to Guam.  He also reflects on the parental dilemma of, on the one hand, wanting to affirm his son’s independence and decision to enlist and, on the other hand, being fearful for his son’s safety and the possibility of death and loss. 

 

In January 2013, U.S. Defense  Secretary Leon Panetta removed the military’s ban on women serving in combat zones.  Although implementation of these rules is still ongoing, women are now accepting such leadership opportunities.  Capt. Kristen Ramos,  a second generation Filipino-American, became the first-ever female company commander in the Guam Army National Guard deployed to a combat zone.  She assumed command of Foxtrot Company during deployment in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  This unit was part of the largest mobilization in Guam history with over 600 Guam Army Guardsmen deployed. A product of the local Catholic school systems, she holds a B.A. Sociology from the University of Washington.  In civilian life, she works full-time as the Human Resources Manager at the Outrigger Hotel-Guam.

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November 9, 2014 @ 1:35 pm

Ep. 204, “Chamorros Living Beyond the Fence in Washington State”

(hosted by dåko'ta alcantara camacho with production assistance of Vivian Dames and Alan Grossman) was recorded 9/19 and 9/24/14 in Lakewood, Washington and aired 10/17/14.    

 

Program guests are three Chamorros ---- Bernard Punzalan, Michael ‘Miget’  Tuncap, and Tommy Benavente ---- born and raised on Guam, now residing in Lakewood, Washington. Lakewood, a city of almost 60,000 located between Seattle and Olympia, hosts Joint Base Lewis -McChord (formerly McChord Air Force Base) and Camp Murray.   

 

These three men are actively involved in promoting Chamoru history, culture, and language. They join dåko'ta alcantara camacho, also a former island resident, for two separately recorded conversations in Lakewood. Bernard and Miget talk about the differences and similarities between living in Guahan and in Washington (where there are 29 federally recognized Indian tribes and groups), the challenges of assimilation and retaining Chamoru identity, and the different ways that U.S. militarism and militarization continues to affect their lives.  Miget draws connections between indigenous experiences in illegally occupied Washington State and Chamorros living in the Marianas and reflects on what it means to be a ‘settler’ on indigenous lands in the continental U.S.  Bernard and Tommy discuss the particular challenges for Chamorro veterans and how their service to the U.S. Constitution has shaped their perspectives on colonialism and militarization.  Miget and Bernard conclude by discussing the viability of perpetuating Chamorro culture in the continental US and the future of the Chamorros, as a people. 

 

Bernard Punzalan (Chamorroroots@gmail.com) is the founder and principal investigator of the Chamorro Roots Genealogy Project (http://www.chamorroroots.com).  He is a US Army  veteran and represents the third generation of military service in his family.  He currently  serves as grant manager for medical research, Madigan Army Medical Center.  

 

Michael ‘Miget’ Tuncap (pistudies.institute@gmail.com) is a member of the faculty at Green River Community College and Chair of the Pacific Studies Institute. He is the son of a U.S Air Force veteran,  an educator, community artist and organizer who uses spoken word, hip hop, and political education to raise student consciousness and inspire revolutionary change.  Miget shouts out his political work with Famoksaiyan, a San Francisco area based network of Chamoru activists, scholars, students, community leaders and artists.  

 

Tommy Benavente is a retired US Army veteran whose mother made him enlist at the age of 17.  He is a member of Nasion Chamoru (Chamorro Nation), a coalition which emerged in Guahan in the 1990s of different grassroots and family-based groups connected through a commitment to the protection of Chamoru lands, culture and rights. 

 

Music selections: This episode leads off with a chant, I Tinituhon, by I Fanlålai'an Oral History Project followed by an original rap written and performed by Michael ‘Miget’ Tuncap.  The selections, All Life is Sacred and Tinatuyot, by si dåko'ta alcantara camacho’, are available as a free download at  (http://www.hopontheark.com). Camacho’ is a Chamoru/Ilokano artist and co-founder of ARKiology EDUtainment NETwork.  He uses hip-hop, theatre, dance and ceremony to uphold the sacred lifeways of his ancestors. These songs are on his latest project All Life is Sacred EP, a short mixtape raising awareness and support for the Our Islands Are Sacred campaign.

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