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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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April 6, 2016 @ 11:49 am

Ep. 240 “WWAD (What Would Anghet Do?): Lessons from the Writings and Activism of Angel Santos”

Ep. 240 “WWAD (What Would Anghet Do?): Lessons from the Writings and Activism of Angel Santos” (hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman) airs 4/1/16.  

On March 30, 2015, the Latte Stone Park in Hagåtña was officially renamed the Angel Leon Guerrero Santos Memorial Park to honor of the U.S. Air Force veteran, three-term senator, Democrat gubernatorial candidate in the 1998 election, and first Maga’lahi of Nasion Chamoru, who became an icon of Chamorro activism in the 1990s.  ‘Anghet' fought for the implementation of the Chamorro Land Trust Act and the return of excess federal land, uncovered toxic wastes on private properties kept quiet by military authorities, wrote and lectured on the social injustices of the Chamoru people, and championed human rights, especially for indigenous peoples. He passed away on July 3, 2003 at the age of  44, amidst rumors that he was poisoned while in federal detention for a misdemeanor charge of violating a court order to vacate land that once belonged to his grandfather. His death left, what some describe, as a void in the Chamorro rights movement. Who was this remarkable Chamorro man? What is his legacy? And what would he be doing now, at age 57,  if still alive ?  


This episode features a March 24 interview with Royce Kiniki Palomo Camacho, a 2015 graduate of the Master of Arts in English program at the University of Guam (UOG).  His thesis, entitled “The Writing on the Wall: 21st Century Imaginings of a Chamoru Rights Activist” received the UOG Presidential Thesis Award.  Camacho discusses the impetus for this research on the “language of resistance” of Angel Santos,  the method of rhetorical analysis, the texts and framework for this analysis, and his “discoveries” and “imaginings” as a researcher.  Royce is now an adjunct English instructor at UOG and also in training for a black belt in the martial art of jiujitsu.  This interview includes the song "Ko' Gaige Hamyu (Are You There?)” by Ron Eclavea and Tony Sanchez featuring a spoken word performance by Angel Santos. This song, which Camacho references in his thesis, is a call to Chamorros to remember their past and fight for their future.  A copy of this thesis is available at the RFK Library, University of Guam.

This interview is followed by brief comment from several individuals who knew Angel Santos in various capacities:  Ed Pocaigue was a staff assistant to Senator Santos in the 26th Guam Legislature when the senator co-chaired (with Senator Mark Forbes-R) the Blue Ribbon Panel Committee that commissioned an action report which provided evidence of radioactive contamination on Guam as a result of U.S. nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.  Speaker Judith Won Pat was a fellow Democrat in the 23rd, 24th and 26th Guam Legislatures (1994-1998, and 2000-2002).  Danny‘Pågat' Jackson is the current Maga' lahi of Nasion Chamoru, and his wife, Josephine Jackson, is the secretary.  Scholar-activist Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua attended church services with Anghet and has written several pieces on his life and activism, including an interpretive essay for Guampedia and “Jumping the Fence: An Evaluation of Nasion Chamoru and Its Impact on Contemporary Guam”, a lecture presented at the 2nd Annual Marianas History Conference. August 30-31, 2013 [broadcast as Ep. 162 (9/6/13)  “Historicizing Chamorro Resistance, Subversion and Activism”]. Although Luke Duenas did not know Anghet personally, he represents a new generation of advocates who carry on his legacy.  A UOG social work senior, Luke organized student participation in a March 16 rally to oppose the Chamorro Land Trust Commission’s leasing of properties for commercial use and presented this as a case study in cause advocacy at the March 2016 Social Work Conference held on Guam.   

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