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November 21, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

Beyond the Fence Episode 92

Episode 92 “Keeping the Promise:  The 9th Annual Guam Veterans Creative Arts Showcase” (hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames with production assistance of Daisy Demapan) airs 11/4/11.

According to the Veterans Affairs Office, there are between 12-16,000 US veterans in Guam.  This number is expected to increase with the military buildup.  As this number increases, so will the responsibility of the federal government and of local communities in Guam and the region to help veterans when they return --- especially those who have been in combat and those who have suffered sexual violence --- as well as the spouses and children of veterans.

This weekend the Vet Center in partnership with the Council on the Arts and Humanities is sponsoring the 9th Annual Guam Veterans Creative Arts Showcase at the Agana Shopping Center.  It kicks off this evening, Friday, November 4  with a reception and program of performing arts from 6-8 p. m. and continues through Saturday and Sunday with exhibits of other creative arts.  The showcase features the work of more than 30 veterans from every branch of service [For more information, call 472-7161].

This showcase is part of the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize veterans for their creative accomplishments and to educate and demonstrate the therapeutic benefits of the arts.  This event provides an opportunity for the community to learn about the the role of the Vet Center in “keeping the promise’ to our veterans and for veterans to share their creativity and provide political and social commentary using diverse medium of expression.  This event also invites us to critically  reflect on the importance of another promise still unfulfilled --- that is the moral and legal obligation of the United States to the peoples of Guam as a non self-governing territory.

Program guests are Ms. Catherine Illarmo, social worker/team leader  at the Vet Center and originator of the annual showcase. The Vet Center is located at the Reflection Center in Hagatna and is a community-based branch program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that supports local vets. This is followed by interviews with two featured Chamorro artists and veterans, Mr. Alejandro (‘Al’ ) Teodoro Blas Lizama and Ms. Melinda Quichocho.

Ms. Illarmo (Catherine.Illarmo@va.gov ) brings to her role as team leader at the Vet Center over 30 years of experience as a social worker on both sides of the fence. In addition to working at the Department of Youth Affairs and the Department of Public Health & Social Services, she also worked as a social worker with the Family Advocacy Program at Anderson Air Force Base -Guam.

Mr. Lizama (e-mail not available) is a well-known artist, activist, historian, master recycler and passionate supporter of research and  preservation in the service of Chamorro heritage. He was drafted into the US Army in 1965 at the age of nineteen and served one year as an infantryman in Vietnam. He learned silk screening and ceramics at the Guam Rehabilitation Workshop and studied mechanical and architectural drafting and anthropology at the University of Guam.  This led to his interest in pointillism, or intricately detailed pen and ink drawings of Guam, its people, resources, environment and cultural artifacts. The Latte Stone and Lusong artifacts are his favorite subjects because they provide tangible evidence of the existence and resourcefulness of the original inhabitants of Guam. He retired from the Department of Parks and Recreation after 25 years where he participated in projects to survey and preserve historical sites in the Marianas and Hawaiian Islands. He participates annually in the Guam Veterans Creative Arts Showcase.

Ms. Quichocho (nihitaballatalo@gmail.com) served in the US Army from 1989-1993 and from  1993-1996 also served in the Guam National Guard.  She is currently employed as a Marshall in the Superior Court of Guam. She developed an interest in singing and dancing at a young age and has been a performance artist with the Natibu Dance Academy for the past 8 years.  This is the 5th years she has participated in the Guam Veterans Creative Arts Showcase and is one of the featured performers at the opening reception and program.  We conclude this episode with a musical selection by Johnny Sablan entitled An Gumupu e Paluma (When the Bird Flies) which was selected by Ms. Quichocho for the closing performance this evening.

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