I consider myself blessed to be a CHamoru woman born to a people whose cultural values center around honoring and respecting elders and ancestors, caring for the land, and promoting the collective spirit of Inafa’ maolek in everything we do. I am proud to come from a people, for whom despite a very long history of colonization and war still manage to wake up in the morning, smile, joke, sing, dance and proudly call themselves CHamoru. Each day the Inifresi, written by the late Dr. Bernadita Dungca, unites all generations in a very clear quest to protect and defend our home and all that is sacred: Prutehi yan Difende i Hinengge, i Kottura, i Lengguahi, i Aire, i Hanom yan i Tano’ CHamoru. I dare say that it is this call that unites us in government service and transcends party politics, economic backgrounds, life experiences, and special interests.
I encourage each one of us to renew this commitment in our own individual lives – to honor our legacy, to cultivate closer ties to the land, and to speak CHamoru everyday with our families and in our workplaces. CHamoru culture is a vibrant component of our existence, also calling us to make choices and foster social, political, environmental and economic practices that support a healthy community and environment. The preservation of our sacred sites and ancestral villages, and the empowerment of our people to be the true stewards of our lands and invaluable natural resources are crucial in promoting CHamoru culture and need our critical attention now.
Our laws clearly reflect that the leaders of Guam prioritized the vitality of CHamoru culture beginning with ensuring that CHamoru become an official language of the Government of Guam, and many other measures. CHamoru culture and language have been integrated in public policies, cultural events, and economic and educational programs, despite many overwhelming challenges. Some of the policies that my colleagues and I have been able to advance include increased enforcement by the Guam Historic Resources Division, and the long awaited Chamorro National Shrine, the Naftan Mañaina-ta. We also channeled funding for the commemoration of massacre sites in our villages to remember those we have lost, to honor CHamoru survival. Such efforts encourage the sharing of stories between generations to build a deeper and imperative understanding of our history. Our government agencies also work in partnership with the many organizations that exist to sustain traditional knowledge and practices, cultivate artistic expressions, revive seafaring skills, and improve CHamoru language fluency.
Mes CHamoru and the annual Guam History & Chamorro Heritage Day holiday honored every March, are representative of a shift in CHamoru consciousness to celebrate our history, cultural values and resiliency as indigenous people. I truly enjoy and am deeply inspired by these significant occasions and I encourage all residents to take part in the great events hosted by the Department of Education Chamorro Studies Division, the Department of Chamorro Affairs, the University of Guam, Guam Visitors Bureau, and many other community organizations. It is my hope that the inspiration and Inafa’ maolek that we share during Mes CHamoru and from larger events like the Festival of Pacific arts can be sustained all year long and for years to come.
Printed February 17, 2018, Pacific Daily News
Letter: Renew commitment to the inifresi