Wednesday, January 27, 2010

From Legend Retold

I have been following different sources on the U.S. Military expansion of Guahan. There are a lot of great articles, speeches on video clips, and other resources online so that one can follow along what is happening in the southern-most island of the Marianas. There are a great deal of voices that are making their concerns known through different avenues, and I am a bit worried that I am not hearing enough voiced concern here on Saipan, Tinian and Rota regarding detrimental effects that may occur due to the expansion involving the Northern Marianas. The usual sentiments mostly address how good it would be for the economy if there are is a market to whom we could sell our crops to, to lease land, and an extra population whom would visit the Commonwealth to expand tourism dollars.

A public hearing for discussions on the CNMI Draft Environmental Impact Study (D-EIS) )was yesterday. I couldn’t attend because it was in the morning. Also, a newspaper article said that it would be presented on Saipan yesterday the 27th, and then contradicted itself saying that it was on Friday instead at the end of the article (No time was given neither by the way). I heard about 50 people attended but also heard that there were no voices of concern about possible harm. An online version of the D-EIS is supposed to be put up today on the Commerce website .

Here is a video clip that I found on several blogs about the buildup. This happened recently in the village of Santa Rita and was attended by about 316 people. The clip has about 4 women sharing their concerns.

There are a lot of good materials coming out of Guahan and I will most likely link to them a little at a time. I did however make some new connections online with a few bloggers that are using good story telling and art for activism that made me think whether I should be contributing more to the discussions.

Drea of Waiting for Wonderland has this wonderful allegory that compares the Chamorro legend of a giant fish that was eating Guahan in the days of the ancients. The women are the heroines of the legend which is a reflection of the respect and empowerment that the ancient people have for women and their role in society. She wrote:

Sleepless in Wonderland: The Real Big Fish
As a child growing up on Guam, I heard many legends. Some I learned at school and some my parents told me. One legend that has been on my mind this past month, is the legend of thebig fish that ate Guam. You remember the legend, don't you? It explains why Guam is so narrow in the middle. As I was told, many many years ago a very large fish was eating away at our island. Many strong men tried to stop the fish, but none succeeded. At this time, the young women of Guam had beautiful long hair. One day the women decided to weave their hair in to a net. With the net made from their hair the women caught the big fish and saved the land and people from the monstrous fish.

The reason this legend has been on my mind, is because I've been looking at many maps of Guam recently. Yes, our island is narrow in the middle, but I've also noticed that there are many parts of our island that is innaccessible to the people of Guam. It's as if the big fish has returned. This big fish is feasting on the graves of our ancestors and land that is lush and beautiful. Sometimes this big fish spits out the the land, returning it to us, but by that time much of the land is contaminated.

What will our island look like 4 years from now? How much of it will be contaminated by the big fish? Where will we be 20 years from now? Will we be telling our grandchildren the story of the fish that annhilated our island?

We must gather together, like the women in the original legend, to defend our home, before there is nothing left to defend.

Her soul sister Nella of Resolution Tree added an illustration to the story of a Guahan that is “eaten up” by the “big fish” that is illustrative of DOD occupied land in 1991.


I thought that I should attempt a political cartoon in homageto not only their creativeness but mostly due to their sincere concern for the future of Guahan and its people.

I also already have one sketched with a CNMI angle in which our people is represented by a hand readily handing over the islands of Tinian and Aguijan in a food bowl to the “big fish.” I hope it turns out good enough to start the gears working in our thoughts.

Aguijan from Tinian.

Are we really so eager to turn over Tinian and Aguijan? I love Tinian for how peaceful and beautiful it is. Aguijan is historically important as well, being the last place of resistance during the Chamorro-Spanish Wars. Here is a story about offering Aguijan as an “alternative” to Guahan. Here is a clue to an environmental impact that is already forseen if Tinian is taken over.
Let us talk stories about this again.

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

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