Tap tap tap

So I just wrote this poem today (for a class assignment) from the perspective of a tattoo. Tattooing is extremely important in many, if not all, Oceanic cultures. It’s not simply a piece of art on human canvas, but each line, design, and shading has meaning and value. A person’s tattoo carries history, genealogy, culture. With that being said, I decided to take a fun approach to a tradition that has so much power and beauty in many cultures.


Tap tap tap. I have arrived. There is no turning back. I am non-refundable. You got this far why would you want to turn back? By the end of this journey you will love me, don’t you worry. Well actually I am going to be with you for the rest of your life so there’s really no choice but to love me.

Tap tap tap. I am getting bigger. You are getting stronger. I’m sorry my whole coming-to-existence party is so painful for you. I am carrying your entire family’s history with me. It is mighty heavy and quite the burden. It only makes sense that you should feel some of it too as I make my way into y(our) life as the master goes

Tap tap tap. We are doing so great! Everything is going smoothly. Don’t mind the blood. Yours has to be forced out so those before you can come in. Each line is our ancestry. Get it? Genealogy? I am your literal bloodline in an aesthetically pleasing form.

Tap tap tap.
Finished. We look amazing. Honestly and truly. I cannot wait to be showed off to your friends, and even strangers. I hope you tell them all about me. Who I am, what I represent, the people before us that we are representing, the rich and fulfilling experience you went through to bring me to life.

But for now let us rest. Close your eyes. Heal. Absorb. Absorb the power that you now have. Absorb the legacy you carry. Absorb me.

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The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative

img_9677I give this book 5 out of 5 ★★★★★. It’s that good, seriously. It is difficult to pin this book down to a certain genre. It contains personal stories by the author, as well as historical anecdotes and stories about other people too. This book stood out for me not only as a casual reader but also as an aspiring writer.

I love the playfulness of Thomas King’s writing. His use of a circular narrative was unexpected but I deeply enjoyed it. However I understand that chapters beginning and ending with the same lines can irk a fellow casual reader. (Have an open mind when it comes to this aspect of the writing!)

I love that this book didn’t try to take itself too seriously. I love writing that is more on the light and playful side. I’m not one to write all deep and poetic and I enjoy reading works that remind me that it’s okay to not write in that way.

This is a great piece of indigenous writing and I recommend that all peoples, indigenous or not, should read it. The author shows how much value are behind stories/storytelling for indigenous/native cultures. Throughout the book he discusses and challenges the notions of oral stories not being as viable a resource as written stories. He provides stories that highlight how racism towards native people have created a romanticized image of all native nations, legislation aimed to wipe out native peoples, and how native peoples view themselves and each other today through identity.

For me it showed me the power of stories. Stories are what makes us human. They shape who we are, where we are from, how we see the world, how we hope and dream. Stories bring people together and they can also tear people apart. There are multiple strands of one story. Multiple perspectives, multiple interpretations.

Hearing a certain story can change a person’s life. For better or worse. We are enlightened by stories. We can get pretty pissed off by certain stories. These are the takeaways I get from this book in a very general sense. Everyone has a story to tell, so tell it.

4th of July Thoughts

So Independence Day in the U.S. was yesterday, and I decided to make a post on instagram that I usually wouldn’t publish. You can see/read below:

7-4 post

Throughout the years I enjoyed the 4th of July. It’s a day where Americans have a good time with friends and family then watch the fireworks…and also a day where I get to see all the hilarious patriotic jokes about defeating the Brits and gaining independence. However the more I learn about my own people’s history and getting woke, I can’t help but feel indifferent and, I’ll admit, bitter about this day. My home island Guahan, as well as the Northern Mariana Islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Luta (their flag isn’t featured in this pic but please let us not forget our Chamoru brothers and sisters fam), have not been given that privilege and joy of an Independence Day. (No, Liberation Day does not count) I understand the countless debates and discussions that exist within the Chamoru community about our lands gaining independence from the United States. I am well aware of the other political statuses the Marianas, specifically Guahan, can choose between the U.S. So excuse me if you, a fellow Chamoru, feels compelled to disagree with me when I say that we need to really wake up and realize just how long we’ve been colonized! Think about it…this country of the United States of America was independent since the 1770s. Our land, water, and people have been exposed and under another country/nation ever since the 1500s! Our lands was the first to be “discovered” by Europeans in the Pacific, and yet we are among the remaining Pacific lands that are still under a colonial power. So no matter what you feel about this issue, I am personally peeved at the fact that this nation has a day where they get to turn up to being free and yet they deny the Marianas that privilege….I mean at least we get a day where we can celebrate this very nation saving~ us from another world power right?
Just something to think about for fellow Chamoru peeps across the diaspora and at home. It does not hurt to be critical and question our current status even if we benefit from current conditions!! Let’s learn and get woke together!!!
Disorganized and unincorporated rambling is officially over now 😊 #decolonizeoceania #🇬🇺 #🇲🇵 #chamorro #chamoru

For me it was a bold post to make. I don’t ever post my political opinions for family members to see. I usually keep these types of opinions for fellow islanders that I’ve met online to read (and also other strangers online that I’ll never meet I guess lol). As I was sitting on the high school campus field waiting for the sun to go down and fireworks to start while freezing my ass off, I felt compelled to type out that mini rant and share my thoughts on Instagram. None of my family members on Facebook commented on it so I’m guessing it means I am given the green light to continue posting content like that.

I don’t know why I get so shy to project my opinions about decolonization/colonialism in Oceania for my parents, siblings, aunties, uncles, and cousins to see. But the post I made yesterday was a huge improvement for myself and my confidence in saying how I feel. Can’t wait to see if I’ll keep this up.

Poetry Class

So during my final semester at community college I took an online poetry course. This was easily my favorite class this fall since it was the only one that allowed me to be creative. From the beginning of the course I knew I was going to wrap it all up by posting some of the poems I wrote. For my final portfolio, which I submitted today and got an A on, I had to revise five poems and write about the changes I made. I don’t know if I’ll ever edit the rest of the pieces I did for this class, but at the end of the day this class was great. Taught me that I don’t need to write so much (you will definitely see tons of compression from original to revised) and it made me enjoy poetry a lot more. I’m even open to the idea of writing some in my free time.

(By the way I’ll be posting these poems throughout the next couple of days since I’m showing both original and revised versions of 2 pieces along with some that were left untouched)

Hope you all enjoy 🙂

Continue reading Poetry Class

My Pasifika Story

A few days ago I posted a fun/personal challenge for fellow Pacific Islanders.  I am so shocked that many PIs have done it! It’s been amazing to read all the different stories and I hope more come along the way. You can read more about it here but I will give you a slice of it followed by my own entry.

You can consider this to be a meme or challenge for Pacific Islanders only. But I personally think this an opportunity to get one’s thoughts down in writing, and to serve as a snapshot of where one is in their life right now. You could do all of them or only one.
Honestly there’s not much rules to this but to share YOUR story, culture, and history. I’m honestly exhausted of Pacific Islanders never having their voices heard. I thought it would be a cool idea to write down a list of little challenges to spark some inspiration and see where it goes from there. We all have so many different cultures and experiences to tell. So if you feel compelled to do this challenge/meme then I encourage you to share it! My own entry is probably filled with typos but this challenge isn’t limited to Tumblr, I encourage all Pacific Islanders to participate and share on your own blog if you’d like! You can use the hashtags #MyPasifikaStory and/or #OpenOcean
NO SPACES FOR THE HASHTAGS PLEASE!

Now here is my pasifika story 🙂

1. How do you self-identify as a pasifika? What does being pasifika mean to you?

I am a Chamorro from Guam. I definitely used Guamanian more growing up because I didn’t feel like explaining to every person I met what Chamorro meant. Guam/Guamanian, that’s usually easier for non-islanders to handle. (However if I were from Saipan, Tinian, or Rota than that obviously wouldn’t apply for me) I didn’t grow up exposed to the Nesian terms as much and they actually became more present in my life as an adult.

Being pasifika means to learn, share, and listen to each other’s experiences. It’s allowing everyone their chance to voice what they find wrong and right along with supporting each other. Just sitting back and reading everyone’s entries has been absolutely wonderful.

2. Were you born and raised in your home country? Born outside your home country? Became part of the diaspora at a young age? Speak on your connection to your culture and all the ups and downs along your journey.

I was born in Guam and moved to California when I was 9. I am now starting to feel more connected to the Chamorro culture than I ever was before. I definitely felt ashamed of how disconnected I was with my culture, and most of it stems from the fact that I can’t speak Chamorro. I even remember people who were so amazed~ that I spoke great English, and people who had a look of disbelief when I told them that I couldn’t speak Chamorro. That shame hit me hard and it wasn’t until I met fellow islanders online that I felt more comfortable to embrace my culture and to learn more about it.

It’s hard to explain how and why that happened, but I think it’s because I didn’t face any judgment from islanders online when I said I was Chamorro? I remember always feeling like I wasn’t ~islander enough~ by being from Guam, and since Chamorro culture has Spanish influences it somehow meant that we didn’t exactly fit in within pasifika? I don’t know if any other Chamorros ever felt the same way but this was something I have experienced but never voiced out loud. I apologize if it doesn’t make much sense I felt it was the perfect chance to get all this out lol.

My journey is definitely a roller coaster of emotions and I’m rambling at this point. Just know that my connection and love for my culture is so special to me right now. I can get pretty emotional simply by reading an essay or a poem authored by a Chamorro writer. I have never felt this strongly and filled with so much Chamorro pride before that it’s been pretty powerful for me.

3. Are you biracial? Multiracial? Do you identify with both sides? Or all? Why or why not?

I’m biracial: Chamorro and a quarter Filipino. I don’t feel comfortable identifying as Filipino because I know nothing about that side of my family. For a very brief period, I used to be fine saying I’m also Filipino but I always felt like I wasn’t enough, I mean I’m not even half. To top off the fact that I don’t know any deep details of Filipino culture, I felt I was being dishonest to others and especially to myself. My mom is half Filipino but I don’t remember her fully identifying with that side because she was born and raised in Guam. My family deeply identifies with being Chamorro to the point where we don’t even say we’re Filipino. This, along with only knowing Guam/Chamorro relatives and customs, has influenced my feelings over not fully identifying as Filipino.

4. A beautiful/powerful word in your native language

Inafa’maolek. Its literal translation is “to make good.” It’s the sense of restoring and striving for harmony. I find it both beautiful and powerful since it isn’t encouraging love and support from just your immediate family, but within the community as a whole. We sometimes get so caught up in what’s good for ourselves that we forget about what will ultimately be good for our families, our community, and the pasifika community as well.

5. Historical figure

Matå’pang. He was a maga’lahi from Tomhom (Tumon) and was most known for killing the Spanish priest Father Diego Luis de San Vitores, and what’s more interesting is how his name is used today. I grew up not knowing about the man but more about his name that has a different meaning. Mata’pang is usually used for someone who acts mean or crazy. It wasn’t until finding out about the man himself that I learned just how successful the Spanish colonizers were in tainting his name. I view him as a hero in Chamorro history who resisted colonizers.

6. Legend or a moment in history

I love the creation story of Fu’una and Puntan so much that I drew my own version of it for an art class.

7. Music/Dance

Here come the links folks. Apo Magi by JD Crutch, Nobia Nene by Johnny Sablan, and Take Me Back by Jesse Bais and Ruby Santos are some of my favorite Chamorros songs ever.

8. Art/Film

I really want to learn how to weave. It’s so beautiful that I see it as an art form, and I’m itching to learn Chamorro techniques.

9. Views on religion and how it has, or hasn’t, played a role in your life

I grew up Roman Catholic and growing up I always went to church with my family. When I moved to CA I grew apart from religion. I don’t see myself as religious but I do believe in God, and I know how much Catholicism has played a part in my elders’ lives.

10. Thoughts on the “Nesian” terms (Mela/Micro/Poly)

I use the term Micronesian on a pretty personal level. I feel like I’m taking ownership of the term itself, but I actually prefer to say the island I’m from because that’s what I grew up doing. While I do understand people’s rejection toward the terms, it’s hard for me to stop using and/or embracing it all together when I see how little attention Melanesia/Micronesia gets in general.

It’s extremely conflicting for me: I don’t like the terms because they encourage division and yet it’s so engrained in our community that there’s no way we can completely ignore it. Also when Micronesians are spoken about it’s good to note that most of the time it is referring to those from the Federated States of Micronesia (Chuuk, Yap, Kosrae, and Pohnpei).

11. Current pasifika issue that should be brought to our attention (Even if a majority of our community knows about it, you can always stress concern)

PASIFIKA LANGUAGES. I am currently learning Chamorro and by doing so I have grown much closer to my roots. I think it’s incredibly important that we all make the effort to speak our native languages so we can prevent it from vanishing and/or potentially pass it down to future generations. Also changing the attitudes towards those who are trying to learn is important as well. It’s always intimidating for someone who’s learning a new language to speak to one who is fluent, but I think when that learner is trying to speak their own native tongue that fear increases. You don’t want to be wrong and you also don’t want to be laughed at. The sense of superiority native speakers feel needs to stop, especially when it comes to a language that doesn’t have the largest amount of fluent speakers. We should all celebrate the beauty that each of our languages possesses. It’s a beautiful feeling of connecting with your heritage and I believe language is one of the most important ways to bring that connection even closer.

Starving for Saina

KE KAUPU HEHI ALE

Photo courtesy of Gwendolyn Nelson Taimanglo’s personal family collection


Starving for Saina

By Desiree Taimanglo Ventura

Have you ever been hungry but not realized it until food was suddenly placed in front of you? You walk past a table filled with hot food and your senses remind you that your body has gone too long without nourishment. This past week, I realized that my soul had been desperately hungry for something and I wasn’t aware of it until the metaphorical food waltzed right pass me.

My grandmother passed away in October of 2012. Her death was devastating to me, not just because I had lost a grandmother, but because I lost my most accessible resource on Chamoru traditions, oral histories, and Chamoru etiquette. At one time, I had both my maternal and paternal grandmothers, women I could go to for seemingly random questions about family history, cooking, and how things should…

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There Are Many

Our Pacific 1

Our Pacific 2

Our Pacific 3

Our Pacific 4

Our Pacific 5

“There is not one Pacific
There are many
From the solid slops of Mount Hagen
and  Porgera’s wealth in the west
To the Pearl locked islets
of Tuamotu’s east
From the chilly tips of Maoridom south
To the borders of the Northern territories
and her mysteries that span from equator
to Cancer.

There is not one troubled region
There are many
Trade links and nuclear free zones
cohabit with foreign assistance
and internal discord
my sister does not speak with me anymore
and old ways of doing things are re-looked at
Children go to faraway places
and babai pits lie idle and still.

There is not one Pacific
Only one common theme
That development is certain
Though foreign
And coconuts will continue
to fall,
The Pacific ocean will camouflage
superficial dreams
and the faint sound of drums
will still be heard
if we pause a while to listen.”

Our Pacific by Vaine Rasmussen ♥

I posted this on my Beauty of Oceania blog a couple days ago but forgot to put them on this one. I love this poem and I actually wanted to feature more pictures but decided not to overdo it.