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.
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.
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.