Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ni ngai'an nahong un linguahe

Hafa adai! Hafa tatatmanu hao? Na'an-hu si Leilani, taotao O'ahu yo.

As the title of the post says, "One language isn't enough,"  and so I've challenged myself to learn Chamorro in the next few months, possibly years. My goal isn't fluency, but rather to be a part in its revitalization. I've chosen to learn Chamorro for many reasons. On a personal level, three of my cousins on my da's side are Chamorro, so I do feel a personal stake in its survival and revitalization. This is my cousins' culture and language, and I would like for them to live in a world where they can hear their Mother Tongue being spoken freely and abundantly, instead of hearing about their Mother Tongue in academic and linguistics circles as an extinct language from the Marianas islands. Language is such a visceral part of culture and by extension, oneself. So first and foremost, my goal of learning Chamorro is my cousins' cultural and linguistic survival, so that their people and language will always be "here" instead of "was here."

Intellectually, I am fascinated by the Chamorro language. Modern Chamorro shares a lot of loan words with Spanish. Ancient Chamorro is also very similar to the indigenous languages of the Philippines before they were colonized by the Spaniards. As I began reading and listening to the Chamorro language, I was awashed by a sense of familiarity and kinship. It felt like I knew the language intuitively, from the depths of of my soul.

So here begins my journey to Chamorro language learning. I look forward to doing my part in ensuring that my cousins' language will not be relegated as an ancient linguistic relic in the annals of history.

Biba Chamorro!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Post Secret Sunday: Viet Nam


Plato once said, “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” and though that sentiment is crude, it’s also accurate. It’s always been “us” versus “them,” and “right” versus “wrong.” Since the dawn of time, society has engaged in two monologues with guns, bombs, and swords as a microphone. It seems like the only thing that we could all agree on is that red is the colour of our blood. (And even then, there are people who die and kill for the notion of “blood purity.” But I digress; that topic’s for another day.)

Long before I was born, my da fought in Viet Nam. Two tours. Two different men. The man I knew (know) as my da is not the same boy everyone else knew. My da, Ronald, hated fireworks with a passion and disliked the colour red. Ronnie, the little boy, adored watching fireworks displays over the water. Ronald almost broke my momma’s neck when she once quietly crept up to him when he was sleeping. Ronnie was a notoriously hard-to-wake-up kid who slept through a hurricane. Ronald was a guarded man whose trust had to be earned, and even then, had to be continuously earned. Little Ronnie befriended everyone and anyone, and believed that humans are inherently good.

Of course, almost everything I’ve heard about little Ronnie came from those who were there. My da, the man, only spoke about Viet Nam as a part of America’s history. Despite him being a polyglot, da couldn’t form the words to claim Viet Nam as his own history, because then he’d have given a name to a nightmare that he spent a lifetime trying to wake up from. Ronald, the man, wanted to forget.

I see a glimpse of my da in every young soldier I meet, and each time I see the emptiness reflected in their eyes, a little part of me becomes half-orphaned all over again.
We must never permit the voice of humanity
within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a Man.

--Albert Schweitzer

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

--Viktor E. Frankl