AUDIO: Speaker’s Weekly Address – “Mes Chamorro: A Time to Celebrate and Reflect”

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Guam – The celebration of  Chamorro Month is the subject of  Speaker Judi Won Pat’s Weekly Address which is entitled “Mes Chamorro: A Time to Celebrate and Reflect”.

“Mes Chamorro is an important time of year in that it calls on our community to celebrate and reflect on our island’s native culture and people. A culture and people that I am very proud to be a part of”, says the Speaker.

HEAR the Speaker’s Weekly Address HERE>>>03-05 speakers weekly address 3.5.2014.mp3   

READ the Speaker’s Weekly Address below:

Mes Chamorro: A Time to Celebrate and Reflect
Speaker Judith T. Won Pat’s Weekly Address
For Release – March 5, 2014

Buenas yan Hafa Adai!

Mes Chamorro is an important time of year in that it calls on our community to celebrate and reflect on our island’s native culture and people. A culture and people that I am very proud to be a part of. It is wonderful to see how our local schools, offices, and businesses express their vision of Chamorro culture through their attire, decorations, and special events. In addition to these celebrations, we must also challenge ourselves to spend this
time exploring our own understanding of what it means to be Chamorro, and encouraging all members of our island community to do the same.

Mes Chamorro actually began in our schools. In the early 1970s, Mrs. Lanier, a Guam History teacher initiated Chamorro Day at John F. Kennedy High School. Then, in 1974, Dr. Robert Underwood and Elaine San Nicolas Cadigan, who were then social studies teachers at George Washington High School, got together and planned a Chamorro week in the last week of February.

The idea was to have each department in the school incorporate lessons on the Chamorro culture into their curriculum for the week. Dr. Under wood would wait by the teachers’ boxes and as they would pick up their mail, he would talk with them about their curricular ideas. PE classes played Chamoru games, ROTC did a reenactment of the Chamorro-Spanish battle, Home Economics teachers had cooking and sewing contests. And at the end of the week, there was a big assembly, with lots of great entertainment including a debut performance from Chamoru music legend JD Crutch, who was Dr. Underwood’s student at the time. GW’s first Chamorro week attracted so much attention that the following year, other schools began hosting their own Chamorro week activities, and eventually it became a district-wide initiative that led to the island-wide Mes Chamorro we celebrate today.

What our teachers are able to start in their classrooms can really shape how we move forward as an island community. In the spirit of how Mes Chamorro began, I’d like to invite all of our island’s teachers at every grade level, and in every subject area to creatively incorporate lessons on the Chamorro language, culture, and history into their curriculum this month. I’d also like to extend this invitation to government offices, local businesses,
and places of worship. Let us all find ways to learn more about the Chamorro culture and history together.

Just last year, the University of Guam launched the Chamorro Studies Program, which allows students to study the Chamorro language and culture in-depth. According to the program description, it “draws on courses in Chamorro Language, Anthropology, Biology, Literature, Geography, History, Political Science, and Psychology.” Also, all teachers interested in teaching the Chamorro language qualify for the Yamashita Teacher Corps,
which is a scholarship program that covers all tuition and fees at the University of Guam.

The only requirement is that these teachers become certified to teach in the Guam Department of Education. I’d like to encourage our people to explore these opportunities, because we need more Chamorro teachers in our classrooms. Please visit the Financial Aid office at UOG or call 735-2288 for more information.

I try to celebrate my Chamorro heritage all year long. I love learning more about the moments in history that shaped who we’ve become as a people today. One of the most significant historical moments in our contemporary history happened today in 1949. Led by my father, Antonio B. Won Pat, who was then Speaker of the Guam Congress, a group of Chamorro leaders walked out of their March 5th session citing, “(1) Arbitrary rule by naval
government; (2) lack of a constitution or documents anywhere guaranteeing civil rights; (3) lack of a court of appeal beyond the Secretary of the Navy.”

Since the beginning of US Naval rule, Chamorro leaders petitioned and fought for selfgovernment and basic human rights. The Guam Congress walkout gained international attention after Guam Congressman Carlos Taitano sent a telegram to his press contacts in Hawaii. The New York Times, Washington Post, and Honolulu Star-Bulletin all wrote articles about the walkout. This attention eventually led to the Organic Act of Guam, which created our local government. As local leaders, I call on my colleagues to remember the bravery of our predecessors as we make decisions today. The greatest of our Chamorro leaders were the ones who fought for our rights and had the courage to make a difference.

Biba Mes Chamorro!