‘Time to tell the CHamoru story’

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(PNC photo)

Guam – It’s time to tell the CHamoru story and the CHamoru perspective of history as the world commemorates the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the earth.

This was the main sentiment of senators yesterday as the Legislature kicked off its May session with a discussion of Bill 59-35, sponsored by Senator Kelly Marsh-Taitano.

The bill seeks to create a commission which will ensure that CHamoru perspectives are given a respectful place in the recognition of the 500th year since the first circumnavigation of the earth.

A number of countries, including Spain, are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the Earth, accomplished by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and Spanish discoverer Juan Sebastián Elcano.

The celebrations will go on until 2022, to promote what some say was the first act of globalization in history.

But Marsh Taitano says that Guam must be given a special place in this commemoration and that the CHamoru perspective must be included in all research, discussions, and events related to the commemoration.

“Bill 59-35 provides an opportunity to right a wrong, many wrongs in fact. Too many times, those from elsewhere arrived on our shores and gave absolutely no regard for the presence or the rights of CHamorus, as if they didn’t count, as if they had no right or claim to Guahan,” the senator said.

Later during the hearing, Sen. James Moylan stood up and said that although he supports the concept of the bill, he does have a few questions with regard to funding.

“Make no mistake, I support the bill. I just want a clarification on whether the entities mentioned in the bill like the University of Guam will be using their existing resources to provide the support that this commission needs without asking for additional funding,” Moylan said.

In response, Marsh-Taitano said that the University of Guam already has units that can carry out research and outreach for the commission.

“That is exactly what they are set up to do. They are set up to do research for the community, building up relations with the local, national and international community, and conducting outreach. We have a lot of facilities and if we are not fully utilizing them, then it’s actually a waste in a sense,” the senator said.

Bill 59-35 has been moved to the voting file.