It feels like an eternity since we left the island back in December. I thought our month long vacation would be sufficient to get our "island fever" back. Truth is, I think it made us realize how much we miss it and our family. All of a sudden our new adventure seemed to be a jail sentence and even experiencing new cultures seem uninteresting. If you know us well, that's not really us. Our family likes to embark on new things so that we are more open minded and our three girls will appreciate all kinds of cultures.
I admit that I feel as if I have become close minded during the past 7 months since we've been here. Reminiscing home has become more than a habit but a need. It is how I have been keeping my sanity. Tino is sincerely my rock. He keeps me grounded and deeply rooted to the island. The values we share and our customs passed on to our daughters is my beacon of hope that I have not forgotten where I'm from.
Being away has made me wonder whether or not I will maintain this passion for my culture. The distance from my roots have opened my eyes of how fortunate I am to have some. I know that the Chamoru culture is threatened by modernization as many cultures, but I am pledging when I return home, I'm going to hone in what my family has taught me.
The Chamoru culture continues to evolve. It evolved from the Ancient Chamoru ways with Spanish, Japanese, and American influences. I have read many blogs and comments from many sister islands criticizing Guam for trying to find its identity and how the culture is fading. Dances have been adapted from other island nations and food from all over the world. Guam truly is a melting pot. When we went back home, we saw more our younger generation chanting and performing Chamoru. It wasn't Polynesian for a change. Our island is simply lost but we are finding ourselves back. Through all the oppression, the respect for one another has stood the test of time.
It's funny how even our sister islands are quick to judge us when they face the same fate. The Pacific island nations all have one significant issue in common... the reality of modernization becoming the deadly poison in maintaining culture. Guam has fought centuries upon centuries trying to maintain our culture. The Pacific islands have learned to adapt and overcome survival in a isolated place. All Pacific Islands (Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia) have cultures based on tribes, fishing, hunting, and family. We all made use of the coconut and pandamus trees - making homes and clothes; aquatic animal bones for weaponry. We all ate similar food such as fish, bananas, mangoes, and coconuts. We all surrounded our lives around unity, family, and respect. Modernization of our islands have made us forget our commonalities.
I miss home so much. I miss the happiness and the strong sense of family. Being so far only brings the brutal truth that Tino, myself, and the three girls are so alone out here. We have no one to depend on. On the island, family is your very core. We remember growing up and our parents always reminding us that family is more important than money... for it is better to be poor and have a family than to be rich and have no one.
Guam is where America's Day begins! However, our home is also where our culture thrives. Though it may not be the culture before Magellan's landing in 1521, we'll cherish what's left and build upon it. We love our island, culture, and people. Through all the oppression, our people remain hopeful and we do what we can to keep our culture alive.
Video Courtesy of Latitude13 :: Song: Home (and I'm staying this time) :: Artist: Cecilio & Kapono