Rude Awakening

For the past two days, I've been shaken awake by the phone ringing at 6am! Now, normally, this does not happen. Everyone knows that 6am is an ungodly hour to make a phone call! But, apparently, my mom's sister - my Nina - does not understand this.

Yesterday, when she called, we didn't answer the phone. This is the normal response to the phone ringing at that time. So, rather than hanging up and trying to ring back in a couple of hours, she decides to leave a long message that we can all hear from the comfort of our beds. Her message? Well, it was an appeal for us to move our family to Washington state. According to her, there is so much more to see and do in Washington and we should leave Guam in order to experience this. How there's so much more opportunity there for our family to work and live.

This morning, was an instant replay of yesterday. Only, this time, mom answered the phone. So, I only heard one side of a really loud conversation. My mom politely excused herself from it after about five minutes of shouting in to the phone to a near deaf sister. From then on, the phone rang and rang and rang... All different people. But, still... It's too damned early to be ringing before 8am, people!

Anyway... here's my take on the whole option to move to Washington. People, I've done it. I've left this tiny island paradise to experience the life that the 'states' has to offer. You know what? It's not that great! The mainland has the same problems that we do. The economy is just as bad. The job market is pretty much non-existent. So, what we have when we move is all the same problems that we had living here only without the support system that we have readily available on this island.

To me, the mainland is OK to visit. But, my home is on this island. My family is here. My life. I'm sure if something pressing were to come up, I would be able to leave and relocate. But, for now, this island has a lot to offer me and dag nab it, I'm going to take it! There are some people who move away and find that it's exactly what they need. For me, moving away made me realize that I'm lucky to live here now.

So, to my family in the states... Please keep the rude awakenings to a minimum. The whole family has experienced the life that Washington has to offer and I think that if we decided that we liked it, we would be back here! We shall meet again one day... Until that day, please don't try to push your ultra westernized lifestyle on a family that loves the island style of life. Thank you.


Snow storm?

Try it island style! Of course, there would be less snow and quite a bit more flying corrugated tin and coconuts. But, who's counting, eh?

With the recent snow storms that have been ravaging the eastern United States and most of the U.K., we, as islanders, can't help but to scoff a little bit. While, in most places, snow storms mean being stuck at home or having to dredge through a couple of feet of snow, it all only lasts for a couple of days and you very rarely suffer the loss of electricity. If you live in the city or in suburbia, you do not fully experience the wrath of mother nature. There are snow plows that come through to clean your streets. Electricity might cut out for an hour or two. You might have to shovel your way from your front door to the sidewalk.

I remember living in RedNeck Valley, Oregon in the winter a few years ago. That was the closest thing I'd ever experienced to living on Guam during a super typhoon. Our power went out for two days. Seeing as we lived in the hills, beyond city limits, our water came from a well that was dug in the back yard and run by a water pump. We couldn't shower for two days. When it got too cold, we threw a couple of logs in the fireplace and got cozy under the sheets. But, it made me realize that, regardless of the cabin fever, it was nothing compared to the aftermath of a storm on the island.

Just a couple of days ago, I read an article in the local paper that was written by a 'displaced' Chamorro. She had experienced her first snow storm in the east coast and, like myself, thought that it held nothing against living on Guam during a storm. You see, in the winter, when the power goes out, your food does not rot. When the winds blow, you do not have to worry that your roof will fly away or that a coconut might come at your head at 150mph. When the water goes out, you can melt the ice/snow for washing and, if it is clean, you can drink it.

Seeing the way that most people who are confronted by a snow storm react to their situation, it makes me so proud to be from this little island in the middle of no where. People do not hear of our struggles in the aftermath of a typhoon or a super typhoon. Do you know why? It is because we are used to it. We have learned from our past. We understand that the situation is only temporary and that if we pull together as a community, we shall prevail. We may whine when our power goes out for a short period. But, we find something to do to keep ourselves entertained and eventually learn to joke about it. When our food starts to defrost, how do we solve the problem? We call the family and friends over and have a barbecue and tell stories.

The resilience of the Chamorro people is something for which I will always have great pride. The ability of our people to pull together in difficult times and to work as a community is something that I will be able to pass on to my children. The love that we show for our neighbor is something that other communities around the world may never understand. If you have ever met anyone from our island, you know exactly what I am talking about. Not to sound cocky... But, our people leave an impression on the world ;)

*** RedNeck Valley, Oregon is not really a city... But, if it was, you could find it next to Podunk, Oregon(more commonly know as BFE).


Ash Wednesday

And so begins the season of Lent in the Catholic church. A season of fasting. A season of reflection. A season of sacrifice. A time of alms-giving and preparation. As Catholics, we are called to practice self denial in preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For, what more could we do to show our appreciation for the price He paid?

I remember, growing up on Guam, Lent was always something that we would dread. We couldn't play outside after 6pm because the babuin Kuaresma - Lenten pig - would punish us. We had to tread carefully because we knew that our parents were watching our every move and come Easter Sunday, if we had done anything reproachable, we would become very intimate with the belts our father wore during the week(and we're not talking about those weak, thin, dress belts). Lent was the time of year where we couldn't eat meat on Fridays because that was what we were told.

As I grew older, fasting became a bit deeper than all this. We were told to look at our lives and pick something to 'give up' for forty days. Some people would choose junk food, soda, swearing. Any behaviors or habits that we saw as vices. I, often, would give up swearing as it was something that I would do constantly as an adolescent. The Holy Week regiment grew more strict, expanding from the boundaries of playing outside to the practice of turning the television and the radios off all week unless you happened to be watching or listening to something related to the sacrifice of Jesus.

Then, as a very young adult, the Lenten fast was something that I did out of habit. It was something I grew up participating in and therefore it was tradition. I didn't think twice about it until a little later when I started to rebel against the teaching of the church. I thought that I could show them where to stick it! After all, who really needed to fast if they were as healthy as a horse or not preparing for some medical procedure or in to that alternative detoxing crap? Certainly not me!

In recent years, I have rekindled my faith. I have opened my heart to the tradition of the church. Rather than scoffing at it, I choose to research and better understand the history of my religion. I will not say that my faith is as developed as it can be. But, I can say that, with the help of family and friends, of my parish priest and faith formators, I am starting to grow in the knowledge of what the season really means.

This year, in the forty days leading up to Easter, I plan to read more about the faith I claim to believe in. I am making sacrifices that I feel will help me to grow in my spirituality and in my ability to become a better person. This year, coming out of the Lenten fast, I will understand why I do it and I will be able to explain to those of my friends who think it is insane exactly why I choose to observe the season. I will be able to love them even when they laugh and point at the 'stupidity' in which I choose to partake. Most importantly, I will be able to transmit the tradition to the children I may have in the future.

For now, I'm looking forward to the season and what it means to me. I eagerly await the Easter season when I, along with my brothers and sisters in the faith, will rejoice as the stone is rolled away and the tomb is found empty.