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  • Guam
  • Kelly G Marsh (bio)

The many ongoing issues and problems during the year under review included recovery from natural disaster, preservation of culture, allegations of government corruption, budget cuts, the struggle to lead the economy onto a healthier path, and escalating youth violence. The people of Guam showed their resilience, forging ahead, helping those on and off island, and celebrating the successes of community members.

In December 2003, a year after typhoon Pongsona, millions of dollars of repairs had yet to be done. Hundreds of individuals on island still lacked power and water. There were other infrastructural woes as well, many of which were long-standing. New construction, storm activity, and unchecked vegetation growth contributed to the flooding of roads, bridges, and properties (PDN, 17 May 2004). Despite the abundance of water in some locales, other parts of the island, especially in the south, suffered another year of continuous water supply outages.

Guam's cultural crops and wildlife took some hits. As of May 2004, one-fourth of the island's betel nut trees, which produce treasured pugua (betel nut), were affected by a fungal infection (PDN, 24 May 2004). A program of injecting fungicide and burning infected trees is expected to prevent the decimation that the pugua trees suffered on Saipan a few years ago. On the positive side, mealybug-infested papaya trees were declared in August 2003 to be recovering well (PDN, 5 Aug 2003). And in the US legislature, work continues on a bill that would create a committee dedicated to controlling the island's pervasive, destructive brown tree snake population.

The fate of the island's free-ranging carabao, which the US Navy regarded as problematic, was especially controversial this year. Islanders questioned the navy's decision to cull the carabao herds and wondered if they should step up efforts to have Chamorros adopt the culturally significant animals instead. Hundreds are said to be on the carabao adoption waiting list. Inserted in the debate is the continuing dialogue concerning the US military's seeming insensitivity toward local concerns.

In other cultural news, August 2003 saw hundreds of community members assisting Guam's Palauan Association to raise money for a new abai (the Guam version of the Palauan term bai) meetinghouse. The structure will eventually be a "multicultural center for the Pacific" (PDN, 24 Aug 2003). In early 2004, the Micronesian Community Outreach Program held its first meeting. The program is [End Page 160] designed to help migrants from other parts of Micronesia adjust to life on Guam. The program also works to dispel the negative stereotypes of Micronesians held by many on Guam (PDN, 27 March 2004). In his regular contributions to the Pacific Daily News, self-described second-generation Guam Filipino Norman Analista covered topics ranging from taking local pride in Pinoy culture to the benefits of establishing a Filipino Federal Credit Union. Also speaking to and for Guam's sizable Filipino community, "local Filipino celebrity and icon" Prospero "Popoy" Zamora is once again hosting a show on Guam's public television channel (PDN, 27 July 2003).

The need to promote and preserve the Chamorro language was discussed in the media throughout the year. Some worry about the deterioration of the Chamorro language and the consequences thereof. Sagan Fin'nå' Guen Fino' Chamoru Day Care, which conducts its daily activities solely in Chamorro, was featured in the media (PDN, 28 March 2004). The University of Guam (UOG) sponsored its first Fino' Chamoru Na Kompitision (Chamorro Language Competition), with participants from both Guam and Northern Mariana schools. UOG language professors developed and produced an instructional Accelerated Learning method Chamorro text and CD set. Others wrote to the newspaper to suggest increasing the number of Chamorro-language public signs and defended the reinstatement of proper Chamorro place, village, or other names. And for everyday listening, radio station KISH102.9 began operations in late June 2003 ; it is "all Chamorro, all the time" and provides a selection of over 2,000 Chamorro songs (PDN, 17 July 2003).

Land issues are also close to Chamorro hearts. Land that was taken or otherwise obtained by the US government some sixty years ago, ostensibly to strengthen the US military's...


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