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When the Moon Waxes: Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’, Hugua

HAGÅTÑA — This Sunday, March 6 will be the second annual “Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’” or “A Day of Speaking Chamorro only.”

On this day, with Chamorro Month or Mes Chamoru just starting and FestPac less than three months away, we are encouraging people to spend the day challenging themselves to use as much of the native language of the Marianas as possible.

This was a tradition that was started last year through the efforts of a small group of people committed to revitalizing the Chamorro language, most notably myself and Kenneth Gofigan Kuper. Through our efforts last year, more than 100 people from Guam, Saipan, Hawai’i and even states like Idaho all committed to spending the day speaking as much Chamorro as possible. It was an inspiring event, which encouraged Ken and me to promote the idea again this year.

The impetus for this campaign is simple, we believe that the key to saving the Chamorro language, does not lie in apps, in textbooks or in T-shirts. We believe it the most important way to save the Chamorro language, is to use it. So on March 6 participants are encouraged to spend the day speaking entirely in Chamorro or at least try to use it as much as possible, regardless of the situation. For some it might be a good time to visit businesses on Guam and see how Chamorro-language friendly they are. For others, it might be the perfect reason to spend time with older relatives and talking to them in Chamorro about their lives. The rationale behind this day is that although the Chamorro language is an essential part of Guam’s heritage, it is being used and being heard less and less. Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ is meant to provide a reminder that in order to save the Chamorro language we have to make it a part of everyday island life.

Last year, I wrote this about the reason for holding an event such as this:

The motivation behind this day is not only to encourage people to speak and use Chamorro, but also to act as a reminder that the Chamorro language is an official language of the island and that it is an essential part of the island’s heritage. The Chamorro language is being used less and less today. For a small portion of Guam’s population, which is according to studies primarily an elderly demographic, the language is living, audible, something that is always part of their everyday lives. But for most people, including most Chamorros, the Chamorro language is not something they are constantly surrounded by. It is something they hear during Mes Chamoru, or when their grandparents talk to each other, or perhaps in the background of a fandango, but as they go about their days, English is everywhere. Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ is meant to be a symbolic act, where we can, at least for one day, increase the amount of Chamorro that is spoken, increase the amount of Chamorro that is heard, and hopefully inspire as many as possible who want to learn to learn it, and those who already know it, to teach it and pass it on.

Those wanting to participate are encouraged to sign up on the event’s Facebook page and also receive updates and information through the University of Guam Chamorro Studies Facebook page and the website Mumun Linahyan (www.mumunlinahyan.com).

Survival phrases and tips on surviving and succeeding in Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ will be made available through these online venues. I’ll be holding a meeting at 11 a.m. at Ron’s Diner in Mangilao on March 4, for those who want help preparing for the Chamorro challenge on Sunday. We’ll be going over strategies and phrases to help participants survive and also succeed on Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’.

For those of you who don’t know me or my friend Ken, let me give you some background on us, so you understand our desire to promote the language in this regard. I am the program coordinator for the Chamorro Studies program at the University of Guam and I’m the father of two kids who I only speak Chamorro to no matter what the situation and no matter what we are talking about. Ken is a former instructor at the University of Guam and is currently a Ph.D. student at University of Hawai’i in Manoa. He is the father of a young daughter who he only speaks Chamorro to as well. Both of us speak Chamorro and have taught Chamorro. Last year we formed a collective called “Guagua Tiningo’” (“a basket of knowledge”) with the intent of developing innovative strategies for revitalizing the Chamorro language. “Ha’ånen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’” is one of those strategies.

On March 6, anyone and everyone is invited to speak only Chamorro, no matter where we are or what we are doing. Let us join together to show that this 4,000-year-old heritage of the Chamorro language lives on through us — every day. Yanggen un lå’la’ gi Fino’ Chamoru, un na’lå’la’ i Fino’ Chamoru: “If you live in the Chamorro language, you give life to the Chamorro language.”

I’ve listed below some sentences and phrases that can help you, should you choose to take up the Chamorro challenge this Sunday:

1. Hello! – Håfa Adai

2. What is this? – Håfa este?

3. What is that (near you)? – Håfa enao?

4. What is that (away from you and person you’re talking to)? – Håfa ayu?

5. How do you say________ in Chamorro? – Taimanu un sangan______ gi Fino’ Chamoru?

Ex: How do you say “deer” in Chamorro? – Taimanu un sangan “deer” gi Fino’ Chamoru?

6. What does______ mean? – Hafa kumekeilek-ña ______?

Ex: What does “matatnga?” mean? – Hafa kumekeilek-ña “matatnga?”

7. Speak to me in Chamorro please- Fino’ Chamoruyi yu’ pot fabot.

8. Please say that again- Sångan enao ta’lo pot fabot

9. What are you doing? – Hafa bidada-mu?

10. What am I doing? – Hafa bidada-hu?

11. Excuse me. – Dispensa’ yu’.

12. How are you? – Hafa tatatmanu hao?