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    Thursday, April 26, 2018-12:03:20P.M.






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Chamorro nationalists seek to learn from Philippine revolution

HAGÅTÑA — As Guam’s discussion on decolonization sustains its momentum, Chamorro nationalists are hoping to take a cue from the history of the Philippines and how it eventually gained independence.

Independent Guåhan will hold a session this week to introduce Filipino revolutionary history and link it to Chamorro self-determination.

The teach-in session, which will be held at the University of Guam on July 20, will feature Guam residents who are of Filipino descent: Josephine Ong, Kristin Oberiano, Jamela Santos and Ruzelle Almonds.

“As Filipinos living on Guam, we need to acknowledge that the fight for Chamorro self-determination is a fight for the ideals of self-governance, sovereignty, and freedom — the same principles that led to the establishment of the Philippines, the United States, and other independent countries around the world,” said Oberiano.

Oberiano’s grandfather was among the first wave of Filipino workers who came to Guam after World War II to rebuild the infrastructure of the battle-torn island.

The Philippine revolution against Spanish colonial rule began in Aug. 1896. In 1898, the U.S. defeated Spain after a three-month war and acquired, for $20 million, the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico.

From 1898 to 1906, the U.S. waged a brutal war against Filipino nationalists who were advocating for independence.

From the start, the U.S. said it was preparing the Philippines for eventual independence. In fact, during the American colonial period, pro-independence Filipino politicians dominated Philippine elections.

In 1934, the U.S. Congress passed the Tydings-McDuffie Act to allow for Philippine independence after a 10-year transition.

On July 4, 1946, the U.S. recognized Philippine independence. In 1962, however, the Philippine government changed the date of Independence Day to June 12, 1898 when Filipino revolutionaries declared independence from Saipan.

Santos, who grew up on Guam, said she feels “that we have a responsibility to acknowledge that the lands we are occupying as settlers are lands of a people who have not yet established independence from their colonizers in the same way that our people have.”

Among the topics at the teach-in session are: Philippine revolutionary history, Philippine migration history and CHamoru self-determination movements.

“By drawing these connections, the teach-in aims to open the conversation on Guam’s political status for non-Chamorros and hopefully settle uneasiness people may have on the topic,” Independent Guahan said in a statement.

For the past 20 years, Guam has been attempting to chart its future — either as a sovereign nation or a fully integrated political unit of the United States. But the fervor of discussion has been on and off as the self-rule plebiscite hit snags along the way.

Gov. Eddie Calvo had hoped to see Guam’s political status resolved during his term. Decolonizing Guam was part of his platform when he ran for governor in 2010. But such a political goal was impeded by legal complexities and divisiveness in the community.

In the yet-to-be scheduled plebiscite, Guam voters would pick among three political status options — independence, statehood or free association.

Calvo’s original target was to get the Guam self-rule plebiscite held by the end of his first term in 2014. The biggest stumbling block to this goal, however, was a lawsuit filed by Air Force veteran and longtime Guam resident Arnold “Dave” Davis, who filed a class action lawsuit challenging the local law that makes the self-determination vote exclusive to “native inhabitants.”

Based on the latest census in 2010, Guam had a population of 160,000. The indigenous Chamorro population was pegged at 65,000, which — under the law struck down by the court — would leave a significant segment of the island population ineligible to vote in the self-rule plebiscite.

On March 8, federal judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood struck down the race-based law as “unconstitutional.”

Another bloc is proposing the “tribal autonomy” option.

“The fourth option would involve the people being able to have the ability to call directly to Washington and let them know what their needs are,” Ryan Calvo, speaking for the Chamorro Tribe Inc. “We’ve waited on the system that has failed us since the beginning of our first local elected governor. This will fast-track the process and put an end to our political-status limbo.”

For the United States to recognize the right of an indigenous group to self-government and tribal sovereignty, the process requires federal acknowledgment and registration as a Native American Tribe.

Guam is not on the current list of 566 federally recognized native American tribes in the United States.