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What I'm Wearing: Shirt - H&M, Pants - Kenneth Cole
"I'm A Chamorro"
Happy Liberation Day! I'm pretty sure you guys don't know what that is. Liberation Day is our independence day back on our island of Guam. Yes, we have our own independence day. I haven't really spoken much about my culture. I address it, but I never really go into detail about it. I guess apart of me tried to shut away where I come from. Especially in my teen years. But as an adult I am honored to talk about my culture and why it makes me so unique. I'm lucky because I have the DNA within me, mixed with who I have become on the west coast. It makes a different kind of Chamorro. But that doesn't mean I was raised differently from the people back on our island. It just means I was raised as both. I was raised in a household that was built on Chamorro roots within the enviorminet of California. I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Being with my parents these last few years, I have actually grown to appreciate our island a lot more. I loathed it growing up. My family is pretty well known in the bay area. My mom is like the queen. Everyone knows my mom for her voice and for her homemade cakes that she slaves over. My mom is a baker on the side of being everything else that she is. I grew up going to parties every single weekend. I was the little chubby kid who enjoyed the hell out of all the food at every event. Growing up my house was very lively. On the weekdays my cousins would come over and we would have bbq's til 12am and the next day we had to return to American culture because we had school. I always swayed between both cultures because there is not a lot of us here in the United States. Guam is a very small island. My parents moved out here when they were young to have a better life. Back on Guam, they don't have the opportunities that we have here in the United States. Guam is very small and tight nit. Everyone knows everyone and you do one thing or the other back there. My parents wanted more. Thank god that they did because we ended up having the best of both worlds. When family comes out to the states they are so fascinated that we are so well bred with our island culture. My parents made sure to install that within us. I would say 80-85% of the time my parents speak Chamorro. Chamorro is our native language and also what our people call ourselves. I had to pick up on what they were saying at a young age because I did not want to not understand what they are saying. Music helped a lot because that is literally what we heard all the time. I think that is kind of why I loathed my culture. I got sick of hearing all this Chamorro music growing up. It annoyed me. I think that is why my parents introduced me to some of my heroes like Michael, Whitney, Dolly, Elvis... Which led me to Miley, Hillary, Ben Rector, Vance Joy, Taylor Swift and more. In Guam becoming a pop singer/ in my case now, a singer-songwriter, folk artist, that is unheard of. They don't really listen to what I listen to. I guess that is where my American culture comes into play. But I do appreciate it now. I don't have to hear it that much, so now it is much more appreciative. In fact it feels like everytime I hear the Guam radio on in our household, it takes me back to more innocent days when I was a kid. It reminds me of times when I didn't have to worry about so much. I got so annoyed having to wear Hawaiian print shirts growing up. It is literally what they wore all the time. It felt like a uniform for me. This past year though, I have become obsessed with them. They say life is the circle of life, and I truly see that within me. I love them now and I love being able to actually have a reason to wear this style, not just for fashion. I wear it because it is apart of my cultures dna. As I get older and learn about other cultures in the world, I start to appreciate where I come from more and more. I'm doing my best to learn what I can from my parents. Because I know one day they won't be here for us anymore. I want to be able to share my culture with my kids one day. Share my culture with the world. I may not do that within my music, but I can do that with other things. At the end of the day I do love my culture. I am proud that our island was able to break free from slaverly and become their own. If they didn't do that I wouldn't have been here in the states now. My parents probably wouldn't have existed or if they did they wouldn't have left the island. Guam has come a long way, and I feel it still has a ways to go. They aren't really adapted to the things we have learned out here, but with time I know they will be. Guam will always be apart of me and my upbringing. I am forever grateful to my parents for raising our family the way they did. They gave us a chance to breathe in our culture while letting us learn the other cultures around us. I can't wait to continue learning more and more about where I come from and mixing it in within who I am, and who I will become.
My parents came out here with nothing. They built a life from the ground up. Not once did they ask their parents for help. That is so hard, but look at what they have created. 2 kids plus Uncle Robert, which has led to 2 grandkids, and all our other loved ones they have raised. My parents will forever be my connection to our island. I will always say, no amount can ever repay what they have done for us. Liberation Day is about honoring those who have come before us. So I honor them, I always do. As I start to see this story near the end within a few months, It just gives all the more reasons to honor everything I have become and everything I am. I would be nothing without them, and I wouldn't have them without our island.
Happy Liberation Day.
Si Yu'us Ma'ase
Photographer: Courtney Johnson
Every post I will include the song that inspired me to build a post around it's title
Stories From My Life - Chapter 7
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Stories From My Life
(APRIL 17- PRESENT)