A while back, I posted regarding my old band, Minatatnga. This was a band that I created back in 2012 to finally actualize a dream I have had for a while. I have played heavy metal/hardcore since I was 14 back in 2004, where I started my first band Contagion. Playing in bands gave my life a purpose and gave me a sense of belonging and community. From Saturday band practices to random gigs at pavilions and beaches, the experience of being a vocalist for a heavy metal band changed my life in ways I would have never thought. Playing in this band opened me to worlds and ideologies I would never have encountered otherwise. It served not only as a venue for cathartic expression, but also as a place of growth. HARDCORE saved my life.
Hardcore has always been a music of catharsis with many bands using their music as a venue for political and social issues. It is so interesting how many people think that hardcore music is all about communicating negative messages including hatred and murder, when it fact a large majority of the message discusses how to make a better society. Bands like Have Heart, Minor Threat, Propagandhi, Refused, Trial, and ManLiftingBanner amongst so many others are examples of bands that have provided politically conscious lyrics to the masses. Other bands like Hatebreed for example have made songs speaking out against rape and other social issues. I was completely blown away when I started reading the lyrics to these different hardcore groups. I just could not believe that a music with such powerful and aggressive music could have messages equally as powerful and passionate. It was because of these bands that I was really into sobriety (Straight Edge), respect, brotherhood, and at one point Animal Rights. I became a better person and was able to escape many of the traps that indigenous people fall into today such as alcoholism because of the messages communicated to me in hardcore music. The lyrics spoke to me in a way that compelled me not only to listen, but also to take action. This Do It Yourself (DIY) ethic is so prevalent and central to the heart of hardcore music, and I was able to learn the sacrifices and joys of engaging in DIY work.
It was hardcore that shattered society’s glass of illusion for me. Listening and engaging in hardcore made me a more critical and well-informed human being who realized that the world is not as it seems. The world consisted of institutions of power and oppression, while at the same time having avenues of joy and community. All in all, hardcore allowed me to be a more open-minded individual who was willing to question the beliefs that I was raised with. Most importantly, hardcore provided the avenue to reevaluate myself. This is the critical point to make: Hardcore music gave me the foundation for which I became open to issues of Chamorro self-determination, decolonization, language revitalization, and Chamorro rights.
My Chamorro consciousness awoken in the year 2010 when I finally started to embrace my Chamorro heritage. For the longest time, I took it for granted and frankly identified more deeply with my German heritage. Yet, in 2010, the veil of ignorance lifted and I woke up to issues I never before thought about. To put it simply, I started to smell the shit of the elephant in the room that I was desensitized to for my whole life up to that point. 2010 is the year I started wanting to learn the Chamorro language, going to any “activist” event I could find, talking to as many people as I could at these events, reading every book, buying every t-shirt, and most importantly, becoming comfortable with the rich heritage that runs in my veins.
Two years later, in 2012, after engaging in Chamorro perpetuation and activist work, I decided that I wanted to experiment and put my two loves in the same venue: Chamorro language/culture and hardcore music. Previous to this, I heard of other indigenous bands who have formed like Resistant Culture and Sepultura who expressed indigeneity through heavier forms of music. I thought to myself, why can’t we do this here in the Marianas? From that point, Minatatnga was born. I decided to name the band Minatatnga because it is one of the strongest words in the Chamorro language. Minatatnga means “bravery, fearlessness, and valor.” When I first awoken to critical consciousness, I got the words “Makmata Minatatnga” tattooed on my forearms which means “Bravery has awoken.” Thus, naming the band Minatatnga would be most appropriate. It was here that to my knowledge, the first hardcore band to sing in Chamorro was created! The members of the band were me, Charles Megino on guitar, Jonah Posadas on guitar, Conrad Mejia on bass, and David Crisostomo on drums.
Minatatnga was a dream come true. We played original hardcore music, had wild performances with giant mosh pits, started every gig with a chant, and had Chamoru lyrics as well as conscious lyrics regarding decolonization, Chamorro history, militarization, and language revitalization in English. A year into the game we prepped to record and fundraised enough money to go record professionally in the Philippines, but sadly a series of unfortunate events occured and we never achieved our dream.
Let us fast forward to the present. I am more than happy to announce that after a deep discussion with some of my che’lus, we are officially starting the band back together and hoping to record a short album before August. We have learned from our mistakes and know how to do things better this time around. Why is all of this important to a blog like this? Well, Minatatnga can offer so much to the community at large. Minatatnga will produce the first album of hardcore/heavy metal music fully in Chamorro as this will be the route I take this second time around. Minatatnga will help to show our people that the Chamorro language can be used in contemporary music! No matter if it is rap, blues, reggae, or even that damn noise called hardcore music, we can sing or scream in FINO’ CHAMORU! The language is a living language and can serve any purpose that English can if we allow it to do so. The second reason Minatatnga’s revival is important is that it will hopefully bring the messages of decolonization and Chamorro rights to another audience. Guåhan has a long history of having an underground metal/hardcore/punk/ska scene. Many think that there is only reggae and rap here, but they know little of the DIY, underground music scene that I am proud to be a part of. Many in this scene are disillusioned youth who are critical of authority and of larger institutions. Many of them are also just angry people looking for purpose. Minatatnga can possibly help enlighten these folks and have them join in the fight for Chamorro self-determination and ultimately Guåhan’s well-being. Music has a way of moving people, and I hope Minatatnga can earn a place in the soundtrack to Guåhan’s pending revolution. It is my hope and desire that Minatatnga gigs become a breeding ground for more critically-conscious discourses and actions.
Just as hardcore helped to open my eyes to the world, I am hoping that Minatatnga has a similar effect on people here. Be on the lookout for Minatatnga music coming soon, and if you are in a band, start writing songs that will contribute to our revolution’s soundtrack.