For years I was part of a collective called “The Chamorro Information Activists” or the CIA. It started as a group of people who all were more liberal or progressive in their thinking coming together after being depressed at how conservative and militarized much of the Guam/Chamorro presence on the internet was. At this point, which was about 13 years ago, there was little to no critical thinking from a Chamorro perspective on the internet and so I remember when I left island to go to California for graduate school, it was frustrating trying to connect back home virtually, when so much out there was so uncritical. In different message boards and chat rooms I met a collection of people who felt the same as me. They didn’t necessarily know as much as me about things, as I had the privilege of being a graduate student where I sat around most days living off of student loans and just reading and writing, but there a gnawing feeling inside them, that the colonial comfort in which most Chamorros lived wasn’t enough, that there had to be more to our existence than waiting in line for federal hand outs and saluting their flag.
We lived all over the place. Some in Guam, most in the states. We started emailing each other. Messaging each other on Yahoo and MSN. This was a time before Youtube, Google and Facebook. We began to share ideas and information. We even helped each other with our responses to various websites when we would leave comments and strategize the best ways to take down what today are known as “trolls.” Back them we had various names for people who spent way too much time spreading hate and ignorance online. One of them which I definitely don’t use anymore was “Chaife” a fiery spirit who the Spanish said Chamorros believed would torment their souls. The connection was the “flaming” that went on with comments. “Atan Si Chaife” and “Nihi ta chagua Si Chaife” were common cries for aid. This was the first time that I actively began to use the term “agululumi” meaning to surround something by working together. We would agululumi the trolls and hope to neutralize them and capture them the way fishermen and hunters would do with their prey.
From this loose collective, we eventually began to build an infrastructure. The first online Chamorro classes I ever created came from this. We made a few websites, most notably a page that became known as both “Kopbla Amerika” and “Free Guahan.” We started an online zine called “Minagahet” which initially was only emailed to about 50 people, but the last issue I sent out in 2010 went to more than 1000. We even had our own message board “Fanatgueyan” which was a place where more critical and progressive voices tended to dominate. As part of this movement in my own life I began my blog “No Rest for the Awake – Minagahet Chamorro” which I have run for more than 10 years now.
This collective which we referred to jokingly as The Chamorro Information Activists disappeared a long time ago. I still have most of the things we wrote, they still float around the internet, appearing in random places. I never met most of them and haven’t been in touch with any for many years. I wonder if any of them will wander onto this website and see this post, a tribute to the work that we did and how I’ve done my best to keep it going.