dandan / fino' chamoru

I Nana gi Familia

Johnny Sablan’s song “I Nana gi Familia” articulates so much in terms of how Chamorro understand the structures of their families today. The mother, the grandmother, the matriarch is the haligi, the pillar upon which the house of the family is built and is balanced and is sustained. The mother holds the family together and bears the scars of that struggle. Some see this minesngon of Chamorro women, this strength as being a remnant of the power Chamorro women held in ancient times. I am not so sure.

Most Chamorro recording artists have at least one song dedicated to their mothers, and they are both laudatory but also terribly depressing. They celebrate the way Chamorro mothers have saved their families, kept them fed and clothed despite various forms of hardship. Stories of the strength of one’s mother doesn’t only contain external difficulties, but also internal ones. Problems of unfaithful husbands, loveless marriages, fighting within the family, social pressures and prejudices that limited their choices and also terrible secrets related to violence and sexual abuse. The strength of Chamorro women in these stories doesn’t necessarily emanate from society today supporting them, or acknowledging their roles or their power, it seems to come instead from their ability to endure society’s prejudice against them. We admire them because of the way society has become so patriarchal and made their lives so difficult. This is why I often times question the idea that Chamorro society today contains a strain of that maga’haga’ power. I think that the powerful female identity persists, but in truth Chamorro/Guam society has become largely patriarchal and stifles that power in most ways.

In this video, some of my students from my CM340 or Chamorro Culture class at UOG are singing the song “I Nana gi Familia.” The lyrics to the song are also included:

I Nana Gi I Familia:

I nana gi I familia
Maseha chatpa’go pat bunita
Ta honra todu gi tiempo
Kalang anghet para Hita

Ti bunita Si nana-hu
Ti u maayek para raina
Lao bunita’na Si nana-hu
Ki un blonde na Amerikana

Ti ha chagi Si nana-hu
I latest styles siha gi tenda
Lao todu tiempo listo I modan-mami
Maseha pinat manmalienda

Ti umeskuela Si nana-hu
Ni’ sirtifiku ni’ un dimploma
Lao guiya ha’ yu’ fuma’na’gue
Na Si Yu’us na bai adora

Hamyo todus ni’ Mannana
Gof takhilo’ I sagan-miyu
Si Yu’us infanbenendisi
Put todu I bidan-miyu

Esta taigue pa’go nai Si nana
Lao magof yu’ hongge todu
Sa’ esta hu tungo’ Si nana
Gaige fi’on as Yu’us

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