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Speaker's Weekly Address - Mar 16

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Speaker Won Pat's Weekly Address
March 16, 2011

Buenas yan Hafa Adai. Un Dangkulo Na Si Yu'us Ma'ase si Sinadot BJ Cruz ni gumiha mona' I galaide anai taigue yu guini yan lokkue ni mensahi ni ha na oppan gi aire para I taotao tano.

Last Friday, the world witnessed the images of the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in recorded history and setting off a devastating tsunami that sent walls of water washing over coastal cities of northeastern Japan. Today we are witnessing the Japanese government working tirelessly to keep control of the unfolding crisis with the crippled nuclear reactors. Last Sunday, with a heavy heart, I spoke with Consul General Yoshiyuki Kimura, expressing on behalf of the people of Guam, our sincere condolences for the loss of life and damage and that we will keep our Japanese friends in our thoughts and prayers as they mourn the victims and work to save those that are injured and trapped in the rubble.

Yesterday, representatives from the three branches of government met to discuss how we can contribute with the relief efforts; we pray that our contribution, combined with other international aid, will help in these difficult times. I thank Governor Calvo, Chief Justice Carbullido and my colleagues for their collaboration and efforts to assist the people of Japan in recovering from this devastating ordeal.

I would like to congratulate Governor Calvo in his First State of the Island Address for further articulating his vision and plans for his administration. Governor Calvo's consistent message in preparing our students for a decade of prosperity by bridging children from classroom to careers is indeed - a good one.

He is also right about another thing: I am a mother first and a life-long educator. And as a mother and teacher I see grave concerns facing our schools and our youth that, if not addressed immediately and in a comprehensive and unified manner, will only worsen and destabilize any hopes and plans we may have for an educated and skilled workforce; for if the foundation itself is not solid then we know that the structure itself shall also tatter and eventually fall. Let us work together to ensure that the first block laid is done well and we do this by guaranteeing a safe and conducive environment for learning.

I do acknowledge that we are a diverse community but make no mistake about it - I shall not shun upon the fact that the bedrock of what Governor Calvo has enumerated as "Guamanian" twenty-two times in his State of the Island Address is that our shared "Guamanian" experience is fundamentally built upon the tenets of our Chamorro culture and spirit. And my dear People…it is that very culture and language that is under threat.

Our Chamorro language is not as pervasive as it once was a decade ago and our Chamorro culture is not as prevalent. We smile and even marvel at the occurrence of a famaisan saina, a Chamorro practice of the groom-to-be asking the parents of wife-to-be for her hand in marriage. And this is not done through text or telephone but through a personal visit with an accompaniment where certain formalities of ceremony are practiced. It is rare indeed to hear of a family using a carabao cart to lead an entourage as they sing "Nobia Kaluhu."

To promote and help preserve our shared Chamorro culture I've drafted legislation that I believe is a step in the right direction in providing the proper climate in which our teachers, those studying to become Chamorro language and culture teachers, students, and support staff in the study of the Chamorro language and culture may thrive. It is my firm belief that Chamorro instruction should have parity with other subjects and Chamorro teacher's, who are few and far between, should not have to pack up and be left to travel from classroom to classroom as if gypsies in their homeland.

Chamorro teachers should not be restricted from teaching the culinary and performing arts as part of their Chamorro studies curriculum. Hu a gradesi si Senot Ron Laguana and many of the Chamorro teachers in our public schools for having raised this issue and for providing my office with critical data needed to inform the drafting of legislation in this regard. Si Yu'os Ma'ase lokkue para hagu Senot Robert Underwood yan Directot Nerissa Underwood para I supporten-miyu. Together we will address issues of pay and classification of Chamorro teachers, authorization to practice the performing and culinary arts of the Chamorros as part of the curriculum, providing parity for access to classroom space for the teaching of the Chamorro language and culture, teacher certification, and scholarships for those who choose Chamorro studies as a major at the University of Guam.

Un Dangkulo Na Si Yu'us Ma'ase my dear people of Guam for the opportunity to address you this week. I look forward hearing your concerns so that together, we may continue to work to improve the quality of life for all the people of Guam. I invite you to visit my website judiwonpat.com or guamlegislature.org or simply tune into the Guam Legislature Channel for the latest information on your legislative branch.

Saina ma'åse.

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