Hafa Adai Tao Tao Guåhan.
Guam - This past week has brought us much news, some of it good, some of it bad, some of it yet to be determined. We have heard that the military buildup may be changing, and changing in an unknown way. This brought with it fear—because some on our island believe that without the buildup we cannot survive. They tell us that this buildup is the only answer to our economic problems. They say that we don't have the drive, the intelligence, and the strength to build our own economy, create our own businesses and jobs, or feed our own families.
These are not the voices of our future, my dear People of Guam. Our young people are dynamic and are growing to become bright entrepreneurs and successful working people who are guiding the way to our islands economic prosperity. New businesses are sprouting up every day—the development of agriculture for local food production and export; affordable housing complexes for our local people; flourishing wholesale and retail companies; expanding tourism to other markets with an ecological draw, and even the development of a new state-of-the-art hospital in planning. These things are happening through the hard work, determination and drive of our local people who understand that we must do for ourselves if we are to thrive as a people and an island.
This Friday, members of your legislature will meet with Professional staff members from the Congressional Committees of Natural Resources, Insular Affairs, Judiciary, Financial Services, Appropriations, Transportation and Infrastructure. The staff is on a fact-finding mission to gain better insight into the transition of Marines from Okinawa to Guam in order to brief Members of Congress on the status and legal implications of the plan.
Your Legislature has been outspoken-- from the beginning of this buildup process over a year and a half ago-- that the prosperity of our people and our island's future must be addressed. Schools must be built. Our hospital must be funded. Our infrastructure must be expanded to meet the demand on our resources this build up will bring to our island. Your leaders must be advocating, unequivocally, unapologetically, for you, for our children, for the future of our island. We should be questioning any leader who does not.
The ever changing dynamics in the buildup process over the last several months shows us one thing—The prosperity of our island and our people cannot be contingent on a plan that can change so easily overnight, without any notice and at the will of unpredictable financial and policy conditions occurring all around us. Our task lies within ourselves—to find our TRUE prosperity, and an economic balance that allows us to provide for every single one of us and not just the already wealthy few who will build their fortunes from the buildup. The job that we must start now is a hard one—but one that is full of promise. We are at a turning point where we take our future into our own hands.
We must each ask ourselves: What will our lives be in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years? Will we still be looking to another to feed us? Or will we rise to abilities, foster our resources and develop a future that will provide prosperity for our children and grandchildren. We are a people rooted in the values of our culture: familia, respetu, chin'chule, inafa'maolek. We care for our manamko' and our children before anything else. Prosperity for us comes from a richness of family and culture, and we know that we must depend on ourselves and each other to provide for our families.
This effort for our future will take more than just your elected leaders. We can mandate and legislate, but each citizen must take action and responsibility for our economy and its health. It must be all of us who rise to the occasion, because we, the citizens of Guam are the ones who will solve all of our problems. We are the ones we have been waiting for.