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UOG researcher examines role of Chamoro women

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It's a film screening that'll get you thinking about the women in your life. "Because so much of what makes Chamorro culture unique is the place of women in our culture. And I hope that this film will show a little bit of that. Of the power and the love and support that Chamorro women have in our culture, but also kind of indicate the challenges," said Leiana Nahalowa'a. She may not be a mother herself, but the University of Guam graduate student has conceived a brainchild that explores the role of the mother in Chamorro culture.

In her research, she found Chamorro women were severely underserved in Chamorro literature, explaining, "There's such little mentions, documentation of Chamorro women in history, period."

That was a big inspiration for "Mothering Guahan," a documentary covering Pre-Colonial, Spanish Colonial, and early American Colonization periods on Guam. "I've always been interested in women's realities, histories, stories, narratives. You name it. And tie that to my own cultural background of Chamorro, and I realize that I couldn't really - that this was a starting point for me in doing Chamorro women's studies," she said.

Contributing their input are Chamorro mothers as well as interviews with indigenous scholars including Anne Hattori and Shalreen Santos-Bamba. According to contributors, one of the most prominent mothers in Chamorro literature comes out of the legend of Sirena - the story about a young girl who disobeyed her mother's orders and was cursed to become a fish. Thanks to her godmother however, Sirena's upper body remained human.

"They all said Sirena when it came to mothers and Chamorro women," Nahalowa'a noted. "Sirena absolutely was the one thing across the board that they all mention. So that's one of the chapters I look at. I look at the representation of mothers and Sirena. And I look at the role of two mothers in the life of Sirena."

The ultimate goal is to complete the film in time for the 2016 Festival of the Pacific Arts. She said, "It's going to be an amazing gathering of artists and because Guam is a host, I really made it my goal to just finish this film by then."

A free screening of "Mothering Guahan" is set for Wednesday, August 26 at 5:30pm at the UOG Class Lecture Hall.

For more information, visit http://www.uog.edu.

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