Debate on military plan

Initially, I thought we had a clear understanding, sense of purpose, and conviction to stand behind protecting our time-honored traditional values as indigenous people. In the process, we boldly tried to navigate the difficult challenges of the 21st century.

Unfortunately, we’re victims of our own blurred vision and ill-conceived perception of what indigenous culture is, giving way to unprecedented heights in hypocrisy. We slide into discussion of issues so unpleasantly disorienting, if not humiliating.

For instance, we oppose militarization of the islands yet we’re deftly mute on casino gambling. Which policy would provide edification—strengthening of our traditional values—and can someone articulate it in straightforward fashion?

If there’s clear conviction and commitment to indigenous culture, then it would seem logical that we would clamor to preserve the Samoan Housing Area to protect the sacred burial ground of our ancestors. But we acquiesce it in place of a hotel-casino and visitor recreation. Isn’t ancestry paramount to the local culture? Why dismiss and trash the wisdom of tradition?

Evidently, did you oppose Arnold Palacios’ exemption of BSI from zoning laws that fast tracks destruction of our ancestral burial ground?

Remember when ANA stopped its project in San Roque out of respect for our ancestral burial ground? What does that decision tell you of an investor’s respect of the sacredness of ancestral burial site? Did your memory fail you on this score?

No military on Pagan because of its “cultural value” yet it’s fine to see its defacement or destruction from pozzolan and basalt mining? Or did you conveniently look the other way again?

It’s clear the contemporary indigenous people have inherited two cultures: traditional and neo-colonial. You use the former to say “no to military” but then slip into the latter to welcome continued federal assistance. It includes food stamps, Medicaid, housing voucher and over $100 million annually in federal funds. You thought you could have your cake and eat it too while rolling out the red carpet of permanent deculturation. What grand achievement!

It was upon our land that was founded a tradition of farming by our ancestors. It is a relationship that makes up the rich heritage of the indigenous people. We’re still farming and fishing! We’re still here, though confused over cultural wardrobe: traditional or neo-colonial.

Sad that we’ve also given up prime land along the shores that has finally annihilated traditional fishing and shut off places we used to frequent to gather family meals. We now head to NAP Office for sustenance. Where’s the credibility about cultural values and wisdom?

I used to fish with other families in Puntan Muchot, then turn inland to catch land crab. Now it’s filled with tourists rubbed in perfumes of their empire. We’ve even prostituted dances in loincloth for their entertainment, dances that are best left to traditional indigenous ceremonies. Why did we allow our sails to be ripped off by our lack of honest conviction to protect the sanctity of certain aspects of our culture?

Did paragons of culture critically question implementation of food stamps, Medicaid and housing voucher that have slowly created entrenchment of dependence and hopelessness? Why treat indigenous culture with dismissive inconsequence?

Appalling the lame posturing as culture warriors interchanging traditional and colonial cultures for purposes of convenience. I know my culture’s full measure and not shipwrecked in passing familiarity. Do we now allow traditional values and wisdom to die a disappearing death because of your seesaw conviction?

We’re caught in between

Political dominance of Asia and Pacific regions is central in the global tug-of-war of which country rules the world—U.S. or China?

The NMI is basically a cog in the huge geopolitical machinery. But we’re stuck in the wheel that must continue spinning to support the function of the vehicle.

Then there’s the emerging “bromance” between Russia and China that could shift political rule of U.S. and Western-dominated order in Europe and Asia.

Evidently, Pagan doesn’t belong to the loudest huckster nor does he or she represent the views of the rest of the indigenous people Marianas-wide.

Hindsight tells this scribe the fortune inherent in the agreement we’ve taken for granted. We receive over $100 million annually in direct and indirect grants for a hospital, sea and airports, power plant and sewerage system. Remember?

Palmier days fading

Casinos in Macau have seen revenues dip by 39 percent in April, according to the WSJ this week. The construction of other casinos started in palmier days may be on hold given the decrease in revenues.

The business decline started when President Xi Jinping implemented anti-graft investigations all over the landscape that severed the role of the triad in Macau. Jinping stopped any and all transfer of big money from China into Macau. Where do we factor making big money under this scenario?

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John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.

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  • Juanita Mendiola

    What now? As eloquent as your writing is about the dilema we are facing, can we, like, hear your eloquent thoughts on how to effectively achieve the social transformation necessary to brdige this gap between what you call “contemporary indigenous people have inherited two cultures: traditional and neo-colonial”. We are all guilty of being complacent, and when few of those who truly care to make changes start marching with loud mouths they are shut down immediately; even by those who profess to feel the same but are too scared to rock the boat lest their “comfortable connections and lives” are taken away. It is a shame, indeed!

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