On March 8 and 9, 2016, the Chamorro Studies Program of the University of Guam will hold its annual “Inacha’igen Fino’ CHamoru” or Chamorro Language Competition. Each year, hundreds of students from both private and public schools throughout the Marianas gather to compete in categories that test their knowledge of speaking, reading, writing, and singing in the Chamorro language.
The Inacha’igen is free and open to the public. The entire community is invited to come and watch this celebration of the indigenous language of the Marianas Islands and support efforts to preserve it for future generations.
The theme for this year’s competition is “I Fino’ CHamoru: I Guinahå-ta, Iyo-ta yan Ta Fanana’i” or “The Chamorro Language: Our Abundance, Ours To Share With One Another.” This theme draws inspiration from Guam’s hosting of the twelfth Festival of Pacific Arts (FESTPAC) in May 2016, with the theme of “Håfa Iyo-ta, Håfa Guinahå-ta, Håfa Ta Påtte, Dinanña’ Sunidu Siha Giya Pasifiku,” a message of pride in our heritage and commitment to sharing our culture.
The first day of the competition will take place on Tuesday, March 8, from 7am to 3:30pm. at the UOG Calvo Field House. On this day, large group competitions for middle and elementary school will be held, as well as group and individual categories for high school level participants. On Tuesday, students will compete in the following categories: elementary school children’s choir; high school proficiency; dramatic cultural interpretation; song with dance and male and female singing; and middle school chant and choral reading.
On the second day, Wednesday, March 9, the competition will be held in the UOG CLASS Lecture Hall from 2pm to 7:30pm and feature individual categories for middle and elementary schools. On Wednesday, the following categories will be featured: elementary school spelling and storytelling; and middle and high school oratorical and poetry recitation. Each competitive event will be judged by members of the community who are fluent in the Chamorro language. For each category, gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded for first, second, and third place finishers.
In addition to this, two categories have been designed in order to help build community excitement with FESTPAC in mind. For the dramatic interpretation, where high school groups perform a play in the Chamorro language, they are encouraged to use the FESTPAC/Inacha’igen themes to demonstrate some important aspect of Chamorro history or culture. For the children’s choir category, where elementary schools compete against each other to see who can perform best a shared song, we have chosen the official theme song for FESTPAC, titled “FESTPAC 2016,” written by Peter Onedera, for this category. On Tuesday, March 8, hundreds of students from throughout the Marianas will be joining together to sing this song of Pacific unity and cultural pride.
The Inacha’igen Fino’ CHamoru is made possible because of generous sponsors including the UOG Office of the Dean of College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the Guam Visitors Bureau, and Coast 360. The organizing committee for this year’s competition includes the following Chamorro Studies and Chamorro language faculty from the University of Guam: Siñot Joseph Franquez (co-chair) and Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua (co-chair), Siñora Rosa Salas Palomo, Siñora Ruth Mendiola, Siñora Teresita Flores, and Dr. James Viernes. (PR)