A long, long time ago, in the last century, in a decade called the 80s, I wrote a play set here in Guam, called Pulani. It was a story about a young Chamorro girl going on a journey. Today’s story is about something that happened while we were putting the play together.
I had a lot of help from many people in order to produce this play. One of the people I was fortunate to have on my team was the costume designer, married to a UOG professor. They were from the mainland, hadn’t been on Guam very long, and had 4 children, who were also in the play.
They lived in Perez Acres in Yigo. One day, before rehearsal, the kids were playing in the jungle behind their house. They came across a banyan tree, in other words, a taotaomona tree, and the older brother thought it would be fun to swing on the roots that were hanging from the branches. His sister was more cautious and told him she didn’t think they should do it, as the taotaomonas would be mad. She had been paying attention to the play’s message about respect for culture, I guess.
The boy said to her that he didn’t believe in that stuff. So. He. Swung. Then, as soon as he landed, one of the roots comes swinging back and hits the boy on his back. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and when he yelled out, the others looked right away and saw a huge red handprint covering his back. His sister told him what was on his back. They ran back to the house, scared out of their skin. When they got home and told mom what had happened, she knew right away what had to be done.
Mom and the 4 kids, mind you they are stateside people, or haole, as we call them in Hawaii, go back to the jungle, back to the tree. Back to the taotaomona. She brought the script with her and led the children in the prayer in English and in Chamorro, as best they could. And best they could , they said it. Over and over again.
The red mark became lighter, and then disappeared. They went home quietly. And when they came to rehearsal later that day, the mom told me the story. And now, I’m telling it to you.
Guella yan guello cha'miyu fanbubu, lao dispense yu'. sa ti hu tango' hafa uchocho'gue. (Ancestors, please don't get angrybut please forgive me because I don't know whatI have done.) (With more expression) Guella yanguello cha'miyu fanbubu, lao dispense yu', sati hu tango' hafa u chocho'gue.