Professor Michael Lujan Bevacqua once again openly expressed his contempt for Catholic culture in Guam’s history in his final article in the December 31, 2021 issue of the Pacific Daily News.
In his article, the professor provided some possible inaccuracies in “Karabao in the belen”. On Guam’s most famous holiday, Christmas Day, he attempted to mock the Christmas nativity scene to ensure the karabao was included alongside the nativity scene along with the cow and donkey. He raised the arguments that Catholicism contributed to the loss of Chamoru culture on the island.
Apparently, his interpretation of historical events and his definition of culture led him to believe that the ways in which Catholicism mixed or adapted with Chamoru were the causes of such portrayal. He admitted that he felt this because of his non-Catholic beliefs and upbringing. At the same time, he considered himself a CHamoru.
As a descendant of Chamoru and as a Catholic, I personally found Bevacqua’s comments and generalizations insulting and unfortunate. I admit that my Chamoru ancestors were Christianized and freely accepted the Catholic faith; (it was not) imposed by the Spanish missionaries. Naturally, it was the Spanish missionaries who introduced Christian beliefs and culture to the Chamoru people and were accepted with the religious practices common and available at the time.
Bevacqua may find these practices “foreign” to the Chamoru people, but for us Catholics, we believe that the Catholic faith is universal and worldwide under the direction of the Pope in Rome. The Catholic faith was founded over 2,000 years ago and has remained united around the world.
The belen, or Nativity scene, was never the creation of the Chamoru people, but an expression of the love and hope that the Christmas season is capable of arousing. The karabao can be added to the belen, not to change the crib, but to express a local identity.
Respect for women
And, to add insult to injury, I also found Bevacqua’s understanding of the Santa Marian Kamalen story insulting and dangerous. Comment that the obligation for the poor fisherman to wear clothes before approaching the statue of the Virgin Mary was a sign of respect and should not be taken as a colonizing effect. How dare the professor make such a statement and insinuation!
As a matriarchal society, the CHamoru people will always have immense respect for women, regardless of their nationality.
True to his own words, Bevacqua will always find our Catholic beliefs and practices fascinating. I pray that this is the extent of his fascination.
For my part, as a Chamoru and a Catholic, I will always challenge him at every turn. In fact, I will challenge anyone who dares to rewrite Guam’s history, undo Chamoru culture and practices, and teach critical race theories to our children and people.
I look very carefully for Bevacqua or any other CHamoru activists to take down the statues of Saint John Paul II through the Guam Museum and Pale San Vitores through the Guam Legislature as racial and colonization efforts.
The island of Guam and the Marianas are rich in historical and traditional events worth recognizing and remembering.