Editor’s note: This is the second part of Senator Ben Pangelinan’s address to University of Guam graduates on Sunday, December 18. Part one was published on December 20th.
For our home, Guahan, the arts and the renaissance of our culture and identity is the revolution of our Chamorro cultural revolutionary Frank Rabon. He believed in the existence of our Chamorro culture unique among all the other islands. He believed in the existence and the value of Guahan— a place, a people, a culture all with a soul worth discovering and creating and presenting to the rest of the world. And in the process of study and discovery, he instilled pride in a new generation of Chamorros. When we see the multitude of new artists armed with love and pride in who we are as a people expressed in the art they practice, we see the revolution. It is the transformation of what we see when we look into the tomorrow of our survival as the people of Guahan. We no longer see just the hope of a future, but that hope has been transformed into the great promise of its achievement.
Not all revolutions are new or original in history. Paul Bordallo, when he created the Chamorro land trust, patterned it for the most part after laws for other indigenous people in the United States . What was revolutionary about it was that he dared us to imagine and believe that we as people deserve a place for our people in our own homeland forever. And while he was the prime mover of the revolution, by planting the seed and inspiration, it took another generation of revolutionaries and prime followers to complete it.
For me it started the day I answered the call. The first one, not the one inviting me here today, the one from Ricky Bordallo to join his administration and work for the people, transforming the big ideas into action, seeing and embracing my own dreams, imagining and believing in the promise of a new day for Guam and her people. That was my revolution and while I endeavor each day and work hard to see it to reality, the marching on of time finds for me a new one for this age.
My new dream and call to revolution is to nurture and support the young and strong public voices which speak of their own dreams to cure our island’s ills and craft new ideals -- be they protests against war, poverty, racism, sexism, favoritism and corruption, or other societal maladies which scourge our future.
Your revolution is to add to those revolutionary voices. And you have allies, forceful, curious and strong. Some of them are right here at this university, a league of extraordinary fellows for inquiry towards enlightenment who are up to the FITE to bring progress and prosperity to our island under our own terms, not diminished by outside influences not relevant and useful to our way of life.
My prayer and wish for you today is that you will not let present day conventions and institutions mute your voices, clip your wings or keep you from flight. That when the walls of today’s institutions confine and obstruct your vision, that your imagination leads you to add new wings to these institutions and when that is not enough, you find the courage and tenacity to raze them and build new ones. Don’t just think outside the box, dismantle the box and you will have real freedom in your revolution.
Let your revolution not be swayed merely by the popular. Do not accept the idea of de jour, just because it is favored by the masses, when you know it is not best for the majority and most especially the minority among us. Fight to make it better, even when attacked by the critics and cynics who pass themselves off as well-intentioned and good.
Find yourselves and in this search do not let yourself be limited to the lines painted on the roads, for these are lines of truths and the dogma of others. These are the results of their revolutions, do not let them define and limit yours. Keep searching and follow your heart and listen to the voice within you. They already know your purpose and will take you to your destiny.
When you accomplish this within yourself, know that you will change the reality of those around you. What you have learned here and take away today assures that you will do this with the privilege granted to you by your education and accomplishment. This is also your burden and responsibility to humanity.
My hope is that your revolution will be to use all of your skills gained from the education you have received, the integrity ingrained in your consciousness by this great institution, to lend your voice to those who have no voice, to defend the powerless and not entrench yourselves with those in power, to use your imagination and see yourself in the place where others are who have not received the privilege nor the opportunity that brought you here today.
Be bold and act, love and live. Life makes many demands, and circumstances, even our coveted degrees, often can dictate our paths. But I know from experience that we must make difficult and sometimes unpopular choices every day; do not live life by default for fear of failure, because doing so means you have failed.
And when faced with the choices, I pray you will pick the ones that bring richness to your life and not just the riches of life.
I pray for a life by choice for all of you, a rich and wonderful life and that will find others to travel with through life as you seek and find and renew your revolution For therein lies the richness of life.
Be revolutionaries of life and not martyrs to a life.
Ginen I mas takhalum yan I fondon y korason hu, y mas dankula na Si Yu’us Ma’ase para hamyos todos.