CHamoru Language Competition
Brief History of the Inachá’igen Fino’ CHamoru or CHamoru Language Competition at the University of Guam
By Rosa Salas Palomo
CHamoru Language Adjunct
Here we are twenty years later still providing opportunities for all CNMI and Guam public and private elementary, middle and high school students to showcase their CHamoru language skills, capabilities, and proficiencies at an institute of higher learning, the University of Guam! More importantly, this was an opportunity for UOG to demonstrate its commitment to providing educational service to the Guam and CNMI community, particularly the youths.
The Inachá’igen Fino’ CHamoru’sforerunner was the All-Island Secondary Schools Competition that was held for eight years at the UOG’s former College of Arts and Sciences and headed by the Modern Languages Department. It began in the early 1990’s and involved public and private high schools on Guam. The competition involved French, German, Japanese and Spanish languages. The genres included poetry recitation; proficiency which includes reading comprehension, reading aloud, and oral impromptu; song and dance; and drama. It was not until AY 1994-95 when CHamoru became part of the program chaired by full-time CHamoru language instructor Rosa Salas Palomo and later by full-time CHamoru language faculty Peter Robert Onedera. Funding for the Language Competition was provided by the College, but primarily from supporters of the competition that were personally solicited by each of the language instructors.
The All-Island Secondary Schools Language Competition, plagued with funding issues, ceased in AY99-2001. However, Siñot Onedera and Siñora Palomo continued the CHamoru language competition two years later. It was at this time that the Competition went through a name change, Kompetensian Fino’ CHamoru. Five major changes occurred under the chairmanship of Siñot Onedera with assistance from Siñora Palomo: participation from the CNMI were sought, competition genres were added to the middle and high schools levels, a theme was selected each year, the middle school was added, and the competition was held in conjunction with the UOG’s Charter Day.
The Kompetensian Fino’ CHamoru expanded its genres in the high school to include: proficiency consisting of reading comprehension, reading aloud, and oral impromptu; oratory, poetry recitation, male and female singing, dramatic cultural interpretation. In the Middle School, there are: Oratory, poetry recitation, essay, choral reading, and chant. In AY2007-2008, the competition expanded to the elementary schools and competitors were sought in: spelling, storytelling, drawing, and choir. There were two divisions – K-2 and 3-5 grades. Other changes occurred in AY2015-16: the spelling genre was temporarily dropped and Kåntan CHamorita Style of Singing was added to the high school level.
Due to the departure of Siñot Onedera from the University, Siñora Palomo once again took leadership of the competition. In AY 2013-14, the name changed once again to what it is referred to today, Inachá’igen Fino’ CHamoru. Inachá’igen comes from the CHamoru word, igi meaning ‘to beat, surpass, compete, overcome, defeat.” By this time the implementation of the CHamoru Studies Major and Minor Programs took effect, and there were also more CHamoru language adjuncts. This resulted in chairmanship of the Competition changing annually. However, it was under the auspices of the CHamoru Studies Program coordinated by Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua who chaired a few years consecutively.
Aggressive fund raising efforts and an increased College support enabled the awarding of gold, silver and bronze medals and plagues to first, second and third place winners in all genres. Financial support has been and continue to be received through grants and donations from the Guam Visitors Bureau’s Cultural Heritage and Community Outreach Program, the Guam Council of the Arts and Humanities Agency, the Young Men’s League of Guam, Coast 360, Guam Preservation Trust, International Distributors, the Mayor’s Council of Guam, Pacific Islands Bilingual-Bicultural Association (PIBBA), Guam Chapter, and other notable civic organizations and business entities.
The Inachá’igen Fino’ CHamoru would not have existed this long without the assistance of many individuals from the community. Each year it depends on the community from Guam and the CNMI to volunteer their time to be competition judges. Some of our judges come in from the CNMI and pay for their entire expenses. All students in the CHamoru language classes at the University of Guam participate in the competition. They act as timers, school and bus greeters, tally judges’ completed score sheets, assist in the distribution of medals and plaques, and escort judges and participants.
Without the financial support and the assistance from our UOG students, judges, and community, the Inachá’igen Fino’ CHamoru would be extremely challenging to implement for approximately 700-800 student participants and anywhere from 50-75 coaches or teachers annually in a span of two days by five passionate and dedicated faculty members.
To all of you, un gof dǻngkolo na si Yu’os ma’åse’!
Come to our 20th Annual Inachá’igen Fino’ CHamoru on Monday, March 11, 2019 from 2 – 6 p.m. in the UOG CLASS Lecture Hall, and Tuesday, March 12, 2019, form 8-5 p.m. at the UOG Calvo Field House.