Chamorro Documentary Nearly Finished July 06 2015
Two and a half years ago, I was introduced to a special lady and a special project for the Chamorro community. Joanne Tabor Modic hosted a popular Chamorro history workshop in Torrance, California in 2011 and 2012. It was led by Capuchin Friar Eric Forbes, better know as Pale’ Eric from Guam. In that first phone call with Modic, she shared with me the vision of the “I AM CHAMORRO” documentary, which would be a compilation of the 26 years of research that went into Pale’ Eric’s history presentations.
It was because of the demand for the workshops, sitting at the Modic’s kitchen table, they decided to create a film to be able to reach the larger community. It would be a film that could be featured in the Smithsonian — something for Chamorros and for all people to see and learn about the Chamorro culture. It sounded overwhelming and it sounded expensive, but with Modic’s enthusiasm and Pale’ Eric’s stature in the community, I was immediately on board to support the project in any way that I could.
Many people have heard about this project by now. I have not been the only one so inspired. The Manhita Chamorro nonprofit organization was formed in February 2013, and its fundraising was successful enough to start the filming in early 2014. A lot of funds came one T-shirt sale at a time. Some came from generous donor organizations.
On her first trip to Guam for the project, Modic recalls a phone call she received in Hawaii from the President of the Bank of Guam, Lou Leon Guerrero. The bank was committing to be a presenting sponsor of the film. Soon afterward, the Guam Legislature also committed to be a presenting sponsor. After the funds that had already come from the stateside community and others, the sponsorships brought the project to life.
The first filming was in Redondo Beach, California in October of 2013. In 2014, the crew filmed on Guam, Rota, Tinian and Saipan over a period of nearly three weeks. The crew, also known as Click Productions, has been a great fit with the project according to Modic. While following Pale’ Eric’s direction, they have contributed new technologies and filmmaking expertise to enhance the production. On Guam they worked with Shooting Star Productions.
The film is meant for the youth, for those that must constantly explain where they’re from. Like one of our dancers who introduced herself as a person from Guam while in school. One of her classmates commented, “Is that a real place? Are you a real person?”
The film is meant for the Chamorro boy in California who said he had identified himself with the Chinese community. But he wasn’t Chinese and kids had told him he didn’t belong there. He didn’t know where he belonged. He didn’t know who he was.
The film is meant for Chamorros who live in the states, as well as the Chamorros who live on Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. It’s also meant for the world, who often doesn’t know what a Chamorro is.
“My father was sent to Guam, along with many other American military, to liberate it,” says Modic, “This film is for them, too.”
The final filming was on June 28 in Long Beach, California where Chamorro dance groups, Kutturan Chamoru and Uno Hit were rehearsing with instructor, Heidi Quenga. In between the dancing, students and organizers were interviewed.
The Manhita Chamorro organization expects to release the movie trailer teaser no later than October. The movie itself should be completed by Christmas.
“This documentary is to tell about their islands in the Pacific and the origin of our ancestors through the eyes and the research of Pale’ Eric Forbes,” says Modic, “And it will live forever. This, you can pass to the next generation.”
More information about the project can be found at www.IAMCHAMORRO.com.