It's Official! We've Been Selected February 23 2017
Our I AM CHAMORRO documentary has been chosen as an official selection for the 12th Annual DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon in 2017. The festival will take place at the Bijou Arts Cinemas in Eugene, Oregon on April 21st-23rd, 2017.
Heartfelt thanks and un dangkulo na si Yu'us ma'åse' to everyone who believed in us and supported our efforts. This would not have been possible without you!!!!
Biba Chamorro!!!!! Feel free to share this good news with your family and friends.
'I Am Chamorro' documentary a success January 09 2016
With the newly released “I Am Chamorro” (http://www.iamchamorro.com/) movie, the Chamorro people at last have a full length documentary that covers their 4,000 plus
year saga. And the story of the making of this movie can be considered an adventure in itself. You see, the executive producer of “I Am Chamorro” has never made a movie before. The researcher and writer is a priest that never imagined himself making a documentary. This film came about on an impulse, conceived in faith and executed with what has been described as divine intervention.
Executive Director Joanne Tabor Modic of Los Angeles had first been introduced to the visiting Father Eric Forbes known as Pale’ Eric, as the perfect priest to preside over the traditional Chamorro Santa Marian Kamalen Mass she coordinates at the Good Samaritan Hospital chapel in Los Angeles. The more Joanne and her family heard from Pale’, a longtime Chamorro historian, the more they wanted.
“And we wanted him to speak to us not only from the spiritual standpoint but also on topics involving culture, tradition and language,” said Joanne. “He was what we needed to reconnect to our roots.”
Over the next two years, Pale’ Eric honed his knowledge into workshops that were presented to packed audiences in Los Angeles, San Diego and the Bay Area. Pale’ Eric was urged to record his knowledge to reach a wider audience. Once it was decided to make a film, talents and resources seemed to emerge. Joanne had a career in banking and experience putting together complex business plans. Her daughter, Denise, is a lawyer. Her son-in-law John and his brother, Rex, are in marketing and graphic design with connections to the film industry. Other friends and family had sales experience.
“Somehow we had the right skill sets to get this done,” said Joanne.
Pale’ Eric had one important requirement. The film had to be fully funded before production. The minimum goal was $150,000. The work began.
“Some things were successful and some were not, but we tried them all and we kept going,” Joanne said.
Their first sign that this project could have the support that it needed was a fundraiser following a cultural workshop in San Diego by Pale’ Eric. I was an organizer of that fundraiser as part of the Che’lu organization, and although we didn’t know how much our brunch fundraiser could help, we knew that their effort for this project deserved ours. It turned out to be an opportunity for those who had been inspired by the recent workshop to show their support. When $1,000 film sponsorships were offered, half a dozen supporters stepped up that day. It was the first big break for the “I Am Chamorro” effort.
Still, the huge price tag for the film was looming. I had to ask Joanne.
With tens of thousands of dollars given in faith, how could she be sure they could raise all the money? Joanne, a devout Catholic, admitted that she sometimes had to go into church with her fears and leave them at the altar when brief, but real, concern felt overwhelming.
At one particular point, the project was $40,000 short of their goal and Joanne felt anxious that this final stretch was going to be the hardest. She was on her way to Guam when she happened to turn on her phone in Hawaii and got a call from Lou Leon Guerrero at the Bank of Guam saying that they were coming in as the presenting sponsor at $50,000. It was just one of the milestones where Joanne felt there was a higher power at work.
Once the money was raised, the production work began. Through this part of the process, Joanne was not involved in the content. “Pale’ wanted it to be a surprise to me.” When asked how the film was coming along, she would have to be vague.
Finally after a year of filming in Guam, Rota, Tinian and Saipan as well as the mainland, the film was completed. Joanne saw the movie content for herself in early December 2015.
On Dec. 12, 2015, the premiere showing was held at the Hazard Center theaters in San Diego, the home of so many of the film’s supporters. The 250 seats were filled with Chamorros, non-Chamorros, sponsors and donors. Pale’ Eric was there to greet everyone and to sign copies of the DVD. Despite some technical difficulties on the part of the theaters, the showing was well received. The audience laughed and sighed and was struck by silence as the drama of Chamorro history played out.
It was at the Guam premiere a week later that Joanne says she experienced a day of anxiety. This was the audience that not only held the film’s major sponsors, but it was the audience from the homeland itself. What would the response be, she wondered. Others wondered too. The Viloria brothers who are featured prominently in the film’s ancient period approached her at opening day. They had never seen the script. How were they going to be portrayed?
Joanne says that she stood up for most of that movie so that the sold out theater could seat the audience. She was able to witness the reactions of different people watching. I asked her, “How was the reaction the same? How was it different?”
“At the end of the screening on Guam, we had a lot of the same reaction as we had in SD,” Joanne told me.
“People were blown away by the content, touched by the story on the big screen; a story told by a priest who had studied the history for more than 30 years.”
And she noticed that they all laughed at the same times.
“That told me that this wasn’t only for the stateside Chamorros. It touched the Chamorro on Guam as well, deeply, I can say.”
If the popularity of the film is any indication, Joanne has it right.
In the first two hours of its release in Guam, four PayLess supermarkets completely sold out of stock. Fifteen hundred total DVD sales have been made to date of this writing, less than one month after its release. The “I Am Chamorro” team, including Joanne’s husband, Rich, is kept busy filling online orders from around the world.
The movie reviews can now be found on social media and in the Guam news.
“This journey should be studied, reviewed and studied even more, particularly by those who want to determine for themselves who and what they are,” said Joaquin Perez in a Dec. 31, 2015, Pacific Daily News letter. “Pale’ Eric’s work provides an outstanding beginning.”
It has struck a chord with the Chamorros who have lived away from the island as expressed by Joanne’s brother, Tom, who moved away when he was just 11.
“A life’s journey captured in 90 plus minutes of the history of the ancients through contemporaries whose struggles with culture, identity and purpose mirrored and defined mine,” Tom said.
Jess and Lupe Perez of Chula Vista happened to be in Guam to see the premiere on island.
“I was very impressed with the presentation. I think it was very educational I learned a lot a lot of stuff I didn’t know about my own culture.” Said Jess. “I was hoping he would talk a little bit more about the culture out here (in the mainland). What is our future? How is our culture being affected away from Guam? How are we evolving?”
He hopes for a sequel.
The production of the film is not the end of this cultural education project by any means.
“We have applied to the Hong Kong, Tribeca, Melbourne and Nashville film festivals,” said Joanne.
It will be featured during Guam’s Festival of Pacific Arts beginning in May, and is scheduled to go to the Smithsonian sometime this year. Joanne expects to see the film used in the University of Guam history courses, and hopes that it will be used to educate newly arrived military personnel and their families about where they are living.
As a sponsor, Lou Leon Guerrero expressed there is nothing else like this film. It inspired laughter, tears, longing and most of all conversation about history and identity.
“To see former Gov. Paul Calvo recognize his late father’s photo in the film, to see him singing along to the music, it was confirmation enough for me,” said Joanne. “I am happy with the result.”
MANHITA CHAMORRO, a non-profit Chamorro cultural organization founded to produce, with Pale' Eric Forbes, a documentary of the history of the Chamorro People is pleased to announce that its presenting sponsor for the I AM CHAMORRO DOCUMENTARY is the BANK OF GUAM, The People's Bank.
The documentary, released in all formats including DVD and blue ray formats, is a story of the history of the Chamorro People, the indigenous natives of Guam and the Mariana Islands in Micronesia . An ancient people, the Chamorros have endured centuries of colonization, war and calamities. Today, Guam remains an important strategic possession of the United States in the Pacific. Till now, no comprehensive documentary has been made concerning the history of our Chamorro people. This documentary will make a monumental and historical difference for our people and generations to come. It will be a work of art, masterfully filmed and edited by Hollywood professionals.
"We are so grateful for Bank of Guam's support", says Pale` Eric Forbes, Chairman of Manhita Chamorro's Board. "Our stories are similar in that we both conceived a dream, started from humble beginnings and, because of their support, will see our dream become a reality.
The Bank of Guam is known by all as a strong supporter of Chamorro culture and language. Their contribution and the contribution of all our corporate and individual sponsors represents an investment in our culture and in our children and grandchildren's future knowledge of our culture."
About the Bank of Guam
Bank of Guam was first conceived as a dream and aspiration in the early 1970s by its founder and former Chairman of the Board, Mr. Jesus S. Leon Guerrero. During the time he was a vice-president in Guam for Bank of America, Mr. Guerrero grew concerned that the banking needs of many within the community were not being adequately met.
Because of his dedication to the people of Guam and the other islands of the region, he resolved to take the risk of starting a new, locally organized bank. After securing a commitment for deposit insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Mr. Guerrero literally went door-to-door, offering Bank of Guam stock for sale. When the Bank was officially chartered on March 13, 1972, what had started as a dream became a reality.
From its humble beginnings in a pre-fabricated building in the heart of Hagatña, Bank of Guam quickly grew into one of the island's most prominent success stories. As Guam 's economy expanded, the Bank prospered, taking an increasing share of the market for both deposits and loans. Despite the setbacks of the recession during the late 1970s and early 1980s, a more permanent structure replaced the original facility as the Bank's headquarters and additional branches were opened to better serve its growing customer base.
The People's Bank
2014 marked the 42nd Anniversary of the Bank of Guam. Now with a network of 24 branches and over 80 ATMs throughout the Western Pacific, Bank of Guam has consistently proven itself to be a successful, dynamic organization with the sophistication to handle the most complex of its customers' domestic and international financial needs. At the same time, it has maintained its status and perspective as a community bank, treating each customer with personal attention and sensitivity. That is why customers know Bank of Guam as "The People's Bank"… personal in style, international in capacity.
About Pale` Eric Forbes
A MAN OF GOD......A MAN FOR HIS PEOPLE
Pale' Eric Forbes, whose cultural advocacy and research credentials are well-known, will not only narrate the documentary but will also decide its content, which will cover, in broad but essential strokes, the entire history of the Chamorro People, from our remote origins in the past to the present reality including the story of those Chamorros who live outside the Marianas.
Pale' Eric was born and raised on Guam . From an early age, he made Chamorro culture, language and history his passion. After obtaining a BA in History from San Francisco State University and a Master of Divinity degree from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley , CA , he became a Capuchin Franciscan priest. He returned to Guam and has worked in the Marianas ever since. For 26 years, he has interviewed countless people and researched in archives and libraries all over the world, gathering a huge collection of historical data.
He is an acknowledged historian of the Chamorro people, especially in the area of local church history and is frequently called on to write articles and speak at cultural events. He maintains a Chamorro culture blog, www.paleric.blogspot.com. For several years, he created a buzz in California giving Chamorro culture workshops that created a hunger for more knowledge as people's pride and Chamorro consciousness were re-awakened.
This past year, he received KUAM TV's 2013 A'adahen i Kottura (Cultural Guardian) Award. Wherever he goes, he creates excitement and enthusiasm among our people.
A documentary of the history of the Chamorro People, the indigenous natives of Guam and the Mariana Islands in Micronesia . An ancient people, we have endured centuries of colonization, war and calamities. Today, Guam remains an important strategic possession of the United States in the Pacific. Till now, no comprehensive documentary has been made concerning the history of our people. This documentary will make a monumental and historical difference for our people and generations to come.
Supporting sponsors for the I AM CHAMORRO Documentary project include, Guam Food Services, King's Restaurants, Ruby Tuesday Restaurant, Chuck E. Cheese, AM Insurance, Mitsubishi Motors - Guam Auto Spot, Guam Visitors Bureau, Tan Holdings, DFS Saipan, Triple J Saipan, Pay-Less Supermarkets, Che'lu Inc, .St. Jude Fiesta Group, Barrigada San Roke Group of Southern California, Family Finance, Santa Rita Fiesta Group, Bay Area Women's Group and numerous $1K individual sponsors who reside on Guam and in the U. S. Mainland.
If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities, we continue to seek donations from corporate and individual sponsors in order to make this groundbreaking documentary a reality. For details about the various ways of financially supporting this documentary, please contact Joanne Tabor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be a part of this needed re-awakening of our pride and knowledge of our Chamorro story which will touch the hearts of thousands of people for many years to come.
Chamorro culture featured at PIFA event October 07 2013
Our article on Guam pdn! September 30 2013
Thank you Sandy Uslander from Che’lu for the wonderful story.
Click to see the article.
Manhita Chamorro gets grant from Guam Visitor’s Bureau September 30 2013
GUAM VISITORS BUREAU CULTURAL HERITAGE AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH committee just awarded MANHITA CHAMORRO a sizeable grant towards the historical documentary film trailer narrated by Pale` Eric Forbes. Un Dangkulo’ na Si Yu’us Ma’ase and thank you to everyone at GVB who made this possible.
Manhita Chamorro’s first project is to produce a “Smithsonian quality” historical documentary based upon Pale’ Eric Forbes’ 26 years of research spanning 5 countries and the Marina Islands. To accomplish this endeavor, in the interim, Manhita Chamorro will produce a “movie trailer” introducing this project to the community to raise awareness and seek corporate and individual sponsorship for the project.
Manhita Chamorro aims its efforts to educate the Chamorro people both living in the Mariana Islands and abroad of its rich culture and language through the study of its pre-war, World War II and modern day Guam not only through research of hard data but also through the recording of the man’amko before that generation and its perspective is lost. Manhita Chamorro seeks to achieve this goal through engaging in projects that will utilize all aspects of media outreach such as video archiving, print media and the production of documentaries as well as through providing live workshops in communities who seek this knowledge.
Manhita Chamorro receives funding from Che’lu Inc., Bay Area Women’s Organization, Kutturan Chamoru Foundation and Guam Visitors Bureau.