“I Am Chamorro” Film Promotes Identity and Discovery

Tonight, my wife and I had the privilege to watch a newly released cultural documentary called I Am ChamorroAs I opened up the newly wrapped DVD case, I asked myself other than where I come from, is there anything else that marks me as a Chamorro?  With hopes that the film will shed new light about who I am, and who my children are as pacific islanders and Chamorros, I was eager to find out what the film was about. From the comfort of our Colorado home, my wife and I were immediately welcomed back to the sounds and sights of the Mariana Islands on our television.  While the snow outside was melting on our brown lawn, we were quickly greeted with deep green moist jungles, dark limestone rocks, steep cliffs, colorful flowers and untouched beaches on our screen.  These were only some of the vivid images from the Mariana archipelago that made me homesick or mahalang for my island and its people.

I Am Chamorro is a high-definition film in Blu-Ray and DVD narrated by Catholic priest, Father Eric Forbes, OFM, CAP, a Chamorro and Guam native with Irish rootss-l16001. Father Forbes spent decades researching  his Chamorro heritage, which thus created a passion for sharing his roots.  Forbes, along with Executive Producer of the film, Joanne Tabor Modic, a Chamorro born and raised on Guam, now living in California, have successfully brought our Chamorro identity to the forefront.

With the resurgence of interest in the Chamorro culture by many in the islands and by many Chamorros abroad, Modic and Forbes could not have chosen a better time to produce and release this video. Over the last decade, so many Chamorros have worked collectively to bring their attention to rediscovering their eroding identity, and to bring forth new opportunities for growth and understanding of our culture.

This film framed where Chamorros came from as a people using DNA evidence, which has allowed scholars and scientists to theorize that several thousand years ago, Chamorros more likely migrated from places like Eastern Indonesia where East Indonesian women’s DNA is more similar to Chamorro female DNA than any other DNA across that region. There was a discussion of a theory of two migration waves from Indonesia, one which brought over the earliest of Chamorro settlers, and the second wave of people potentially being the impetus for the introduction of latte stones to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI). This theory is further supported by an Indonesian stone carving which seems to show a house atop what we would call “latte stones”.

I Am Chamorro paints an overview of the Chamorro people’s pre-history, and history concerning the migration of peoples from Spain, the Philippines, other islands in Micronesia, from Mexico, and other Asian countries as a result of sea-trade, farming, and missionary expeditions across the region. Additionally, it attempts to underscore the different political paths that Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands took, how they were affected by World War II, including how each struggled with occupations from Spain, Japan, Germany, and the United States.

This documentary has intimate dialogue between the younger Chamorro diaspora and the viewing audience, sharing their personal journeys about who they are and what they know of themselves to be as Chamorro. While the diaspora provided a narrative of their perspective, what made this film even more compelling are the interviews of older Chamorros on Guam and in the NMI, about their personal testimonies and experiences as they shared their identity.

If there was a highlight that caught my attention through out the video, aside from the factual information that informed my culture, it was the  professional acting skills of two Chamorro natives who could pass as brothers. Dressed in ancient attire, with native bone and shell jewelry, carrying spears, they were trekking through the beautiful green jungles, limestone caves, and sandy shores of Guam. They dressed the part and did well in these roles. I only wish they actually spoke the Chamorro language to complete the cinematic experience. With the varied scenes they were part of, they made me want to explore my island even more, in ancient Chamorro attire to boot.

If you have not seen this new documentary, I’d encourage you to do so. This project of love for our people provides a spring board to further explore, and ask questions about who we are, and who we want to become as a Chamorro people.

While this film isn’t a one-size-fits-all definition for what a Chamorro truly is, I came to a realization that I’m better informed about my past, and my identity to form a more complete picture of who I am as a Chamorro.

My intention is to share this film with my children, and my children’s future children so that they can discover who they are, and what they can do themselves to learn more, and share more, to create the people that they themselves, would want to be as Chamorros.

Gerard Aflague is a blogger, and Chamorro, born on Guam, formerly from Sinajana, he now resides in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, living with his wife and three children.

His parents, Lorenzo and Julia, and grandparents, Demetrio Garcia Cruz and Teresa Duenas Cruz, together with Vicente Torres Aflague and Anna Martinez Calvo Aflague, were from Hagatna, the capital of Guam. Gerard traces his genealogy primarily to Guam, the Philippines, Spain, and Scotland. His lineage is from the following clans: Aflague, Cruz, Calvo, Garcia, Torres, Flores, Leon Guerrero, Duenas, Martinez, and Crisostomo.

Gerard is part of a worldwide collective of Chamorros who spends time to give back to his people and to promote his culture, as part of his varied collection sold on

Your are a what? Chamorro?

In a recent conversation with someone recently in Colorado, they asked me what my race was. I said I was Chamorro – a people from the Pacific Islands of the Marianas. With a smile, they said, “You are a what? Chamorro? That’s interesting”. I said, “Why?” They said that they have never heard of that race before. Now…I’m not passing judgement on this individual’s lack of knowledge. It was just interesting that this person was not aware of the existence of the Chamorro race. Granted, we make up a fraction of the world’s population. However, it heightened my belief that we still have much to do as a people to share who we are with the world.

Learning About My Past from Ancient Chamorro Archeologically

While I’m not an expert in Chamorro studies – be it the language, culture, or people; or in archaeology.  I did enroll in Chamorro language classes in high-school and in college. Furthermore, I involved myself in higher-education academics in the field of archaeology at the University of Guam, as a student under Dr. Hiro Kurushina. Dr. Kurushina was an expert in conducting fun and dirty digs, in the most interesting places around Guam. We did all this to uncover the Chamorro people’s past, and to understand more about their society, lifestyle, and rituals, among other things.

We trekked through jungles and beaches that most people didn’t normally seek out. We found pottery, bone shards, wood pieces, and tool implements. We even uncovered latte stone relics overgrown with weeds. We measured, sectioned-off dirt, dug, sifted, washed, studied, theorized, and discussed what we uncovered. In all, we were trying to piece together a clearer picture of who we were as a people in the past.

It was interesting – to me at least, that I could dig a few feet deep, and uncover artifacts that were buried there for a long, long time. It was a surreal experience to know that uncovering something like an ancient pottery shard could allow my ancestors to talk to me (from the past), and tell me a little about how they lived. My experience with Dr. Kurishina began to teach me that these things told stories not only about them, but about who I am as a Chamorro. Something about this stuck with me for all these years.

From an academic perspective, Dr. Kurushina was one of several people (including Dr. Rosa Palomo, a language expert) who impacted me the most. He sparked in me the “little fire” to discover my past. As a Chamorro native, many decades older, I’ve had a constant desire to understand as much about who I am and who my ancestors were. So much has been uncovered about the people of the Marianas Islands – that it intrigues me – even to this day.

Actively Seeking to Give Back to Perpetuate and Educate About My Culture

Everyone has passions and interests. Mine happens to be in technology, art, and in my culture. In a haphazard way you could say, I’ve been involved in a variety of projects to create things that are useful and unique to people, but mostly to my Chamorro and Guamanian folks.

I get inspired. Sometimes by the most mundane things. Take for example, my trip to my neighborhood Colorado bookstore. I stumbled over a National Geographic magazine, and began thumbing through the pages. I was looking at a page that illustrated many facts about a rocket. It fascinated me. The thin lines pointing to a specific part of the rocket, with small descriptions to teach me just a little more about something I didn’t already know. Looking at this, my mind was already racing to determine how I could leverage such a technical and academic illustration to give back to my own culture through an educational and cultural way.

With this spark, I hyper-focused on wanting to direct and illustrate a technical illustration to tell of the story of my ancestors and their past,  to show the engineering and architectural skills we possessed, and to illustrate about the uniqueness of how we once lived. The result is the Latte Stone House (guma’ åcho latte) poster shown below. While much of the design was inspired from past drawings and other cultural research academic writings on this topic, this work of art could not have been created without the help of others including Fermina Sablan, a Chamorro language speaker, and Dr. Michael Bevacqua from the University of Guam who reviewed this for accuracy.

My hope is that this educational illustration about the Latte Stone House and Chamorro society long-ago, can be shared with many others who have the desire to perpetuate the language, culture, people known as the Chamorros. Hopefully, by sharing about our culture with others, one by one, we can further educate others about who we are as Chamorros.

How We All Can Promote Chamorro Cultural Education

While there are many people in the Marianas and abroad who are actively promoting our culture, be it through education, cultural arts, history, or song, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that each of us can do more to create greater synergy toward this end.

We encourage you to obtain a copy of one of our posters to display in your home, office, or at an upcoming event. These posters were made to share the Chamorro culture with others, and to educate others.

We have illustrated the Latte Stone House in two colorful themes below. To purchase your own copy of this poster in a variety of sizes and mediums (including 18×24 inches, 24×36 inches, non-laminated and laminated), click the picture below to be taken to our online store.  If you would like a larger illustration for an event that requires a larger display size, email us at We can offer this in sizes as big as 10 feet by 20 feet.

Click Here to Buy This Green Poster

Latte Stone House Illustration, Marianas Islands

Latte Stone House Illustration, Marianas Islands

Click Here to Buy This Brown Poster Below


Gerard Aflague is the blog author, Chamorro native, and long time resident of Guam, who now resides in the Denver metro area of Colorado. His passions are in the arts, writing, and exploring and perpetuating his culture in a variety of ways. He has written various childrens’ titles and has an online store that offers a variety of home and office island-themed products, among others.