“The properties of perpetual light,” a personal perspective
A slim volume at just under 130 pages, Julian Aguon’s “The properties of perpetual light” punches above its weight.
Aguon is not only the principal of Blue Ocean law, but is a human rights lawyer licensed to practice in Guam, Palau and the Marshall Islands. He developed the world’s first comprehensive international human rights law critique of deep-sea mining, resulting in coordinated advocacy campaigns across several Pacific island countries. He also represented the Guam Legislature in a case of first impression, resulting in a precedent-setting decision upholding the right of direct democracy in the territory — and ultimately the legalization of medicinal marijuana in Guam. He most recently joined the council of advisors for Progressive International.
Aguon has won the Petra Award and the Project Censored Award. As an adjunct professor he has taught Pacific islands legal systems at the William S. Richardson School of Law and international law at the University of Guam. Aguon has twice been featured in “40 under Forty” in Guam Business Magazine.
While he says in the book’s introduction that some of the vignettes were not intended for publication, he presents experiences from his life that have shaped him and analyses them.
He is perhaps fortunate that he has found a raison d’etre through his profession and through this book a way to express that to others, whether he is aiming to inspire, or offer a sense of realism, or shock.
“Each of us who decides to engage in social change lawyering must find our own way to build an inner life against the possibility, and a certain measure of inev¬itability, of failure. Indeed, part of our work as people who dare to believe we can save the world is to prepare our wills to withstand some losing, so that we may lose and still set out again, anyhow,” Aguon writes.
Not all readers will agree with Aguon on each of his stances – however powerfully expressed, but in today’s world it does us good to respect and aim to understand other views.
A deeply personal perspective, Aguon reflects in poetry and prose on topics from climate change to colonialism to the military buildup in Guam and shares experiences and other writings that have influenced him.
The book takes the time to explain for a wide audience a ritual such as the Catholic prayer for the dead and what it’s intent might be, as well as more aspects of Chamorro culture. Introducing the reader to family members, Aguon adds charm to what is a fact-laden book – as one might expect from a lawyer, particularly given his interests – and there is always a message.
Many of us had probably forgotten the advice that we received from a government agency in August 2017 when North Korea was threatening to bomb Guam, and how we descended into trivia. Our newsroom received calls from international media members. One of them asked if we were all heading for our basement shelters, and we shared that few houses in Guam had basements, and none to our knowledge had shelters, since this is the Guam of the 21st century, not the U.S. of the 1960s.
Aguon reminds us, “For its part, Guam Homeland Security released a fact sheet of suggestions on how to prepare for an imminent missile threat — ‘Take cover behind anything that might offer protection,” and, ‘Lie flat on the ground and cover your head.’ And this one, for those unfortunate enough to find ourselves outside during the blast — ‘Wash your hair with shampoo, or soap and water. Do not use con¬ditioner . . . because it will bind radioactive material to your hair.’”
He asks, “What are we to do with these spectacularly useless suggestions? How can we not be defeated by this kind of extreme stupidity? Why is no one talking about the fact that nuclear war is unlike any other kind of war?”
Reproduced in the book is the speech Aguon gave to the graduating class of Simon Sanchez High School in Yigo in 2010. What it offers to each graduate is the possibility of a sense of self and how each graduate might contribute in the future. I doubt the graduates were given a copy of the speech, but here is a chance for them and all of us, to reflect on contributions to the society in which we live.
“Guam is a microcosm of the world. It is confused and suffering. And it needs you desperately. It needs more hospital beds, yes. More doctors, in fact. More teach¬ers, more environmentalists, more social workers. More farmers and fisherfolk, too. Guam needs all these things. But what this island really lacks — what it really, really needs — is more imagination. More dreaming,” Aguon says.
“The properties of perpetual light” is available for $23 at the University of Guam Press at www.uog.edu/uogpress, on Aguon’s website at www.julianaguon.com, through the book’s U.S.-based distributor, Itasca Books at https://itascabooks.com and on Amazon.com. It will be sold in Guam bookstores after its launch on March 29.
Fiduciaries recognized for advice
Jason B. Miyashita, managing director, senior vice president, investments and senior institutional consultant; and Daniel A. Roland, managing director, senior vice president, investments and senior institutional consultant at Raymond James in Guam, were among the Raymond James-affiliated advisors named to the Forbes list of “Best-In-State Wealth Advisors.”
Miyashita was also named to the Financial Planning’s “Top Regional Advisors Under 40 List,” which recognizes leading advisors from 600 names at national, regional and independent firms. Miyashita earned the Certified Investment Management Analyst professional designation from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He also currently holds the Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist professional designation of the College for Financial Planning and the Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst professional designation, awarded by the Center for Fiduciary Studies, which is associated with the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business.
Miyashita has also been named in Guam Business Magazine’s “40 Under Forty” lists, most recently in the 2019 list in the September-October issue of that year.
Handmade copy of 19th century history of the Mariana Islands donated to university
A rare Spanish manuscript about the history of the Mariana Islands is being turned over to the University of Guam March 2 by a Spanish delegation visiting Guam for the quincentennial commemoration of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe. The head of the delegation, Adm. Santiago Barber y López, is presenting the manuscript to UOG President Thomas W. Krise to be permanently deposited at the Richard Flores Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center at UOG.
It will be viewable by the public later this year in a new exhibit at MARC.
The manuscript comes from an anonymous Spanish donor on behalf of the family of the last Spanish governor of the Mariana Islands, Don Juan Marina. The family is permanently depositing this heirloom at MARC so that it will be accessible for the people of Guam and the Mariana Islands.
The manuscript is a copy handmade in 1896 of the original “Memoria de las Islas Marianas,” which was written by an earlier governor during the 1850s, Felipe de la Corte y Ruano-Calderón, and published in Madrid in 1876.
The manuscript being turned over to MARC is the only known privately owned copy. Only one other manuscript copy is known to have survived and is part of the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid in Spain.
As part of Spain’s 500th year commemoration of its Magellan-Elcano Expedition, its naval training vessel, the Juan Sebastian De Elcano, has been retracing the charted course of the first recorded circumnavigation of the world and is in the waters of Guam from Feb. 6 to March 2, before continuing to the Philippines.
Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s
I Kumisión i Fino’ CHamoru yan i Fina’nå’guen i Historia yan i Lina’la’ i Tåotao Tåno’ (the CHamoru Language Commission) launched an updated revision to the 1983 CHamoru Orthography, which provides a more standardized approach to writing CHamoru.
The orthography booklet is about 40 pages long, consisting of the Chamoru Language’s Symbols and Abbreviations, 17 Orthographic Rules, and a glossary. Hard copies will be distributed to CHamoru Language Teachers. The Orthography is also available for download on the Kumision’s website:
A visit to Vietnam
The first episode of Memoirs Pacifika is now available for download and streaming across multiple sites, including Spotify, SoundCloud, Patreon, Libsyn, Facebook, and YouTube. The first episode, “Christmas Odyssey in Vietnam,” tells the story of Gov. Carlos Camacho’s trip to Vietnam — at the height of the war — to visit Guam’s troops during Christmas 1969.The show is currently under review by Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Amazon/Audible and should be available on those platforms in a few days. The podcast’s website at www.memoirspasifika.com has access to a supplementary archival media relating to the first episode’s topic, such as pertinent photos, music, and scanned newspaper clippings from the era. Memoirs Pasifika is supported through grants from Humanities Guahan, The Northern Marianas Humanities Council, the Guam Council on the Arts & Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Wall art technology in action
Business partners Armen Karapetian and Igor Kobzev of Design Studio Guam are shown with donated wall art at the Mongmong-Toto-Maite Community Center. The technology uses highly durable quick-drying acrylic paint that uses ultraviolet light to print high-definition images up to six feet at a time. The wall prints can be done in both indoor and outdoor settings.
Correction: The late Roy Sullivan, executive vice president of Jones and Guerrero Co. and 1989 Executive of the Year is shown in an image from Guam Business Magazine. Other information was published in the January-February 2001 issue.