Serpian Yaliweisei: At Home While Away

Serpian Yaliweisei

There’s more than enough room in a family for two or even three cultures, as Serpian Yaliweisei’s story shows. The boy from Ifaluk who once thought he might be a navigator ended up as the quality control manager for a large heavy equipment company in the outskirts of Dallas. His family redefines the term cultural melting pot; there is room for both Mexican and Micronesian music and dance. Continue reading →

Castro Mudong: At Home While Away

Castro Mudong

Salem, Oregon, is just a few miles south of Portland–one of the largest concentrations of Micronesians in the mainland US. The grandfather of the Pohnpeian community there is Castro Mudong, the former police chief on Pohnpei before moving to the US to serve for years in the Portland area. Because of his seniority Castro presides at events like the softball tournament held there last summer. Continue reading →

Asinech Hellan Pangelinan: At Home While Away

Asinech Hellan Pangelinan

Here’s Asinech Hellan Pangelinan at work as an optometrist in Phoenix and at home with her young child. She made the move to the US when she finished high school in Chuuk and remained there ever since. She may have left, but a good part of her remains in the islands, as you’ll see from the charity work she does and the songs she sings. Continue reading →

Tom Raffapiy: At Home While Away

Tom Raffapiy

Tom Raffapiy, born on Satawal, left for the US in his youth. He spent many years in the US Army, serving in Iraq and eventually earning the highest enlisted rank in the service. But that was only the beginning for Tom. He began a second career as businessman in a contracting firm, even as he designed his own house, complete with taro patch outside. Continue reading →

Are They Ours or Theirs?

Members of the Chuukese community in Milan, Minnesota.

Micronesian migrants are in the news again. No surprise at all, I suppose. They’re always in the news. And they are also very much on my mind.

In mid-January I paid a visit to the Chuukese community living in Milan, Minnesota (a town of 350), whose migrant population has grown from 140 at my visit a year ago to 180 now. After our Sunday mass and baptism, they arranged a little get-together with the obligatory basketball followed by songs, dances and food. But the gathering had to be scheduled early enough so that many of them could make their graveyard work-shift at the local turkey processing plant beginning at 8 PM.
Continue reading →

Chuuk Independence: Why and How?

Members of the Chuuk Political Status Commission Conduct a Briefing in Honolulu.(Photo Courtesy of  The Fourth Branch: http://www.tfbmicronesia.com/)

Excuse me for weighing in on a matter that concerns Chuukese, not foreigners like me. Although I lived in Chuuk happily for 25 years, I am under no illusion that my skin color has changed and my passport has been mysteriously transformed from US to FSM-issued.

Yet, over the past several weeks a number of Chuukese friends have asked for my opinion on an issue that seems to be commanding the attention of the whole FSM. So let me carry on my long tradition of wading into the fray and saying something about the issue. Always, of course, in the hope that what I say will help clarify issues and so enable those with a vote on the issue to resolve this matter for themselves. Continue reading →

A Gift From Afar

The skull of Fr. Manuel Solorzano,,a Jesuit priest who was killed on Guam 330 years ago.

Just three days after Christmas, three travelers from the east (at least if you think of Spain as lying to the east) brought to Guam a gift–the skull of a Jesuit priest who had been killed on the island 330 years earlier. The priest, Fr. Manuel Solorzano, was one of the twelve Jesuits who lost their lives in what have come to be known as the “Spanish-Chamorro Wars.”

The skull was a reminder of the worst of times, some would say. People died in unprecedented numbers from disease and violence, the culture was radically transformed, and for the first time islanders lived under a foreign flag. Continue reading →

Christmas, 2014

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, 2014.

Christmas greetings from the Bronx campus of Fordham University, where I have made my home for the past year. But my time here has always been with computer on and bags packed for forays to other places. Most of the trips have been to where the coconut tree grows and waves lap on warm shores. With five trips to Hawaii and beyond, as well as a recent spurt of trips to the islands for a total of ten weeks since September, my air travel was enough to win me platinum on United Airlines’ mileage program–a status I never achieved in all my years living in Micronesia! Continue reading →

Catching Up with Old Friends  

Yota Oue with Bob Scavullo and myself.

Yota Oue, Xavier HS graduate and now sophomore at Fordham University, decided to accept an invitation to attend a black tie dinner in downtown Manhattan sponsored by the “other” Xavier High School–the older and richer brother of our school in Chuuk. He and I met on the Fordham campus (after a little basketball, naturally) and headed downtown. Continue reading →

You Can Never Go Home…Or Can You?

Checking out the new gymnasium with Russell Figueras and Sister Isabel Seman

You can never really go home, they say. If what they mean is that the landscape is forever changing, that is certainly true on Pohnpei. When I stopped off there for a few days after completing my work for the tourism study in Palau to follow up on some business matters, the place had indeed changed. The track at PICS was newly repaired, the tennis courts were in better shape than they had been in years, and the swimming pool was renovated–-all in preparation for the Micronesian Games held this past summer. Continue reading →