The governor and lieutenant governor do not know me. Both will never claim that I am a personal intimate of theirs. I am not in any way associated with their administration. I have seen them by chance at social occasions, mostly funerals, but that was way before the pandemic struck.
I know they’ve done their best in this most difficult period of Guam’s history. Having tested positive for the coronavirus themselves, they certainly aren’t in an enviable position and many times my heart goes out to them, most especially when the island has just gotten its 26th COVID-19 fatality.
They care about the island deeply. The governor is forever cautious and has been at the forefront of instilling the need to be aware of the strangeness and unpredictable nature of the coronavirus. For that, I follow the directives that she has issued throughout the pandemic.
They have withstood harsh criticism from many sectors of the community. Their job is not easy. On a daily basis, they encounter challenges from all sides and everyone who has something to complain about issues forth pent-up wrath.
We have our share of disgruntled members of the community. Some have resorted to peaceful protests and others have taken the time to lambast the governor in social, print and broadcast media. These certainly are signs of the times and also the new normal that everyone talks about.
Sometimes decency flies out the window when the attacks center on personal rather than professional performance as in the not-so-recent example of a medical professional’s tirade against another on local broadcast media. Calling someone a racist and the free use of the “b” word and a tone of negativity bespoke volumes that are reminiscent of what is actually going on with the media, the public and politicians in the mainland. It left such a terrible impression.
I am grateful that I am on Guam. The daily news accounts of racism, politics, social injustice, protest movements and violence are enough to persuade me that I need to stay put. I’ve found that living on Guam is far better for me than living in any other part of the mainland.
I am not a business owner. I am also unemployed. I’ve also indicated since day one of my writing that I am a senior citizen who happens to be a diabetic.
But, I am osgon or obedient. It has been my nature, and a great part of my life has centered upon respect and compliance of strict adherence to situations brought on by elders and those with authority. I have followed the governor’s directives on self-isolation, social distancing, washing of hands, wearing a mask and just staying away from the public eye even if it allows a brief respite for convenience or necessity.
I venture out to walk the miles in places downtown, often late at night when no one is around. To alleviate cabin fever, I just get into my car and drive around without ever stopping anywhere and I return home feeling a bit refreshed. I shop for bare necessities of food and go to medical appointments and adhere to the restrictions placed there. I picked up gardening which has helped tremendously with my mental state. I recite the rosary a lot and, although I don’t venture to church services, I haven’t changed my attitude or my religion.
I’m a little better now as relief from stress, panic, and anxiety have leveled off. I also went through a period of depression as well as mental and physical anguish. I scared myself as I conjured thoughts of being hospitalized alone and dying without my loved ones around me. I limit my exposure to social and broadcast media. I get entertained with Judge Judy episodes on YouTube as well as President Donald J. Trump’s unabashed antics.
So, I feel safe. This governor must be given credit for sticking to her guns. I give her my support for doing what her job calls for. I will not have it any other way, so I obey because it is in the kostumbre that I’ve grown up with. I feel that it is expected of me in the CHamoru culture.
Stories and pleasantries will be my focus on future columns.
Peter R. Onedera is a playwright, author, poet, a master storyteller and a CHamoru language educator.