Tag Archives: Tanya Taimanglo

‘ATTITUDE 13: A DAUGHTER OF GUAM’S COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES’ BY TANYA TAIMANGLO

‘Attitude 13: A Daughter of Guam’s Collection of Short Stories’ is a book written by a Chamorro author, Tanya Chargualaf Taimanglo. It’s a compilation of 13 narratives, all of which describe the reality of life in Micronesia.

ATTITUDE 13

Summary

In beautiful Guam, just like everywhere else in the world, people are in search of love, acceptance, and happiness. Only a few are lucky enough to find it. Those who do not succeed try again, or give up, or simply leave the island hoping for a pot of gold in a ‘better’ world. Although at first glance it may seem that they have nothing in common with one another, a very strong bond exists between them. It’s their Chamorro culture. Some of the characters discover it anew, others want to leave it far behind. Some of them appreciate their heritage, others try to reconcile it with modernity. As they deal with everyday problems, they learn the true meaning of life, which – despite many obstacles – is a wonderful thing.

Review

This compilation is something you will want to come back to the minute you finish reading it. ‘Why?’ you may ask. Well, first of all, it is simply enjoyable. The highly engaging and compelling tales are both magical and realistic, charming and intriguing, poignant and amusing. This is the kind of book that draws you in from the very first page and keeps you wanting more until you reach the last sentence.

Second of all, it’s widely known that obvious truths tend to be easily forgotten, so it’s important to be reminded of them from time to time. And this is exactly what Tanya does. Her thought-provoking words help you realize what really matters in life – your inner happiness, your family, your loved ones, your friends, a place you can call ‘home’. The rest… Well, the rest you can live without, even if you still think otherwise.

In addition to being thought-provoking, the narratives are also extremely encouraging – they give hope and let you build your inner strength. As the stories present universal themes, everyone can relate to them. The truth is, you don’t have to be Chamorro to understand the hidden message of each tale.

Now, the volume may be full of unexpected pearls of wisdom, but it definitely cannot be treated as a motivational publication – it is nothing like that. The principal focus of this collection is…the island of Guam. While immersing yourself in the characters’ personal experiences, you’ll get a chance to learn quite a bit about Chamorro culture, which, I must say, is absolutely fascinating. But bear in mind that you won’t read much about ancient customs or practices. Instead, you will observe how people – emigrants as well as those still living in the country – try to adapt to this fast-changing world without compromising their traditional lifestyle. And, believe me, it’s the most valuable insight you can get.

As you may (or may not) expect, the book is also beautifully written. The author is a former English teacher and that can be noticed quite easily. Vivid imagery changes the words into thousands of pictures that appear in your mind, unlocking your imagination. Suddenly you are transferred to a different place, far away from home, where the youngs and olds share their incredible stories with you.

If you have ever searched for a book that would teach, inspire, and entertain, you’ve just found it. ‘Attitude 13’ is a thoroughly wonderful read – something you will not regret buying.

BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS

‘Call it Courage’ by Armstrong Sperry

This beautiful novel tells the story of Mafatu, a teenage boy who sets out on a journey in order to overcome his great fear of the sea. As he confronts different obstacles, he realizes that he has enough strength to cope with the challenges of life.

Fantastically written, the book is an inspiring read for boys and girls alike. Its immensely interesting plot takes children on a wonderful voyage to the South Seas, giving them a chance to discover their own potential.

‘Sirena: A Mermaid Legend from Guam’ by Tanya Taimanglo

Sirena is a young Chamorro girl who has a deep love for nature. She spends her time in the sparkling waters of a nearby river, often neglecting the household chores. Her harmonious life changes when she is cursed by her own mother.

This is the most amazing tale, especially for girls. Not only does it teach young readers a valuable lesson, but also gives them an opportunity to get to know the traditional legend from the island of Guam. The book itself is a real beauty – with all the marvelous illustrations, it’s something anyone will cherish for life.

Niuhi Shark Saga by Lehua Parker

The books are focused on a boy named Zader, who was found abandoned on a reef and adopted by the Westin family. His life in Lauele Town, Hawaii, is not a peaceful one and there are secrets just waiting to be discovered.

The saga is a five-volume series. ‘One Boy, No Water’ and ‘One Shark, No Swim’ have already been published; the third one is due out this year. The story is so engaging and compelling, that it’s really hard to put the books down. Zader’s adventures will easily capture any child’s interest and imagination, transporting them into a new world, where magic is mixed with reality. Perfect especially for boys, but girls may love it too.

THROUGH MY EYES: ‘I AM DIVERGENT’ BY TANYA TAIMANGLO

Okay, let me explain how a 40 year old Asian Pacific Islander who now lives in the Pacific Northwest can be anything like the heroine, Tris from the bestselling trilogy by Veronica Roth.

I was born into a faction of sorts. Two if you want to be exact. If you were to peg me into the two Roth defined factions, it would be Erudite (The Intelligent) and Abnegation (The Selfless). Being raised by a Korean mother and a Chamorro father on Guam had its limitations, and blessings of course. I love my heritages, don’t get me wrong and have spoken of and written about it many times. However, I was bound by rules and regulations of the cultures which affected the adult I became. It is only in the last five years or so, perhaps factored by my father’s passing in 2007 that I have become freer. I have changed factions so to speak.

Focusing on being a Chamorro female, I was told many times that school came first. I was restricted from dating (my first kiss was at the age of 21 – but, don’t weep for me). I was pushed into a college degree that wasn’t my first choice. Vanity, like in Tris’s world, was frowned upon. I wasn’t allowed to feel pretty, or to focus on my looks. My father, the practical one, knew that these things fade. Any time I strayed too far from my set boundaries, I was yanked back by an invisible leash of obligation. In many ways, these restrictions saved me from risky behavior, but I have always wondered what kind of super woman I would be today, had these restraints not been placed on me. I probably wouldn’t cringe when someone pays me a compliment, especially regarding how I look.

I was scolded when at 18, I wanted a tattoo (it was all the rage with my girlfriends). Side note, it took another 18 years to get my first one. A tiger on my back with many hidden symbols (again, much like the Divergent characters).

I married a childhood friend, who is also Chamorro, when we were 30. When we were set to leave the island, I was struck by fear and excitement. I was scared to leave the tiny sanctuary of home and all that I knew for California. But, I was excited at the ripe age of 30 to start my life. I wanted to jump into and off that moving train. And in these last ten years of living in California, and now Washington State, the result of being a Navy wife; I have never felt more liberated. Now, is this a slap to the Chamorro childhood and upbringing I sprouted from? I would hope not. My Chamorro and Korean culture seeps into my everyday being. In my interactions with my new community, I am a culmination of all my experiences. I haven’t immersed myself so deep into the traditional American life that I have lost all that I was originally. But once in a while, I’m reminded that I don’t do things like we do ‘on the island’.

We celebrated my birthday and my daughter’s this past weekend. A friend from Guam was here. She overheard me tell my son to grab his ‘flip flops’ to go outside. I was scolded on the spot and then flushed red in the face. I got it. I didn’t use the term for slippers we use on Guam, ‘zoris’. I then had to explain to the two Navy wife buddies of mine why I was being chastised. In one sentence, I explained Guam terminology and the word origin being Japanese. This small oversight on my part made me question whether I was bringing my children up properly, my very Divergent children. But I dismissed my doubt quickly and enjoyed the rest of the party.

In many ways, we are all Divergent and it’s when people judge you for liking something outside of your cultural norms that my feathers get ruffled. I know who I am, where I’m from and where I’m going. Just because I’ve switched from a life of coconut trees and balmy weather to a life of chill winds and evergreens, it doesn’t make me less. It makes me Divergent. It makes me greater. And, I continued to evolve.