Friday, April 3, 2009

Adios, Tun Carlos

It is with real sorrow that I am blogging today about the passing of Carlos Pangelinan Taitano, who died last week at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 92. The Guam Pacific Daily News published this obituary for him -- but they've left off many details from his long and illustrious life. 

Many people don't know, for instance, that Carlos was a professional dancer during his high school and college years in Hawaii, or that he was one of the first Chamorros to receive a college degree (in, I believe, 1940 -- though that might be off by a year). He was one of the first (if not the first) Chamorros to become an attorney, and that distinction opened many doors for him back on Guam -- including becoming the official bottler for Coca-Cola throughout Micronesia. Carlos served as a legislator in the Guam Congress (in which he eventually served as Speaker of the House), and he led the congress in the now-famous Walkout of 1949, which led to the Organic Act of Guam. 

Later in life, Carlos returned to his passion for dance by researching the historic dances of Guam's original Tao Tao Tano people, reconstructing cultural practices that had been all but erased by five hundred years of colonization. This research forms the foundation of many of the dances now performed by Guam's Chamorro cultural organizations, such  as Pa'a Tao Tao Tano. Right up until his death, Carlos remained active -- speaking publicly about the need for change on Guam, and continuing his research on Chamorro and Austranesian culture and history.

I was lucky enough to have seen Carlos only three weeks before he died, while I was in Los Angeles for the preview screening of The Insular Empire. While he was too weak by that point to attend the screening, I am pleased to say that I was able to show the film to him in his hospital room, and that he seemed quite pleased with the way it portrayed him. I'm also pleased to report that -- even in the hospital, as weak as he was -- he seemed happy and alert, and not in any pain. He even asked for a pen and paper, so that he could take notes while watching!

The Insular Empire would not be the film it is with Carlos' support and participation. He was unfailingly generous with his time, and allowed us to interview him (twice, at length) as well as giving us complete access to his extensive personal archives. He was also gracious about letting us follow him around with a camera, on occasions too numerous to mention. His family, too, was open and helpful, and we owe them a debt of gratitude as well.

We are culling some of Carlos' finer interview segments from the many hours of footage we collected, and this weekend I will post some of that footage here. For now, I offer up my sincere condolences to his family, and a short prayer for Tun Carlos – may his spirit go in peace.

1 comment:

CNMI Blogger said...

I am so sorry to hear this. My most heartfelt condolences to the Taitano Family.