Truly, my hats off to many Chuukese and other citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia who have made Guam their home and are contributing tremendously to our island community. A prime example is Singemasa Billias from Murilo, outer-island of Chuuk in the Northwest region.
Billias was recently awarded the Hospitality Employees aRe Outstanding, or HERO Awards, in the Lifesaving Category at Hotel Nikko Guam in Tumon, where he works.
Billias is a real-life hero. In a span of six years, he saved four lives as a lifeguard — a whopping number in lifesaving circles. He saved an elderly man in 2012, two children in 2016 (a one-year old baby and 10-year old boy, a few weeks apart), and a Korean woman in 2018. Billias performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), bringing drowning victims back to life. Not a small feat, even for a lifeguard.
How many regular Joes do you know who have saved even one life on Guam? Two lives, maybe? My point exactly!
Billias, like others from Chuuke and FSM, is a positive contributing force. There are a number of them in our midst. Perhaps a lot. They may not all be literal lifesavers like Billias, but nonetheless, they make a big difference.
On the opposite side of the proverbial scale, however, we have the “other Chuukese and FSM citizens” — the “rotten apples” in our community, some have called them. These are the ones who seem to just relish criminal activities, making major news headlines and causing outrage pretty regularly. (And there seems to be no shortage of them lately. Now, while these young people may seem prone to committing crimes, I think there may be more to this than meets the eye.)
Experts may have answers. But one of the things I’ve noticed over the years is the lack of good parenting. I find this primarily among parents (especially single parents), who, for the most part, started having kids at a very young age — when they were still children themselves.
Usually, one of the things they fail to teach their children is the value of respect, an underpinning tenet of island cultures across the Pacific Ocean.
The challenge we’re facing today with young Chuukese and FSM residents committing crimes regularly, by the way, is not isolated to Guam. I observed the same phenomenon back on my small outer-island in Chuuk three years ago.
I’ve noticed that young people on my island do not show respect for their parents and elders. They would do whatever please them. They demonstrate all sorts of unacceptable behaviors, causing the elders to shake their heads. “What’s going on with our young people?”
What was unthinkable years ago has become a sad reality. Simply because the family values we used to teach our children on a daily basis are practically dissolving in front of their eyes.
In our community on Guam, we’ve been seeing a number of young Chuukese and FSM people going in and out of correctional facilities.
I think we, the Chuukese and FSM parents and community on Guam, especially our churches, need to step up. We must gather and care for our own young people and teach them about respect and other values.
The expression “it takes a village to raise a child” must be part of our belief system daily because we are that village our immediate family, extended family, island family, Chuukese family, FSM family on Guam.
Alex J. Rhowuniong is a freelance writer. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, visit his website: www.rhowuniong.com.