Where did the last six months go? Time sure flies during a Guam Society Calendar year and I am simply amazed and grateful for all of the support that you have provided me and my fellow officers in the Guam Society of America. I’d like to take this opportunity to provide you with some highlights of the first half of the year, and a busy year it has been.
We started off with some major accomplishments within the Society and streamlining our business processes as an organization. The revamp of our website has been well received as well as our new logo – a fresh new look and brand that continues to be well received by members and friends of the Society. We updated our membership guidelines, by-laws, and most of all our communications with members and friends within the Washington, DC metro area, across the country, and on our beautiful island of Guam.
Our Cherry Blossom Coronation Ball for our 2011 Cherry Blossom Princess Christina Paige Ruff was a classy event with all of our guests and attendees marveling at the beautiful evening that was put together to celebrate and crown our Cherry Blossom Princess Paige Ruff. Attended by members, guests, and friends, the event featured guest speaker, Dr. Mary Okada, President of the Guam Community College, entertainment by the Tropic Sounds Band, and a wonderful dinner provided by the professional staff at the Fort Myer Officers Club. Thank you to Vice-President Char Harris, Treasurer Maria Pangelinan, and all of the committee members who came forward to make this a special event for Princess Paige and the Guam Society.
We welcomed the summer with a fantastic picnic put together by Memorial Day Picnic Chairperson, Benny Taitague, and his committee members from Maryland contingent of the Guam Society. A beautiful day commemorating the sacrifices made by our armed service members. We did our first major fundraising for the Guam Society with a bake sale coordinated by Doris Yanger and the raffles held during the picnic. Many thanks to all who donated prizes for the event. Congratulations to Edwin Naputi for winning the barbeque contest at this great event.
Our next major events focused on the Liberation activities celebrated in July. We opened the festivities supporting the Guam Congressional Office and the Honorable Madeleine Z. Bordallo with the annual Wreath Laying Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, hosted the annual Liberation Reception on Capitol Hill with guests including the Honorable Eddie Baza Calvo, Governor of Guam and his family. We culminated the Liberation of Guam celebrations with our annual Guam Society Liberation Picnic held at the Coast Guard TISCOM Facility in Alexandria, Virginia. With guest including Congresswoman Bordallo, Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares, Guam Visitors Bureau representative, Therese C. Arriola, former Congressman Ben Blaz, and an awesome performance by the Joey and Heidi Quenga and the Kutturan Chamorro dancers. Along with the kamyu (coconut grating) and cha cha dance contest, the event was enjoyed by approximately 800 attendees. The Guam Society signed the Guam Visitors Bureau ‘Hafa Adai’ pledge and became part of a growing number of organizations whose activities help to promote Guam, the Chamorro culture and traditions. Congratulations again to Liberation Picnic Chairperson Captain (USCG Retired) Juan T. Salas and Co-Chairpersons, Terri Guevara Smith and Lou Barrett for a job well done and a truly inspiring gathering of our Chamorro community. We thank our guests who came from as far away as Yuma, Arizona, Delaware, New York, and many other states.
The picnic also showcased this year’s Guam Society’s Brigida Reyes Guzman Lizama Scholarship Award winner, Christopher Newport University Student (CNU), Jonathan Blas. An Information Systems major, entering his junior year at CNU, Jonathan received a $1,500 scholarship from the Guam Society. The Society also presented a $1,500 endowment to the Guam Community College and presented a 2012 Joint Anniversary $1,500 Scholarship for the 60th anniversaries of the Guam Society of America and the University of Guam. Many thanks to GSA Scholarship Chairperson, Julie C. Cruz for all of her efforts in disseminating the scholarship information. There is no rest for the weary as Julie is already prepping the 2012 Scholarship Packets. Look for it on the Guam Society website by the end of the 2011 calendar year. For students who plan to apply for the Brigida Reyes Guzman Lizama Scholarship – start on your volunteer hours for the Guam Society early, you need not wait until 2012. If you’re in high school now, you can start accummulating volunteer hours as early as your freshman year in high school. Contact the Guam Society at email@example.com for more info.
September brought the annual Robert L.G. Lizama Memorial Classic Golf Tournament. Held at Andrews Air Force Base, the tournament drew over 150 golfers and attendees. A fantastic event that generates the funds for the GSA Scholarship program. Congratulations to Tournament Chairperson, Larry Quichocho; Tournament Directors, Sean Lizama and David George; and Fiesta Chairpersons, Annie Quichocho and Ray ‘Bo’ Duenas. A first class event with outstanding results. This event is held annually every year the Friday before the Labor Day holiday. Mark your calendars now for next year’s tournament – it will be one of the best, if not the best golf tournament you’ve played in.
Our next event is just around the corner and already moving full steam ahead. Our annual Chamorro Night event will be held on Saturday, October 22, 2011. Look for details and information on our website. With guest performer, Ben ‘Maga Lahi’ Lizama from San Diego, California; music provided by the Pacific Islander’s band – come out and enjoy a night of culture, celebration of our Chamorro heritage in music, entertainment, and food. There will be raffles and most of all the announcement of the selection of our 2012 Cherry Blossom Princess. You will definitely not want to miss this event. For more information, contact Chairperson, Juvy Blas on the Chamorro Night link/entry on the Guam Society website.
In my last President’s Letter, I mentioned that we were focused on increasing our membership by 30%, promoting interests in the Society and its activities, and enhancing visibility of the Guam Society both internally with its membership as well as externally with those interested in the Society and its activities. We have started to venture into translation services (English to Chamorro), ensured monthly website updates, email distributions to members on membership related activities, and finally, making every GSA event a positive atmosphere for all to enjoy.
I am so very proud to announce that we have more than exceeded our objectives, especially in the area of membership — we now have over 350 members (with over 285 voting members). This is a true testament to the support that we have received from you as members. Thank you for this resounding response — don’t blink, because we’re just getting started. 2012 is the 60th Anniversary of the Guam Society of America — we are planning to incorporate more of the Society’s history and the contributions of past leaders – look for leadership profiles of past Society presidents, officers and members. Thank you to Secretary Aylene Mafnas for kicking things off with Membership and to Bernie Cruz for consolidating our membership and updating our membership database. You’ve made a huge difference in helping to improve our membership process as a whole.
Thank you again for all of your support over the past six months. You have made this a memorable and rewarding year thus far as your President and I look forward to continuing our progress forward as an organization. Please put a reminder on your calendars to renew your membership for 2012 before the end of the year. The membership fees will be increased in 2012 – take advantage of early renewal at 2011 fees – you can take a significant savings by doing this early. New 2012 membership fees will be posted to the website before the holidays.
Dankulu Na Si Yu’us Ma’ase Para Todos Hamyu – A huge thank you to all of you. I want to thank all of the committee chairperson and committee members who have given their time to volunteer, organize and ensure that all of our events were successful to date this year. You are the key to the Society’s success and we would not be where we are at without you.
Mike Blas, President, Guam Society of America, Inc.
The Guam Society is a proud supporter of the “Hafa Adai Pledge,” encouraging cultural integration with organizational activities and programs.