I read an article in Island Times dated February 12, 2019 titled “Former President, lawmaker support Bilung’s imposition
of fines versus individuals in explicit videos”
I reflect back to the simpler days and the teachings of my mother. I am an interracial child adopted out at age two months and raised in a single parent household by a very independent, strong, and beautiful Palauan woman.
Growing up had it’s ups and downs just like any other family. However, being a very fair skinned, hazel eyed and reddish hair child did not help. My brother was almond skinned with brown eyes and my mom was light almond skinned with brown eyes.
I understood some Palauan words, but could not hold a conversation to save my life. I spoke English and Chamorro. I was eventually sent to Palau to learn the language and traditions. That was a total culture shock, but after three years, I returned home and I could write and speak Palauan.
The Palauan language is complex, but so is the tradition. Melding the two cultures I grew up in empowered me in a sense, because I understood my mom better and it solidified our relationship.
Lessons I learned from my Palauan culture are ingrained in me till now. Growing up in a westernized culture gave me a lot of leeway, but I’m rooted in my Palauan culture. It’s a stringent culture and there are traditions I do not care for, but that’s my prerogative, however I fully respect the values and morals of the Palauan tradition.
I remember growing up and as a female in a household full of male cousins, uncles and brother, I learned that I cannot wear anything exposing my thighs from above my knees and up around the house. If I’m wearing a skirt, I have to wear spandex or shorts underneath. Some other teachings are if elders or a group of people are sitting, I need to bow when walking around or amongst them. Kids are never allowed to join in adult conversations nor sit around listening in.
The above examples may be the simplest, but our traditions reinforces our true values as Palauans. If we lose our cultural heritage and language, what would we be? We lose our identity as Palauans and would be like flags, flapping in all directions, however the wind blows.
We can embrace the diversified cultures within the nation, but develop intercultural communications, whereas everyone learn to respect each other’s cultures, but no other culture will supersede the Palauan traditional values.
I have read articles on social media marring the Palauan traditions and culture overall stating that it’s the twenty first century and we need to change our ways, emphasizing freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
Evolution will happen, but look how complex life is now in Belau, yet, “concerned citizens” or “chad ra beluu” want more without offering solutions or doing their part to boost the changes they want, but expect the 2021 administration to pull miracles out of thin air, not taking into consideration that each new administration inherits the good and bad from a previous administration.
Belau is not a one person nation, it is now a diversified cultural nation and everyone living there or that consider it their island nation have the responsibility to do their part to ensure its beauty and sustainability are kept up to par, while respecting its traditional values. Let’s not be like coconuts that drift with the ocean currents and plant our roots wherever we land and forget our motherland.