Educating a culture through film

Educating a culture through film

Jordan Zizzi

Students were able to watch "Shiro's Head" Tuesday evening made possible by the Marianas Club.

As students patiently waited 45 minutes for the movie “Shiro’s Head” to begin Tuesday evening, a soft murmur filled the Student Center as they began to eat the pizza provided by the Marianas Club.

About 20 students went to watch the movie based in Guam, revolving around a man, Vince Flores, struggling to be on good terms with his family years after the death of his father. The majority of the students came for the free food but stayed for the entertainment.

The event was planned by graduating senior Alex San Nicolas, 21, who was the president of the Marianas Club last year.

“It was a good way I think to accomplish what our club’s mission is … [and] to promote Chamorro awareness on campus via contributions to entertainment, in this case through the first full-length independent film from the Marianas,” San Nicolas said.

The mission of the Marianas Club is to promote awareness of the Marianas Islands and perpetuate the Chamorro culture.

As the movie progressed, the majority of the students became confused and had San Nicolas pause the movie to try and explain the plot.

However, some of the students from Guam were able to instantly recognize some of the places where the movie was filmed. One student even knew of the lead female as the sister of one of a high school classmate of his.

“It was hard to follow at first, but once things were revealed it was a really good historical and informative movie,” Joanna Chang, 18, a freshman at Chaminade University, said.

The movie was based on the legend of Shiro, which was an animated sequence in the film that was tied into the main characters. The legend took place in the age of the samuari and talked about Shiro, the son of the Shugo warrior Masukatsu.

Shugo warriors were an elite military class and their power was hereditary with their status was known by a unique sword of their ancestors. Masukatsu, being a Shugo warrior himself, had been sent to find more land for Japan to grow food.

Landing in Guam, he raged war against the Chamorros, the native people, and their chief Minaguem. The Chamorros lost the battle when Chief Minaguem was beheaded by Masukatu’s sword.

Taking the chief’s possessions and family by force, he bore a son, Shiro, to the widowed wife of the chief. When it was time for Matsukatsu to leave, he had Shiro behead the oldest son of the former chief to keep hold the Japanese reign. Unable to do so, Masukatsu did it himself.

Having the blame put on him, Shiro was abducted and beheaded by the remaining two sons of Chief Minaguem. The Japanese reign on Guam fell and the sword was hidden. For centuries the location of the sword was unknown until Vince Flores returned to Guam.

Unfortunately, not all the students were as successful as Chang in being able to understand the plot.

Kaipo Leopoldino, 20, a sophomore at Chaminade and the newly elected CSGA president, immediately went to San Nicolas after the movie thinking he knew the plot but wanted to check. After a minute of trying to explain and being told he was wrong, Leopoldino left a bit frustrated that he still didn’t understand the movie.

Although confusing for most students, some were able to learn more about a legend of Guam along with being able to see how it was able to intertwine with the island today.