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By Steve Limtiaco

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 29) - The bilingual "Chamorro Bible" - almost forgotten after it was published nearly a century ago -- will be reprinted and used to make the Bible more accessible to non-English-speaking residents across the Mariana Islands, said Frank Taitague, retired pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

"We have some in the Northern Marianas and Guam. ... We have some people who read in Chamorro and we really want to reach out to the indigenous people," Taitague said.

The church so far has collected $10,000 in donations toward the $30,000 that is needed to print the books, said Remenester H. Jano, executive secretary of personal ministries and Sabbath school director for the Guam-Micronesia mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The goal is to print as many as 7,000 copies of the book, he said.

The 1908 Bible, which contains text English on its right-hand pages and the Chamorro translation on the left, was written by Methodist Rev. Francis M. Price with help from the Taitano family. Most of the 1,000 original copies were destroyed as part of the Naval government's English-only policy, according to the University of Guam's Richard Flores Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center.

A copy from a Yale University library was loaned to Guam and photocopied in 2001, and a Taitano descendant, Susan Kirk, donated an original copy of the book to the University of Guam last year.

Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes, D-Mangilao, and Speaker Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada, yesterday described the book as an important part of the island's religious and language history.

Senators presented three resolutions during a noon ceremony at the Legislature's public hearing room, recognizing Kirk, those who helped write the Chamorro Bible and those who helped rediscover it and bring it to the public's attention.

Dozens of people, including church officials and descendants of the Taitano family, gathered for the presentation ceremony, which was held in front of a glass display containing Kirk's book.

Agana Heights resident Bill Gay, 61, attended the ceremony. He said he is the grandson of Ana Taitano Gay, who helped with the original translation.

"I'm proud that she was instrumental in putting together the Chamorro Bible," Bill Gay said. "My grandmother was always involved with the General Baptist and the Seventh-day Adventist Churches. ... Obviously, she wanted to bring out the Bible, to reach more people at that time. She wanted more of the Chamorros to learn about the Bible and be more involved in actively reading the Bible. That was, I think, the main reason for helping in putting it together."

January 29, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com


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