As a principal chanter for the I Fanlalai’an Oral History Project, Terilynn Francisco, 29, dons
a special orange-beaded belt adorned with delicate discs of turtle shell. It represents her
place in the group, and 10 years of researching Chamorro chant reconstruction and
performing in blessing ceremonies, in which she finds her own sense of peace.
That special belt also crosses into her professional life, where she’s a psychiatric social
worker in the adult counseling unit at the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.
Better known as “Teri,” she has developed a Chamorro Chant Therapy program at the
department, a way to provide holistic treatment and cultural alternatives for consumers.
You might have caught her feature in THE GUAMANIAN MAGAZINE earlier this year thanks
to the program, which earned her the 2016 Employee of the Year award at Guam
Behavioral Health, the 2016 GovGuam MagPro Merit Cup of Excellence award, and the
2017 Social Worker of the Year via the local chapter of the National Association of Social
“I've always considered it two separate pieces of my identity. I am a Chamorro woman who
participates in chanting for the community group because it's a way of self-care. If these are
beliefs that dictate my life and behaviors and they're real to me, they must be real for other
Chamorros or Chamorro consumers,” Teri says.
While chant plays a big role in personal and private identity, Teri’s got one other part she
subscribes to—she’s also a member of the LGBTQ community.
“People are surprised when I tell them I’m a lesbian,” she reveals. “It’s always, ‘But you’re
so pretty!’ That’s not a compliment because it’s like they’re saying, ‘Why are you doing that
to yourself?’” Being a lesbian is just a part of who I am, and I’ve never had problems
accepting myself. I do what I do out of love whether in my family life, work, cultural
passion, or love life.”
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