Looking for a chance to learn more about the CHamoru culture? Well, what a better way to immerse yourself than by going to the Guam Museum?
The Guam Museum is home to many artifacts and works by local artists. PNC took a trip to the museum yesterday to see an exhibition called I Hinanao-ta nu i Manaotao Tåno’ – i CHamoru Siha or, the Journey of the CHamoru People.
Once you enter the lobby, you are greeted by a video of Governor Lou Leon Guerrero welcoming you into the exhibit. There are also some works by local artists in the lobby.
You can then enter a theatre that shows videos exclusively available to watch only at the Guam Museum, created and produced in Guam.
Dr. Michael Bevacqua, curator of the Guam Museum gave us some details as to what we will expect when we visit the exhibit.
“So the Hinanao-ta exhibit is made up into different galleries. Each gallery focuses on a different part of the CHamoru story and oftentimes a different time period as well.” says Dr. Bevacqua.
The first part of the exhibit is called The Sea and the Land, followed by animals indigenous to Guam such as the Guam rail, otherwise known as the Ko’ko’ bird.
The next part of the exhibit, called Our Ancient Heritage goes into further detail about the life of CHamoru people before colonization. It shows how CHamorus venerated their ancestors by the practice of keeping their skulls.
This exhibit included replicas of guma latte which had a video that shows the visit of Ferdinand Magellan.
The next part of the exhibit is called A Time for Change which documents the lives of CHamorus, post-contact with the Europeans.
“So this section really just focuses a lot on how the changes happened but also a sense of identity that CHamorus remained sort of distinct people who saw that we have a culture, we have a language, we have an identity even though it’s changing. That distinctness, that continuity is important,” says Bevacqua.
There is also a timeline that documents the CHamorus trading with the Europeans, resisting them, accepting Catholicism, and the United States coming to Guam.
In this part of the exhibit, Dr. Bevacqua encourages museum-goers to open the drawers as well, “One of the things that sometimes people miss is that there are drawers here. And so the drawers will have different items in them, so for example, these are old prayer books. Novena books.”
Next, we move on to another gallery titled “Not Our War” which documents the Japanese occupation in Guam from 1941-1944.
This part of the exhibit is frequented by war survivors.
“So the Tinta and Faha Massacres in the village of Malesso’ are the most famous, where, in two successive days, in July of 1944, the Japanese singled out 30 CHamorus for a special work detail,” says Dr. Bevacqua.
The next part of the exhibit is called the Cost of War, which had a section about Yokoi, a Japanese soldier who hid in the jungles of Guam for almost 28 years after World War II.
Another part of this gallery is a wall of the names of the people who suffered and died during the Japanese occupation. Dr. Bevacqua says that this wall is a recreation of the memorial that can be found at the Asan overlook.
“People come here and they look for the names of their relatives. So it’s always a pleasure when a war survivor can find their name here or when they find their parents or their grandparents’ names here. So for example, my grandfather, is a little bit up there. If you can see Joaquin Flores Lujan, that’s my grandfather. When the war started, he was 21 years old. And then a few names above him is Elizabeth De Leon Flores Lujan, my grandmother,” he pointed out.
Another notable part of this exhibit is a photo during the first liberation day, which was just a solemn celebration where a mass was held just right across the current location of the Museum.
“There was no parade. Instead, it was just a big mass, across the street, here in Hagatna.”
Finally, the end of the exhibition showcases the present times, post-World War II, cultural sovereignty, notable political figures, and self-determination and many more.
“The CHamoru Rennaisance, protecting culture, protecting language, protecting natural resources.”
The Guam Museum is open from Tuesdays to Fridays, 9 am to 2 pm. Walk-ins and reservations are welcome, especially for large groups.
For more information, visit guammuseumfoundation.org.