Guam – Service members, island residents and base patrons gathered as U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) to kick off Chamorro Month with a cultural celebration in front of the Navy Exchange Guam on NBG March 8.
The event, themed “Know the Language of Our Elders and Use it Every Day,” brought together local and military communities to celebrate the Chamorro heritage.
“I think I represent most if not all military folks and families that get the honor and privilege to be stationed on Guam,” said Capt. Mike Ward, NBG commanding officer. “Not just to enjoy a beautiful March day like today but also to appreciate and experience the culture that is the Chamorro culture. We would not get exposed to this anywhere else and it’s a unique culture, a rich tradition. Things like the huts, the food, the language, the mighty proa, the latte stone – those are things we learn about as temporary residents here. It makes us better Sailors, better families and better people.”
Ward expressed his gratitude to the base and local organizations including the Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC), Agat and Santa Rita mayors offices, Guam Visitors Bureau and Department of Chamorro Affairs for their support during the festivities.
“Thank you for coming out and bringing the Chamorro culture to life here on the installation,” he said. “There is a Chamorro word for cooperation and working together, Inafa’maolek (in-nah-fah-MAO-lik). It’s emblematic of an event like this, but it’s also emblematic of our relationship with the community here. We are a part of this community, and we want to take our time in our busy schedules where we’re meeting missions, moving ships and moving Sailors on and off this base to honor and recognize the culture that surrounds us.”
Highlights of the event included a blessing by Chamorro cultural group Pa’a Taotao Tano (pah-AH-tahow-tahaow-tah-NOO) and presentation of a Chamorro hut filled with local produce, plants and artifacts.
The hut, constructed of natural materials, was put together in a matter of days by local organizations including the Santa Rita and Agat Mayors’ Offices.
Agat Vice Mayor Agustin Quintanilla said building the hut is a tradition of the village in collaboration with NBG in honor of Chamorro Month.
“It’s very important to show the military that we do still have our hearts and our beliefs,” he said. “It’s a learning experience for them.”