March 1, 2009
Each year in March, Guam holds Chamorro Month. Cultural performances and demonstrations, classroom projects and lectures, exhibits and fiestas are packed into a monthlong celebration of the Chamorro culture.
But is enough being done during the rest of the year to properly protect, preserve and propagate the Chamorro culture?
Overall, there have been great improvements in this area in recent years. The number of Chamorro dance groups in the community and at our public schools continues to increase. But there is still so much more that can be done, by individuals and groups in the community as well as the government.
The largest missing piece in the effort to preserve the Chamorro culture is the lack of a fully functioning, permanent museum.
The Guam Museum Foundation is pushing efforts to build a new 50,000-square-foot facility to house and display the island's artifacts. Our elected officials and the entire community need to support this important effort to preserve and perpetuate the Chamorro culture.
Many of Guam's archival material, artifacts and remnants were dispatched to other museums or private collectors around the world including places such as Manila, Cebu, Rome, Madrid, Mexico City, Acapulco, Washington, D.C., Annapolis, Maryland and Honolulu. A significant portion of the collection is on Guam, remaining in storage.
The community's generous support for this project will help move the foundation closer to building the Guam Museum, a permanent home for our history and culture.
The Legacy Walk of Hagåtña is another project that promises to celebrate Chamorro history and culture.
The Legacy Walk will be a red-brick path that starts at Fort Santa Agueda and winds its way through a total of 17 places of interest before ending at Padre Palomo Park. The $1.4 million project, funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior, is expected to be completed by the end of December.
The walking tour includes nine sites listed on the Guam Register of Historic Places and six that are on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The Guam Museum and the Legacy Walk are exactly the type of attractions that tourists have been saying they want to see more of in Guam.
But it won't be an asset solely of tourism. Both projects will be community treasures that will be enjoyed by all residents. Both also provide great teaching tools for the island's schools.