Wednesday July 18, 2018

Keeping the Chamorro spirit alive (Part 2 of 3)

INTERESTINGLY, the natives also have similar folk belief of primitive spirits inhabiting mountains and jungles, called the taotaomo'na ("ancient people"), and likened to our superstitious elementals (kapre, tikbalang, and manananggals). These invisible spirits are still respected today and sometimes are said to be mischievous if you don’t pay respects before going into the forest.

The Chamorro cuisine has a familiar mix of modified versions of the Filipino adobo, lumpia, pansit bihon, the Spanish escabeche, and a fusion of Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and American dishes. But it has its own distinct staple food like the spicy sauce called Fina'denne', the Kelaguen (our kilawin version), and the red rice.

Over the years the culture has absorbed influences from Spanish, Mexican, American, Japanese, Filipino and Micronesian groups with intermarriages and relations with traders and migrant settlers.

In getting acquainted with a few residents, I asked a few questions they readily answered: What is the Chamorro pride for you? Name top attractions you recommend to first time visitors? What is the hidden beauty of Guam? And lastly, how are you reacting to your island being in the headlines right now?

Gina Tabonares-Reilly, journalist and Guamanian whose father was a Dabawenyo, said, “The Chamorro pride is the unique culture, traditions, food, history and ways of people of Guam. I love Guam because of its proximity to the Philippines. We have a little bit of everything, modern and laid back living combined, tax-free shopping, nearby beautiful beaches you can reach within minutes, and because it is a small island majority knows everybody and people are friendly. I recommend the Latte Stone Adelup Overlook, Fort Soledad and Tumon Bay. The hidden beauty of Guam is the Ritidian Wildlife Preserve in Yigo. I am still amused at times at people asking for our reaction – we have to teach people where we are geographically located.”

Robert Camacho, businessman and hobbyist photographer, proud Chamorro, said, “Chamorro pride is the inner spirit of the people coming from a strong and resilient culture that has endured many challenges from the foreign countries such as the Spaniards, Japanese and even some of the misgivings from the Americans. We, however, have a strong patriotic bond with America. We have the highest rate of military volunteers throughout the nation per capita. My top places would be Plaza De Espana (with Museum and Basilica), Two Lovers Point, and Umatac/Merizo/Inarajan. I think our hidden beauty is the hospitality. You can go to any fiesta on any given month and you will be welcomed to partake in the celebration at each and every home. We also have a rich and deep devotion to the Catholic Church, most especially the honoring of Mother Mary - Santa Maria Kamalen.”

“Guam has endured so much from the war that many people in the US do not know. Many don't even know where Guam is located! Our grandparents and parents endured this terrible time of WWII. My grandfather was beheaded by the Japanese. We pray that we, in this generation, do not experience such a terrible tragedy.”

(To be continued)