07 Aug IMMERSING MYSELF IN THIS BEAUTIFUL CULTURE
It has been an overwhelming few weeks to say the least, as Guam is gradually recovering from the typhoon. Perhaps this recovery has made everyone open each other’s hearts to one another. This has really taught me the value of allowing myself to be fully immersed in nature and to allow myself to truly understand the cultures. The people that I’ve been surrounded with and seeing their effort to help one another has been such a beautiful experience.
My team and I had partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rescue endangered snails in the park. The objective of saving these snails is to relocate them to a safer environment of the park as the maintenance and other staff are in process of clearing the trails from fallen trees and other debris so that it could be safe for the public. During that day we rescued 400+ endangered snails from Partula radiolata (Guam Tree Snails) to other snails that are also endangered. Since then, I have made valuable connections with the other departments and people that I could consider my friends. Although I have been doing small but impactful tasks from behind the scenes, my team and I have been preparing for the Fish and Feathers Workshop just a few weeks ahead. Since the Island has gradually recovered and my team has determined that it was safe to utilize our park, it has been easier to start this process.
DID YOU KNOW…
The Partula radiolata is an endemic to the forest ecosystem in Guam, meaning this species is not found in any other island. ( U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services)
As I have reached out to the various community members and departments, during this workshop we managed to have 25 participants that day attend the Peskadot. Peskadot holds a lot of meaning to the chamorro people’s culture. For starters, it is the meaning of being a fisherman. Fishing was a way of living on the Island for the ancestral chamorros and they were extraordinary pioneers. During this workshop, we wanted our participants to understand the importance of using traditional chamorro methods of fishing. One of the activities we had was learning about Talaya.
This is when a fisherman casts his talayan manahak ( throw-net) in order to catch fish. For the chamorros, this is an important practice because this was a way of living for them and still continues to live on in the culture. Of course, I felt nervous but overwhelmingly uplifted that I was able to help make this workshop a reality.
In addition to this, I was able to participate in various activities such as traditional chanting and chamorro dancing. It was an honor being invited to such an important session as this was a way for the chamorros to connect to the lands and spirits. This also includes being invited to a significant location for the chamorro people called Fauna Rock, I was given a tour to the location but had to go through trials such as walking in the jungle and going inside the seawater in order to cross the location. As we finally made our way towards this beautiful area where the rock was, there was an area where even till this day chamorros leave offerings such as food in order to receive the blessings from Puntan and Fu’una the gods of creation who sacrificed themselves to create the universe. The tour guide was telling us the story about these two siblings and the significance of this location for the ancient chamorros who used this place for rituals and blessings, the chamorros also believed that the stone held mystical healing powers.
DID YOU KNOW ..
(A) Puntan and Fu’una are the chamorro creations of god, this means that before catholicism the chamorros had their own religion.
(B) Fishing with a talaya is a craft and is a part of the chamorro culture. It is used in the means of fishermen providing for their families and survival. To continue with this traditional method of fishing, it is important to preserve this practice so that it doesn’t get lost.
Overall, I found it uplifting to connect with the various departments and community organizations because they have the best intentions at heart for me to succeed and to truly learn from their experiences/advice has made me feel confident in my ability to be a part of this organization. It may be intimidating at first to ask for help, but without asking questions or reaching out to those who are there to support you makes it more challenging.