Letter: Develop closer connection with Guam’s heritage


By Thomas A. Morrison


Last year, 1.5 million people visited Guam for a variety of reasons, including our island being a short flight from many major cities in Asia, attractive ticket prices, shopping options and, of course, the warm and at times maipe’ weather we enjoy year-round.


Based on surveys GVB conducted with visitors from our biggest markets for the last three months of 2017, Japan and South Korea, guests from these countries experienced the Chamorro/håfa adai spirit through interactions with Guamanians at the beach, night markets, tours, stores, etc. And by listening to local music and enjoying mångnge’ Chamorro food.


A very positive note made by our friends from South Korea, in particular, indicated they experienced our Chamoru culture primarily through socializing with locals, i tåotåo tåno.


I believe this information attests to the hospitality Guamanians naturally extend to guests based on our core values of rispetu, chenchule’, inafa’måolek, yan man’aguaiya – respect, reciprocity, community, and love for one and all.


From the bus driver to the restaurant staff, housekeeper, cultural artist, cashier, police officer and food vendor, these Guamanians continue to promote the Chamoru culture every day through different acts, including giving directions to and perhaps providing a brief history about different landmarks, describing a local dish, demonstrating proper use of a talåya or by simply greeting others with “Håfa adai!”


With the annual Guam History and Chamorro Heritage Day and Mes Chamoru celebrations, we have many opportunities to promote the Chamoru culture – at home, in our community and across our tourism industry. Activities including heritage tours conducted by youth members of the Humåtak Community Foundation provide guests of all ethnic backgrounds opportunities to learn more about the historical significance of different sites in the village.


While these tours are an important aspect of the Guam experience many of our tourists enjoy, they also serve as an important educational setting from which Guamanians can learn more about our island’s history and culture.


Going forward, it will be through activities such as heritage tours that the Chamoru culture can and will remain alive in the hearts and minds of our people – most especially our youths and young adults. By developing a closer connection with the history and heritage of Guam, our families will be even more equipped to protect, preserve and celebrate our culture with their children and grandchildren – and with another 1.5 million visitors from around the world.


Biba Guam History and Chamorro Heritage Day! Biba Mes Chamoru!


Thomas “Tommy” A. Morrison is a senator in the 34th Guam Legislature, a former director of the Bureau of Statistics and Plans, former executive director of the Guam Contractors License Board, and former director of the Department of Parks and Recreation.


Published in the Pacific Daily News





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