The Pacific Daily News reports that with just four days until the start of the Festival of Pacific Arts (FestPac) in Guam, event organizers and government officials announced that Guam is ready. The 12th annual Festival of Pacific Arts will be held May 22 to June 4 at Paseo de Susana in Hagåtña. Thousands of people from more than 20 nations and territories from around the Pacific are expected to come to the festival.
First lady of Guam, Christine Calvo, said that Guam is working hard to prepare for one of the biggest celebrations it will host. Her husband, Governor, Eddie Calvo, agreed and stated that a lot of work has been done, and that work will be celebrated in the coming days with various ribbon cuttings. He adds, “The preparation work for FestPac will benefit the island for years to come. For example, the concrete huts for the Festival Village in Hagåtña will be used to expand the Chamorro Village’s Wednesday night markets and possibly a central farmers market.”
Speaker, Judith Won Pat, said it was exciting to have the 25 island nations coming to Guam to share their culture, language and traditions. “This is really is a very unique opportunity for all our residents,” she said. Won Pat pointed out that it will be a once in a lifetime event because Guam won’t be hosting a FestPac for more than 100 years from now.
In other FestPac news…
Traditional navigators sailing to Guam in canoes were warmly greeted on Monday, May 16, when they arrived by sea from islands in the Federated States of Micronesia.The navigators are delegates taking part in the upcoming festival.
More than 20 people came on three canoes — two from Poluwat (about 500 miles southeast of Guam) and one from Houk (about 570 miles southeast of Guam). The three canoes came in the morning. Another two canoes, from Lamotrek (about 420 miles southeast of Guam) brought more than 10 people in the afternoon.
Members of the FSM community staying in Guam greeted the navigators with chants, dances and treats thrown to the navigators. Chamorro chanters from I Fanalai’an greeted the seafarers with chants as well.
One of the navigators, Larry Raigetal, believes that young people of the Pacific Islands need to learn and be proud of their navigational history.”These islands weren’t just settled by mistake. These are islands that belong to great navigators in the past, including Guam and the whole entire Pacific. We are voyagers,” he said. Taking such a long journey has always been a dream of Raigetal, especially since these kinds of journeys to Guam ceased in the 1700s. In those days, canoes from the islands in the FSM would trade with Guam, but stopped because of outside influence. However, in Raigetal’s part of the world, traditional navigation is still used because the people living there are isolated. Still, he believes that it is important that the rest of the Pacific appreciates and uses it.
“It’s a dream come true to see all the canoes coming to Guam,” said Ignacio “Nash” Camacho, from the FestPac Committee on Seafaring and a member of the local Traditions About Seafaring Islands group, or TASI, which promotes traditional navigation in Guam. “It’s been hundreds of years since a sight like this has been seen in Guam. Seeing the resurgence of navigation happening throughout the Pacific is great, and being able to share it at FestPac is exciting,” he said.