Preserving Guam’s Culture through Literature
In an effort to preserve ideas, thoughts, and personal reflections of the island’s Chamorro culture, Dr. Matilda Naputi Rivera and Lois Taitano Gumataotao formed the Korasón Organization to carry out cultural projects that they hold dear to their korasón, (Chamorro word for “heart”). With the support of the Guam Humanities Council, they were awarded a grant to complete their cultural anthology titled, Our Native Daughters’ Reflection of Guam and Its People.
They hope that you will enjoy their cultural anthology composed of poems they have written based on their personal experiences and research relative to the island’s history and its connection with the Guam community. A common identity we share with our Pacific Islanders is our rich oral society filled with plentiful stories, legends, and other important values shared throughout generations. This anthology will continue to preserve such stories. It is a resource one can read to learn more about Guam and its people, including its rich culture and the traditions that give us a better understanding, in creatively woven lines of poetry, ultimately resulting to meaningful connections fellow islanders share.
There are fifty seven cultural topics explored in the anthology, such as familia, fiesta, fishing, flores, funerals, Guahan, kelaguen, lancho, Latte stones, manamko, nana, tata, typhoons, weaving, and so much more.
Rivera, an ESL teacher/coordinator in the Guam Public School System and adjunct for the University of Guam, is the project director and co-author of the anthology. Gumataotao, who is also a GPSS ESL teacher/coordinator, serves as the traditional teacher and co-author for the project. The anthology project’s scholars include local authors Joaquin Nangauta Naputi and Marilyn Camacho Salas. Naputi, who is also an agriculturalist, has written books dating back to the 1970’s, including the Island of Guam Coloring Book and Island of Guam Cookbook. Salas has written books such as, Lepblo Para Tane’ Famagu’on I Isla: A Chamorro Interactive Book for Island Children and Chamorro Word Book.
The Korason Organization, in conjunction with the Guam Humanities Council, held a cultural exhibit on December 11, 2004 to showcase the anthology at the Hagåtña Public Library. Copies of the anthology were also provided to the Guam Humanities Council, Guam Public Library System, Micronesian Area Research Center, and the University of Guam’s RFK Library. The poems can also be viewed on Rivera’s PDN blog.
Rivera and Gumataotao hope that by reading their poems, you can grasp cultural identity from within yourself and be enlightened. They have reflected on their personal experiences, researched, and interviewed family and friends, to enable the people of Guam to better understand the island’s history, its cultural significance, and its social environments, through their eyes. Hence, the project’s title, Our Native Daughters’ Reflection of Guam and Its People. This anthology project is certainly a labor of love that they have committed themselves to, but it is well worth the time invested, especially knowing that it will serve as a cultural resource for generations to come.