Seeing history through travel experiences
Chamorro history explored right on the beach
TUMON, Guam - There’s no question that seeing history is a lot more fascinating than just reading it. For those interested in Chamorro history, a step on Guam’s Gov. Joseph Flores Memorial Beach Park (Ypao) is like a step back in time. Since 2009, the park has been ground zero for the building of ancient Chamorro canoe replicas, as well as a massive Guma Latte, or canoe house. Though the house is still in progress, the finished product will be an impressive 42 feet wide and 80 feet long and feature ten 14-foot tall latte stones.
Ancient latte stones have long fascinated residents of the Mariana Islands. These megaliths served as the foundation stones of ancient structures: homes, outrigger canoe houses, and communal centers. They are also used as grave markers and are still widely believed to have an uncanny connection to the spirit realm.
As Ron Acfalle explains, the canoe house was always constructed before the canoe. Acfalle is the founder and president of TASA, Traditions Affirming our Seafaring Ancestry, Inc. He is nearly always present at the site, either working with volunteer students on canoe construction or talking to curious tourists about his labor of love.
Acfalle has 15 years of experience and is the contractor responsible for construction of an ancient Chamorro Village at Lina’la’ Chamorro Cultural Park in Tumon, Guam. The Gun Beach park is a favorite among tourists seeking a true cultural experience and a peek into Chamorro life 500 years ago.
TASA is a tax-exempt, non-profit, Chamorro cultural organization that encourages active participation in all matters pertaining to the people of the Sinahi archipelago, the Northern Marianas. Acfalle’s vision is for the Gov. Joseph Flores Memorial Beach Park (Ypao) site to host a wealth of cultural structures and activities, from the Guma Latte (canoe house) to traditional Chamorro dancing to canoe “taxis” that ferry visitors across Tumon Bay.
PHOTO: An 18-foot duduli outrigger canoe is on display at Guam’s popular Gov. Joseph Flores Memorial Beach Park (Ypao) on Tumon Bay