Buenas yan håfa adai! Chamorro Month is a very special time for the Guam Visitors Bureau. Although we celebrate the Chamorro culture throughout the year — “Håfa Adai Everyday” — Chamorro Month is a good time for us to share with you our efforts to support and promote our local culture, language and traditions.
The phrase inåfa’maolek describes the Chamorro concept of restoring harmony or order. The literal translation is to make (inåfa’) good (maolek). Katherine Aguon explained the concept of inåfa’maolek is the foundation of Chamorro culture. By the way, this information is from Guampedia.com, which receives support from the Tourist Attraction Fund.
Tourism and culture highlight this key value of Chamorro people, demonstrating a true spirit of cooperation. As the world becomes more globalized, culture and heritage can help differentiate a destination and attract more visitors. So while visitors currently come for our beaches and shopping, we also want to ensure they experience our unique culture and warm hospitality.
In return, taxes generated by the tourism industry have been the largest source of support for cultural development. For example, in the 2017 budget, over $1 million was appropriated to cultural organizations from the Tourist Attraction Fund. This includes groups like Åmot Taotao Tåno Farm, Historic Inalåhan Foundation, Humåtak Foundation and Hurao Academy, just to name a few. GVB also administers the Sports and Cultural Ambassador Program, which provides grants to individuals and groups traveling off-island to represent our island.
In fact, GVB’s Culture and Heritage committee has been at the forefront of supporting the Chamorro culture through development grants and programs. The bureau also provides cultural representations at all of the major travel shows we attend, and our Chamorro dance groups routinely win best performance awards. Years ago, GVB pioneered the Chamorro Dance Academy in Japan. Today we have two guma’ in Japan and have expanded the program to Taiwan and the mainland. It makes me mamålao when our Japanese guma’ sing and dance in Chamorro much better than I can!
In 2016, Guam hosted the Festival of Pacific Arts, the biggest cultural event in the island’s history, which was financed with tourism funds. While there is no FestPac this year, the 29th annual Guam Micronesia Island Fair is back for 2017, scheduled for May 3-7. We are excited to announce that (the fair) will move to our capital of Hagåtña, utilizing the Paseo FestPac huts. This annual signature cultural event for GVB showcases Micronesia’s vibrant cultures with arts and crafts, cultural entertainment, food, interactive theme parks, music and pop-up shops.
Finally, one of the most meaningful ways that GVB shares the Chamorro culture is through the Håfa Adai Pledge program. Launched in 2009, the program is a cornerstone of GVB’s local community branding campaign. Hundreds of agencies, companies and organizations have taken the pledge and honored it in inspiring ways, from treating customers like familia to creating programs for manåmko’. We look forward to the 700th Håfa Adai Pledge pledge signing this week and many more celebrations this month.
Biba Mes Chamorro!
Nathan Denight is president and CEO of the Guam Visitors Bureau. Email him at [email protected]