Andersen AFB community celebrates native CHamoru people, Guam culture

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Aubree Owens
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs

Friends and members of the Andersen Air Force Base community came together to celebrate Guam’s native people and culture during the annual Tåotåo Guåhan event held in honor of CHamoru Month at Arc Light Memorial Park at Andersen AFB, March 13, 2021.

“Tåotåo Guåhan is an annual event to showcase the CHamoru culture and to bring the local culture to the base,” said Carly Macias, a community recreation manager with the 36th Force Support Squadron. “By educating our military personnel and families, we feel that it creates a sense of understanding and appreciation of our culture and people. This appreciation can create unity and togetherness among the locals and military, which is the ultimate purpose of the event.”

Offering many sights and sounds familiar to Guam celebrations, the event featured 16 booths, to include weaving and cast net demonstrations, cultural chant and dance performances, locally-crafted jewelry, and carabao rides. The evening concluded with a fire dance performance.

Open to all with base access, hundreds of military members and locals attended, as well as a few Guam mayors, who joined their sister squadron commanders and families for the event.

“During this month, we recognize the CHamoru core values of respect, harmony, reciprocity, humility, and hospitality, and all the ways our island neighbors have graced us, considered us, and partnered with us with these values in mind,” said U.S. Air Force Col. David Aragon, vice commander of the 36th Wing.

There were several changes to this year’s event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure everyone’s safety, masks were worn at all times and some events, such as the notorious pie eating contest and craft tables, were not included this year. 

“COVID-19 has really made having events an obstacle,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Marcel Palomo, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 36th FSS operations flight and Tåotåo Guåhan master of ceremonies. “With that being said, we have scaled our event down, but it will still be enjoyable and safe for family and friends to attend.”

Although smiles were masked, members of the base and broader Guam community were still able to come together, celebrate local traditions, and be integrated.

“This event makes me proud! [I’m] proud to share my teaching, culture, and upbringing with the people I now call family,” said Palomo, who is not only an Airman, but also native to Guam. “Being stationed on Guam has been a great blessing. I do my best to make the military feel invited and welcomed to the island I call home.”

Tåotåo Guåhan, which means “people of Guam” in the native tongue, was held to recognize the native CHamoru people and to socially immerse Guam’s military residents in the island experience.

“This event is close to my heart,” said Macias. “I want to represent our culture and people as best I can.  Seeing the performances and demonstrations fills me with so much pride for my people. Sharing this with everyone makes me feel so proud that I am from Guam, and that I am CHamoru.”