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Primer on Chamorro History & Culture Pt. 2

Guam

Chamorro culture is unique in the pacific. They have their own myths and storytelling traditions. The Chamorro also have their own unique dancing and singing styles, different from other Polynesian cultures.

So before you head for Guam, read up on the Chamorro culture with part two of this primer.

 

  1. Storytelling

Storytelling is the traditional way of passing down knowledge from one generation to the next among the Chamorro. Storytellers are venerated members of Chamorro society and are viewed as educators.

Chamorro culture is filled with myths and legends that are passed down for entertainment and education purposes.

 

  1. Myths & Legends

Local legends are a very important part of Chamorro culture. The Chamorro even have their version of the Romeo and Juliet story.  The legend of Puntan Dos Amantes tells of two Chamorro who loved each other, but couldn’t be together because they were from different classes.

Want to know how it ends? Read the story here.

 

  1. Dancing

The Chamorro people, like the indigenous peoples of Polynesia, have a rich cultural history of dance. Unfortunately, descriptions of ancient Chamorro dances are vague.

However, there has been a resurgence of interest in Chamorro dancing on Guam in recent years. Dance troupes have formed and teach modern Chamorro the dances of their ancestors.

If you’re interested in seeing Chamorro style dancing, as well as other beautiful Polynesian styles, make time to see the TaoTao Tasi Beach Show when you’re in Guam. This show features Chamorro dancers, Samoan fire dancers and Polynesian dancers from Tahiti.

 

  1. Music

Music is an important part of the Chamorro culture and takes many forms. Chamorro music has undergone many changes over the years due to occupations by the Spain and the USA, however, traditional music still exists.

A traditional Chamorro instrument called the Belembaotuyan, made from a hollow gourd and strung with a taut wire, has seen resurgence in popularity in recent years.

Check out this video to see how they are made, or skip to 6:59 to hear one played.

 

  1. Kantan Singing

The Kantan style of singing was, and still is, a very popular type of entertainment for the Chamorro people of Guam. It was also used as a distraction during long hours of work.

A singer would begin the round with a four-line chant that might refer romantically or teasingly to another person in the group. This was a challenge, and the challenged person would then take up the song and so on