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Ancient traditions performed with pride

Monday 30 May 2016 | Published in Regional

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GUAM – Artists, delegates and spectators from across 27 Pacific countries and territories are in Guam to participate in the 12th Festival of the Pacific Arts (FestPac).

The festival is held every four years and this year will see over 2500 performers sharing their cultural and traditional practices.

Festival organisers say the gathering is the largest of its kind and gives Pacific peoples an opportunity to enhance their knowledge of their neighbours’ cultures.

The American territory of Guam is hosting the festival for the first time, and thousands of people were in attendance at the opening ceremony last week in the capital city, Hagatna.

The idea for FestPac was conceived by the Conference of the South Pacific Commission (now the Secretariat of the Pacific Community) in an attempt to combat the erosion of traditional customary practices.

For Guam, the festival offers an opportunity for the island to showcase its indigenous Chamorro culture, one of the most ancient cultures in the Pacific.

In the Chamorro culture, the earth was created by a brother, Punta, and his sister, Fuuna –she took apart his body to create the world.

“One of his eyes would become the sun, and the other would be transformed into the moon. Puntan’s eyebrows would become rainbows. His back would become the earth,” Anne Perez Hattori, a historian at the University of Guam, told Australia Plus.

“Then Fuuna threw her body into the earth and created Fouha Rock. Out of that rock, the first human beings emerged.”

Guam and the other Mariana islands were first settled 4500 years ago, around 2500BC, by travellers from South-East Asia.

The festival will run until June 4.