Sunday, March 06, 2011

Heritage Hikes 2

Sorry it took a couple months to get it organized but Heritage Hikes, organized with the help of We Are Guahan are back. Part of the problem that we had, is that for several months we were attempting to work with the Navy on Guam to have the next round of Heritage Hikes visit places on DOD installations on Guam such as Haputo or Spanish Steps. When the military has been confronted with why Pagat should remain in public hands and not in theirs, they often often stated that the historic or cultural sites which are within their footprint, behind their fences, are not totally blocked off to the public, but anyone can seek permission to visit them. We decided to test this out and asked to visit a number of sites in the Northern and Southern part of Guam on Naval properties. At first, things went very well, and we were allowed to visit a few sites and conduct test hikes there, where we checked out the terrain and also prepared what sort of historical lessons we could provide to people. But when it came time to schedule our hikes, weather, training schedules and also the unloading of munitions resulted in the cancelling of all our scheduled hikes.

The experience ended up providing a very clear reason for why a place such as Pagat should remain in public hands. Even if the military promises today that the public shall have access 24/7, that promise doesn't bind them in anyway shape or form. The military is its own creature. It is part of the public one moment, but always reserves the right to act in its own interests the next. Such is normal, understandable, but also a reason why promises and nice words are worthless. It means that you have to treat the military like anything else. Not as a savior, not as a liberator, not as something which has it's shit more together than anything else, or an institution whose word is truly its bond. It is something which defends the people, but is not meant to be democratic and so the people are not meant to have any say over what the military does. And so you simply have to balance things out. If you want a place to be free and open to the public, then you cannot let the military lease or purchase it, since that means that a year later, the military could open the site up for 365 days of the year or it could open it for 1 day of the year, and there is nothing you can say about it. The site could stay pristine for decades or it could become a toxic dump, and there is nothing that we could do about it.

So instead we decided to choose public sites and perhaps in a few monnths we'll attempt to organize hikes again on DOD properties. But the difficulty in organizing hikes through DOD is that they tell you from the moment you start, that they reserve the right to cancel the hike for any reason and so it makes it difficult to proceed in good faith knowing that no matter what plans you make, it could all be undone for any reason they see fit.

We've titled this new round of Heritage Hikes, Un Nuebu na Inatan or "A New Look" because we're visiting sites which we'd like people to see through new eyes or in a different way through the history of the place. I agreed to organize these Heritage Hikes for We Are Guahan because of the way we would combine getting exercise, seeing the beauty of Guam, but also incorporating the history of the location especially in terms of the Guam's legacy of militarization. We chosen to take people to two sites from our earlier hikes, Cetti/Sella Bay and also Pagat, but decided to add a new hike, Tumon Bay to our trips. Tumon Bay might seem like a strange hike to take people on since it isn't exactly the most "natural" or "pristine" place. But I am much more concerned with the history than the hike or the perceived beauty. We take people to Pagat and other places so they can see more than the surface. If they want just the surface they can go on their own or just go, but when we take them on Heritage Hikes, we want to ensure that they receive more than just an eyeful, but I guess, you would say a mindful as well.

Tumon is one such place. People interpret it in a very clear way. Concrete jungle, Guam's Waikiki, tourist trap, anything really beautiful or natural was long ago destroyed along with the bones of ancient Chamorros that they dug up to build the hotels. But Tumon has such a rich and tragic history it is the perfect place for giving people the insight of seeing the layers of history that lie atop the world before us, but that we rarely see. Tumon was a place which was burned down by the Spanish in 1674 and it was a key site for the land-takings which the US military conducted in the immediate years following World War II. Even if you may think of Tumon as just being a site for tourists, it represents far far more and so I hope that on these hikes we can help people understand that.


Hafa adai,

As part of its continued efforts to engage and educate the community on the impacts of the proposed buildup, We Are Guåhan has organized its second set of Heritage Hikes: Un Nuebu na Inatan.
The hike schedule is as follows:

March 12, 2011 – Tumon Bay (Difficulty: Easy. Duration: 1 -2 hours)

Meet at Ypao Beach (near the Main Pavillion).

March 19, 2011 – Pågat Village (Difficulty: Medium. Duration: 2 – 3 hours)

Meet at Pågat trailhead along The Back Road.

March 26, 2011 – Cetti / Sella Bay (Difficulty: Hard. Duration: 4 – 5 hours)

Meet at Cetti Bay parking lot.

WHEN: The show-time for all hikes is 8:45a.m. with a go-time 9:00 a.m.

WHAT TO BRING: All participants must bring LOTS OF WATER. Participants are encouraged to bring sun block, bug repellant and light snacks or lunches.
WHAT TO WEAR: With the exception of the Tumon Bay hike, all participants should BRING GLOVES. There will be sword-grass and or jagged rocks on some areas of the hikes. Participants hiking to Pågat should wear tennis / hiking shoes, shorts and a comfortable shirt. Participants are encouraged to wear long pants, tennis shoes / hiking shoes and long-sleeved shirts for the Cetti / Sella Bay Hike. Swimming is an option at all sites, so come prepared with appropriate clothes and towels if you’d like to swim.

On the first hike, Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua will provide a fresh historical overview of an area that many Guam residents are familiar with: Tumon Bay. Dr. Bevacqua will discuss the ancient history of Tumon, it’s destruction during the Spanish-Chamorro War, and how its beauty nearly led to it being “acquired” by DoD after World War II.

The second hike will be to the area where DoD is planning on building a firing complex: Pågat Village. Dr. Bevacqua will discuss the cultural and historic significance of the area, as well as DoD’s proposed plans to build a firing range complex there.

The third and final hike will be to Cetti Bay and Sella Bay. In addition to the cultural significance of the area, Sella Bay is a site that DoD planned on “acquiring” for military purposes during the Vietnam War. Dr. Bevacqua will talk about the efforts of the community, the Guam Legislature, and the lawsuit that eventually stopped DoD from turning the historic site into an ammunition wharf.
If you have questions about the Heritage Hikes, please contact
Si Yu'us Ma'ase,
We Are Guåhan

1 comment:

ALVARO said...

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Greetings from Santa Marta, Colombia


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