We have to preserve Guam’s history, whether good or bad.
In today’s debates about Guam’s political status, it is important to look to our island’s past to figure out how to navigate current and future challenges.
With that in mind, we are glad that Guam will participate in the events recognizing the fifth centennial of Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe.
We understand that Magellan, a Portuguese explorer who sailed for Spain, is a controversial figure on Guam and elsewhere. But we think it is important to acknowledge the significance of his landing in the Mariana Islands, which changed the course of history for Guam and the Philippines.
We are confident that Guam will be well-represented in the commemoration. Robert Underwood, a former Guam delegate to Congress and a retired University of Guam president, was elected chairman of a commission that will plan Guam's participation.
The commission will be responsible for ensuring that "indigenous narratives and critiques are incorporated" into the planning of events and marketing materials associated with the fifth centennial.
The government of Spain is hosting a number of international commemorative events including a retracing of the voyage, conferences, exhibits and other programs.
The legislation creating the 5th Centennial Commission states that the people of Guam "should be involved ... in the commemorative events" in order to "showcase Chamoru culture" and "Chamoru navigational skills and canoe technology."
In this way, Guam will be an active participant that will ensure an accurate depiction of the CHamoru people and the island’s key role in the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade.
At the same time, the commemoration serves as a reminder of Guam’s complex colonial history. Whether we like it or not, the impact of Spanish colonization, which lasted from 1668 to the Spanish-American War of 1898, endures.
In the Spanish era, the people of Guam were exposed to cultural and social practices not only from Spain but also from Mexico and the Philippines, according to Guampedia.
Since then, Guam has become increasingly diverse and multicultural. It’s important for Guam’s younger generations to understand not only the wounds of colonization but also the influences that have helped shape the island’s journey to today.