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GRMC Celebrates Mes CHamoru

(Tuesday, March 1, 2022; Dededo, Guam) Guam Regional Medical City (GRMC) held a special ceremony in the main lobby today to welcome the start of Mes CHamoru and Guam History and CHamoru Heritage Day. GRMC traditional holds a special blessing ceremony and light merienda every year on the first day of Mes CHamoru.

The ceremony began with the Guam Hymn performed by Sound Advice, a local duo comprised of vocalist Catherine Flores McCollum and keyboardist Del Damian. The official blessing was given by Master of CHamoru Chant Leonard Iriarte. This is the sixth year that Iriarte has conducted the Mes CHamoru blessing at GRMC.

Iriarte was joined by Koby San Nicolas, who began the blessing from outside GRMC’s main entrance by blowing the traditional Kulo’, or conch shell. According to Iriarte, the purpose of the Kulo’ is to let the ancient spirits of the area know that a blessing is about to take place and invite them to join. This year’s blessing was an homage to Guam’s past as a matrilineal society and honored the grandmothers, mothers, sisters, and other female spirits who continue to watch over the island.

GRMC’s CEO/President Alan Funtanilla gave remarks which included a brief history of Guam History and CHamoru Heritage Day, once called Discovery Day to commemorate the arrival of the first Europeans in 1521. “Over the years, the name Discovery Day became controversial as one cannot really (sic) discover an island where people have already been living for over 4,000 years,” he said, to the applause of the crowd.

Funtanilla likened Guam’s dedication to advancing its history and culture to the priorities outlined in GRMC’s soon-to-be finalized three-year strategic plan. “GRMC’s strategic priorities tie in with our CHamoru values of ‘Inafa’maolek,’ which means sharing, being compassionate, caring, and ‘mana’ayuda, to assist, to help. Respect is one of our core values and ties in with our CHamoru value of ‘respetu’ (respect).”

GRMC will continue to celebrate Mes CHamoru throughout the month with festivities on Thursdays, like traditional weaving, cultural performances, and making coconut candy.

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