MEMORIAL FOR UNEARTHED GUAM REMAINS

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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 10) - Construction
workers dug up a controversy when they recently unearthed human remains at
Matapang Beach Park.

Those remains were honored yesterday with a memorial service at
the park, which included Chamorro hymns and prayers, a recollection of legends
and a procession.

The skeletal remains of about 37 people were uncovered last
month while the park was being excavated as part of the Tumon Redevelopment
Phase II Project. According to David DeFant, the principal archaeologist for the
project, the majority of the remains are prehistoric, and four sets of the
remains may be those of Japanese soldiers.

DeFant works for Paul H. Rosendal Ph.D. Inc., which was
contracted by W.B. Flores and the Department of Public Works to perform
archaeological monitoring of excavations at the park during the project, which
will add a drainage system.

The controversy lies in what is being done with the remains. So
far, about 25 sets have been excavated and removed from the site, nine will be
excavated in the near future, and three will remain untouched.

But giving them a memorial ceremony and leaving three behind is
not enough, according to former Sen. Hope A. Cristobal, who is campaigning to
preserve the ancestral burial grounds at Matapang and to stop the removal of the
rest of the remains.

"It's nice to have the ceremony, but they were performing
it in order to justify the excavations," Cristobal said. "Percolation
basins can be built and rebuilt, but burial sites, once you destroy them, you
cannot restore them. There is no historic preservation after destroying
them."

To voice her protest, Cristobal said she and Anne Perez Hattori,
history professor at University of Guam, are retracting their acceptance letters
for appointments to the Guam Historic Preservation Review Board.

Cristobal said that, in part, she was protesting the behavior of
leaders at the Department of Parks and Recreation, who, she said, were not
responsive to her concerns.

But Joseph Duenas, acting Parks and Rec director, said he has
tried to be cooperative and respond to their concerns.

"Ms. Cristobal has to understand that all parties involved
are Chamorro, and these are all of our ancestors, and their historic
preservation concerns all of us," Duenas said. "Unfortunately, when it
comes to unearthing ancestors and grave sites, everyone has their opinion on how
things should be done, and unfortunately, we can't make everyone happy."

Duenas said work on the project stopped for weeks due to the
concerns of preservationists, at a cost of thousands of dollars.

April 10, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com 

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