Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Feb. 28) - Today is the beginning of Chamorro Month. All month long, the Chamorro culture will be highlighted and celebrated in the public schools and other venues.

And this year, Chamorro Month takes on extra meaning because on Jan. 12, Governor Felix Camacho signed an executive order, and senators presented a legislative resolution, declaring this to be "Silibrasion Anon Chamorro 2005," or "Chamorro Year Celebration 2005."

But this year's Chamorro culture celebration will be another year that the government of Guam has failed to provide the most basic of services necessary to preserve, protect and propagate the culture.

The primary example of this is the Guam Museum, rather the lack of one. The Guam Museum has an administrator, some staff and a rather sizable collection of artifacts, but it doesn't have a permanent home. There is no physical museum; there isn't even a place where the museum collection can be properly stored.

The building that currently holds the majority of the museum's artifacts is old and deteriorating, lacking the proper temperature and humidity controls. To top it off, the museum has received a letter demanding $4,000 a month in rent, as well as back rent, for continued use of the facility, or it faces eviction.

While government officials, both elected and appointed, continue to use the worn excuse of "there isn't enough money," what's clear is that the government of Guam has historically refused to make a museum a priority. Time after time, year after year, GovGuam has said that a museum that would properly care for and display the island's culture and history just didn't matter. Our elected leaders have made this statement simply by the fact that a museum still doesn't exist.

But culture and history do matter, and the government of Guam is obligated to lay the groundwork and get a basic facility built, one that has the proper ventilation, temperature and humidity controls. His doesn't preclude the government from working with private companies, foundations or families to put together a public-private partnership to make it happen, or to make something much bigger and better than the basic.

But it does mean that the government has to start living up to its promises and to make a Guam Museum a reality.

March 1, 2005

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