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Lunar calendar celebrates traditions

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GUAM Fishermen’s Cooperative Association is gearing up for the second annual Gupot Fanha’aniyan Pulan Chamoru or Chamorro Lunar Calendar Festival next month.

The festival event is also sponsored by the Farmer’s Cooperative Association of Guam, Mayors’ Council and the Western Pacific Regional Pacific Council.

Festival chairman John Calvo said the event will take place at the co-op next to the Chamorro Village in Hagåtña on  Feb. 13. The date also marks the end of the 13-month lunar calendar year.

This year’s event theme is “Fino’ Gualaffon: Sinostienen Guinahan Natibon Marianas,” translated is “Moonlight Talk: Sustaining Marianas Native Resources.”

Activities planned for the day-long event include a showcase of local artisans and crafts with a variety of exhibits from cultural agencies, Guampedia, Guam Community College culinary arts students and much more.
 
Calvo is particularly excited about a special exhibition of traditional island-style cooking methods. Chinahan - or cooking foods in a pit, he said, will provide festival goers with a tasty demonstration of the techniques used by Chamorros centuries ago to prepare their meals.

Calvo explained Western Pacific Fishery Management Council launched the calendar project in 2005based upon traditional practices associated with the lunar cycle.

“Part of our initial findings was that a Chamorro language calendar was lacking and saw few phases noted,” he said referring to the moon cycles.  

In 2008, the council established a lunar calendar committee for Guam and the CNMI.  The committee, comprised of individuals representing academia, Chamorro cultural arts and crafts and practices, as well as local fishermen and farmers, brought their knowledge of and experiences with lunar cycles to the process in formulating an accurate calendar.

“The committee approved the first set of the lunar calendar for 2009,” said Calvo.

“The lunar calendar has some direct correlation with the fishing season,” added Calvo.
For example, he said, within three days of the start of the lunar phase, fishermen would find it an ideal time to catch “manahac,” juvenile rabbit fish.


Historian Dr. Larry Cunningham further explained that when the committee was doing its research, they sought out fishermen and people who still had traditional knowledge of the lunar cycles and it was used to aid them.

The committee also found assistance from Master navigator Manny Sikau.

Unlike mainstream Western recognition of only five lunar cycles, Sikau explained Carolinians observe more than 30 distinct moon cycles.

The experienced seafarer and fisherman explained, “When we didn’t have something in Chamorro so we followed the Carolinian (terms) then translated that into Chamorro,” he said.

“The beauty of this (lunar calendat) project is it’s a group effort by Chamorros everywhere ,and Micronesians,” he concluded.
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