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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Groundbreaking Held For New Guam Museum
Island will now have a permanent place ‘to honor its past’

By Jerick Sablan

HAGTA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 6, 2013) – A Guam museum is one step closer to becoming reality.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at Skinner Plaza in Hagta yesterday for the Guam and Chamorro Educational Facility.

The facility will provide a place to hold artifacts from the island's more-than-3,000-year history, cultural events, movie, and educational classes, said Department of Chamorro Affairs President Joseph Artero-Cameron.

During yesterday's ceremony, Gov. Eddie Calvo honored two men -- both historians -- who died recently.

Former senator, journalist, historian and teacher Antonio "Tony" Palomo died Friday at the age of 81.

Author, educator and historian Dirk Ballendorf died Monday at age 73.

Palomo was the director of the Guam Museum for several years and was an advocate for finding a permanent home for the museum.

Palomo's wife, Margaret Palomo, said she plans to use some of the sand in the groundbreaking for his burial.

"He'll get a kick out of it," Margaret Palomo said.

She said she was happy to be at the groundbreaking and is sure her husband was watching the ceremony wherever he is.

Calvo reminded the groundbreaking's attendants that Guam's history spans thousands of years and is very rich. He said the museum will bring pieces of that rich history, which are spread in other parts of the worlds like Hawaii, Philippines and Europe, back home.

He also said the museum will start the revitalization of Guam's capital city.

"This will re-energize our capital city to it's greatest heights," Calvo said.

Funding

The $27 million project is being funded through the Hotel Occupancy Tax bond. The museum is set to be completed by 2014. Projects such as the museum were established by Public Law 30-228, which gives HOT bond funding to projects throughout the island like the revitalization of parts of the Plaza de Espaa.

The museum will sit on a portion of Skinner Plaza, staring near the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica and extending beyond the amphitheater in Skinner Plaza.

The plan for the museum includes three levels and a mezzanine area.

Milestone

Monte Mesa, chairman of the Guam Museum Foundation Inc., said the support of various government and private agencies helped make the museum become a reality.

"I'm proud to again set another milestone to this project," Mesa said.

John Mafnas, chairman of the Department of Chamorro Affairs Board of Trustees, said the groundbreaking was a historic day for Guam.

"For decades our people have asked for a museum," Mafnas said.

Guam hasn't had a permanent museum since World War II and has been in various temporary housing since then, Artero-Cameron said.

Mafnas said it took many years of talking and planning, but now Guam will have a place to honor its past.

"We're turning words into action," Mafnas said.

Mark Baldyga, chairman of the Guam Visitors Bureau's Board of Directors, said the museum will help the island's tourism industry, because it will be a place tourists can learn about Guam's unique history.

"Through the construction of our museum we can finally ask the question not what Guam can learn from the rest of the world. But what the world can learn from Guam," Baldyga said.

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