Commemorating a historical event 'with a more robust imagination'


The Juan Sebastián de Elcano ship. Photo by Joseph Taitano

Following speech was delivered March 2, 2021 on the occasion of the 500th anniversary commemoration of the circumnavigation

It is a privilege and extremely high honor to be afforded an opportunity to offer a few observations in my capacity as the Ge’hilo- Chairman of the Estoria-ta Kumision. It has been a difficult and complicated task to bring attention to the Circumnavigation on behalf of Guahan.


In that the members of the Kumision, especially the vice chair, Adrian Cruz, were diligent and met the challenges of the pandemic, international affairs, bureaucratic misunderstanding and rough sailing waters well.


Some 500 years ago on a yet undetermined shore near here on the island of Guahan, there was an encounter, a meeting, a fateful event between Europeans and Pacific Islanders. The Europeans were represented by a voyage sponsored by Spain but with an international crew from other countries. The Pacific Islanders were represented by the CHamoru people as they existed in 1521.

Today, we represent both the Europeans and the Pacific Islanders in ceremony and in the spirit of mutual honor and respect.


Today, we also remember the actual events of that fateful encounter. After 100 days in the open ocean, the Magellan Expedition landed on March 6, 1521. We don’t know what time of day, but if it were in these times, we might actually say it would be on March 7 at 10 a.m. CHamoru Standard Time. We are always one day ahead in Guam and we have taken to honoring our ancestors.