After two years of being back on Guam, I never realized what hid behind the gate at Oka Point in Tumon. I never thought that place would once again bring life and healing back to Guam.
You see, there used to be a hospital at Oka Point. This is where my life began. I was born there. Judging from the gate, you’d never expect that. The faded gate, however, is in fact the entryway to a place of life and healing—to an “invisible hospital,” if you will.
The brokenness of our CHamoru spirit is now being mended in this place. A long time ago, hospital staff lived in the buildings there. As physicians, they healed others. Their cause still lives there through Inadahen iLina’la’ Kotturan CHamoru, Inc. by mending the bond between past and present that once separated us from the truth of who we are as a people and the experiences that only ancient CHamoru had, like slinging and weaving.
As a child I remember being told that we had to learn the English language well so we didn’t get taken for granted. In fact, my parents only spoke English to us. They spoke CHamoru to others though. My Nana Maria didn’t even speak English. Of course, I did pick up the language and understood what they were saying like “ketu” and “boka.” But I never felt proficient in my language. Thus the healing.
Returning to Guam has been the best thing for me. I feel like I’m in a new Guam where culture and language are taught online and to children. I’m excited about what’s happening at Oka Point because I’m a tactile learner. The hospital building may be gone but the healing continues. This invisible hospital is called Sagan Kotturan Chamoru. I commend their efforts to heal the heart and soul of the CHamoru people through its mission to preserve, perpetuate, and promote our culture, language, and history.
Typical hours of Operation: Friday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. but may vary.
1. Gift Shop: Hours: Friday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Suruhana Healing (offered at the Gift Shop): Hours: Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. to noon.
2. Art Studio: Visit the art studio of cosmopolitan artist, Mark Dell’Isola and watch him at work. Mark has studios in Palau, Bali and Japan. His artwork is highly sought after worldwide.
3. Museum: Enjoy this collection of ancient artifacts. Johnny Siguenza is dedicated to educating the public about our culture and the museum’s artifacts.
4. Weaving School/Slingers:Hours: Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.
Meets behind the Weaving School building.
Directions: Take a scenic drive through the hotel row in Tumon. Pass Pacific Star to the right, and straight on ‘till morn…oh wait, that’s to Neverland. Straight on ‘till the Hilton Hotel and take an immediate right turn at the top of the hill.
It is my hope that through entities like Inadahen iLina’la’ Kotturan CHamoru, Inc. we can mend our people’s knowledge gaps and teach our history and culture to all who visit and especially to those near and far who call themselves CHamoru so they can be rooted in the CHamoru heritage.
Donna Hope Blas is a restoration & 3D artist born and raised on Guam. She is the co-owner of The Guam Gallery of Art. She is a certified Therapeutic Art Life coach. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org