A coconut leaf weaving workshop was held Saturday at Valley of the Latte Adventure Park and is part of a series of events to teach traditional CHamoru crafts that the park plans to hold on weekends.
“The workshop that we are doing today is one of the workshops that we will be conducting on Saturdays,” said Anthony Mantanona, a weaving instructor and cultural adviser for the park.
The workshops were brainstormed by employees as a way to continue welcoming visitors during the pandemic — especially locals and the military.
“Since then, our local and military involvement has tripled,” Mantanona said — from three or four visitors a week to more than a dozen during a visit. To follow COVID-19 safety protocols, the park is limiting guests to 25 per group.
He said the park wanted to provide lessons that are educational, such as weaving, so that guests can learn a skill they can take with them, while also helping the park make a profit.
Prior to the pandemic, Mantanona said, the park would receive hundreds of visitor’s week after week, mostly from Japan and South Korea. He added that the park was just beginning to break into the Taiwan market.
Teaching traditional weaving to Guam’s visitors is important to Mantanona because he said these practices are part of what makes the CHamoru people who they are.
He added that the island does not lead the region in electronics or fashion, so culture is what Guam shares with guests.
“What we have to offer is our culture and we have to offer it from our hearts,” said Mantanona.
Sharon Cardona, 33, attended the workshop with her son, Asaph. She moved to Guam about six months ago with her husband, who is in the military.
“We’ve been wanting to come check out Valley of the Latte for a while to learn more about the history and culture of Guam and the CHamoru people, so we just had a day we could make it down,” Cardona said.
She was interested in learning to weave to make baskets, and her son is hoping to attend future workshops on making coconut candy and rope.
Aileen Deeter, 56, who hails from Kansas, is a travel nurse who arrived on island Dec. 11. She learned about the workshop online as she was searching for fun activities to get to know Guam.
Deeter said it can be difficult because of her work and sleep schedule to participate in different events, but that when it is possible, she attends and has enjoyed how hospitable and welcoming the people of Guam have been.