The 34th Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival kicked off yesterday in tribute, song, and dance, beginning the four-night, two-day celebration of the islands’ arts and culture.
The festival began with remarks from government officials, highlighting the importance of the event. Lt. Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said he and his wife, Diane, enjoy walking by the displays set up every year. “You can learn a lot, not just from the present but from the past,” he said.
“Art is a presentation of our journey. It allows us to go beyond the struggles we face and see the beauty of our islands’ world,” he said.
The opening ceremony recalled festival artists who’ve passed away recently, inviting families to receive plaques in remembrance of them.
The artists were Ignacio Camacho Borja, Josepha Igisomar Teregeyo, Torcuato Maidesil Castro, Abel Olopai Pellegrino, Rosa Omar Tanin Castro, William I. Macaranas, James Francis McMahon Jr., and Ana Maria “Ding” Limes.
“God empowered him with mastery with his hands,” master of ceremony John Oliver Gonzales said of Torcuato Castro, who is known for painting the seal of the Commonwealth that is featured in the islands’ government offices.
Josepha Teregeyo, a National Endowment of the Arts awardee, shared her knowledge and skills with children because it taught them who and what they are. “We as a community should take the time to pass our knowledge to our younger generation, because it is the only way that we can preserve what is left of who we are,” mistress of ceremony Catherine Perry said, quoting the late artist.
Ignacio Borja, also known as Ike Chandi, was a traditional artist and familiar face at festivals over the years.
Pellegrino brought “a lot of joy to those who heard his creations,” Perry said of the artist’s guitar and song-playing.
Rosa Castro, or “Nan Chai, led the Talabwogh Women Stick dancing group. “When you were around her, you felt her love,” said Perry.
Macaranas was remembered as an advocate of language and culture. He was once executive director of the Chamorro and Carolinian Language Policy Commission and bilingual program teacher.
McMahon, another teacher and painter, was remembered for his service to the Public School System.
Lastly, the fellow dancers of Ana Maria Limes, who passed away this week, performed a cultural dance in her memory.
“Ding, your contribution to Carolinian and Chamorro culture though song, dance and music will not be forgotten,” said Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Laura Ogumoro in her remarks.
Unlike past festivals, this year’s edition features Guam as the only off-island delegation. There is also a delegation from Tinian and Rota.
The festival continues tonight, and on Saturday and Sunday. The festival also hosts the 5th Annual CNMI Art Competition, which is sponsored by Bridge Capital LLC.