The 500 Sails organization renamed last weekend the Roberta L vessel after a great chief, Ladahao, from the ancient Chamorro village of Alaian or Araiao
During the Lunar New Year Festival last weekend, the organization unveiled the newly refurbished 40-foot canoe and also officially gave the vessel its Chamorro name so it can take its spot in the organization’s fleet of canoes.
According to 500 Sails executive director Peter Perez, it is important that all the canoes under the organization are given Chamorro names. The vessel not only belongs to the Marianas, but will also represent the Marianas so it is only fitting that each vessel is given a Marianas-native name, he said.
The vessel will still be called Roberta L, as it was named when the organization first purchased her, but the vessel will also be called Ladahao after one of the Marianas’ great chiefs.
According to historical records Perez cited, Ladahao refused to bow to the oppressive Spaniards who forced the Catholic religion on the Chamorro people. He refused to accept Spain as the new ruler of the Chamorro archipelago.
Maga’lahi Ladahao led the Chamorro people in many battles against the Spaniards. They respected him for his wisdom and valor. At one point, he drove the Spaniards back to Guahan. Don Jose de Quiroga, a brutal commander, responded by sending more reinforcements.
In 1684, a fully armed fleet of ships landed on Tanapag and a fierce battle ensued. The Chamorros showered the fleet with lances and sling stones. The Spaniards, however, responded viciously with their guns and cannons. Hundreds of Chamorros died. Maga’lahi Ladahao, although wounded, managed to escape to the Gani islands (the Northern Islands) to recover. He was later captured and brought to Guahan, where Quiroga swiftly ordered that Maga’lahi Ladahao be put to death.
Guahan recently named a 2016 Festival of Pacific Arts village house after him, along with other Chamorro heroes who resisted the Spaniards.
According to Perez, it is fitting to name the canoe after Ladahao, not only because of his heroism but also because he was a healer.
“Our bringing back Chamorro canoes is part of our healing process after centuries of colonial oppression, including the outlawing of Chamorro sailing canoes. We look forward to building many more canoes, both Chamorro and Carolinian, and giving them names that are thoughtful and meaningful,” said Perez.