ROTA––Established in 1990, a 30-year-old museum called Ancient Chamoru Rota Cave Museum is worth the visit when you are on Rota. In compliance with COVID-19 restrictions, though, the museum is only open to visitors by appointment.
The cave itself that is the star attraction of the museum is said to be approximately 11 million years old.
In an interview with one of the owners, Mercedes Taisacan, she said she and her husband, Matias Taisacan, opened the museum in 1990 when he inherited the land, together with the cave, from his father. She added that a clamshell imprint in the cave was able to tell archaeologists how old the cave is.
“I spotted it five years after we opened the museum. It’s a clamshell form, like spondylus, and the archaeologists that were savaging the Santa Margarita…were the ones who told me the estimated age of the cave,” said Mercedes. The Santa Margarita was a sunken galleon off the coast of Rota that was salvaged by archeologists in the 2000s.
According to her, the museum was closed for a while due to unforeseen family circumstances. Mercedes, who recently returned from the U.S. mainland, said they aren’t able to open the museum right now as the COVID-19 pandemic means they have no regular visitors. Mercedes told Saipan Tribune that she will only open to those who contact her at 488-0235.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercedes only charged guests $5, but now they are charging $10. Mercedes said that the museum actually has more collectibles that cannot be showcased because there are no spaces for them. “We don’t have space to put it in the showcase, so we need more showcases in order for us to take it out, and display that,” said Mercedes.
Throughout the tour, Mercedes showed Saipan Tribune Japanese cooking bowls dating back from World War II. She said that the cave was a hideout for not only Japanese, but Chamorros as well, just not at the same time. While hiding out, the Japanese would use these bowls to cook food like rice, meat, and many more.
Another perk that comes with the $10 entrance fee is that Mercedes has studied everything in the cave from the collectibles, to the dirt of the cave, providing a thorough tour with historical facts.