Staffler documentary to be shown Oct. 13 at AMP Theater

Posted on Sep 30 2022

Just in time for Humanities Month, the CNMI public is invited to the American Memorial Park Theater on Oct. 13 at 6pm for an open viewing of Leila Staffler’s second documentary film “Exploring Latte in the Marianas: Amot Giya Alamagan.”  

“Exploring Latte in the Marianas: Amot Giya Alamagan” is the second film in the series Staffler has created in an effort to provide visual representations of latte stones and cultural artifacts in Gåni; the Northern Islands in the Marianas chain. This second film depicts latte villages, lusong and medicinal plants found on Alamagan Island. It also features interviews with Alamagan residents and practicing yo’amti, skilled medicinal healers. 

The team who participated in the expedition include the renowned medicinal healer Seńot Donald Mendiola, his apprentices Teri Francisco and Louie Calalyag, cameramen Leni Leon and Taj Salas, project director Leila Staffler, Dr. Lily Muldoon, Precinct 4 and Northern Islands Rep. Sheila Babauta, Ms. CNMI Universe Savannah Delos Santos, academics Dr. Tiara Naputi and Andrew Gumataotao along with several other nature and cultural history enthusiasts.  Mayor Vicente C. Santos Jr. and his family members who resided on Alamagan supported this project as hosts and guides. In preparation for this film, Staffler consulted with cultural leaders Manny Borja, Dr. Ignacia Demapan, John “Mames” Castro, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, and the Historic Preservation Office. 

“This project is important to the NMI community because it documents for posterity two topics that are part of what make us unique as a people — one of our most known cultural icons, the latte stone, [and] our cultural practice of natural healing,” says project director Leila Staffler. “Many people don’t realize that there are latte stones on all of our islands. By filming these sites [in Alamagan], it reminds our people and our visitors that we once inhabited all of the Mariana Islands. Our culture and our history extend beyond our reef, and into Gåni.  This film intends to emphasize the importance of protecting our lands because they are the foundations of our culture. They hold the secrets to the past that we have not yet uncovered.  We have so much to learn about our history, we just need to invest in uncovering the stories left behind.” 

“Our yo’amti community are aging and there are not as many youths who are continuing this important cultural art,” she adds.  “This film hopes to share the wonders of natural healing through stories and demonstrating simple ways we can incorporate it into our daily life. Ultimately, I hope to inspire our youth to pursue reviving this cultural practice.”

The both films in Staffler’s series, “Exploring Latte in the Marianas” are available to view on YouTube.

This project is made possible in part by funding from the Northern Marianas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the council or NEH.  The council supports high quality public humanities programming for the people of the Marianas in accordance with the Council’s Gi Hiyong i Mamati—Mwirilóól Woosch Strategic Master Plan. For more information about the Humanities Council’s Community Grants Program, contact the Council at 235-4785;; or visit (PR)

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