night-dancersGuam, a nation that has withstood the horrors of war is thus a perfect venue for events that promote peace and culture. Fittingly, on Jan. 18 and 19, this idyllic isle of the western Pacific has hosted its second annual Latte Peace Festival, at Tamuning Park. The yearly festival is a grand celebration of cultural exchange with Guam’s neighboring islands.

More than 2,000 citizens gathered for the event, a powerful expression of their unyielding commitment to peace, co-sponsored by the Mayors’ Council of Guam, the Guam Visitors Bureau, the International Committee of Artists for Peace, and other community partners.

img_8025At the opening ceremony, Lt. Gov. Raymond S. Tenorio spoke about his World War II experiences that took place nearly 70 years ago. The Governor’s wife and father, who are Japanese, came to Guam after the war. Mr. Tenorio’s father-in-law was an electrical engineer brought to Guam by the U.S. military to assist in rebuilding the island.

The lieutenant governor praised everyone who participated in the festival, which he acknowledged for its capacity to bring the people together. He then read a proclamation that he had signed, along with Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo, which declared January 18, 2014, a day “In Promoting and Celebrating Peace on Guam.” The proclamation also recognized various organizations for holding annual events to share peace with members in the community. Such events have included the Pacific Islands New Millennium Peace Conference; and the 2010 unveiling of a peace monument at this very same Tamuning Community Park, which is located across from the International Trade Center where the first World Peace Conference was held in 1975.

dsc_2875Judi Won Pat, speaker of the 32nd Guam Legislature, presented a resolution commending Dr. Daisaku Ikeda and his wife, Kaneko Ikeda, “for dedicating and promoting world peace.”

Luis Nieves, a board member of ICAP, one of the sponsoring organizations of the Latte Peace Festival spoke about how the endeavor of the artist is a reflection of the artist’s life condition and how it is a continual redetermination to create a peaceful environment wherever the artist goes in daily life.

Latte Stone Lodge #5 representative Luis Harris inspired goose bumps among the audience as he spoke of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and recited Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech.

dsc_2933Once again, this year, those attending the morning program participated in a ceremony for the unveiling of three latte stones, which are carved limestone monoliths. Chamorros, the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands, which includes Guam, created lattes for use in the foundations of their ancient homes and to honor ancestors.

As he did last year, Mayors’ Council Executive Director Angel Sablan, who served as emcee, told the crowd of the significance of the latte stones to the island culture. The monoliths were illuminated as part of the opening festivities.

In what will likely be an annual tradition, following the lighting of the latte stones, a wreath was laid at the park’s Peace Monument, and a flock of white doves was released.

002guam14-bLouise Rivera, the Tamuning-Tumon-Harmon mayor, shared the following words of deep appreciation for this annual event saying: “I have been very honored to get to know Dr. Ikeda during the eight years I was a vice mayor. It is because of Dr. Ikeda and peace organizations he founded, she said, “that this community came together today for the sake of peace.”

Cultural presentations throughout the two-day event included performance groups representing the Polynesian, Micronesian and Mariana islands. A local band as well as a father-daughter duo full band performed native Chamorro music. Many local high school choirs also participated.

005guam14The festival program included an elementary art contest and a latte-decorating contest, and winners were announced on Saturday evening, after local youth entertained the crowd with a Chamorro fire show. Performances abounded at this time, as well, including several youth performance groups and choral groups composed of women.

Among the notable comments heard after that event, Helene Anderson, a local peace organization women’s leader said: “ I think it is fantastic that a community comes together transcending religion, culture, ages—you name it—for the sake of peace. And [the festival] has gotten bigger since last year. We already received some great responses from this year—people wanting to come back next year and wanting to make it an even bigger peace festival.”