High school students of Guam took part in a vibrant Voices of Hope Poetry Slam Competition on December 13 at the city of Sinajana’s sparkling new Central Community Arts Hall.


Youthful poetic artists had been submitted for consideration by their respective public high schools all over Guam, in adherence with specific rules, including that competition be composed of individual performers presenting their original poetry pieces related to the main theme, “peace and diversity.” Also, no performance could exceed three minutes.


The event came together as a collaboration and partnership among the Tamuning-Tumon-Harmon Mayors office, Sinajana Mayors Office, Agana Shopping Center, Guam Museum, the Guam Council of the Arts & Humanities Agency (CAHA), the Tumon Bay Youth Orchestra (TBYO), Guam Philharmonic Foundation, Soka University of America, SGI Guam and the International Committee of Artists for Peace (ICAP).

Melvin Won Pat-Borja, a distinguished spokenword poet, slam poet, hip hop artist, teacher, and president of the Department of Chamorro Affairs, served as the master of ceremonies. Mr. Won Pat-Borja began the festivities by welcoming guests and the contest contestants, who were chosen from the following Guam high schools: George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Okkodo, Southern, and Tiyan.

Opening the evening’s program was a stirring performance by five members of TBYO, led by conductor Maximo Ronquillo, Jr. Their offering of poetic sounds served as a gift and the perfect prelude for the event to follow.


After a uniformly inspiring evening of thought-provoking, emotionally charged, and enlightening works of poetry by the young artists, the competition concluded with the announcement of the winning performances.

The first-place winner, Madison Lujan, of Southern High School, received a $500 cash prize for presenting her poem, “What Reasons Do We Have?” Second place, and $300, went to Ryan Grey Santos, from Okkodo High School, for his poem, “The Story of a Grandmother.” And the third-place prize of $200 was claimed by Nikolette Salas, of Tiyan High School, for her piece, “Writing Like a Lover.” All other participants received a $100 gift card from Agana Shopping Center.

The top three winners will also be eligible to compete for the Grand Prize in Januarys Latte Peace Festival, which includes among its prizes special congratulatory awards signed by ICAP President Herbie Hancock as well as $500 to be donated to the winner’s school. Before the competition, attendees watched an inspiring video message from Mr. Hancock, emphasizing Guams role in the global movement for peace through art.

Mayor Louise C. Rivera of Tamuning-Tumon-Harmon conveyed her congratulations to the winners and all participants, emphasizing that each contributor successfully advanced the cause of peace and diversity through their profoundly moving poetry.

The former Speaker of the Guam Legislature, Judi Won Pat, a planning committee member for the event, received the following message from one of competition judges, CAHA Coordinator Jackie Balbas

   Dear Speaker Won Pat,

   Good afternoon! I thoroughly enjoyed my role as a judge at last nights poetry Slam. Poetry serves as a powerful medium for individuals to express their creativity and allows the audience to gain insight into their unique perspectives, passions, and vulnerabilities. The poems presented were thought-provoking, emotionally charged, and enlightening, with some resonating deeply with me. It was a truly wonderful experience, and I had a great deal of fun.

See the leading poets Video and Text in this post – Click Here