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Santiago records Chamorro music CD

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Earlier today, Acting Governor Ray Tenorio signed a proclamation declaring March as Chamorro Month. It is during this month we celebrate our culture, language, and history. One an individual in our community has spent years perpetuating the island culture through dance. But Dr. Benjie Santiago is expanding his wings, venturing into music.

When it comes to promoting the island's culture through dance standing at the forefront is choreographer and director of the Natibu Dance Academy, Dr. Santiago says Mes Chamorro shouldn't be just be celebrate in thirty days, but  rather year-round. "But it seems that it has been the accepted norm to celebrate and culminate all of one's Chamorro heritage in one month, and March has always been designated Chamorro Month. This is where many public and private companies celebrate 'Chamorro-Ness', if you will. By allowing cultural enthusiasts to exhibit through dance, through song, through exhibits and all of the different media."

Inline with University of Guam's Chamorro Language Competition, in which they emphasize language and Hurao Academy director Ann Marie Arceo's determination to spread our native language, Dr. Santiago and colleague Eric Reyes, who is from Tinian and also a choreographer and director for a dance troupe, joined forces compiling a CD of songs meant to bring renewed energy and life to dance through new musical undertones and rhythmic motivation.

Said Santiago, "The two of us share a real strong lineage of cultural dance with the Chamorro dance master Uncle Frank Rabon. I was one of the first generations of dancers of Taotaotano, and he was one of the generations after me, and we both share a love of music through dance. We both felt it was time to use our forte, which is music and dance, and culminate it in one project, he had asked if I wanted to collaborate and I wholeheartedly accepted the offer."

The CD, "Ekungok I Kulu", will be released on Saturday, February 26 at the Agana Shopping Center with a thrilling performance to launch the CD.  Each track will also showcase new and innovative choreography through the "Natibu Stylings" of Santiago.  There will be two shows - 11am and 2pm at the center court with CDs being sold along with a free gift, a Natibu poster/calendar.

Santiago promised, "You won't be disappointed with a wonderful show, so come out and support us, support local music!"

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