Inetnon Gef Pa'go lifts their voices as one - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Inetnon Gef Pa'go lifts their voices as one

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We're another day closer to the season premier of "Rise" on NBC. From the producers of Hamilton and Friday Night Lights, "Rise" is a heartening new musical drama - inspired by a true story - about finding inspiration in unexpected places. To promote the upcoming series, we sit down with the public school performing arts teachers, the talents, and the trailblazers here at home.

Tonight, we head down south to catch up with cultural dance group Inetnon Gef Pago.

They move in sync to the beat of the drums. Their voices in unison, all in Guam's native tongue. Meet Inetnon Gef Pa'go. In English, translates to "beautiful gathering." How appropriate - because this is more than just a fourth period class at Southern High School.

Performers Austin Garrido and Jeresa Camacho consider this group their family, saying, "Because we're very close, connected with each other. This family bond is what keeps us together. That fire and passion you see on stage isn't just from wanting to dance. It's also from us wanting to be together and to dance with the people on stage. It's like i have your back because you have mine.

Inetnon Gef Pago was founded 17 years ago by southern boy Vincent Reyes - who wanted to teach his students about themselves and their Chamorro identity. He told KUAM News, "I'm very passionate about what I do. And I'm very passionate about providing a platform to express their identity. We're so bombarded by American pop culture and the loudness of pop culture in general.

"I want to be able to ensure that our kids have the tools to evolve culture and to bring it with them. Instead always thinking about culture as a thing of the past. Think of it as something that's vibrant and still alive today. And find ways to appeal to them and find ways to move it."

Cue songs like Inetnon Gef Pago's "Sen Guaiya Hao Guahan." Musician Isaiah Buendicho was part of the group who wrote and recorded the track - which you've likely heard on Guam radio stations in regular rotation, saying, "The inspiration, our island. We love our island. Everyone of us, we take pride in our island, our culture, our history."

This group is in popular demand, especially this month during Mes Chamoru festivities. When they're not in rehearsals, or on the stage, they're traveling. "When I left," recalled Reyes, "I was kind of forced to figure out what my identity was. And by giving them the opportunity to travel, it forces those conversations. Here on Guam, we're so comfortable with just being Chamorro. We're so comfortable with living our daily lives. When we travel, especially being ambassadors of our island, we're forced to say what is Chamorro. We're forced to answer the questions, why don't we speak our language?"

Expect bigger and better things from this group who recently released a new song, End of the Day. "Inetnon Gef Pago is just amazing," Camacho said proudly.

The season premier for RISE airs on Wednesday, March 14th at 9 p.m. on KUAM TV8 and at 8 p.m. every Wednesday after.

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