Latte Stone Park: A symbol of Guam’s identity

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Photo by Anne Jing Ping Wen
Photo by Anne Jing Ping Wen

Latte Stone Park: A symbol of Guam’s identity

by: Anne Jing Ping Wen | .
Stripes Guam | .
published: June 10, 2018

Latte stones represent Chamorro culture.

These megalithic monuments composed of a shaft stone on the ground (haligi) and capped by a stone (tasa), were used by ancient Chamorro people on the islands of Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan, as pillars to support buildings.

In 1956, the U.S. military relocated lattes from the former village of Mepo to its current location in Hagatna. The village site was destroyed by military construction after World War II.

Three to seven latte stones are placed in parallel rows that frame a rectangular area. The latte varies in height from less than one meter up to six meters.

Today the latte are prominent remnants of the Mariana islands and commonly found along coastal areas.

Santos Latte Stone Memorial Park
In 2003, the 27th Guam Legislature renamed Latte Stone Park to Senator Angel Leon Guerrero Santos Latte Stone Memorial Park. Public Law 27-44 states “the three-term senator was an advocate for the rights long denied to many Chamorros because of historic injustices and for equality under the laws of the United States.”

Guerrero advocated for the return of excess federal land and disbursement of Chamorro Land Trust property to eligible Chamorro people. During his years of public service as a Chamorro leader for indigenous rights, he frequented Latte Stone Park for inspiration, contemplation, and guidance on Chamorro Human Rights.

Japanese Caves
Deep along the cliff lines of the park lie two sets of caves used by the Japanese during World War II. Visitors are cautioned to “enter at your own risk.” Once inside, the damp smell and limited surface area is reminiscent of the extensive tunneling system constructed in the 1940s.

Built by Chamorro, Okinawa, and Korean forced laborers, the caves most likely acted as storage or air raid shelters. Today the caves are specially registered on the Guam and National Registers of Historic Places.

Latte Stone Park offers a glimpse of Chamorro life during ancient times. When walking around limestone and basalt structures, one marvels at the innovative architecture and wonders about the stability of
such structures.

The park is an easily accessible destination along the Hagatna Heritage Trail. Up the hill by the park is the Governor’s House, and right across is the Guam Museum and Plaza de Espana.

The next time you are in Hagatna, do not forget to stop by Latte Stone Park to better understand ancient Guam history.

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