The National Museum of Prehistory is holding a week-long workshop titled "Together in Taitung" on the eastern coast of Taiwan to share the importance of the coconut tree in Chamoru culture from April 24 through May 1.
Featuring the theme of "Coconut culture to table," the workshop organized by the Taitung-based Torik tribe will invite three Chamoru heritage preservationists – Joseph Blas Viloria, Raymond Blas Viloria, and Joseph Franklin Quitugua Babauta – to introduce their culture through local coconut dishes and coconut leaf weaving.
The coconut, which is revered as the "mother tree" by the Chamoru people, plays an essential role in their everyday life. As leaves, fiber, and meat of the coconut are widely used, the plant is considered the source of life. In addition, the Chamoru people believe that some of their ancestors were originally from Taiwan, so they also call Taiwan the "mother island."
In collaboration with ATA Studio, Taitung County Aboriginal Cultural and Education Association, Maslinagan Studio, and Guam's Chamoru Cultural Center, the workshop will help participants learn how to integrate different parts of the coconut, including its water, milk, and soft flesh, with local Taiwanese ingredients to make Chamoru cuisine.
The workshop will include coconut-cooking lessons in the mornings and coconut leaf-weaving sessions in the afternoons. There will also be lessons about the ocean and food foraging as well as traditional Chamoru stove-building and cooking.
The cooking sessions aim to inspire participants to create innovative dishes that integrate the Chamoru coconut with the culture and characteristics of Taitung County.
The National Museum of Prehistory hopes to connect the diverse ethnic groups in Taitung with those from Guam through the eight-day workshop where they can share and exchange customs, knowledge, and ideas, and further expand the contemporary applications of traditional culture and create new opportunities.