History behind the stones

DRIVING on the rough and dusty road toward Laolao Bay is not really  extraordinary — until one learns about the rich history of the area.

Photos by Raquel C. BagnolVehicles carrying students and guests stopped by the roadside a few miles away from the dive site in Laolao Bay yesterday to explore one of its cultural heritage sites.

There was nothing spectacular about the site, except for the interpretive sign with English, Chamorro and Carolinian translations posted by the Historic Preservation Office and the U.S. National Park Service.

Beyond the sign, huge boulders of stones scattered in no distinguishable pattern lay around the area so that they looked like ordinary boulders between thick vegetation.

But those boulders had more stories than anyone knew —stories that went back 3,000 years, when the very site we were standing on was an extensive village that thrived with life and people.

Our guide, Herman Tudela, an archeologist with the CNMI Division of Historic Preservation, told us that archaeologists who investigated the area, known as Bapot, discovered signs of earlier prehistoric occupations that lay buried below the surface.

Tudela said ceramic analysis has helped archeologists a lot in their studies to determine the age and other information about any site.

He said Bapot is one of those intact sites that are uncommon and provide rare opportunities for scientific studies about pre-historic  Marianas.

He said  the areas around Laolao Bay still have many cultural heritage sites that could disclose what the island looked like and how the early Chamorros lived. These are sites that are waiting to be explored and identified.

It was hard to imagine a village full of people a long time ago at that very site we were standing on yesterday.

The heritage sites of Laolao Bay are more reasons why there is now a campaign to preserve the area and keep it free from littering.

Seasons come and go, people can change the course of the future, but history cannot be changed.

It felt eerie to think that each piece of the latte stones scattered at Bapot contained volumes of rich history whose valuable pieces the present generation ought to preserve.

This was first published here

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