Hidden Village in the jungle

UP a rugged pathway almost obscured by thick foliage just off the road going to Laolao Bay in San Vicente is a secret that only a few know about.

Photos by Raquel C. BagnolI’ve seen that area  several times before but I thought it led to a private residence. It turned out that there was a crucial piece of NMI history there.

Driving up the rough and bumpy road  was a thrilling and pleasant experience. Vines hung over the road it was like driving through thick curtains, and birds flew ahead like they were hired to guide us. It almost felt like a scene from “The Sleeping Beauty.”

The road ended on the portal of a big crumbling structure resembling a conference hall, or what’s left of it. Only a few roof beams were left, with huge holes supported by sturdy cement pillars. Vines and shrubs clung to one end of the structure, completely covering its former glory. Bare tangan-tangan twigs served as natural curtains to the huge windows facing the ocean.

Somehow, I found beauty amid the ruins and devastation. It was easy to imagine that a long long time ago, the place throbbed with life and people in what was then an important Chamorro village.

My guide, Herman Tudela, from the Historic Preservation Office, said the place was used for various cultural events and activities by the ancient Chamorros.

villageOne more surprise awaited me. The dilapidated structure stood on a very strategic location on top of the hill. Not prepared for a hike in the jungle, I picked my way to the edge of the weed-covered cliff in two-inch heels but I soon forgot my discomfort when I parted the tangan-tangan trees that bordered the cliff.

A breathtaking panorama of  Laolao Bay spread out below me — an endless stretch of blue sky, a verdant jungle and pristine waters with the waves gently lapping on the shores below. I thought I had explored almost all the nooks and crannies of this island, but I found out I was wrong. There is still so much  to be explore: postcard-perfect scenes that all of us should take good care of.

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