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Sports///Slinging

The slinging movement Reviving an indigenous martial art

Story by Wayne Chargualaf • Photos courtesy of Sling Guam and Roman Dela Cruz

The sling, a weapon of war associated with the Latte period of the Mariana Islands, is seeing a renaissance on Guam. Long considered an artifact of the past, Matthew Reyes of Sling Guam is part of a movement to bring new life into this ancient skill.

“T

ere are a lot of cultural dance groups, people doing weaving and canoes and I wondered ‘Why aren’t more people out there really promoting this?’” Reyes says. Reyes’ own initiation into the art began when he saw a coworker named Guelu Rosario slinging on the beach. “He’s a guy from Rota who’s really rooted in the culture, and he explained that slinging is part of our culture and he wants to revive it,” Reyes says. After Rosario taught Reyes and his friends to sling, he taught them how to make their own slings. “Once I made my own sling and slung a stone with it, I thought, ‘This is part of our roots,’” he says. “You really feel how powerful it is.” Reyes and his company Sling Guam are now a regular presence at the Chamorro Village night market, offering lessons and selling slings as well as a clothing line with culturally inspired designs. “We want to promote the island and educate people about the culture,” Reyes says. “When someone says ‘Oh that’s a nice shirt,’ you can talk about it and actually spark a conversation.” Eventually, Reyes would like to open a Sling Guam shop with a slinging cage. “I just want a shop that’s going to be dedicated to the culture 4

with products that both tourists and locals love and that has a strong Chamorro identity,” he says. Reyes is quick to point out that he’s not the only person promoting slinging on island. Although he actively promotes his own brand, he says he and other slinging groups are working together rather than competing to spread awareness and revive the art. “Roman Dela Cruz is out there promoting slinging and is trying to get sling golf into the schools as an activity, so all credit to them,” Reyes says. Dela Cruz — most famous for being the founder of Fokai Industries — had been fascinated with the art of slinging for decades before he began actively slinging about 10 years ago. “First of all, I’m thankful to our ancestors who got it going in the first place and the people who’ve kept it alive through hundreds of years,” Dela Cruz says. “One of my buddies — Keith Susuico — told me there were active slingers on island. I was amazed because at the time I thought you had to be from prehistoric times to do that kind of thing.” Susuico directed Dela Cruz to other active slingers such as Pat Rosario and his brother Guelu — the same Guelu Rosario who would

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