It's survival symbolises the resilence of the Chamorro people from Guam and the Marianas.
The lusong has been immortalised in a short film called Lina'la Lusong or Life of a lusong produced by participants at a Micronesian Filmmakers' Workshop in Guam.
Presenter: Richard Ewart
Speaker: Jason Suapaia, film director, Lina'la' Lusong
SUAPAIA: Well I wish I could take full credit for this but as I mentioned earlier to your producers, I was the lead instructor of a workshop led by Pacific Islands Communications to Guam. I was one of four instructors who were teaching filmmaking to a group of participants down there in Guam. And what we did was we structured a workshop of about 20 people and went through the whole process of scripting, producing, shooting, editing and then of course showing a film. And ultimately what happens we chose this artefact of their culture as the centrepiece to tell the story. And we just went through the whole process with these participants. And ultimately what happened is we gave several of the participants the ability to direct certain segments, and then I was overall director of the entire piece, so that we could bring it together and it could be shown at the film festivals and so forth. So it was a collaborative effort as in all filmmaking is, and I was there to help teach and lead by technical and other standards for filmmaking, and bring some knowledge to the group. So that was a little bit of a background on Lusong.
EWART: So how would you describe the film? Is it a short documentary or something different?
SUAPAIA: I wouldn't say it's a documentary, it's definitely a narrative, it's telling the story of the history or the perception of history throughout time of this artefact, what it means to the culture. It was very much an artistic piece to generate interest and conversation. And each director for each segment of timeframe brought a little bit of something to the project of what their perspective was about the culture, about the history, and it was very unique. So I think definitely more of an artistic point of view, visual narrative for people to start asking the questions of what this artefact is, what the culture means to them.
EWART: Now it is extraordinary that the role that such a humble item plays in the Chamorro culture, to quote one line here, it has endured to heal and feed the people of the land and to impart a sacred lesson of survival. So the degree of symbolism here is extreme?
SUAPAIA: Very much so, in any native culture there's things that tie them to the earth and to land and to resources, and this is definitely one that's pulled them closer to who they are and basically a solid symbol throughout time for them to remember who they are. And that came through in this piece I believe.
EWART: Now in terms of putting the film together you talked a little bit about the background as it were and your own involvement, but the actual process of going out there and shooting the movie and getting the people involved and so on, was it a fairly smooth process or were there a few hiccups along the way?
SUAPAIA: Any time you bring a lot of people together who all have very passionate ideas and are very dedicated to their history and their culture and are not very knowledgeable about the process you're going to have differences of opinion and you're going to have differences of how the vision should take place. But we did work out all those differences and ultimately what we were there to do was to teach them how they could tell their stories. And yes we had some bumps along the way, but nothing that overshadowed what a beautiful piece this turned out to be for them and for us.