Local clothing company, Culturally Livin Natives, is hosting a âSea Slayerâ spearfishing competition in August.
The small business aims to promote island culture and Guam’s daily way of life through their t-shirts, hats, rashguards and the upcoming competition, said owner and entrepreneur Freddy Santiago.
Santiago, who is a spear fisherman himself, started Culturally Livin Natives in 2018.
Like other business owners, Santiago’s business slowed with the onset of the pandemic. Although he did not have a physical location, he met clients at pop-up events held at various locations with other entrepreneurs.
âThe first pop-up event took place at the KreemxButter hair salon in Harmon. He belonged to a group of young people who lodged me. Then we organized a collaboration event with Tommy’s Pizza. And we celebrated a year at the Guam Museum, but when COVID-19 hit we were inactive.
Closing everything was difficult but ended up being a âblessing in disguiseâ. Forced to slow down, Santiago used the time to focus on his business and form new creative ideas.
Once the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, “it just seemed natural to me to do it,” he said. “We haven’t had something like this in a while, so a lot of the harpoon fishermen are excited.”
Ken Borja and James Borja of the Marianas Underwater Fishing Federation have been holding spearfishing competitions for the past 20 years, Santiago added.
âI basically reached out to them and told them that I would like to host one, and I wanted to ask them out of respect, you know to get their blessing and they gave it,â he added. âThey can’t wait to see this event take off.
Santiago expects a great turnout and is confident that the event will be a fun and memorable experience for those involved. The winner should also expect an exciting grand prize, he said.
The spearfishing competition promotes culture, camaraderie, security, stability and conservation for the community. Registration will open on July 31 at the HagÃ¥tÃ±a boat dock. The competition will take place on August 7th.
Reflection of life
Santiago’s vision, both in spearfishing competition and in its clothing line, is to showcase the culture of Guam as well as the various subcultures that have developed over the years. He sees his brand as a combination of designs that celebrate the island’s HÃ¥fa Adai spirit and traditional values ââof respecting and helping others with traditional American styles.
Santiago grew up fishing with his brothers and his family. He also tried surfing, cycling, skateboarding – activities typically associated with the Western lifestyle.
âThere are all these subcultures that we see in our community,â he said. âOur harpoon fishermen, our skateboarders, surfers, bikers – things that we adopted while living in America. But we are still heavily influenced by our CHAmoru culture, the HÃ¥fa Adai spirit, Inafa ‘Maolek – even if you are not a CHAmoru native you are Chuukese, Japanese, Yapese, Palauan, if you live in Guam you are probably live with these values ââas well. ”
When he started his business, the idea was to grow and have fun.
âMoney was never the motive,â he said. “It was about expressing who we are and sharing our culture.”
Organizing pop-up events was a high school approach.
âI loved throwing parties. This is where the idea for pop-up events was born. They were a place where we can sell goods, of course, but while we’re there we can talk about history, âhe said.