Sakman’s arrival at festival delayed

The 36th Flame Tree Arts Festival kicked off yesterday at the Garapan Fishing Base sans the much-anticipated arrival of the Sakman traditional navigators, who were delayed on their voyage from Guam via Rota.

Because of the unexpected weather and headwinds, the welcoming ceremony greeting master traditional navigators Tony Piailug and Sesario Sewralur, along with other crewmembers from the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs canoe and navigation program and Guam’s non-profit organization, Traditions Affirming our Seafaring Ancestry, or TASA, was moved to today. Piailug and Sewralur arrived late last night.

The Garapan Fishing Base started to fill with people as the 36th Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival started yesterday.(Erwin Encinares)

The Garapan Fishing Base started to fill with people as the 36th Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival started yesterday.(Erwin Encinares)

Piailug and Sewralur’s voyage is the first for a Chamorro canoe in the past 200 years and sailed from Guam at 8am last Sunday.

According DCCA Secretary Robert Hunter, at about 1pm yesterday the Sakman navigators were spotted 24 miles west of Tinian.

“They were delayed but [they are] closing in. We are going to talk to the crew tonight and figure out what time is best for them,” said Hunter referring to the welcoming ceremony.

In spite of the delay and the fact that the festival was held at the Garapan Fishing Base, the turnout for the Day 1 of the 36th Flame Tree Arts Festival, according to Hunter, was a success nonetheless.

“The grounds look beautiful; I like that it is close together, [making it] easier for people to walk in. It is not really stretched out as it usually is; I like the look of it—it’s different,” he told Saipan Tribune.

Hunter said the Flame Tree Arts Festival has been moved around various years to “test out sites.”

“We want to see how [the festival] works out in regards to parking and its visitors. We believe that the festival being in this area will attract a lot of our tourists, which the festival usually [fails to do so] because of location.”

The 36th Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival started yesterday and would conclude this Sunday. The festival hosts various new attractions such as the audio-visual showcase—a segment of the festival that would feature films made by local artists from the high schools around Saipan, including Marianas High School and Mount Carmel School.

Indigenous storytellers would be presenting in the festival as well, with stories about the indigenous Chamolinian culture. There are 55 booths of which 35 showcase local artists and their works, while the remaining are booths that sell food.

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Erwin Encinares | Reporter

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