MANAGAHA ISLAND—The Commonwealth yesterday honored Chief Aghurubw on the occasion of the 35th Annual Commemoration of his landing on Saipan close to 200 years ago, reshaping the history of the region by bringing Carolinians to the Marianas. In 1815, Chief Aghurubw, a famous navigator, led scores of his people fleeing the Carolinian Islands after it was devastated by a typhoon.
The Chief Aghurubw Foundation, Inc. together with the Carolinian Affairs Office organized the event, which was attended by a hundred or so people who trace their heritage to Chief Aghurubw and other Carolinians that sailed with him in the early 19th century.
Mt. Carmel School chaplain Rev. Rey Rasal celebrated the event with a Mass at the gravesite of Chief Aghurubw and was followed by a brief program.
Gov. Juan N. Babauta did not grace the celebrations because of his prior commitment to attend the Labor Day festivities, which was simultaneously held at American Memorial Park. On his behalf, special assistant to the executive assistant for Carolinian Affairs Tony Mareham gave a brief speech in Carolinian.
Mareham said the event was important since it celebrates the Carolinian people’s migration to what is now the CNMI.
“I’m glad that they’re doing this every year to facilitate the meeting of the minds of all Carolinians. We should all come together,” he said.
House Speaker Benigno R. Fitial, Saipan Mayor Juan B. Tudela, representatives Rey Tebuteb, Benjamin Seman and Arnold Palacios, and Sen. Thomas Villagomez were some of the lawmakers present during the celebration.
House candidate Carmen Cabrera also attended the event. Fitial and Tudela also gave a brief speech in the vernacular to community members during the brief program.
Foundation committee member Felicidad Ogumoro said the event aims to help the Carolinian people by showing them how they were able to overcome tragedy by leaving their devastated home and starting a new life on a new island.
She said the commemoration was part of the monthlong Cultural Heritage Month. She said that by simply remembering Chief Aghurubw, the Carolinians are already celebrating their unique culture.
“Chief Aghurubw was a great leader. He will live in the hearts of the people,” Ogumoro said.
Committee officer Donald C. Barcinas said the celebration of Chief Aghurubw represents the Carolinian people.
Ogumoro said the event had a great turnout, but it was smaller than last year’s attendance.
The committee thanked the business sector and the private firms that helped them organize the event.
Jean Olopai said the event was important for her because Chief Aghurubw brought Carolonians to the islands. Tomiko Olaitiman, 17, also said she was celebrating with her entire family. “Food is great,” Olaitima said.
Angie Iginoef-Mangarero led the choral group during the presentation.
Chief Aghurubw lies buried on Managaha Island and an inscription in a monument dedicated to the navigator reads: “The monument stands in honor of the chief who changed the course of history in the lives of the people and who gave of himself to shape their destiny.”
The Chief Aghurubw Foundation, Inc. is composed of board chair Daniel Ogumuro, vice chair Antonio R. Rasian and board of directors Tony I. Rogolofoi, Herman Guerrero, Tina Barcinas, Carmen K. Olopai, Rita K. Billy, and Felicidad Ogumoro.