Two individuals were conferred with the Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities Award at the 2012 Governor's Humanities Awards held Friday night at the Charley's Cabaret of Pacific Islands Club in San Antonio.
The late Clara Taman Camacho and Agnes Manglona McPhetres, whose contributions to foster and preserve humanities in the community spanned decades, were honored at the event co-sponsored by the Office of the Governor and the Northern Marianas Humanities Council.
Fondly known as Nang Clara, Camacho formed a traditional performing arts group in the early '60s and represented the women of the CNMI when she was sent to the islands of Nauru and Tarawa in the '70s.
Camacho, who survived World War II, accomplished not only her domestic responsibilities but also her civic duties, performing at cultural events and ceremonies around the island and volunteered her traditional medicine and healing skills at the naval hospital.
Family members of Camacho, who passed away in 2007, received the award on behalf of one of the community's greatest matriarchs.
McPhetres, on the other hand, was recognized for having been a humanities proponent for more than 50 years. She began her distinguished career in the '50s as an elementary school teacher, rising through the ranks to serve as associate superintendent of education before her appointment as the first president of the Northern Marianas College.
During her 16-year presidency, McPhetres instituted programs that fostered humanities in the island community, including the Pacific Collection at the NMC Library and the NMI Archives, as well as the establishment of the Humanities Council in 1991, where she served as the first board chair.
McPhetres was unable to attend the awarding ceremony.
Friday's event also recognized five other awardees: Dr. Keith L. Camacho for Research and Publication in the Humanities; Tita A. Hocog, Preservation of Traditional Cultural Practices; Tonny Y. Goobad, Preservation of CNMI History; Carmen S. Taimanao and Catherine R. Perry, Outstanding Humanities Teacher.
Goobad, an archivist technician instrumental in developing a catalogue system of contemporary documents at the CNMI Archives, called on the community to preserve the history of the islands for generations to come.
Camacho, an assistant professor of Pacific Islanders Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, was recognized for his extensive research that gave rise to the book Cultures of Commemoration: The Politics of War Memory and History in the Marianas Islands published this year by the University of Hawaii Press.
Camacho's father, Juan “Pakito” Camacho, said in a separate interview that he is humbled and honored to receive the award for his son whom he described as “very passionate” in the study of the history of the entire Marianas.
“He wants to do something for the islands as much as possible so that the students will have something to use as they move forward into the future,” the older Camacho told Saipan Tribune.
Perry, a veteran broadcaster and media consultant who has been hosting the Council's “Your Humanities Half-Hour” radio show for two years, said she feels like more a facilitator for people involved in the humanities.
She explained that her radio show, which airs every 2pm on Sunday at Power 99, aims to reach a broader audience, particularly those who don't have the time or don't have a strong interest attending the Council's lecture and humanities event.
“It's a great opportunity to learn what's going on and experience the humanities in an easy way. Every part of our lives relates to humanities,” said Perry.
Council executive director Scott Russell said the awards ceremony was a “very appropriate” conclusion to the CNMI Humanities Month celebration. “Their work, in some cases spanning decades, has brought the humanities-language, culture, history-to our community in a variety of locally relevant ways. We are all richer for their contributions,” said Russell.