TINIAN—The 10th Tinian Hot Pepper Festival on Feb. 15 and 16 showered much attention on the island’s indigenous hot pepper, called donni sali, in the form of various pika competitions spread out across the two-day festival.
One of that was the annual booth contest, which pitted the various vendors and information booths against one another in how they effectively promote the donni sali. This year, the booth of the United Filipinos Association in Tinian was named the champion, winning for the group the $150 first place cash prize. Fleming’s Restaurant and Bar took second place and won $100 while JM Roadside Snack came third and took home $75.
In the beautiful mwar-mwar making contest, Lovelina Saralou flowered her way to victory with a $100 cash prize. Coming in second was Rose Lazaro, who pocketed $75. Lucia Ayuyu, the winner of the female hot pepper eating contest, placed third with $50.
The Pika Festival wouldn’t be complete without the cooking contest called Estofao Pika, during which a local dish is cooked using donni sali as one of its main ingredients. Cooking his way to victory was Jolo Del Santos, who took home the $150 first place purse. Tina San Nicholas, who got third place at the hot pepper eating contest, went up to second on this event and got $100, while William Cing came third and earned $75.
One of the highlights was the dragon boat race, which the JC Café team handily won by clocking in at 5:55 and taking $150 in cash. Trailing behind was the Tinian Mayor’s Office at 6:45 and it was good for the $100 second place prize. At third, was Team Tasi at 7:09 and the team received $75.
Bumping the ball to victory at the Beach Volleyball Tournament Championship was Team Pika-boo, taking home $150 in cash. Da Misters, a family team, took second and walked off with $100, while Team Tasi came third with $35.
The adult tug-of-war was another highlight, with Team 1 the ultimate victor. Team 2 took second place and Team 3 took last place.
The second day of the festival featured one of the festival’s favorite events, the Umang (or hermit crab) Race. Kasey Cruz’s hermit crab scuttled to the finish line and took $20 as the victors’ prize. Drake Pua’s hermit crab took second with $15 and Andrew Hofschneider Jr. took $10 coming in at third.
Another event was the sack race. Team 2 hopped away as champions with $100 in the sack. Team 1 took second with $75 and Team 3 took $50.
The final contest was the Cha Cha Dance contest, which also got many of the tourists involved. In first place was the dancing pair of Julita and Carmen. In second were Raul and Chona, while swaying their body to third was Joe and Bernie. Tourist couple Jin and Hye Sun came in last but got a great round of applause for taking part in the festivities.
Vida Borja, coordinator of the Tinian Pika Festival, said, “I am just glad that tourist visitors actively participated in the activities. A pair of Korean nationals joined the local Cha Cha Dance contest and a Japanese group named ‘Te Ora Amo’ entertained the audience with a cultural dance. Also, new and longstanding vendors were happy with their sales. One of the vendors stated that her excitement and enjoyment of the festival was an added profit.”
The 10th Annual Tinian Hot Pepper Festival was made possible by the Marianas Visitors Authority and cosponsors Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, Tinian Mayor’s Office, 14th Tinian Municipal Council, 18th Tinian Delegation, and the community of Tinian.