To commemorate the second anniversary of Typhoon Soudelor and, most importantly, to celebrate the resilience of the CNMI people, IT&E staged a free concert in Garapan last Aug. 4, coinciding with the Thursday Night Market.
The concert drew hundreds to the Garapan Fishing Base and highlighted local talents like Sensi Roots and other local performances including the Alana Ai Dance Group, Pacific Flower, Simiyan Marianas, Kontagious Mindz, Refaluwasch Warriors, and SMADS.
The John Dank Show, a visiting band from Guam, headlined the free concert.
Frankie McJohn, lead singer and guitarist for the John Dank Show, said, “We know that Soudelor was devastating for the island. Seeing pictures and stuff…we knew that a show like this was important. The people here have been hospitable. They’ve taken care of us since we arrived and we just want to give back by playing music for people and celebrating that you guys are back on your feet and that is a big thing for us.”
IT&E director of product marketing Angela Rosario said the concert was intended to celebrate the resilience of the community.
“Two years ago, Typhoon Soudelor happened. [This concert intends to celebrate] the way we came together as a people, as a community and as an island, to build the community back up to where it needed to be. Two years after, we are doing great.”
Typhoon Soudelor hit on island in August 2015 and is considered one of the most powerful typhoons ever to hit the CNMI.
Velma Palacios, IT&E’s director of network operations, said, “Our people worked 24/7 to just ensure the services were up. Our generators were running and did not falter. We knew everybody needed and relied on communications during that period, whether to keep in touch and to keep entertained.”
Rosario said, “We kept our stores open and we provided ways for people to come in and charge their cellphones. We gave away car chargers and we just wanted to make sure that people still continue to communicate, let their family and friends know that they are okay and update them on what the situation is on island.”
“We were servicing everybody whether they were customers or not. Everyone was welcomed. They came in, we had tables set up so they would feel comfortable,” Rosario added.
IT&E hopes to hold the concert annually, where people can get together, celebrate and enjoy their favorite bands.
“We are always happy to organize something like this for the community and hopefully we will have another one next year. We are here to celebrate with the people who helped, contributed and to give thanks to the community, to keep pushing and going, even after Soudelor. This is a first step for us,” Rosario said.
Palacios was quick to say that communications will stay in place in the event a big storm like Soudelor will come again.
“IT&E is ready. We have gone through many storms but Soudelor was the biggest and the longest. With that, we added more backup power, generators and we continue to maintain our generators and make sure we have the needed spares, especially in case of typhoons. We want the community to know that whatever we did last time, we will work harder and for the better,” Palacios assured.