The CNMI Division of Customs has unveiled a new set of uniforms that show off the islands’ “Hafa Adai” spirit, being one of the first agencies that visitors come across to after disembarking from a long flight.
Customs director Jose Mafnas said they went through several designs before finally agreeing on the final outcome that they call the Hafa Adai-Tirow uniforms, which they presented to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios last Wednesday.
“We wanted to showcase something that represents our islands. We’ve gone back and forth on the best design that would showcase the CNMI, especially our culture, so we finally came to this product—we have the latte house and stone, coconut trees, the proa, and the flame tree with flowers—to showcase our culture and customs, especially the Chamorro and Carolinian, the indigenous people of our islands,” Mafnas said. “This will show our Hafa Adai spirit.”
He said Customs personnel at the airport will be wearing the shirts every Friday, beginning with those who are on duty on Thursday midnight.
Other Customs office personnel and staff, like those in the administration department, would wear the new uniforms daily.
Customs officers on duty will still wear the enforcement uniforms except every Friday.
Mafnas said this is an improvement compared to their previous island-style uniforms. “We were mistaken back then as tour guides or people would ask us if we are taxicab [drivers], bus drivers, or hotel staff. That’s why, we deviated from that and went with our enforcement uniforms after that.”
He said they are still looking at another design for their uniforms. “This time, it will represent the flowers, trees, and birds in the CNMI.”
Mafnas warned that they would remain vigilant in keeping illegal things from entering the CNMI. “Just a reminder to drug dealers and other people who would bring in contraband—even with us wearing these uniforms, we can still arrest you with a smile. You are going to get caught.”
Torres said Customs play an important role in the CNMI. “Not only are you in the frontline welcoming our guests to our islands, but you make sure commodities enter legally and prevent contrabands from getting in. And we’re seeing the results; you guys play a vital role. Every shipment, cargo, and passenger has the potential of bringing something that will harm not only our environment but also our people.”
“Yours is an important job. My administration and the Attorney General will continue to work with you guys. Your work is important and rest assured that we are here to help you. You are taking care of the people.”
Palacios added, “You are at the forefront of our ports. When our visitors arrive, you are the first people aside from immigration that they meet. It is important for our visitors and returning residents to see a little bit of difference, seeing the Hafa Adai spirit.”
Hafa Adai is the Chamorro term for “welcome.”