Easter Sunday live


My Saturday Night Live is usually dry (too far to walk to the grocery store for the beer) and too dreary (save the rowdy Saturday beer parties at the other end of Finasisu Terraces, two facing buildings whose acoustics and echoes outclasses any cathedral in Europe for the resonance of its whispers).  

I do not watch television save check the weather channel, nor do I have kids who still need to be driven to their chosen sports—basketball or ballet, baseball or basket weaving, so my Saturdays ear plugged are heavenly!  But Sunday this past weekend’s Easter came out live, in living Carolinian color. 

Sunday stretches the leg muscles with a walk from Finasisu near NMC at As Terlaje to Rte. 306 down the decline towards the P.O. at Chalan Kanoa. Tun Apa Rd. is what I consider a walkway. It does not have a middle line to regulate vehicular traffic but, of course, cars with low chassis V-8 engines revving up like they’re in the Daytona 500 terrorize the dogs and the chickens, and ignore the pedestrians. But Sunday’s traffic was sparse as the pleasant day attracted many to the beach. 

Getting down to CK, we went into Lino Olopai’s trailer north of Triple J’s Sandy Beach Apartel by the lagoon. Our 70-some-year-old navigator friend from Chuuk (previously spelled Truk) actually took his dinghy sailboat into the waters until his nephew Jerome and Uncle Pete came to ride the sailboat. We watched them secure the catamaran sails.  

Lino is older than the uncle. That’s how the Carolinian community kinship of matrilineal relations stretching far and wide was explained to me; degrees of cousinhood do not exist. They are all plainly just cousins—uncles, nieces, etc. That’s like me with nephews much older than I, my eldest cousin a year younger than my Dad who was the runt of the litter of 11 children. 

I wrote about Lino’s reflections in his book, The Rope of Tradition. The beach front of his trailer is a park to many. I discovered on Sunday that Lino might miss his mei-mei who is in Dong Bei’s Jilin for the spring holidays but he has no reason to be lonely on the weekend with all the attention he gets from relatives.

The nephew asked to sail this weekend with his friends and they brought meat and marinade with them to zing on the coals with the packaged hot dogs for a meal later in the afternoon. But the sailboat rudder scraped the lagoon bottom at low tide so the sailing had to wait until the tide came back up.  

Lino put on his mawr-mawr for two other social events of the day. He would not hear of us leaving. We were part of his household Sunday. So I carried the sodas and he carried the beer into the gatherings. 

We were at a Peters’ family celebration for George’s birthday, his wife Malua an acquaintance. The event was by the Carolinian Affairs huts in Garapan and Lino was one of the revered elders with no shortage of hand kissers (mano of the right hand engrained in Hispanic-influenced societies, adab in Arabia) from kin, except amiable host Anthony who gave the abrazo.  

The Carolinian singing, the ukes and guitar playing, were a sheer delight as my Indo-Malay-Austronesian ears recognized familiar sounds. Then “Beyond the Reefs” was strummed and sung. I was sailing on Micronesian atolls. Legislator Ray Tebuteb and Sapuro Rayphand’s presence added to Geh-or-geh (George) Pelikan, a familiar face from the PSS Central’s accounting office. 

We proceeded to Lino’s brother Ralph’s residence up the Lau-Lau slopes above the National Office Supply north of Chalan Pale Arnold, a forest ranch. There I met a Norita whose wife led the meal grace, and a Ralph’s progeny who introduced his beautiful young children.  It was a smaller and intimate family celebration but I got to hear more of Chuukese history around the table, including how a priest lost his life for disrespecting Carolinian tradition.

Back to Lino’s place in time to be offered again meat sizzled at the BBQ pit a few hours before sundown. This time, a dozen cars were in the yard and Lino took a handful on the Catamaran while I finally got to wet my snorkel. 

A friend recalls that while working in Kuwait, the Pinoy construction laborers and house workers had no problems having fun and hanging out together. On the other hand, Chinese workers never thought they earned enough while the Filipinos remitted home half of earnings and spent the other half partying on their day offs. 

Carolinians in the Marianas come from the same social DNA, metaphorically and physically, who were out on the beach also Sunday by Saipan’s shore. Not a few of the Carolinians also have spouses of Pinoy descent. 

Between the three BBQs, I expect to add two kilos on the scale in the morning. No matter, it was a darn good Easter Sunday.

Jaime R. Vergara | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Jaime Vergara previously taught at SVES in the CNMI. A peripatetic pedagogue, he last taught in China but makes Honolulu, Shenyang, and Saipan home. He can be reached at pinoypanda2031@aol.com.

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