Kantan Isla returns after 13 years


The revival of the Kantan Isla music festival may not have generated a large crowd, but it was still a success despite the small numbers.

According to Commonwealth Council of Culture and Arts executive director Parker Yobei, the event last Friday night is still considered a success because the point was to revive the long lost music festival.

“I’m happy we actually brought it back. We were trying to revive the program. …Even though we had few people, I’m still happy we’re doing it,” said Yobei.

He hopes that word of the newly revived festival will get out and a bigger crowd would participate in following years.

Parker plans to prepare earlier and more intensely so that the participation of artists from Rota, Tinian, and Guam are sponsored.

“This is only the beginning but, for the long run, I want to fundraise and solicit from partner agencies to invite artists from Rota and Tinian as well as Guam so we can all come together and share our music and promote local songwriting,”

Kantan Isla showcased eight artists and bands: Big J, Tom Basa, Ray Peter, Marv Guerrero, Maggie Naputi, the Sunset Cruisers, The Northern Stars, and Hopwood’s HDMP.

One of the guest performers, J.J. Concepcion, said it was his first experience performing at the Kantan Isla.

“This is actually my first time, I’m honored to be a part of this [revival] because I heard about this a long time ago and I just wanted to be here,” he said.

The HDMP student band also performed. These students are not of Northern Marianas descent and they did not sing in the indigenous language, but they appreciate the cause.

According to HDMP’s Mary Joyce Espinosa, their performance in the Kantan Isla made them feel like they belong even though they didn’t speak the language. “It’s a place for everyone to come together,” she said.

HDMP’s Frann Billy said she is excited to join again next year because the experience was exciting.

Yobei said the council will be evaluating this year’s Kantan Isla and will be making improvements for more performers to join, and to entice more community members to witness the performances.

Ross Garcia Garcia

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