The Marianas Chapter of the National Youth Movement for the West Philippine Sea was launched last Saturday.
Officers of the newly formed local chapter, which includes the CNMI and Guam, took their oath as administered by Dr. Celia Lamkin, founder and global chairperson of the National Youth Movement for the West Philippine Sea and chairperson of the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance-CNMI, Guam, Hawaii, and American Samoa Chapter.
“The purpose of this national movement primarily is to educate, create awareness about the West Philippine Sea, and of course to instill patriotism among the Filipino youth, and also to protect the rights and welfare of the people in the West Philippine Sea,” Lamkin said.
Lamkin said they chose to launch the movement in the CNMI at this time in anticipation of the final ruling on the Philippines’ case versus China filed before the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, which is expected this May or June.
Reynafe Aniga, a junior at Saipan Southern High School, was appointed as the president of NYMWPS Marianas both for the CNMI and Guam.
Although Filipino born and raised on a U.S. territory, Aniga said it is important for her and the other offices to be involved in the talks and movements against China’s occupation of the West Philippine Sea.
“Our parents are always talking about the Philippines. We’re always watching the news. We might not see it first hand, we might not be there personally but we see it through the media, we see it through the news and from there we can see what’s happening in our homeland,” Aniga said.
“It’s very important for us, and it should be because, just because we’re far away doesn’t mean we’ll be ignorant of what’s happening in our homeland. That’s where we came from and that’s where our hearts are. Just because we are U.S citizens doesn’t mean that we’re loyal to just the U.S., we also came from the Philippines,” she added.
Aniga said they became more motivated to be part of the movement as they gained more knowledge and education on what is happening in the West Philippine Sea. Because of this, they will have upcoming programs to spread awareness and education further to fellow Filipino youths in the Marianas.
NYMWPS will be launched in Guam on June 12.
Youths who are of Filipino descent ages 13 to 35 are eligible to be regular members and those who are above 35 years old can be an associate member, added Lamkin.
There are now about 20 chapters of the NYMWPS across Asia, the UK, USA, Europe, Australia, and Africa, according to Lamkin.
The movement was initially launched at the University of the Philippines Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines in partnership with the UP Agribusiness Society on Sept. 28, 2015, after its founder, Lamkin, was inspired by the success of the International Essay Contest on the West Philippine Sea where more than 300 students participated in 2012.