Organizers of last weekend’s Tasi To Table Youth Mini-Derby were more than happy to teach the next generation of the CNMI’s fishermen the tricks of the trade. However, Tasi To Table president Gene Weaver and vice president Wayne Pangelinan believe they’re not only imparting to the youth the best ways to catch fish, but also passing to them life lessons.
“When we teach these students or even our own family members how to fish we’re teaching them life lesson. These are skills that they can pass on to the next generation. Sustainability, problem solving, techniques, conservation, and what they can do protect the resources that they have I feel is the importance of teaching the next generation about fishing,” said Weaver.
Pangelinan, for his part, said fishing is culturally significant to the CNMI like other islands surrounded by water.
“Techniques shared in the different aspects of commercial fishing, sustenance (traditional) fishing, and sport fishing are important. Giving our youth a glimpse of all as well educating them about the overall impact if not monitored or protected can significantly change our lifestyle. Teaching fishing and the roles they play for future generations will have an impact for the future. We hope they will become responsible stewards for their generation and follow suit with educating their youth so it continues,” said Pangelinan.
Participants of the Tasi To Table Youth Mini-Derby thanked Weaver, Pangelinan, and the rest of the group that make up Tasi to Table for being great mentors not only last weekend but throughout the duration of the program.
“It’s such a rewarding and productive program that provides experiences I know will make memories and benefit my knowledge as a student under the club. Being able to go out on the water is already an advantage in itself. I wasn’t too sure if we would catch anything, and had we not, it still would’ve been a great experience. But when we were able to catch the biggest one yet that made it all the better,” said Marianas High School student Kina Rangamar, who was part of first-place winning boat Hagu Reel.
For Haeven Hocog, joining the Tasi To Table program was one the best decisions she ever made. “I’ve learned about so many things and met some really amazing people. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I wouldn’t hesitate. Waiting for a bite for almost 6 hours was one of the downers because we were so excited to catch a fish. When we finally caught one, reeling it in was a very exciting moment. Being placed with some of the best crewmates made the experience an unforgettable one,” she said.
Raymond Deleon Guerrero said the Tasi To Table program is very good, well organized, and most importantly fun and gives a chance to a lot of young high schoolers who don’t know how to fish the opportunity to go on a boat and try it out.
“To learn something new and to do it with new people or people you may already know was fun. It can teach many things and help in the future. Like if they ever wanted to go fishing in the future they would know how to fish, what bait to use, how to set up their gear, and how to put food on the table. There’s other benefits a student can get from this group like building friendship, learning to work together, and to be social with other people,” he said.
Like Deleon Guerrero, Dhan Robles and Rudy Castro said the program is a great way to bring the community together and gives many great opportunities for students.
“The mini derby we recently had was exciting and gave us a chance to get to know other students from other islands. Overall, we really enjoyed this experience. It also paves the way for future fishermen to learn the way of fishing. We are the future. It’s our responsibility to keep the culture strong and going for generations and generations to come,” they said.
Carmelita Castro agreed with Weaver and Pangelinan that the program teaches the youth invaluable life skills. “I think that this program is not only making us enjoy ourselves but also teaching us life skills. ‘You give a man a fish you feed him for a day, you teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time’ as the saying goes,” she said.
Tehani Reyes marveled at the program’s inclusive nature while all the while making sure the students were engaged and learning something. “All the events that I’ve attended, they all required lots of teamwork, cooperation, attentiveness, and quick problem solving. This recent experience felt almost surreal because I’ve never experienced something like it. I was given a chance to be far from home while also seeing beautiful sights,” she said.
Rayna Deleon Guerrero said she’s just happy she was able to be on a boat and taught how to fish. “Being on a boat on the water is already a thrilling experience. The roughness of the water most especially will have you on your toes. But once you throw that line in the water, all you can do is have patience. Some days you are lucky and some days you are not. Fishing is all about patience and timing, so never give up!”
Even those who went back to the Smiling Cove Marina devoid of fish were still grateful for the Tasi To Table program.
“I think that the program is great for the students especially because summer is here. The TTT program also allows us to experience stuff we never experienced before. I got excited chasing schools of fish and probably seeing those dolphins. The only downer I got was not being able to catch fish, but it happens,” said Rota student Peter John Manglona.
Blake Mister shared Manglona’s sort of bitter-sweet experience during the mini derby. “The TTT program is an amazing program that teaches students many life skills and of course we get to learn all about the ocean and fishing. The whole experience is full of thrills just from getting the day started early in the morning and charging out into the water to start fishing. The only small downer was that we didn’t catch any. It was still really fun and we had a few bites,” he said.