MVA board approves $68K for DFS cultural project


The Marianas Visitors Authority board of directors unanimously voted in favor of approving a $68,000 request by the DFS T-Galleria Saipan management for a project that would convert the south wing of the DFS mall into an exhibit space that would showcase the beautiful culture of the CNMI.

Dubbed the “Garapan Re-energization project,” a DFS team composed of Rachel Tan, DFS vice president for operation, and team members Jamika Taijeron, James Santos and Sunshine Salas, presented the plan during an MVA board meeting last Thursday. It came with a price tag of $68,000.

“[The exhibit would showcase] daily performances to attract tourists or locals who come to the store. [They can also] enjoy art demonstrations and cultural performances throughout the day like mwar-making, coconut weaving, and other traditional handicrafts will be featured at the Galleria. The Galleria won’t be just about shopping, but also participating in activities that are interactive, immersive and memorable that visitors can share with their friends,” Tan said.

MVA board members Viola Alepuyo, Ivan Quichocho, Gloria Cavanagh, Chris Nelson, Agida Quitugua, Masaru Sunaga and Thomas Liu voted in favor of approving the proposal.

MVA will provide funding for the re-energization project for three months.

However, Tan said DFS will be reviewing and redeveloping the idea so that it can be sustainable for the future.

Tan stated that DFS’ long-term vision is to make Garapan an iconic destination for tourists and locals while also rebuilding the tourist economy.

“The goal is to have a yearlong activity along the front of our store and along the streets of Garapan. We [want] to contribute to the rebuilding of tourism [but] we can’t do it alone,” she said.

DFS plans to launch the cultural initiative project by mid-November.

Tan said the exhibit will be open during DFS’ business hours, which is 1pm to 7pm on weekdays and 1pm to 9pm on weekends.

“We will have the cultural and historical performances and demonstrations during our operational hours,” she said.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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