Along with a new year comes a new leadership, with the board of directors of the Northern Marianas Descent Corp. duly reorganized by those present at the NMDC general membership meeting on Feb. 17 at the Carolinian Utt in Garapan.
The seven-member board includes Joaquin R. Sablan as president and chair of the Membership Committee; Joseph T. Rios as vice president and chair of the Policy Committee; Francisco Tomokane as treasurer and chair of the Finance Committee; Rita M. Castro as secretary; and John DLR. “Bolis” Gonzales, Antonio Mareham, and Jose H. Salas as board members.
Those present openly welcomed the new faces, agreeing that the composition strategically strikes an inter-generational balance. The new faces who attended the general meeting also participated in the “working meeting” and engaged and brainstormed on a number of educational and program ideas that they want the NMDC to launch and implement over the next 12 to 24 months. They adopted the 10-point program priorities under their 2015 Community Action Plan.
The reconstituted membership and board unanimously agreed to focus on the need to better brand and define the mission and objectives of the non-profit group through a series of open and constructive dialogue, public political education and awareness on the rights of NMDs and the CNMI through their Covenant and their Constitution in the context of universal international law, understanding the roles and responsibilities of NMDs within the unique political relationship between the NMI and the United States, and advocating for the legal, cultural, political, and social rights of NMDs as a legally, politically, culturally, and internationally recognized and protected peoples.
Herman R. Guerrero, who now becomes the honorary immediate past president along with his predecessors, presided the three-hour-long meeting where other agenda matters were tackled, including an update on the NMDC filing of an amicus curiae to the U.S. Ninth Circuit seeking to nullify and overturn NMI District Court Judge Ramona V. Manglona’s decision to allow non-NMDs to vote on matters affecting land alienation under NMI Constitution’s Article 12. They also shared ideas on finalizing NMDC membership expectations, recruitment, and benefits, among others, for the general membership adoption, in order to attract and sustain a strong advocacy organization for and on behalf of NMDs.
“I feel that the younger generation should take stronger and more active roles in the leadership of the CNMI and pay particular attention to safeguarding the interests and protection of all NMDs as guaranteed by our Covenant,” said Guerrero. “I fear that our future political destiny is slowly slipping from our hands. Through this new political education and outreach campaign, for example, which was aptly adopted as one of NMDCs 2015 program priorities under its Community Action Plan, NMDC should emphasize the teaching of the Covenant and the NMI Constitution, and encourage the schools to make these primary subject areas and include them in their civics education curriculum. I believe that when all our residents—NMDs and non-NMDs—better understand the unique political relationship between the NMI and the U.S., [it] will lead to promoting social harmony and co-existing in our islands we all call home.”
NMDC is a non-profit organization whose members are persons of Northern Marianas descent, incorporated to conduct its community affairs on Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and the Northern Islands.
They plan to conduct other cultural, family fun, and fundraising activities annually to generate community advocacy and defray the costs associated with hosting such events. If you are interested to join, to contribute your ideas, or simply to learn more about NMDs, email email@example.com or call 287-6701.