Members of the 250-strong CNMI delegation to the 12th Festival of the Pacific Arts are all set to represent and showcase their talents in the largest gathering of island nations in the region. They will be leaving in batches starting today with the last group heading to Guam on Saturday.
John Oliver Gonzales is the head of the delegation that is composed of crafters, visual artists, performers, weavers, and wood carvers from Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and the Northern Islands.
The ManAtigos—which has 38 dancers—Cultural Production Inc., Petlas Marianas, and Simiyan Linala are the dance groups that will be performing in the two-week long festival.
Arts Council executive director Angel S. Hocog and Frances Sablan, the program co-chair for the FestPac CNMI planning committee, are also part of the delegation. Gordon Marciano is Sablan’s co-chair but won’t be going.
Gonzales, Hocog, and Sablan met with the parents of the delegates who are still under 21 to explain some of their policies that would be imposed once in Guam to make sure their kids are safe. They also attended a mass at the Mt. Carmel Cathedral last Sunday.
Sablan, who has been attending the FestPac since 1985, said she has been acting as a seamstress of their group, the ManAtigos, in order to take care of some of the costumes to cut cost of buying or having them repaired by a dressmaker or a tailor.
They had also prepared eight dances that their group will be performing and will add more once the festivities begin at the Paseo de Susana Park in Hagatna.
“Our group has been meeting five times a week since January. We’ve been practicing three times a week, perform every Thursday night at the Street Market, and every Saturday we work on our costumes,” said Sablan.
“We will also be holding a storytelling in the language conference where we will showcase the chanting and dancing of the legend of the lost continent of Mu.”
Their group held several fundraising activities and they also allotted the money they received from their performances at the Thursday Market and Taste of the Marianas. Best Sunshine International, Ltd.’s Corporate Social Responsibility team also donated to their fundraising.
The Tan Siu Lin Foundation also provided 250 T-shirts—worth $3,000—that will be worn by all delegates in the festival.
The CNMI will be among the more than 3,000 delegates attending the quadrennial event set from May 22 to June 4. The Festival of the Pacific Arts or Pacific Arts Festival is a quadrennial event hosted by a different country alternating within Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.
Hawaii, Polynesia, will be hosting the 2020 edition of the event considered as the Olympics of culture and the arts in the Pacific. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community will hold a meeting to decide which country from Melanesia will host the 2024 FestPac.
Hosting rights will return to Micronesia in 2028 and choosing the next host country is done eight years before the event.
American Samoa, Australia, the Cook Islands, Easter Island, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, the State of Hawaii, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna are the Pacific Island countries and territories that are expected to join the festival.