“…Northern Marianas Decent-“ISM”


One of the fundamental differences between communism and democracy is that in a democratic system one is at liberty to do or say almost anything, including denouncing cultural identity. You can even have a bizarre and demonic identity so long as you’re not endangering someone else’s life. One can even be like Donald Trump who is a classic modern day masquerader and a flip-flopper. One can also be a Democrat or Republican.

On Monday, April 11, 2016, in his letter to the editor, Mr. Rudy Sablan was describing his conversation with a Chamorro man who also identified himself as a Northern Marianas Decent or NMD.It sounded like the man he was talking to was assertively passionate about his hereditary lineage and proud to be who he is, a Chamorro. The man was referencing not his association with but his identity to a particular group of people indigenous to a particular place.

Among other issues he was raising was the inclusion of Article XII and questioning the essence of Northern Marianas Decent and its importance in the CNMI Constitution. He bemusedly thinks that his ethnicity is not worth protecting because it has no enduring bona fide meaning and cultural redeeming value to him. He was almost apologetic for having it included in Article XII of our Constitution. Questioning the wisdom of such provision and implicating the decisions and judgements of our constitutional delegates as fundamentally flawed is callously disingenuous.

I don’t want to make a case for “ISM” because it is not a person. I do want to say however, that NMD is a person and if any Chamorro/Carolinian, including Mr. Sablan, who doesn’t want to be included in that definition and identified as an NMD and wishes to publicly renounce it, is perfectly fine. I just don’t take kindly anybody, including Mr. Sablan, trashing those of us who fundamentally believed in our cultural heritages and have an abiding appreciation for who we are as a people.

The thought of a real possibility that Chamorros and Carolinians may be becoming extinct as indigenous people of the Commonwealth was a compelling interest for our constitutional delegates. Not protecting the possible demise of an indigenous population within the islands of the Commonwealth would be an unconscionable and abominable act and the constitutional delegates made an imperative moral and cultural decision to institutionalize its protection. Section-by-section analysis of the Constitution revealed the deliberative passions of our delegates and their decisions and judgements was not an afterthought.

The colossal threat of a possible extinction of indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian may be fictionally insignificant to Mr. Sablan, as his argument seems to indicate, but for those of us who are still clinging on to our cultural heritages and traditional values passed on by our ancestors, it is who and what we are that matters most. The ratification of our Constitution by overwhelming majority of our local people was because of its provisions, inclusive of Articles XI and XII which embodies our inalienable right to protect our distinct traditional way of life. Affirming its importance was further engrained in the Preamble of our CNMI Constitution. Our traditions and cultural beliefs are indispensable, untradeable and unforfeitable because it is dignified. It is through our action that causes indignity to ourselves.

Mr. Sablan is a blessed person because he is Chamorro and Carolinian living in both worlds. But then again, this does not have much significance to him because he sounded that cares less of his heritage. As for his other arguments, it’s pointless to conversationally engage, he already indignified his ethnicity and I respect his decision nevertheless.

Daniel O. Quitugua
Vice president, NMDC

Contributing Author

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