ROTA—The island of Rota celebrated the 3rd Luta Coconut Festival over the weekend, highlighting the tree’s deep role in the lives of the people of Rota and the varied dishes that are nourished and made tastier by its fruit.
From root to tips, the coconut tree is not just a tree of life but also a way of life and this year’s festival was no different, with a theme—“Coconut for You and Me”—that seeks to pass knowledge and appreciation of the tree to the next generation.
“The idea is to continue to promote and encourage the kids to protect our coconut trees and to make use of it, and to expand it by planting new seeds because there are a lot of ways that people can make money out of it,” said special assistant for program and grants Aubey Hocog.
“We just want to find different ways and provide opportunities for the community to use the resources that we have on island to better the lives of the families on Rota,” she added.
The festival, celebrated this year from Sept. 12 to 16, is the 3rd time that the Coconut Festival was celebrated on Rota.
“The Coconut Festival started with the former mayor [Joseph S.] Inos and our current mayor wanted to…continue that tradition…because this event has been proven to be a great way to promote the uses and benefits of the coconut, not only to the current generation but also to our younger generation,” Hocog said.
The Coconut Festival this year is not only a one-day affair. The people of Rota have made it a weeklong affair to be able to do different activities that appeal to them.
According to Hocog, this year is a weeklong event that started with a proclamation signing last Sept 12. The following day, schools, the Rota municipal government and government agencies involved were given designated sites where they planted coconut seedlings.
“This was so to continue to expand the population of coconut trees on Rota,” Hocog said.
“On Wednesday, we encouraged all our youth and people to wear something made out of coconut, whether it’s a skirt, a purse, or a hat or even just to hold maybe a little decoration that is made out of the coconut to show how resourceful we can be.”
Last Friday, children got to show off their talents and skills by joining a series of musical competitions.
According to Hocog, each governement department either had a demonstration or exhibit on what they can make out of coconut. “We had all the students from the schools watch, learn and participate.”
Saturday, the final day of the festival, showcased competitions such as coconut husking, grating, presentation of dishes made with coconut milk, a coconut crab race, and the culmination and judging of the coconut fashion show that was held last Thursday.
“The fashion show was the most exciting event. People lookied forward to it. We [drew] 11 creative participants. This is the category where we encourage kids to make use of the coconuts as part of their wardrobe. The kids are excited as it lets them be creative,” Hocog said.
“We will end the festival with the awarding of the winners,” she added.
“Rota is isolated compared to Saipan and Tinian so we try to find very unique opportunities for people to come because Rota has a lot to offer. We try to increase the desire for people to come and visit,” Hocog said.