September is Chamorro and Carolinian Cultural Heritage Month, and the Carolinian Affairs Office and the Indigenous Affairs Office will be holding many events throughout the month to showcase the CNMI’s unique cultures and traditions. There will be multiple school outreaches, concerts, an “Island Cuisine Night,” and a memorial Mass on Sept. 23 commemorating the 35th anniversary of the 13 fishermen who were lost at sea on Sept. 23, 1986. Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios made the commemoration official during a proclamation signing yesterday at the Carolinian Utt in Garapan.
Alongside Torres and Palacios, notable guests yesterday included House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez, Reps. Denita K. Yangetmai and Vicente C. Camacho, Northern Marianas Humanities Council executive director Leo Pangelinan, and 500 Sails co-founder Emma Perez.
The event featured remarks from Torres, Palacios, and leads from the CAO and IAO. Remarks were delivered in Chamorro, Carolinian, and English. CAO executive assistant John Tagabuel and Palacios briefly spoke in English yesterday.
Tagabuel said that “language starts from home,” and made a call to action for the CNMI’s Carolinian community fluent in the language to go out and apply to be Carolinian language teachers. Tagabuel noted that there are only four public school teachers teaching Carolinian.
“Our language is all we have. It is our identity. It’s what keeps us together as a whole. If we don’t know where we’re from, then we can’t move forward, we can’t move far. …If you want to speak Chamorro or Carolinian, let’s do it, and let’s be proud,” said Tagabuel.
Palacios looked back on the multiple periods of colonization in the CNMI’s history, and lauded the present-day efforts of the CAO, IAO, and NMHC “for trying their best to perpetuate our culture.” As multiracial communities continue to be on the rise, Palacios added that it is important now that the CNMI’s Chamorro and Carolinian communities see the value of being Chamorro and Carolinian.
“We need to awaken ourselves and value the uniqueness of being a Chamorro or Refaluwasch [Carolinian]. We need to put value into who we are as a people,” said Palacios.