Tasi to Table treated student delegations from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota last Friday night to a welcome dinner at the Smiling Cove Marina before its Youth Experiential Mini-Derby that took place last Saturday, also at the Smiling Cove Marina.
Fourteen team captains, all of them avid fishermen in the community who have their own vessels, joined in welcoming the 11 high school students from Saipan, 14 students from Tinian Jr./Sr. High School, and eight students from Rita H. Inos Jr./Sr. High School to Friday night’s dinner.
Some notable team captains were Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Associate Justice Perry B. Inos, master navigator Cecilio Raiukiulipiy, Roil Soil Clothing owner Shayne Villanueva, and Pacific Auto owner Gonzalo Pangelinan Jr. The dinner also welcomed several CNMI leaders as guests, including Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig, and Tinian Municipal Council chair Joseph E. Santos.
At the dinner, the 33 participating students picked at random who their team captain will be for the Saturday derby. The fishing derby’s 14 captains each took in two to four students into their team, and after the students picked their captain, the newly-formed teams discussed over dinner their strategies for Saturday.
Palacios, who gave the welcoming remarks, talked about how fishing is a crucial aspect of the CNMI culture and was happy to see students from Rota, Tinian, and Saipan come together. He also thanked those within Rota and Tinian leadership for bringing their students to Saipan and for their continuous support of Tasi to Table.
In separate interviews, Santos said that it was TTT vice president Wayne Pangelinan who reached out to him two months ago to launch a TTT chapter on Tinian, and that he is more than happy to support the organization. For Saturday, he hoped that Tinian’s 14 students would “give all they got.”
Atalig also expressed support of TTT’s initiatives. “I’m very happy to be here. It’s really a program that inspires the youth [and] is a way for them to learn vocational skills. …I’m very happy to be supportive of this program.” he said.
TTT president Gene Weaver simply wished for the students to enjoy themselves, and hoped that everyone would be able to catch a fish. “I hope that everyone catches a fish that they can take back to their family to put on the table… Some of these kids have never been on a boat before, never fished before, so this is the perfect opportunity to [gain experience],” said Weaver.
Tasi to Table is an organization that was formed last year with the intention of teaching students from all of Saipan’s high schools the joys of fishing. On Saipan, TTT runs an eight-month program where high school students can participate to earn elective credits toward graduation. The organization launched TTT chapters and four-month pilot programs on Tinian and Rota at the beginning of May this year.