To cap this year’s celebration of Chamorro and Carolinian Cultural Heritage Month, the Indigenous Affairs Office and the Carolinian Affairs Office, with the help of the Marianas Visitors Authority, held last Saturday the first-ever “Tipiyeew-Ina’famåolik Marianas” at the Carolinian Utt in Garapan.
The event featured live cultural performances, art and culture exhibitions, live bands, many food vendors, live demonstrations of a whole-roasted cow and pig, and underground cooking of whole pigs.
To kick off the event, CAO executive assistant John Tagabuel, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, and MVA managing director Priscilla Iakopo gave brief remarks.
Tagabuel mostly spoke in Carolinian, but ended his remarks in English. He emphasized the importance of exposing the younger generations of Chamorros and Carolinians to their language and culture, and welcomed everyone present on Saturday to enjoy the food and event festivities. “We need to show our kids our culture, they need to know where we are from, and where we are heading,” he said.
Torres gave his remarks entirely in Chamorro.
Palacios lauded the IAO, CAO, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, and MVA for coming together to make the first-ever “Tipiyeew-Ina’famåolik Marianas” possible, and spoke of the importance of celebrating the uniqueness of Chamorro and Carolinian culture.
“We celebrate culture because that’s who we are. We define who we are, we define our history, our art, our customs, and our traditions. In this world of diversity and globalization, it is important to recognize and celebrate that diversity of the many cultures that have begun [to] call the Commonwealth home. At the same time, we also, as Chamorros and Carolinians, celebrate our uniqueness,” said Palacios.
“Gov. Torres spoke in Chamorro. That is part of our culture. I hope that our future generation will continue to look back many years from now and say thank you to our past leaders and parents for continuing and perpetuating the goodness of who we are, and to define ourselves in the future of who we are as Chamorros, Carolinians, and people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands,” said Palacios.
In her remarks, Iakopo spoke of many of MVA’s recent initiatives that are in line with its new strategic plan that focuses on sustainable tourism in the CNMI. Part of this plan, Iakopo said, is focusing on the CNMI’s indigenous cultures. Recently, the MVA’s board unanimously voted to adopt Cultural Heritage Month as an MVA signature event in hopes of promoting cultural tourism.
“Let’s continue to support indigenous culture, [which] is rooted in and sprouts from the basic unit of society: family. While we want to share our culture with the world, the priority remains [on keeping] our culture alive in our homes and our communities first. …[It is] only with a strong continuing culture in the family [will] we be able to share an authentic cultural experience with our visitors,” said Iakopo.