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31st commemoration of 13 fishermen celebrates their lives

THE commemoration of the 31st death anniversary of the 13 fishermen lost at sea was also a celebration of their lives, according to Florence Selepeo Kirby, event organizer and caretaker of the 13 Fishermen Memorial Monument in Garapan.

“I talked to the family and said we have to let go, so we can start feeling better. Every year we come here very sad. We now have to accept the fact that they will never return so we have to let go,” she added.

On Saturday, a special Mass was celebrated, followed by the offering of flowers and lighting of candles at the monument.

“From now on instead of the usual memorial commemoration of those we’ve lost, we will also commemorate their lives,” Kirby said.

This year, they also decided to open the celebration to the community. “This event is no longer for families of the 13 fishermen so we also invited other people who have relatives or friends who also perished at sea.”

Among those who attended Saturday’s event were Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, Senate President Arnold I. Palacios and House Minority Leader Edmund S. Villagomez.

“This ceremony is significant to me because these were relatives of mine,” Villagomez said. “I was really young when this event took place. It is important to pay tribute to them and let them know that they are not forgotten.”

Carolinian Affairs Office Executive Assistant John Tagabuel said the annual event honors the 13 fishermen while “expressing our support for their families, too.”

Tagabuel thanked the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation for supporting the event.

Father James Balajadia of St. Jude Parish, who celebrated the Mass, said the event was a “moment of prayer, faith and family.”

He added, “We are one family here and we gather today to pray for the souls of our brothers who have gone before us and we entrust them to the Lord’s mercy. We pray for the families that continue to mourn. It is also about continuing the journey with the families to let them know that we are here for them and we will continue to walk with them in faith, love and hope.”

On Sept. 23, 1986, the MV Olwol capsized somewhere between Pagan and Maug as Typhoon Ben passed nearby.

Aboard the vessel were 12 Carolinians and one Filipino boat mechanic — all experienced fishermen. All perished at sea.

They were: Isidro Rogopes Romolor, Jose Taisakan Igisiar, Silvestre Roligat Selepeo, Joaquin Lisua Moteisou, Benusto Rabauliman Olopai, Enrique Lisua Moteisou, Guillermo Saures, Benusto Malus Lisua, Jospeh Litulumar Kaipat, Pedro Lairope Mettao, Martin Lairope Saures, Joseph Teregeyo Lisua and Jovencio Falguera.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/98790-31st-commemoration-of-13-fishermen-celebrates-their-lives

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