5-day competition celebrates local culture

THE Chamorro and Carolinian Language and Heritage Studies program launched its first annual performing-arts competition at the Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center on Monday evening.

CCLHS program director Jonas Barcinas said the five-day competition aims “to revive what our ancestors left to us so that our children today, tomorrow, and the generations to come will be able to experience what we have experienced.”

He said the event will also give children an opportunity to practice their own native languages.

In holding the competition, he said, CCLHS has the support of the Carolinian Affairs Office, the Indigenous Affairs Office, the language commission and the Public School System.

“CCLHS cannot do it alone. I cannot do it alone. Teachers can’t do it themselves. We need the community. We need our parents. And we need our government to create an initiative that will revive the local languages,” Barcinas said.

He said there used to be an annual language and cultural competition, but it was discontinued in the late 1990s because of funding problems.

Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council chairman and the event master of ceremonies Luis John Castro said he used to take part in the competition when he was a student. “It was very beneficial because there was a big emphasis on language and traditional dance.”

But Castro said there is a better emphasis on local culture today. “I commend the CCLHS program for having a competition like this. They have a similar one in Guam that is beneficial to their education department because it allows the children to involve themselves in Chamorro culture, language, dance and traditions.”

On Monday evening, the multi-purpose center was jam-packed with students, teachers and parents.

“It shows how much culture is valued in the community,” Casto said. “It doesn’t matter if they are not Chamorro or Carolinian. It shows that parents want their kids learning local customs and traditions.”

Public elementary and middle schools, including those on Tinian and Rota, are participating in various competitions that promote the use of the Chamorro and Carolinian languages and showcase other aspects of local culture and traditions.

On Monday, schools participated in choral reading, children’s choir, essay writing and poster drawing competitions.

On Tuesday, representatives from different schools competed in storytelling, poetry, dramatic interpretation and oratorical events.

On Wednesday, six elementary schools will compete in a Chamorro and Carolinian Spelling Bee while students from Marianas High School, Kagman High School, Dr. Rita H. Inos Jr./Sr. High School and Tinian High School will participate in a solo singing contest.

On Thursday, middle and high schools will compete in chant/cultural dance and contemporary dance competitions.

Friday will be award night, Barcinas said, adding that some of the winners will be sent to Guam to represent PSS and the CNMI in Chamorro cultural competitions.

One of the judges, Frances Sablan, said: “I’m glad that [the CNMI competition] is back, and I hope that it will stay. Hopefully, students will gain experience from it then come back next year with more awesome performances.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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