5 receive Governor’s Humanities Awards

FIVE individuals were honored at the 2017 Governor’s Humanities Awards at the conclusion of the Humanities Month celebration on Friday at PIC’s Charley’s Cabaret.

“We have a group of awardees in five different categories,” said Scott Russell, council executive director.

He added that the council received about 10 to 12 nominees in the different categories: Research and Publication, Outstanding Humanities Teacher, Preservation of CNMI History, Preservation of Traditional Cultural Practices and Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities.

The Research and Publication award went to Dr. Miguel Vilar, a molecular anthropologist who heads the National Geographic Society’s genographic program.

Dr. Vilar’s DNA research has documented the distinctiveness of the indigenous Chamorro DNA including evidence suggesting two separate settlement episodes: first wave in the Philippines and Taiwan, and second wave in Indonesia.

Beth B. Demapan is this year’s Outstanding Humanities Teacher. She is the technical services librarian at Joeten-Kiyu Public Library. Since 2013, she has served as the assistant Motheread coordinator. Her work with the Motheread Family Literacy Program complements and strengthens her daily activities of promoting essential library programming to underserved communities.

Former Gov. Juan N. Babauta was awarded for helping preserve CNMI history. He recently published “In Retrospect,” which documented his public service career in the CNMI. The book provides an overview of the many public policy issues that confronted the CNMI from the early 1980s through the mid-2000s.

“One of the things to say is that writing the book is not about how much you know but it was about perseverance,” he said in an interview. “It is really just working day in, day out, collecting your thoughts and putting it down in writing. Writing about my experience was a humbling experience. I wanted to document as accurately as possible and as simply and clearly as I could about my experiences with public service, dealing with public policy and dealing with other leaders in the CNMI who are also engaged in setting public policy.”

He added, “There are many other individuals in the CNMI who have similar experiences. I know that they are as capable as anybody else in documenting their story and their experience in dealing with public service and public policy. I encouraged them to sit down to see what they can do to help preserve CNMI history that only they can write about.”

The Preservation of Traditional Cultural Practices Award went to Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council Chairman Luis Johan D.L.G. Castro.

He is an indigenous cultural advocate who has been involved in performing and teaching traditional Chamorro performing arts since 2002.

Castro was a performer and group leader in Inatuas Cultural Dancers, and a performing arts instructor and consultant dfor public schools including William S. Reyes Elementary School and the Marianas High School Poksai Chamorro Club. He also coached students participating in Chamorro language competitions.

In 2014, he formed Guma’ Simiyan Manaina-ta whose mission is to promote the uniqueness of the Chamorro culture through visual and performing arts. He also promotes the Chamorro culture in his role as chairman of the 17th Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council, including championing causes that promote traditional customs and practices, and engaging the community to develop policies covering the treatment of ancestral remains.

Castro was thankful to the Humanities Council for selecting him as one of the awardees.

“It’s not every day that they give awards like this. It’s a very exclusive list of people who have received this award. I am just humbled to be a part of that fraternity of people who have left their mark in the fields of humanities and the arts.

“I also like this honor to be a wake-up call to the youth: it is okay to move forward but never forget where you came from. Never forget your origins because that is what makes the arts stronger, the culture, stronger, the humanities stronger.”

The late William Ronald Barrineau received the Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities Award.

A founding member of the Northern Marianas Humanities Council, he served as the first and longest serving executive director from 1992 to 2001, and returned to serve two terms on the board as a gubernatorial appointee from 2005 to 2010.

Under his leadership, the Humanities Council developed into an important public educational organization that provided a variety of high quality humanities programming to the people of the CNMI.

Among the programs that were developed during his tenure as executive director included the Teachers History Institute which aimed at providing classroom teachers with a working knowledge of local history and cultures; the Motheread Family Literacy Program to strengthen literacy skills among low-income parents; public forums on the CNMI Constitution, Covenant and public policy issues; a living history program in which historic characters were brought to life by scholars who appeared in costume and performed dramatic dialogues.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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