25 Oct 2017
- By Junhan B. Todiño – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
CULTURAL performers from the Marianas are among the top attractions in many off-island events, Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council Chairman Luis John Castro told the Rotary Club of Saipan on Tuesday.
Castro, creative director of Simiyan Manaina-ta, said the group has been recognized as the top performers during a Chamorro dance competition on Guam last year.
He said Simiyan Manaina-ta was also the largest off-island delegation in the event which featured different Chamorro dance groups from all over the Marianas, Japan and the western United States.
Aside from off-island performances, he said the group also participates in local community events, including fiestas, inauguration of elected officials, state funerals and even golf tournaments and other sports events.
Established in 2014, Simiyan Manaina-ta is a non-profit group that aims to preserve Chamorro culture through visual and performing arts, Castro said.
“Through our performances and other activities, our members and the community learn the Chamorro language and customs,” he said, adding that their members also include Carolinians and other ethnic groups.
He said their members are taught to respect the elderly and contribute to house-related activities. “We want them to stay out of trouble and not engage in at-risk behavior,” he added.
It is the objective of their group to know Chamorro culture, language and customs, and become more curious in learning new cultures and customs, he said.
Castro said they have lots of talented members who have become productive members of society while upholding local traditions.
The group performs pre-contact and contemporary dance numbers and the members also learn about making costumes using coconut leaves, tree fibers and other indigenous materials.
Through their partnership with the Marianas Visitors Authority, Simiyan Manaina-ta helps promote the Marianas as a tourist destination, Castro said.
Their corporate partners include Tribe Marianas, Imperial Pacific, Bank of Guam, Chelu Photos, Hertz, Joeten Enterprises Inc., WPTSC and Trench Tech, he added.
Castro said recently, they have partnered with another government agency, the Indigenous Affairs Office.
At present, he said Simiyan Manaina-ta has about 40 students as members.
Their long-term goals include increasing their membership each year, showcasing Chamorro culture to an international audience and working with partners in the Marianas to strengthen Chamorro cultural identity.
Castro said they also plan to establish a permanent facility for training, practices and other activities.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/99551-castro-simiyan-manaina-ta-preserves-chamorro-culture-through-visual-and-performing-arts