Festival participants like new venue

THE participants in the International Festival of Cultures said this year’s venue, Garapan Fishing Base, is better than the previous site at the Paseo de Marianas.

“We have a bigger grand stage for performers and the site is much larger with ample parking space,” Rose Chan of the Chinese Association of Saipan said.

On Saturday night, about 45 students from the Chinese Education Center of the Chinese Association of Saipan performed cultural dances and musical numbers.

“We have professional dance and music instructors at our learning center so we invite interested parents to enroll their children,” Chan said.

Like the Chinese Association, the Bangladesh community has been participating in the festival since the Marianas Visitors Authority launched the event in 2014.

Kadir Abdul runs a booth that sells traditional dishes including appetizers and homemade yogurt.

Bangladesh Cultural Group president Rakibul “Mintu” Islam led his group in performing cultural songs on the third Saturday of the festival.

At the Japanese community canopy, for a 50-cent fee, visitors got a chance to wear Japanese costume for a photo opportunity. They also learned how to play kendama and the basic techniques of origami, the Japanese art of folding paper.

Willie Matsumoto, CNMI honorary tourism ambassador, said about 300 guests have visited the festival to enjoy the cultural attractions since its opening.

On Saturday, Japanese performers conducted a kendo demonstration.

“We like the new venue — it’s more spacious,” Matsumoto said.

The Federated State of Micronesia features the cultures of its four states: Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap. On display were various cultural and traditional attires, arts and crafts, food products, including coconut oil.

“We have quality food items too,” Tanya Salas of the FSM Association said, adding that they are proud to be regular participants of the annual festival.

Among the well-applauded stage performers was the Alana’ia group of Ed Johnson, representing Polynesia.

Over 20 young dancers performed Hawaiian, Cook Islands and Tahiti dance numbers as Johnson and his partner sang and played native musical instruments.

“I am very satisfied with the outcome,” he said. “The dancers worked hard and enjoyed their performances and that’s very important.”

He said their performances have been passed on from his parents who provided island dancers for hotels in Hawaii then in the CNMI.

United Filipino Association president Marlon Regaton said members of the Marianas High School Filipino Club performed Philippine folk dances and conducted an arnis demonstration.

MVA set up a photo booth for festival participants and visitors.

Robert Atalig of RCA Design said 50 individual including children availed themselves of MVA’s free photo booth which was open from 6:30 p.m. up to 8:30 p.m.

Also performing on Saturday were Refaluwasch and Korean dancers.

This year’s participants are Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Chamorros, Carolinians, Samoans, Fijians, Tongans, Hawaiians, Marshall Islanders, Palauans, Bangladeshi and Filipinos.

On the last day of this year’s festival, Sept. 30, there will be a parade of cultures starting at 5 p.m. at American Memorial Park, proceeding south on Beach Road to the festival grounds at Garapan Fishing Base.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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