NMI participates in Pacific festival in San Diego

THOUSANDS of people in San Diego, California had a glimpse of Chamorro culture at the 23rd annual Pacific Islander Festival held on Sept. 23 and 24.

Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture Executive Director Parker Yobei led the group of CNMI artists who participated in the festival at Ski Beach, San Diego.

Yobei said about 50,000 people — including islanders residing in the states — visited the festival.

“It was a big event — bigger than what we expected,” Yobei said in an interview. “We brought seven artists. They did demonstrations: weaving and mwaar making. Some members of the Marianas Music Association and myself also performed.”

The Pacific Islander Festival Association presents a token of its appreciation to the CNMI delegates for participating in the annual festival.

He added, “This was the first time that we got invited through David Atalig who is the president of a CNMI club in San Diego. For the first time, the CNMI was represented in the festival.”

Indigenous Affairs Office Resident Executive Roman Tudela Jr. said the festival featured the people and cultures of Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia.

“Everybody performed dance numbers. We were allowed to showcase our music. I think we were the only band that day. We were the ones that opened the event.”

Indigenous Affairs Office Resident Executive Roman Tudela Jr. and members of the Marianas Music Association perform at the 23rd Pacific Islander Festival at Ski Beach, San Diego, California. Contributed photos

Tudela said the CNMI booth was the only one with live demonstrations. “We made mwaars and bracelets.”

Yobei said the demonstrations drew a lot people. “They were intrigued, especially with the mwaar and the weaving. Our weavers didn’t have the right leaves but we did find some that worked for us and allowed us to conduct a workshop. Our booth was a hit. It was filled with kids who wanted to learn how to make mwaars and other local crafts.”

The other CNMI delegates were Gloriana Teuira, Margarette Muna, JJ Concepcion, John Castro and James Selepeo.

“I hope we can come back because I see the lack of traditional art education in the states and that is how they lose their culture when they don’t know where they came from,” Yobei said. “We try our best to make sure that those programs are available for the kids, not only here but also those in the states.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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