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    Saturday, July 21, 2018-8:46:17P.M.






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The Interview with Lannie Walker: Rafaela Perry

THE first time I visited the Manamko’ center several years ago I brought some pre-conceived notions of an “elderly person’s center” with me.

Those were quickly replaced with the reality of what I walked into. Music played, men and women danced. I was greeted with smiles and waves, invitations to share some food and visit. I recently went back to the center to sit and speak with Rafaela Perry the 2017 Manamko’ Queen.

What was it like growing up on Saipan when you were a child?

Reigning Manamko’ Queen Rafaela Perry pumps iron at the Manamko’ Center. Photo by Lannie WalkerReigning Manamko’ Queen Rafaela Perry pumps iron at the Manamko’ Center. Photo by Lannie Walker

As I was growing up when I was small we had a very close families. Everybody got together and helped. We did not have these modern technologies but we created our own games, like we played marbles and hopscotch. We farmed and went fishing. We raised cattle and pigs and goats and chickens. Whenever we have so much we would give to our neighbors.

Do you remember anything about war-time on Saipan?

I was born on June 5th, 1944 ten days before the American invasion. When the marine found us in the cave, this is what I heard from my elders, he came and was asking what was my name and they said I don’t have any name yet. His name was Rafael Griffin and he said would you like to name me after him. But they said that could not be because I am a girl so they named me Rafaela. So I am thankful for him because he found us.

What was it like going to school back then?

I was the very first Carolinian student to graduate from Mount Carmel.

What do you think about the idea of friction between Carolinians and Chamorros?

Before I don’t remember having a problem with the Chamorros when I was growing up. To me I say I would rather have friends then enemies. I think because we want to preserve our culture too and all these changes give us friction. When I moved to Maine I associated with interdenominational people and it opened up my mind.

What do you think about contemporary family life here?

The parents they are too busy. Where is the discipline for the kids? And when they are even sitting down together they start doing this (mimes texting on the phone.)

What do you think about development in the islands?

It’s very fast and they better watch it. We are going to lose all the nice sites of our beautiful island.

What are your thoughts or opinions on casino and gaming?

I like the casino because I am a retiree and they helped us. I like it but then I don’t like it. People have to discipline themselves that when they lose so much that’s it. They have to think about their families, because sometimes they spend their whole checks at the poker machine.

What do you think about the recent controversies surrounding the Catholic Church on Guam and here as well?

That hurts me but what can I say, let God do the judgement. I am not going to do the judgement.

What would you like to see change about the CNMI?

I want change for the kids to be honest and have a lot of respect for anybody.

What kind of advice would you offer future generations?

Even if you are smart, I won’t be proud of you if you go out and steal and are not honest.

What do you like most about being Manamko’ Queen?

I love to help people.

Lannie Walker is a journalist based in the CNMI. Her regional work experience includes anchor and reporter for KSPN2 News on Saipan and reporter for KUAM News on Guam. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication.