1st Lunar New Year party a success, organizers say

THE lunar calendar used by the local people’s ancestors was the highlight of the successful two-night Lunar New Year Party in the Marianas at the Garapan Fishing Base, organizers said.

Chamorro and Carolinian cultural practitioners and specialists from various government agencies such as the Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Historic Preservation Office demonstrated various traditional practices at their cultural exhibit canopies.

The first-of-its-kind event, which was held on Friday and Saturday, also gave individuals a chance to take celestial navigation canoe rides courtesy of 500 Sails during the renaming of the 41-foot Chamorro canoe, Roberta L, to Ladahao, a prominent Saipan chief.

Although it rained on Friday evening, the Shanghai Sinma Acrobatic Troupe continued to showcase their breathtaking balancing skills. They also performed on the same night at Kammer Beach on Tinian.

The program opened on Friday with the recognition of event sponsors and 200 students from kindergarten to 12th grade of the Public School System for their academic achievements.

Public School System students, Lunar New Year sponsors and organizing committee members pose on stage during the opening ceremony, Friday.  Photo by Junhan B. TodiñoPublic School System students, Lunar New Year sponsors and organizing committee members pose on stage during the opening ceremony, Friday. Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

Lunar party organizing committee chairman Charles Cepeda said the event brought together the many cultures on island that observe the lunar calendar.

“The Lunar New Year Party aims to foster unity, understanding, and goodwill among the various ethnic communities in the Marianas,” he added.

He said as part of the organizing committee’s efforts to capture an appropriate audience to foster unity and goodwill, they invited and recognized 200 student achievers, of whom 170 are from Saipan and 30 from Rota and Tinian.

The students received red envelopes with gift certificates worth $30 from the committee and Joeten Enterprises, a congratulatory letter, and a plush toy from T. Galleria.

Trinicia Lizama, 10, a fourth grader at William S. Reyes Elementary School and one of the recipients, said she was “happy and excited” to be recognized.

She said she is trying her best to improve her academic performance, and the recognition will motivate her.

Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, in his brief remarks, said by observing the moon, “our ancestors knew when fishing was going to be good, when crab hunting was best, when the farm harvest was ready or when drought or flood would hit the island.”

Gordon Marciano, president of Chamolinian Culture Village Inc. and the organizing committee coordinator, said the educational aspect of the celebration should be its highlight each year.

But he also said that holding the event annually will take lots of preparation and the involvement of sponsors and lunar calendar practitioners.

“So let the community speak up if they want this to continue as an annual indigenous event,” he added.

Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Chris Concepcion praised the organizers and sponsors for the successful event. “We will support it as one of the major sponsors if they do it again next year,” he added.

Mayor Apatang, for his part, said his office is willing to adopt the event as one of its signature events in addition to the Liberation Day festivities.

Lunar Party organizing committee chairman Charles Cepeda said the event was the result of collaboration between various community stakeholders, government agencies and ethnic groups.

He thanked the members of the organizing committee, the Saipan mayor’s office, participating government agencies and exhibitors as well as the sponsors.

The Bronze sponsors were Impression Tour, Ocean Vista Resort, Saipan Ocean View Hotel, Hotel Galleria and IT&E. The Silver sponsors were the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation while the Gold sponsors were the Marianas Visitors Authority, its Managing Director Chris Concepcion and board members.

Cepeda said a portion of the proceeds would be donated to the Saipan Senior Advisory Council under the Office on Aging, the Mercedarian Sisters of Berriz, and the Saipan Mayor’s Office animal shelter.