Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 20 Jul 2019 12am

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    Thursday, July 18, 2019-6:35:37A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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A great turnout and an emotional presentation

THIS year, several Liberation Day float participants depicted the tragedy that befell the island last year.

“One of the performances made you feel that it just happened yesterday,” Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said.

He was referring to Victory Chapel’s float entry, which staged a live drama that capsulized the sequence of events from World War II to Oct. 2018 when Saipan and Tinian were devastated by Super Typhoon Yutu.

The presentation, which received a standing ovation, highlighted the messages of “Liberty by blood, resilience by courage and destiny by faith” which also reflected this year’s theme, “Marianas Strong.”

“It is a reminder of what we are celebrating today — independence and freedom itself, and the ability to appreciate life despite all the struggles that we’re going through,” the governor said.

Torres said the Liberation Day celebration was one of the best experiences for the people so far this year. “And we still have a lot of things to be grateful for,” he added.

It rained three hours before the start of the parade, but the event started on time and finished before sunset.

Forty-four groups participated in the parade including marchers, vehicles, non-competing and competing floats.

“It’s a very well attended event,” Liberation Day Committee chairman Joe Ayuyu Jr. said, as he thanked the participants and members of the community for joining the celebration. “The people enjoyed it,” he added.

Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said he was “happy and satisfied” with the outcome of the parade, saying they were able to maintain a “good distance” between the parade participants.

“We didn’t experience gaps like we did last year because this time we made sure the participants were at least 15 minutes apart,” he said, adding that the parade, which started at exactly 2 p.m., finished in less than four hours.

The mayor also noted a big turnout of community members, tourists and other visitors.

Another highlight of this year’s celebration was presence of Burke Waldron, a 95-year-old World War II veteran who was selected as the honorary grand marshal. He served in the Naval Ground Force of the Pacific and was part of the invasions of Makin islands in Kiribati and Saipan. He retired in 1946 as a petty officer, second class.

This year’s parade grand marshal was Jerry Tan, chief executive officer Tan Holdings.

The mayor said they also bid farewell and good luck to Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, commander of Joint Region Marianas and commander of U.S. Naval Forces Marianas.

Chatfield has been selected to become the new president of the Naval War College in Rhode Island, the first woman to lead the 135-year-old institution, according to USNI news.

The mayor said Chatfield has been “a dear and wonderful friend of the municipality of Saipan.”

Among the other off-island guests were Agat Mayor Kevin Susuico, Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares, and Yona Mayor Jesse Blas.

Also seen on the grandstand were District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Associate Justice John A. Manglona, Presiding Judge Roberto Naraja, Associate Judge Wesley M. Bogdan, Philippine Honorary Consul to the CNMI Eli Arago, Tinian Mayor Edwin Aldan, Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council Chairwoman Debra Lyn Tenorio, council vice chairwoman Antonia Tudela, council secretary Ana Castro, Rep. Janet Maratita, Rep. Joseph Flores, Rep. Luis John Castro, Rep. Joel Borja and Masako Ono, the wife of Japanese Consul Kazuhiko Ono who was off-island.

Tinian Mayor Edwin Aldan said the annual celebration highlighted the CNMI’s resiliency and ongoing recovery from natural disasters.

“The idea of ‘Marianas Strong’ should echo throughout our entire lives as one culture and one people,” he said, adding that after an event as disastrous as Typhoon Yutu, “we must emphasize this theme, coming together now more than ever to rebuild and restore our islands.”

Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig was unable to attend but he sent his message: “What we celebrate for this event is the gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices made by many that…granted us the opportunities that democratic institutions provide.”

He said the CNMI people should continue to respect and appreciate their history and differences while remaining steadfast in their endeavor to promote diversity and harmony in the Commonwealth.

Northern Islands Mayor Vicente Santos Jr. said as the Commonwealth continues to rebuild the Northern Marianas, its people should also continue to be united.

“Let us [also] continue to pray for our sons and daughters [in the military] as they continue to fight for our liberty and remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and devoted their lives to protect our freedom,” he said.

In the tail end of the parade was the Royal Court’s float carrying 2019 Liberation Queen Pernalynn Janet B. Camacho, Miss Liberation Royal Princess Rhe’ann Tudela, Liberation first runner-up Angel Toya Magofna Deleon Guerrero, Liberation princesses Kiara Shanice B. Nekaifes, Nadine Lenise Kapileo, Lea Reiann Dela Cruz Salalila and Regiene Babauta.