Marianas Variety

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    Monday, October 14, 2019-8:10:22A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Miss Earth NMI reflects on Domannaka Festival

2019 Miss Earth NMI Leisha Deleon Guerrero will travel to the Philippines this Saturday to train for the International Miss Earth competition set for late October.

Last month, she and 2019 Liberation Queen Pernalyn Janet B. Camacho traveled to Nagoya, Japan for the Domannaka festival, where they and four CNMI traditional dancers danced alongside over 23,000 dancers from Japan and around the world.

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From left, 2019 Liberation Queen Pernalyn Janet B. Camacho, Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Priscilla M. Iakopo and 2019 Miss Earth NMI  Leisha Deleon Guerrero in Nagoya, Japan.  Contributed photo

“We were the only group from the Pacific to perform,” she told Variety. Most other visiting dancers came from Asian countries including Thailand and Mongolia.

She said she and the other performers looked “very different” from the rest of the dancers during their nightly performances, particularly because of their grass skirts.

According to Gordon Marciano, chairman of Chamorro/Carolinian Village Inc. or CCVI, the CNMI has been sending traditional dancers to the Domannaka festival for sixteen years. He added that the first year they went, the CNMI was surprised to find that they were the only foreign country to appear as a special guest.

“When we got there, we had what you call ‘culture shock,’” he laughed.

He added that the CNMI began attending for the sake of cultural exchange, but over time realized there was an added benefit to their participation.

“We were televised nationwide,” he said. “Our performers were in commemorative booklets, posters, things like that.”

Marciano said the exposure alone adds up to “hundreds of thousands of dollars of free promotion” for the CNMI’s tourism industry.

This year, Miss Earth NMI, the Liberation Queen, and the dancers also took part in a parade through Nagoya.

“It’s really about promoting our culture and our traditions, and trying to show people just a piece of what the Marianas has to offer,” said Deleon Guerrero. “It was a really fun experience.”

Deleon Guerrero met the mayor of Nagoya, Takashi Kawamura, as well as the city’s Environmental Bureau, whom she asked about Nagoya’s implementation of its city-wide trash sorting system.

“What they shared with me is how they educated the public on how to properly dispose waste; they gave out flyers on what things you can compost, what you can burn, etc.,” she said.

She also asked the bureau members how they were able to make sure that the citizens of Nagoya complied with the new system. They told her it was a matter of explaining the severity of the city’s waste buildup issues. After that, citizens just needed to be told how to fix the problem.

“Education played a huge role in the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ part of it,” she said. “Once citizens actually understood what it was, it didn’t take that much enforcement.”

“I think in the CNMI, if they were to be educated on what’s happening, it would really change their mindset,” she continued. “Even if kids knew, it could impact their parents and have a ripple effect.”

“I think that’s something I really want to work on; education and outreach.”

Deleon Guerrero said she responded the same way when she first began learning about being more environmentally conscious.

“Before joining this pageant, I started learning more about sustainability and I think the whole education aspect has really changed the things I do,” she said. “Like I always carry reusable bags with me, for example.”

Marciano said many CNMI performers return from the Domannaka festival with new insights.

“It just echoes in my ears to this day; when they’re on the plane and they finally come out say, ‘I’ve never been as far as Managaha,’” he said. “You look back and you just smile.”

“I just want to reach out to every group out there, if they want to be a part of the Nipon Domannaka team, they’re always welcome,” he added. “We have to come together because that’s how things will work for all of us. And having everybody represented on that stage would be a beautiful sight to see.”

“I think it’s important that we as a community, including local organizations and companies, promote the CNMI like what we did in Japan, to show off our islands and push for tourism,” said Deleon Guerrero. “I think it’s also important that we learn how to be sustainable from other countries… we’re such a small island, we could change so much easier than a big city like Nagoya!”