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Chief Taga Festival to highlight Chamorro culture

(MVA) — The 2nd Chief Taga Day Festival on Oct. 1-6, 2019, in the Marianas will be highlighted by several presentations on the history and legend of indigenous Chamorro chief Taga.

“Gineptin Ha‘anen Taga’” (Chief Taga Day Festival) will be held on the island of Tinian, recorded as the place where Taga last lived and was buried.

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Indigenous Chamorro mythology marks the House of Taga on the island of Tinian in the Marianas. as the home of the legendary Chamorro chief.  Chief Taga Day Festival will be held on Oct. 1-6, 2019, in Tinian.  MVA photo

The festival’s official opening ceremony will be held on Oct. 4, 2019, at 6 p.m. However, historic presentations will begin Oct. 1, 2019, at Tinian Elementary School, Tinian Mayor’s Office, Tinian Jr./Sr. High School, and Tinian Public Library. Cultural practitioner Frank Rebon will present on historic dance, Rufina Mendiola will share stories about Taga, and historian Anthony Ramirez will present on the ancient Chamorro stone pillars called “latte.” In addition, a Chamorro “sakman” (sailing canoe) will arrive from Saipan on Oct. 3 at the fiesta grounds, and a “sakman” reenactment will be held on Oct. 5.

Other activities will include cultural demonstrations, food demonstrations, and live entertainment, and the events will close with an official ceremony on Oct. 6. Scheduled demonstrators are: from Tinian, jewelry makers Banidosu-Matthew Cruz Masga and Peter Palacios, Jr., coconut frond weaver Jose M. San Nicolas, coconut oil maker Magdalena San

Nicolas, “talaya” (throw net) fisherman Peter Palacios; from Saipan, Chamorro medicine group Inetnun Amot yan Kutturan Natibu; from Rota, apprentice wood carver Richard Songsong Manglona and sling stone practitioner Lino Rosario; and from Guam, master body ornamentation craftswoman Julie “Jill” Benavente, master blacksmith Francisco Cruz Lizama, master bone carver Greg Techaira Pangelinan, master shrimp trap maker Rosita Yoshia San Nicolas, assistant shrimp trap maker Joseph Kenneth Yoshida San Nicolas, master storyboard/Guam seal/clock carver Tanya Beth Smau Taitano, and master “ifit” carver Robert Philip Taitano Jr.

Culinary demonstrations of various Chamorro dishes will be conducted from Thursday through Saturday from 4-6 p.m. at Tinian Festival Grounds. On Saturday, children’s games will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and games for adults will be held from 2-4 p.m. The closing ceremony will be held at the House of Taga at 6 p.m.

The House of Taga is a landmark on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and the site of the largest standing limestone latte stones in the Marianas. Latte stones served as support pillars for ancient Chamorro structures.

“Tinian’s 2nd Annual Gineptin Ha’ånen Taga’ is set to take place around Kammer Beach, Fiesta Grounds, and Taga’ House,” said Tinian Mayor Edwin Aldan. “This year, our Bendision Saina will be a collaboration of various Guma’ Bailan Kotura from Guam, Rota, Saipan, and Tinian. I would like to invite our families, friends, and off-island guests, all our Tåotåo Marianas (Marianas people) to experience and enjoy our Chamoru traditions like weaving, jewelry-making, song & dance, and food demonstrations.”

The event is sponsored in part by the Marianas Visitors Authority.

Chief Taga is one of the most recognizable figures in Marianas history and mythology. In Spanish written records, Taga was recorded as aiding shipwrecked sailors off the reef near Tinian in the 1600s. In Chamorro mythology, Taga was known to possess superhuman strength, uprooting a coconut tree as a young child to catch a coconut crab and leaping from Rota to Tinian.

Accommodations are available at the Tinian Ocean View Hotel, Fleming Hotel, Lorilynn’s Hotel, Tinian Street Motel, Green Field Lion House, the newly opened Marpo Valley Inn and The Cabin. Camping is also allowed at Kammer Beach, where bathrooms, outdoor showers, barbecue pits, and pavilions are also available for use. Activities include lectures, storytelling, and cultural demonstrations are planned for the week.

For more information, contact Chief Taga Day Festival Committee Chairman Joseph San Nicolas of the Tinian Mayor’s Office at 433-1802 or email.joesntiq@gmail.com, the 17th Municipal Council at 433-3470, or MVA field office supervisor Vida Borja at vborja@mymarianas.com or 433-9365.