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House honors Lydia Duenas Igitol

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REPRESENTATIVE Edmund Villagomez on Tuesday introduced a resolution honoring the life and legacy of Lydia Duenas Igitol.

House Resolution 21-36 also commends the countless contributions Igitol made to the Commonwealth, and extends heartfelt condolences to her bereaved family on her untimely passing.

According to the resolution, the “quality and character of life in this great Commonwealth is indelibly enriched by the noble and selfless efforts of those exceptional individuals who would devote their time in the field of education and advocacy support.”

One of these individuals was Igitol who obtained her bachelor’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in accounting from the University of Guam in 1972.

Not long after being wed, she and her husband moved to Saipan where she would live for the rest of her life.

Her passion for education led her to become an accounting/bookkeeping instructor at Marianas High School from August 1973 to July 1988.

Igitol then took on the role of school guidance counselor until she retired in December 1998 after 25 years of “dedicated and selfless service to the CNMI Public School System.”

As a counselor, she assessed and monitored the academic and vocational track of her students, providing guidance in their career and college choices.

“In addition to her duties at PSS, she also organized support groups, especially on suicide prevention at Marianas High School, the Tanapag Youth Club in her home village in Tanapag and throughout the Island community,” the resolution stated.

Lydia Duenas Igitol

After retiring from PSS, Igitol applied for a job with the Hawaii Centers for Independent Living, a non-profit organization, and was hired as its satellite office director in 2001.

She was a strong advocate for people with disabilities and for community outreach, eventually establishing the CNMI Center for Living Independently.

The center was initially created as a five-year pilot program under the former Hawaii Centers for Independent Living.

Igitol worked alongside her supervisor at the time, Roxana Untalan, as they introduced the philosophy of independent living to the Commonwealth.

She successfully applied for the Federal Independent Living grant to separate the CNMI center from the Hawaii center, thus allowing the Commonwealth center to be its own entity.

Even as a retiree, Igitol continued her community outreach to include students with special needs.

The CNMI center that she helped create trained students with living skills so they could be independent and part of the community.

Igitol “had done so much for the CNMI through her advocacy and provision of the Independent Living services,” the resolution stated, highlighting her legacy of bringing much-needed independent living skills and services for people with disabilities to the Northern Mariana Islands.

She was the executive director for the Center for Living Independently in the CNMI from May 2005 until she resigned in September 2017 due to health issues.

Igitol passed away peacefully in her home on July 20, 2020. She was 70 years old.

She is survived by her husband, David Igitol, children Marciana Igitol Magofna, Laura Igitol Camacho, Daisy Igitol Ngiraked, and Maribel Igitol, several grandchildren, and her caregiver, Cathy Acovera.

“The qualities of this remarkable woman should serve as a prominent example that all individuals within the CNMI should possess in order to propel our society in a positive direction, just as Lydia did during her lifetime,” the resolution stated.

After Rep. Edmund Villagomez introduced the resolution, Rep. Joel Camacho thanked him, saying that Igitol was very dear to Precinct 4.

By a unanimous vote, the resolution was adopted by the House.

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