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By Agnes M. Abrau

KOROR (Palau Horizon, Aug. 2) — Since the start of the 9th Festival of the Pacific Arts Festival in Palau, stores around the venue have been enjoying brisk business.

These booths or stalls sell anything – from thirst-quenching products such as bottled water, sodas, fruit juices to mengur (young coconut juice) to quickie food snacks.

A lot of delegates and guests have been buying up souvenir items as well as other keepsakes from the festival.

Angaur Gov. Horace Rafael said their booth has recorded gross sales of over $1,000 a day.

The Ekei Market, which is usually open twice a week, is now open daily since the festival began.

Meanwhile, participants in the arts festival commended Palau’s hosting of the festivities.

Except for minor problems such as delays, attributed mostly to traffic going to festival venues, most of the delegates from other countries congratulated the host country for its planning and handling of the festival.

Visual artist Joe Guerrero of Guam said: "Palau is the ultimate nation. For such a small nation, and I don’t mean it negatively, everything is balanced out."

Bobbie Taisacan, arts coordinator of Rota and Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, likewise congratulated the festival organizers "for providing this wonderful opportunity."

Taisacan stressed that Palau is "very careful about the health of visitors", lauding the efforts of the public health teams who regularly monitor the visitors’ health.

"I’ve been traveling to other countries. But what I’m most impressed about is the way they handle the visitors especially on the health aspect. People are very respectful as well," Taisacan said.

Maree Reynolds of Norfolk Islands said the festival is very organized, adding that the locals are so friendly.

"It’s very enjoyable. We went to the Rock Islands and we enjoyed it so much," Reynolds said.

Fiji’s Qio Samuela Cabe, who is part of the country’s 80-member delegation to Palau, said he had more about Palau.

Minor hitches

"It should be a good experience for Palau but it wasn’t what we expected – re-shuffling of activities on short notice and other minor things. But so far, we’re so amazed with the loveliness of the people. We’re very fortunate to have a nice accommodation at Maris Stella," Cabe said.

Kauka de Silva, a potter from Hawaii, is all thumbs up for Palau.

As he was molding pots at the booth of Hawaii, he said, "It’s terrific. There’s no traffic problem, the security is good. It is easy to get to one venue to another. The people are nice. Peleliu, our sponsor, has been very helpful," de Silva said.

From Marshall Islands, Cristina Morris, development coordinator for Workforce Investment Act, said everything has been good.

Morris, one of the leaders of the Marshall Islands delegation, said the delegation is staying at Koror Elementary School, adding that "the accommodation is excellent and everything has been well-received."

The feedback was also echoed by Leipuna George of Vanuatu.

"We feel at home here. People are very cooperative. No problem at all," she said.

Delegates from Tonga and Tuvalu are also satisfied with the festival, saying the venues are accessible.

August 2, 2004

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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