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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, September 18) – Carolinians on Saturday gathered on Managaha Island for the annual commemoration of the great Chief Aghurubw who, in the 19th century, helped his people from the Caroline Islands settle on Saipan soil.

[PIR editor’s note: The Caroline Islands include the nations of Palau the Federated States of Micronesia, located south of the Mariana Islands.]

The 36th Annual Commemoration went as simply as it has in the past, according to some people who have regularly attended the rites. It started with a mass in the shade of an old tree that served as the honor guard of Chief Aghurubw’s monument.

Then, the traditional unveiling of the Chief Aghurubw monument was led by Angie Iginoef-Mangarero, executive assistant of the Carolinian Affairs Office, and Filipino priest Bong Lopez, followed by lunch with foods ranging from flavored rice and root crops to sea food and grilled spare ribs.

This Carolinian gathering, according to Mangarero, is strongly supported by the CNMI [Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands] government. Unfortunately, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, who was supposed to attend the occasion, failed to come due to an emergency trip to Guam where a family member had passed away. Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Daisy Villagomez-Bier attended the rites on behalf of the governor.

Saipan Mayor Juan B. Tudela and Congressman Francisco De la Cruz also attended the celebration.

After expressing thanks in his speech, Mayor Tudela asked everybody to make a point of joining the faithful believers and followers of Chief Aghurubw to come and pay homage to the great leader.

"And may God bring us back home safely," he said.

Chief Aghurubw’s date of birth and date of death, and the exact place on Managaha where his body is buried are not known to the Carolinian people today, but this did not matter to those who attended the celebration.

Jack Ogumoro, a descendant of Chief Aghurubw, said their ancestors during that time understandably failed to record basic information about Chief Aghurubw, who was known to his people as a great navigator.

But being quite sure that the body of the great leader of the Ghatoliyool clan is buried somewhere on Managaha island, the commemoration of him will go on every year.

Chief Aghurubw, according to what is engraved on his monument, led a group away from the Caroline Islands in 1815 after a devastating typhoon. When they reached Saipan, he asked permission from Spanish Governor Medinilla to settle his people on the island.

According to a book written by Georg Fritz, a former foreign service officer of the German Mariana Islands, the governor on Saipan allowed Carolinian settlement on the island with the condition that they transport salted meat to Guam via Tinian on regular trips.

The Carolinians continue to honor Chief Aghurubw’s courage for braving unpredictable weather and uncertainties during the voyage as he brought his people to a land of refuge. They still honor him for his humility in making the decision to ask permission before setting foot on Saipan soil.

Commemoration ceremonies have been held for Chief Aghurubw for 36 years, and those who are doing it today are making sure the next generations of Carolinians will continue the commemoration. The legacy is now being taken care of by Ogumoro’s father, Daniel R. Ogumoro, chairman of the Chief Aghurubw Foundation Inc.

Jack Ogumoro’s sister, Daling Ogumoro, led the rites as mistress of ceremony, while her son, Kodep Ogumoro-Uludong, represented his grandfather in the welcoming remarks.

September 18, 2006

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