Five Micronesians Named Master Navigators

Pwo ceremony conducted at Festival of Pacific Arts

By Jerick Sablan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 4, 2016) – Five navigators from the Federated States of Micronesia were named master navigators during a traditional ceremony on Wednesday.

The pwo ceremony, which names navigators as masters, took place at Paseo, where navigators are staying for the Festival of Pacific Arts.

Selvio Ainam, Mariano Benito, Mario Benito, Aidel Martin, and Larry Raigetal all were ordained Wednesday.

Ainam, the Benitos and Martin are from Polowat Atoll in Chuuk, while Raigetal is from Lamotrek in Yap. Though they are from different islands, all five belong to the Werieng School of navigation, led by Polowat navigators.

Grandmaster Navigator Rainam Edward of Polowat performed the ceremony to name the men.

Kasper Mark, who was ordained a master navigator a few years ago in Guam, said to be named you have to have at least 30 years’ experience of sailing, and the grandmaster must feel you are qualified for the title. Mark said it was a good opportunity for the public to see a rare ceremony for navigators during FestPac. The title means navigators have more responsibilities, he said.

Mark also said it was important to revive sailing, because the ocean is an integral part of islanders’ lives.

“It’s better we navigate to connect all of us from one island to another,” he said.

For Raigetal, receiving the title was a little overwhelming. He said it gives him the sense of more responsibility and urgency to pass down the knowledge of sailing to the younger generations.

He’s been sailing for more than 40 years and says he continues to learn every day. Raigetal is with the nonprofit group Waa’gey, which promotes traditional navigation and works with the community to empower young people to learn and practice the skills.

Raigetal sailed from Lamotrek, which is more than 300 miles south of Guam, on the Lucky Star.

Responsibility on land

He said, now that he is ordained, he will need to take on more responsibilities — not just on the canoe, but on land.

“I feel the awesomeness and sense of responsibility being bestowed upon me,” he said.

He said although he has a new title, he’s the same person and will continue to do his part to promote the art of seafaring in the region. He said his skills and knowledge don’t belong to him, and it’s his responsibility to make sure it doesn’t die out.

“I owe it to those before me to pass on this knowledge to the younger ones,” Raigetal said.

He said the Pacific needs to work together to ensure seafaring continues to strive for years to come. And for islands who have lost it, they should try to revive it, as Guam has been doing with its various seafaring organizations.

“We need to share these things because they are highly valuable,” Raigetal said.

Pacific Daily News
Copyright © 2016 Guam Pacific Daily News. All Rights Reserved

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Comments

Not surprised as they probably were the first Pacific Ocean master oceanographers, astronomers, meteorologists, and open ocean navigators. Native intelligence.

Highest regard to these five Micronesians who've been bestowed up with the traditional title of Pwo, master navigators.. Of course, navigation skills is critical in Micronesia and the neighboring islands of Guam, Saipan and all other Micronesian regions. Hats off to all five Micronesians Pwos... Cheers!

A big congratulation to all the five newly ordained navigators. Job well done!

Congratulations to you all. You all deserve your titles! I am so proud of you all:)

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