Monday, March 24, 2008
Give PEW a chance
By JACINTA M. KAIPAT
Special to the Saipan Tribune
I am fully aware that there are some individuals, and one individual in particular, who have been actively spreading misinformation about PEW and PEW’s intent. Rumors, innuendos, and political rhetoric should not play a part in preventing each and every one of us from exercising our responsibility to gather as much information and examining both sides of this issue before making up our minds.
My late father, Frank Borja Kaipat, was a congressman and District Administrator in charge of the Northern Islands in the ’60s up until 1972. In Carolinian culture, we believe that where a person dies is where their spirit shall forever remain. My father breathed his last breath on Pagan Island. This is another reason I care deeply and will ALWAYS care deeply about the Northern Islands. One thing that my father’s leadership taught me by example was that all of our islands are interconnected and that what happens on one island impacts the rest. I’ve always understood this.
I was first introduced to Jay Nelson of PEW by Rep. Diego Benavente. I introduced Jay to Angelo Villagomez. For those of you who don’t know me, my love and loyalty to our people and our islands is unquestionable. I was born in the Northern Islands. I will ALWAYS care deeply about these islands and future of these islands probably more than anyone who has never been there or lived there. The Northern Islands will ALWAYS be special to me.
I just served as a congresswoman in the 15th Legislature and founded the well-respected, award-winning environmental organization Beautify CNMI! My track record speaks for itself. My beliefs in the preservation of our core traditional and cultural values are well-documented in the award-winning cultural and historical documentary film Lieweila: Navigators’ Children/A Micronesian Story.
I have known and worked with my friend Herman Tudela in assisting our local fishermen. As a Senate aide to former senator Tom Villagomez, I appeared and testified before WESPAC in support of the preservation of our local Chamorro and Carolinian cultural and traditional fishing practices. I served for years as a member of the Historic Preservation Review Board. My keen interest in enhancing our people’s quality of life has a direct influence on my passion for enhancing our land and water environment and in the preservation, conservation, and propagation of our plant and animal species (in the broadest sense).
Please, I humbly and respectfully ask each and every single one of us NOT to rush to judgment, but to allow our community to have this much-needed open dialogue with PEW representatives on this very important issue. Only then would we be able to collectively and responsibly make a well-informed decision that would be in the best short and long-term future interest of our people, our islands and our natural resources. Our children deserve nothing less.
I Taotaota! I Tanota. I Linalata! Aramasach! Faluwasch! Malawasch! Our People! Our Land! Our Way of Life!
Jacinta Kaipta is a former congresswoman in the 15th Legislature and is currently the deputy secretary of the CNMI Department of Labor. She helped found the environmental group Beautify CNMI!