Discovering the Garapan Heritage Trail

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(Press Release) — TanHoldings executives and employees toured select sites on the Garapan Heritage Trail early this month, capping the trip to the historical sites in the village with a donation to the NMI Museum of History and Culture.

The tour, which was coordinated by TanHoldings’ Corporate Affairs Office, started at American Memorial Park’s Visitor Center, where a 20-minute video of the events that transpired in the Marianas during World War 2 was shown. TanHoldings chief executive officer Jerry Tan joined the more than 50 TanHoldings executive and employees in the film viewing that aims to educate CNMI residents and tourists alike of the significant role of Saipan and Tinian in World War 2

“I hope more companies will do this tour to honor the Marianas and American people who died during the war and also educate tourists and residents about the rich Marianas history. The film viewing is free and available in other languages — Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Russian,” Park Ranger Brooke Nevitt said.

From the park, the group hopped on a bus and made stops at the Catholic Church Bell Tower at the Kristo Rai Church, Sugar Train Locomotive, Matsue Statue, Saipan Jinja, and German Steps. Along the way, TanHoldings vice president for corporate business development Alex Sablan, who also served as the group’s tour guide, shared information on other parts of the Garapan Heritage Trail, which features 20 sites. These include the “Administration Hill,” which was located just passed the Catholic Church Bell Tower and was the seats of government for Germany and Japan; the Nambo Pier and Garapan Dock (now Garapan Fishing Base), which both served as commercial hubs during the German and Japanese occupations and later off-load sites for military supplies; and Latte Stone Monument (southwest corner of DFS), a tribute to the island’s ancient indigenous ancestors.

A majority of the TanHoldings executives and employees were not aware of these sites and their history, so Tan said the tour was really an eye-opening experience for them and a good way to support the tourism industry in the CNMI.

“We live here, whether permanent or just temporary, we need to do our share in promoting our islands. We all have a role to play in promoting the CNMI to tourists and one way to help is by having the knowledge of the historical sites frequented by visitors. We can all be tour guides by knowing the history and location of these sites. Learn first hand and spread the word,” Tan said.

The group’s last stop was the NMI Museum of History and Culture, which used to be the Japanese hospital. World War 2 memorabilia, pictures taken during Japanese and German occupations in the CNMI, objects belonging to our Chamorro and Carolinian ancestors, and artifacts, including those from the shipwreck of Nuestra Senora dela Concepcion, are on display at the museum with tour guides providing valuable information about them.

“This is still a work in progress. We are doing our best to preserve and promote our culture, history and tradition. Come and visit us. Let’s educate our tourists and fellow residents. We need to be ambassadors of our island,” said NMI Museum of History and Culture director Danny Aquino Jr., who received the $2,500 check donation from the Tan Siu Lin Foundation, the charity arm of TanHoldings.

“We thank the TSL Foundation for their generosity and support to the NMI Museum. It’s (maintaining the museum) tough, especially after the strong typhoons we went through, but we are still here and will continue to work on the improvements in our museum,” Aquino added.

Tan commended Aquino and his staff for the significant transformation at the NMI Museum of History and Culture and vows to bring more TanHoldings employees to see the collections and exhibits.

“This is not the first. We will organize more tours for more employees. Having a tour guide to explain the various features of the museum makes a big difference,” the TanHoldings CEO said.

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