HÅFA Adai yan Tirow Wóómi, with our signature Aluf, from your friendly island of Luta.

When the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers visited Rota in May this year to help spruce up our youth center and basketball court, our residents were motivated to do their part in the village facilities and destination sites transformation initiative through the Public Private Partnership program. We’ve made some progress in our collaborative efforts to beautify our island, but there’s more work to be done to realize Rota’s full potential as a unique tourist destination, promote our rich culture and tradition, and preserve our strongest asset — Luta’s pristine nature.

These big responsibilities fall into the hands of all of us, and I am pleased that once again Rota is stepping up as one community through the Marianas Village Pride or MVP Campaign. MVP’s Village Flag Art Contest, Adopt-A-Median, Bus Stop Beautification, and Christmas Decoration contests kept our residents busy the past few weeks as we exchanged ideas and rediscovered the creative side in us.

I am proud to learn that students from Sinapalo Elementary School were among the first to express their interest in the Adopt-A-Median program. Let this be a challenge to the students of the Dr. Rita H. Inos Junior and Senior High School to start turning in their entries for the MVP Village Flag Art Contest and give Sinapalo and Songsong their true identity.

I am excited to see how our students will incorporate our culture and tradition in their designs, whether it be in the village flag or the bus stops beautification contests. Personally, I would like it to include cultural traditions and symbols, like amening our elders or highlighting our latte stones, because they depict who we are as people from the Marianas. Don’t forget to represent our famous Luta wave, sweet potato, and ayuyu.

As for the Office of the Mayor, we are working on sprucing up the bus stops in our two villages and welcome help from private businesses, government agencies, and community members to provide our students with safer and better pick-up and drop-off areas on their way to and from their schools.

We are all stakeholders in this transformation campaign. The village facilities are for us to use and care for. Rota’s destination sites also need our attention as we rely heavily on tourism-related revenue. At the same time, we have to maintain the natural beauty of our island to capture a growing market of travelers — the one catering to nature and ecotourism.

These can’t be accomplished overnight, but we can take small steps to make our community more livable and vibrant, starting with our full support of the MVP campaign. We have the opportunity to turn things around for Rota and the entire Marianas, one village at a time.

For more information about the Marianas Village Pride Campaign, visit the GCEA website at cnmieconomy.com, engage on Facebook and Instagram (@cnmigov.economy), or contact them at gceacnmi@gmail.com.

Efraim Atalig is the mayor of Rota. He leads the municipality’s community programs with the mission to improve the quality of life for all residents living and working in the community.

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