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On Guam, Palauans mark nation's 28th Independence Day – Marianas Variety News & Views

Island residents and community leaders gathered at the Palauan Cultural Center Saturday to commemorate and celebrate the independence of the Republic of Palau, which gained its sovereignty Oct. 1, 1994.

Island residents and community leaders gathered at the Palauan Cultural Center Saturday to commemorate and celebrate the independence of the Republic of Palau, which gained its sovereignty Oct. 1, 1994.
HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Guam’s active and vibrant community of residents with ties to the Republic of Palau gathered Saturday to celebrate another year of the Pacific nation’s sovereignty.
Palau first became independent Oct. 1, 1994. Although it has been its own country for 28 years, Guam’s Micronesian neighbor remains tied diplomatically to the United States, which previously administered Palau as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, formed by the United Nations after World War II and which also included what became the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The 160-year-long process to gain independence was not lost during a gathering organized by the Palauan Community Association of Guam at its cultural center in Dededo.
It’s a tradition Palauans residing 800 miles away from their ancestral home try to maintain.
“So, we try to celebrate it every year and we’ve been doing that for quite a while, because we want our younger generations here in Guam to know the significance of this day,” said Lewis Ilek, the president of the Palauan Community Association of Guam.
The smell of barbecue and the sounds of cultural music filled the air of the celebration as children played in the field despite the rainy weather conditions. The group organizes a softball league from February to July, Ilek told the Post.
“We have this gathering to try to keep our community members together. When you don’t have functions like this, where the younger ones can’t recognize each other and become a cohesive community, then they tend to be a strain and do crimes and stuff,” he said. “And way back, we had this history of being bad people here in Guam and we’re over with that. We’re good people because of this kind of activities.”
But Ilek said the day also was an important time to reflect on what freedom means to him.
“I think of all the other islands here in Micronesia, to include Guam and Saipan, I think for Palau, we were very fortunate that we were able to pull ourselves away from these other islands because No. 1 is our culture is totally different, our language is totally different,” Ilek said. “And we’re at a disadvantage because we don’t have a population of 20,000. So, if we were to be combined with FSM, they’re going to vote us for their leaders. So, I think our forefathers were able to pull ourselves out and deal with the U.S. mainland directly. And you know, we became a sovereign nation 28 years ago, and I’m grateful for that.”
After World War II, Micronesian islands were placed under the trusteeship agreement, where the U.S. was appointed to oversee them.
“And these islands had their headquarters in Saipan, where they tried to work towards their independence. Palau decided to pull out when the time for self-determination of the Federated States of Micronesia combined, Palau pulled out,” he said, adding: “I’m glad we did because we can talk directly with the United States and have our own compact. We don’t have to take into consideration other FSM brothers and sisters. They have their own negotiations to deal with the States.”
Nearly 3,000 Palau residents reside in Guam, according to Ilek, who said the numbers were based on the last election, conducted three years ago. Maintaining their voting rights while living on Guam means thousands can help determine Palau’s future for generations to come, he said.
“We can determine our future without having to consult with anybody. We have a vote in the United Nations,” he said.
(This is not a scientific poll.)
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Joseph Muongi

Financial.co.ke was founded by Mr. Joseph Muongi Kamau. He holds a Master of Science in Finance, Bachelors of Science in Actuarial Science and a Certificate of proficiencty in insurance. He's also the lead financial consultant.