January 22nd –Sonsorol State celebrates 33rd Constitutional Day
The constitution of Sonsorol State was signed on October 10th 1983 and its first constitutional government was installed in May 1984. The first Governor was Flavian Carlos, second Kurterbis Kuterimalei, third Laura I. Ierago, fourth Damian Albis, fifth Jacob Yangilmau, sixth Laura I. Miles. [restrict]
Sonsorol State is one of the 16 states of the Republic of Palau located approximately 200 nautical miles southwest of Koror State. There are four (4) islands that make up Sonsorol State; Sonsorol Island traditionally known as Dongosaro, Fanna Island, Pulo Anna traditionally Puro, and Merir traditionally known as Melieli. These four islands are separated by open ocean water, the closest ones are Dongosaro and Fanna which are one mile apart, distance between Dongosaro and Puro is about 45 miles, and about 35 miles between Puro and Melieli.
People of these islands were navigators so they were known to have traveled between the islands and to Koror by sailing canoes. These islands are culturally related to the Carolinians from CNMI, Yap outer islanders and others in the outer islands of Chuuk. Each of these islands has its own traditional paramount chief. Presently they are: Dongosaro – Nurap Nicholas Aquino; Fanna – Tamoru Mariano W. Carlos; Puro – Latu Tamoru Damian Albis; Melieli – Laturi Melieli Prisco T. Ierago.
These State characteristics are apparent as stated in the preamble to the State Constitution which states: “We, the people of Sonsorol State, under the guidance of our omniscient and merciful God, being determined to live in peace, harmony, and cooperation; to make our state out of our several islands; …..…….we embark on a challenging voyage and draw strength from the stories of the many voyages before ours in which our forefathers, guided by the stars and divine wisdom, discovered these islands and made them their home. We the successors to this family of islands, humbly stand together in the shadow of our ancestors with the conviction and confidence that this Constitution will guarantee for ourselves and all future generations a unified state founded upon spiritual and traditional values and protected by the adherence to the rule of law.”
The most obvious challenge for the Sonsorol State islands and its people is the distance of the islands from the main commercial town of Koror State. Due to cost and lack of transportation vessel, trips to the islands are infrequent and sporadic. This and other challenges however are perhaps the reason why the islands have maintained their natural beauty, and their terrestrial and marine natural resources have been preserved. Melieli Island is known to be one of Palau’s important green turtle nesting places; Fanna Island is an internationally recognized Important Bird Area (IBA) since 2006. The State is working with the community with efforts to protect and preserve both these islands and their important natural resources. Puro and Dongosaro have more residents and so they each have an elementary school.
Sonsorol State islands are remote, with limited population, and with natural resources also limited due to the small size of the islands. However, we strive to live up to the preamble to the state constitution. In addition we believe that the State serves as significant value added to the Republic of Palau. [/restrict]