Women of Palau
There is something about Palauan social gatherings that never fail to give me chills to the bones in a good kind of way. And that is their love for music and dancing. Cue one song and everyone is caught in a contagion of singing and humming. [restrict]
I first saw it when I had the chance to attend the Omengat, a Palauan traditional ceremony that celebrates a woman’s birth to her first child. There were a lot of singing and dancing during the occasion. The second time I witnessed it again was when I covered the Mechesil Belau’s (Women of Palau) trip to the Rock Islands last Thursday, March 22. In case you haven’t noticed, all of these events are celebrations for women or by women. These only revealed how much the Palauan society places so much value for women and acknowledges their role in nation-building.
The Mechesil Belau is a traditional women’s group composed of women leaders that represent each of the 16 States of Palau. The group is headed by Bilung Gloria Salii, the highest ranking traditional female leader of Koror State.
In an interview with the Bilung, she said that the trip was done in partnership with the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PCRIC)and apart from the immersion, the output of the trip will be part of a book that she is writing and which will be distributed during their 25th anniversary on September 18-20 this year.
On board three motorboats, the group composed of around 70 women, together with PCRIC Chief Executive Officer Yimnang Golbuu and other PCIRC personnel, navigate the sea to visit unique sites of the Rock Islands. In a momentary stop at a certain site, Golbuu would present a short lecture relating to environment where the women leaders could also have the chance to raise questions.
“This is for the ladies so they learn more about the environment and how to protect it, to preserve it,” the Bilung said, adding that whatever knowledge they accumulate through the trip, they are going to impart to the young generation of Palauans.
During a stop at the famous Milky Way, the women enthusiastically dived into the water and scooped powdery white sand from the bottom of the sea using their hands and dabbed it on their skin including their faces. The mud is believed to possess healing elements hence, those who dropped by the site, be it locals or tourists, take the chance to apply the mud on their bodies.
It was also during this time when I was fascinated again by Palauans’ love for music. One person belted out a local song, and as if it is infectious, all the other women had started singing like angels. My soul was uplifted hearing them sing. I was just silent all throughout, quite enthralled by the experience. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)[/restrict]