MOTIS (Music Of The ISlands) and LOTIS: (Lore Of The ISlands) .  My greetings to you today is in the form of this one line from an old song of “enlightenment” from the island of Lukunoch, Namonemu –

“Apungu fichi ko pungun yom sele, ote paku-soposop wa chaw”

Grand master canoe-builders, just by listening to the sound from an old fallen breadfruit tree or a huge drift log being cut with an adz and carved into a canoe, can tell the approximate age of the fallen tree and whether it is being cut and shaped properly.  One such elder canoe-builder on my island, Pollap-Fanatopw, would just start complaining out of the blues to his nephews, who were trying to learn the rope from the master, for not keeping an eye on how they cut and to get a “true feel” of what they were to be cutting.

So the song tells you to carve and shape your canoe in fine proportion; do not cut deeply and in oversize proportion, or your canoe will be a slow drift log.

In real life, the song counsels us, live life of constancy and constant proportion, avoid extremism and loud-mouth show-off that can hold you back.  Or, relatively, my English speaking-friends say, “don’t bite more than you can chew.

“Sia puai ssu, “apungu fichi ko, pungun yom sele, ote paku-soposop wa chaw.”




— SUU-MATAW me TUUL: Emwokutun Suulo lon Mataw Touw (Protocol of Launching a Long-Distance Voyage).

These few words of an old song by the late Selestin “Iketikiman” Lokopwe reveal one very important aspect of our culture as “re-mataw” or “people of the sea,” which are essential ingredients of the sacred seafaring rituals of Suu-mataw and Tuul.  Et, Ruu, Eol, sia su: “eewi amis (achaar) e tirow, tirow, won feun mesen aal, Nenguria me Neworeiya, emon e ngungutiw, emon e ngunguta. …. ateriyen ei kel sipwe chu ren pwapwa.” (“Ateri” is a fairly stiff and structured rite of thanksgiving at the conclusion of the voyage and seeking blessing from Yanumwaresi for the crew members to go home safely and sleep soundly), one highlight of the song is to have a keen awareness of our Nenguria and Neworeiya.  We were all born with this sense of self-dignity as well as humility or respect for others, including your fellow seafarers in the vast ocean.  The full-fledge seafarers would urge us to constantly check the status of our sense of Nenguria snd Neworeiya. Are you still being guided by Nengu and Newo?  

One’s ability to pay proper respect to the “pwengipwengin weii-serek opwe farekita pwe suu-mataw me tuul” or the rituals of seafaring is all the more critical at sea where survival depends on mutual respect.  When one’s ability to demonstrate mutual respect at sea is absent or lacking, how tall can (s)he be counted upon on dry land to navigate? Our qualities as men of high credibility and dependability are put to test at sea where the risks of danger are greater and options of rescue measure are limited.  Tirow womi Lonip Ike me Jimmy Benito.

Our exhortations to do great deeds on dry land are likely to fall on deaf ears if we fail to pay proper respects to the rituals of su-mataw me tuul at sea where the need to demonstrate mutual respect and risk avoidance are present and imminent.  We must remember that Tuulun (Torch of) Yanufa is not meant to be lit for itself.

So, we sign in conclusion, “Nenguria o Neworeiya, emon e ngungutiw, emon e ngunguta … ateriyen ei kel sipwe chu ren pwapwa.”  Cheers to you, Tuulun Yanufa and my brother Cecilio Raiukiulipiy, wherever you are, blessings of Yanumwaresi!


Music of the Islands and Lore of the Islands

"Apungu fichi ko pungun yom sele, ote paku-soposop wa chaw"

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