Launches to help Preserve Palauan Language, Culture and Environment Through Music
The Remengesau2 Foundation, together with the Ministry of Education, has this week launched Volume I of Songs for the Future, a project compilation of 25 Palauan nursery rhymes. The newly-recorded songs were packaged with accompanying music videos and lyric books in personalized flash drives along with 43” ROKU televisions and distributed to 11 elementary schools in Palau. These songs and videos will also be shared via online music platforms and made accessible to Palauan families across the globe.
The Songs for the Future project has been co-funded by the North Pacific Development Fund of the Government of New Zealand and the Republic of China-Republic of Palau Small Grants Program. It aims to help engage children, and reengage adults, with the Palauan language, by using new technology to create a fun, engaging learning tool that’s widely and freely available to the global Palauan community. The project is also the Foundation’s contribution to the Ministry of Education to help with efforts in teaching the Palauan language in accordance with the respective mandates of the Ministry.
At the launch, Debbie Remengesau, Vice-Chairperson of the Remengesau2 Foundation, said, “We want to reconnect Palauan children and families with their language by reviving traditional songs that have been almost lost and forgotten, this project has gone from a mere dream of a couple of people, to being a dream come true many years later. The project has also accomplished an important step in ensuring that some of these songs will now live forever and be enjoyed by every Palauan who can access them.”
All the speakers at the event, including the Honorable Dr. Dale Jenkins, Minister of Education; Her Excellency Jessica C. Lee, Taiwan Ambassador to Palau; Faustina K. Rehuher-Marugg, Advisor of the Foundation; and Debbie Remengesau herself, echoed the importance of preserving the Palauan language. All the speakers reiterated that the Palauan language is the bedrock of our culture: it is the Palauan people’s identity, tying us all to the land, the sea.
One of Songs for the Future co-creators and musical directors, Mr. Elway Ikeda, along with one of the project’s vocalists, Ms. Lyrish Ngerdelungch Takeshi, shared their experience with helping rescue these songs from the brink of extinction. The other musical director, Mr. Taka Emesiochel, was currently traveling on off-island duty during the launching event. Together, the team took one of the few remaining copies of the original Palauan nursery rhyme book, Omelelem el Cheiukl, Belau, Vocal Music Book of Palau, published by the Ministry of Education, and containing over a hundred songs composed by renowned Palauan musician, the late Ymesei Ezekiel, and recorded them for digital use and posterity.
The closing of the event, led by Rehuher-Marugg, included everyone singing along to one of the songs, Chamaeong, as the Ministry staff and guests, including members of the Foundation and school principals, shared their recollections of singing these very nursery rhymes during their childhoods. However, the greatest joy was from watching the faces of the thirty (30) children from the different elementary schools light up with excitement as they watched the music videos and sang along. The simple realization that the children appreciated the project that has been created especially for them can only be the biggest success of the project.
The Foundation is truly humbled with the accomplishment of the project and is now seeking funding for Volume II.
The Foundation expresses great gratitude to Director Ida Kilcullen of the Ministry of Education and her staff for their instrumental efforts in the planning and preparation work leading up to the launching event and looks forward to future collaborations with the Ministry.