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Refurbished 50-year old canoe renamed after Saipan chief

By Lori Lyn Lirio

Ladahao canoe. Photo © Mark Rabago

A 41-foot, 50-year old Chamorro canoe was renamed after a local chief from Saipan and launched during the lunar year celebration last month.

According to 500 Sails Executive Director Pete Perez, the canoe, which arrived to Saipan last October, was donated to the organization by Thomas Greg Ray, who used to work as animator for Warner Brothers, Hannah Barbera and MGM production studios. He added it was originally named Roberta L and patterned after the Anson drawing that was made in 1742 on Tinian.

She is 50 years with only a minor damage when 500 Sails got it, Perez said adding that they are now done with the refurbishing.

Moreover, Perez said the 500 Sails already launched Roberta L and gave her a second name, Ladahao, a prominent Saipan chief. The name was suggested by Indigenous Affairs program manager Cris Ogo.

“The reason why we renamed and gave her a second name is because Roberta L is a Chamorro canoe and now that she is here we want all our canoe to be named after people who passed. We don’t know who Roberta L is except that we think she was the original owner’s girlfriend,” Perez said.

“We want to honor the ancestors by naming all the 500 sails canoes after someone who is passed.”

He said Ladahao is a fitting name because the 41-foot canoe is going to be Saipan’s canoe.

“Everyone knows the names of chiefs from Guam – chief Taga – but not many people know any Saipan chief names.”

Nevertheless, Perez said the canoe, inspite of the renaming, will retain its old Roberta L name thus it will have two names – Roberta L on the other side and Ladahao on the other. Both will have carvings of a male and female face.

Roberta L-Ladahao, is now part of the 500 Sails fleet. It is used to train people sailing, Perez said.

Lori Lyn Lirio
Lori Lyn C. Lirio is a veteran newshen having worked for the People's Journal Tonight for more than 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications degree from the Lyceum of the Philippines University. She currently writes for the Marianas Variety, Saipan's number one community paper. .

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