PHILIPSBURG - The Carnival contestants of the Teen, Senior and Mature queen pageants on Saturday, January 31, were treated to a day of culture and history for the first annual Royal Culture Tour organized by the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF).
The brainchild of pageant coordinator Aishira Cicilia, the tour was organized to give all the contestants a more wholesome experience and for them to understand that through pageantry, they can learn and relay aspects of St. Maarten’s history and culture to others.
They started at the St. Maarten Heritage Foundation where Director Elsje Bosch gave information of about the gift shop (where a variety of art from local artists are sold) and museum where the history and culture of the island is documented and well preserved.
(Environmental Protection in the Caribbean) EPIC foundation gave a presentation about the importance of protecting our environment specifically the ponds as part of our natural and cultural heritage.
This presentation was done by Laura Bijnsdorp (EPIC) and assisted by Reuben Thompson. The contestants were also made aware of their responsibility in protecting our environment. Then it was time to head over to the Sint Maarten Guavaberry Emporium where Ms. Hennie Seefat (manager) gave the contestants a brief history and update on the Guavaberry emporium and how Guavaberry is made.
Last but not least on the tour the contestants paid a visit to the National institute of Arts (NIA) where the contestants were given a presentation on the Ponum dance. They were also shown a video about how the Ponum dance came to fruition with the abolition of slavery. This research and video was done by the Director of NIA Ms. Clara Reyes.
After the video presentation the contestants were taught the songs and dance of the Ponum. “It was a great ending to an inspiration and educational day. The purpose of the Royal Culture tour is to expose the contestants to St. Maarten’s rich history and culture, relating the importance in its preservation and taking up torch in carrying on our intangible history and culture,” Cicilia said.
She thanked all of the aforementioned organizations as well as Alsphonso Blijden, Felicia Priest, Mohana Caesar, Lieneke Haandrikman, Eefje Janson, Swinda Smith, ILTT and everyone else who made the tour possible. (SCDF)