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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


CNMI Mourns Passing Of Former Saipan Mayor Tudela
77 year-old had been diagnosed with stomach cancer

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Feb. 5, 2013) – Juan Borja Tudela Former two-term Saipan mayor Juan Borja Tudela's passing is a "deep loss for the Commonwealth," Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and others who knew him said yesterday. Tudela, 77, passed away at a Hawaii hospital on Saturday. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer, his second eldest child, Dr. Ignacia T. Demapan, told Saipan Tribune last night.

Demapan, one of nine siblings, said her father's funeral will be on Feb. 14 at the Chalan Kanoa Cemetery.

She, however, said they do not have the exact date yet as to when his remains will arrive on Saipan. The former mayor would have turned 78 on May 16.

"I will miss most his helpfulness, kindness and love of his children, family and the community," Demapan said in a phone interview. "But we have accepted his passing. He had fulfilled a great life. He served his full potential, and he touched a lot of people in his life. He's a devoted Catholic."

Nightly rosary is being held at San Vicente Church at 7pm, after the 6pm Mass.

In a statement yesterday, Fitial said: "Mayor Tudela loved Saipan and loved our Commonwealth. He was a great personal friend and colleague. But above all, he was a well-respected and highly regarded in his roles as a legislator, Board of Education member, village commissioner, and scoutmaster with the Garapan Boy Scouts. Mayor Tudela's passing is a deep loss for our Commonwealth. He will be sorely missed."

Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos said the former mayor "quickly became a pioneering local leader for the community through the various leadership positions he held in the community and in the government."

Fitial and Inos have extended their condolences to the former mayor's wife, children, and the entire family.

"As a native son of the Commonwealth, Mayor Tudela lived a life dedicated to public service through numerous key positions in both the trust territory and Commonwealth governments," Fitial said.

Tudela served two terms as Saipan mayor. He first ran and got elected under the Democratic Party in November 2001 and was re-elected in November 2005 under Fitial's then Covenant Party.

Ignacio Demapan, resident executive director of the Indigenous Affairs Office, said yesterday that Tudela "has been a great friend."

Demapan said he and Tudela served in the 14th House of Representatives, and that Tudela previously served in Demapan's current position.

"He always wants to help Saipan and the CNMI. He is a great loss to our islands. He's a respectable man," Demapan told Saipan Tribune last night. He said he learned of Tudela's passing early Sunday morning, Saipan time.

In early 2009, Tudela said he was retiring from politics so he can have "more time with my family." He turned down offers for him to run in that year's elections.

In nearly 15 years in public office, Tudela said he had always won by landslide. He said he owes this to the trust and confidence the people of Saipan gave him.

Tudela was also instrumental in bringing in Japanese students through the NMI-Japan Cultural Exchange programs where hundreds of students were given the opportunity to travel here and in Japan.

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