500 Sails, Inc. is a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands non-profit corporation, headquartered in Tanapag, Saipan. We can be reached by email to pperez@500Sails.org or phone (670) 322-4268.
- Peter J. Perez — Executive Director (Saipan)
Mr. Perez has been a part of the movement to restore the Chamorro maritime tradition since 2006 when he co-founded Sakman Chamorro Inc., a Saipan based CNMI non-profit where he served as Public Liaison Officer, fundraiser and researcher. In 2008 he teamed up with Mario Borja of San Diego, California to promote a project to build the "Chamorro Flying Proa" described in Anson's Voyage Around the World that included the detailed drawing of the proa made by the expedition's draftsman in 1742. The collaboration resulted in the "Sakman Project" sponsored by San Diego based Chelu Inc. that culminated in the building of 47 foot sakman Chelu, completed in 2010.
Mr. Perez' role in the building of Chelu included working closely with Mr. Borja during the planning and building phases to ensure that the result was historically accurate based on historical fact, first-person accounts, and analysis and interpretation of the Anson drawing. As project historian he spoke at public ceremonies that marked milestones in the building of the proa.
Mr. Perez and his wife Emma were major donors to the sakman project, providing the 33 foot redwood log from which the proa was built. They also raised funds that went to the purchase of additional wood and shipping costs for the log and wood from Mendocino, California to San Diego.
In 2012, Mr. Perez conceived 500 Sails as a follow-up project to the sakman project. In preparation for the 500 Sails project, he learned fiberglass boat-building and sponsored a proa-building workshop that gave the San Diego builders hands-on experience building a 25 foot sakman hull.
Mr. and Mrs. Perez established 500 Sails in order to execute projects that promote and enable the construction and safe sailing of traditional Micronesian proas in the Marianas Islands.
- Emma L. H. Perez — Board of Directors President (Saipan)
Emma Perez is a finance and accounting professional with over 20 years of progressive hands-on management experience in non-profit accounting and finance, with a focus on best practices and compliance. Her decision to work in the non-profit field was "to help those who help make the lives of others better, whether it be through art, social justice, better health, or cultural preservation. Working with mission driven organizations is rewarding and makes an impact."
Ms. Perez has held high-level positions in a number of world-class organizations including the Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Jazz Organization (SFJAZZ).
In 2007, Ms. Perez was a member of the Chamorro Flying Proa Relay Team that successfully swam the English Channel, raising money for the Sakman Chamorro Inc. organization. She is also a major financial supporter of both the sakman project and the fiberglass workshop, and co-founder of 500 Sails. She leads and teaches 500 Sails' Adult Learn-to-Swim program through its water safety program Dolphin Club Saipan.
For 500 Sails, Ms. Perez will ensure grant compliance and oversee all aspects of financial record-keeping.
- Augustin (Gus) M. Kaipat — Vice President (Saipan)
Mr. Kaipat is a well-known musician and cultural practitioner in the CNMI. Recognized in 2015 by the Palau Humanities Project as a top Carolinian vocalist and composer, he is a member of the Association of Indigenous Marianas Artists and leads the Carolinian band Olomwaay in Saipan. Mr. Kaipat was a cultural instructor for the Cultural Literacy Afterschool Program where he taught Ukulele to CNMI youth, helped form the CNMI Chapter of People of the Circle, a multi-cultural group that promotes World peace, and is a co-founder of PaganWatch, a CNMI voluntary group that advocates for indigenous rights and environmental stewardship.
- Cornia Magofna — Treasurer (Saipan)
Ms. Magofna is President and Owner of CM Accounting Services with an extensive background in Accounting/Finance, Project Management, Procurement, Human Resources and Office Management.
- Rita Chong — Secretary (Saipan)
Ms. Chong has a wide range of experience in CNMI government and community service organizations as a fundraiser, grant writer, planner, organizer and implementer of community projects.
500 Sails Board of Directors
The board will act as resources to clear obstacles and provide advice when needed. Members of the Board of Directors are:
- Mario Borja — Cultural leader and Chamorro Master Carver (San Diego, California)
- Rita Chong — CNMI Community business leader
- Cornia Magofna — President/Owner of CM Accounting Services
- Gordon Marciano — Cultural leader, Cultural Promoter, Events Planner, Tour Operator, and promoter of genuine cultural experiences for visitors (Saipan)
The advisor council provides consultation and advice on traditional maritime practices. Members are:
- Ron Acfalle — Chamorro Seafarer, master Chamorro proa builder (Guam)
- Frank Cruz — Traditional Micronesian proa builder (Guam)
- Ed Johnson — Water Safety Instructor, Sailor, Cultural Practioner (Saipan)