On November 21st, 2020, Mr. Surangel Whipps, Jr. won the presidential election in Palau, becoming the 10th President of the beautiful Pacific nation. Mr. Whipps was sworn in as president on January 21st, 2021, during the inauguration ceremony at the Palau National Capitol. Both of his proud parents delivered speeches to introduce their son. His American mother Marilyn addressed the audience in English, followed by his Palauan father Surangel Sr. speaking in Palauan. With warmth and humor, they described President Whipps’s life and work leading up to public service.
His father noted what a blessing his wife had been, saying, “She is a teacher and so I thought, I have to be married to a teacher so she can teach our children well.” That intentional teaching took the form of weekly Sabbath School, church activities like Pathfinders, and formative years attending the SDA elementary school. After graduating from Andrews University and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), President Whipps went on to become a two-term senator of the Palau National Congress and CEO-President of the Surangel and Sons Company.
As his parents shared stories illustrating how Surangel, Jr. exhibited characteristics of determination, leadership, and integrity since childhood, it became evident that family and faith have been strong influential factors in his journey to the presidency.
His mother described one incident when her son, as a young man, borrowed their boat to take some classmates on a picnic. “Since Surangel had always demonstrated responsible behavior, his dad trusted him to be careful on the outing,” she recalled. “Surangel, Jr. noticed that some of the boys were bringing beer aboard the boat as they prepared for their departure. Along the way to the Rock Islands, Surangel reached into the cooler where the fellows had placed the beer, picked up the beer and tossed it into the ocean. The guys were shocked at his action, but Surangel insisted that beer was not something he wanted on his boat and would not allow it there.”
The pillars of church and family supported the president through the ceremony. With his wife Valerie and their daughters Moda, Ultei, and Ngederong standing at his side, President Whipps placed his hand on a Bible held by their son Surangel Arthur and took the oath of office.
The inauguration program incorporated members of the local SDA church and school. The invocational prayer for the ceremony was offered by Pastor Chamberlain Kinsiano, the Associate Pastor of the Koror Seventh-day Adventist Church. Later in closing, after the President’s Inaugural Address, the Koror Seventh-day Adventist Youth sang the Song of Hope “Heal Our Land”.
The biographical profile in the inauguration booklet emphasizes his foundational principles. It reads, “A Seventh-day Adventist, he maintains his father’s tenets for happiness – a God centered home, always time for family, hard work ethic, and achieve highest education opportunity.”
President Whipps continues to be an active member of the Koror Seventh-day Adventist Church in Palau. His church leadership roles include church deacon, member of the Guam-Micronesia Mission Executive Committee, board member of the Guam SDA Clinic, and chairman of the Palau Adventist Schools Board.
President Whipps is an inspiring example of standing on values to inform our participation in social and political issues. Please join us in congratulating President Whipps and committing to pray for him and all our world leaders during this crucial time of history.