Thursday, October 20, 2016

CNMI Anthem Ukulele Chords

Something like 10 years ago I wrote a post on this blog about the CNMI Anthem after I recorded Gus Kaipat singing the song at a public event.  In Saipan we often sing this song in place of the US National Anthem, or we'll play them both together at sporting events, political rallies, and what not.

Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi, which translates roughly into "In the middle of the sea," is one of the songs that I wanted to learn to play once I started playing the ukulele earlier this year.  I searched and searched on the Internet, but couldn't find the ukulele chords.

Well, during my visit this week I asked my good friend Cinta Kaipat to show me the chords and she obliged.  The words don't match up exactly with the chords as I've typed it, but if you have basic ukulele skills (like me) and know the tune, you should be able to figure out the strumming.

Thanks, Cinta!  I'll get to practicing!

C    C    C    C
Gi talo gi halom tåsi
F        F             G7     G7
Nai gaige tano-ho
C    C7        F    F
Ayo nai siempre hu såga
C   G7     C    C
Malago' ho.

C    C    C    C
Ya un dia bai hu hånåo
F    F    G7    G7
Bai fåtto ha' ta'lo
C    C7    F    F
Ti sina håo hu dingo
C    G7    C    C
O tano-ho.

C    C    C    C
Mit beses yan mås
F    F    G7    G7
Hu saluda håo
C    C7        F        F
Gatbo na islas Mariånas
C  G7    C    C
Hu tuna håo


Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Ocean Frontier is Closed

Look at all those animals swimming in the ocean!
In 1890, director of the U.S. Census Bureau Frederick Jackson Turner announced the American Frontier closed.  That's Frontier with a capital F -- meaning the period of American history where parts of our country were unexplored and unsettled (apologies to indigenous people, who were less respected and acknowledged then than they are today) had ended. 

The decades following the closing of the frontier were marked by the creation of the first generation of national parks, right alongside massive development and a population explosion.  While the idea for national parks came earlier -- Yellowstone was created in 1872 -- the pace of designations took off with the passage of the Antiquities Act in 1906.  Republican icon President Theodore Roosevelt used his executive authority to establish 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks, and 18 national monuments.  Roosevelt set a precedent in conservation which has been followed by nearly every American president since -- Democrat or Republican -- using the Antiquities Act to protect our natural and cultural heritage.

Today the Ocean Frontier is now closed, too, but nobody noticed, and no announcements were made (If you'll check my Twitter feed you'll note that at least one person noticed*).  Think of the arc of fishing history, technology, and effort over the last 100 years.  Today there are more mouths to feed, and we use better fishing technology than at any time in human history, and we reach more and more of the world's ocean, so that now, since about the 1990s, humans have the collective power to fish nearly every square centimeter of the ocean, down to the depths of the Marianas Trench and across all far reaches between the Arctic and Antarctic.

There is a direct link between fishing pressure and ocean health.  Fisheries science can basically be boiled down to two simple principles (apologies to my fisheries science friends): If you fish more, there will be less fish in the ocean.  Conversely, if you fish less, there will be more fish in the ocean.  Again, this is simplifying things greatly, but many scientific studies have shown that even modest amounts of fishing can lead to smaller fish, fewer fish, and fewer species, especially top predators.  It is no surprise, therefore, that as a result of more and more and better fishing, there are today fewer and smaller fish in the ocean.

In the past we could rely on distance and primitive fishing methods (and a lack of refrigeration) to keep at least part of the ocean wild, but now we have technology and the know how to fish the entire ocean, and often with methods that allow us to catch more fish than ever before.  Others have said it more eloquently than me, but we have reached a point in our history where we will only protect that we choose to protect.  So what are we to do?

One of the 51 federal bird reserves created by Roosevelt was the Hawaiian Island Bird Reservation, stretching across the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands from Nihoa to Kure Atoll.  Initially created to protect birds from poachers and feather and egg collectors, seven American presidents have since used executive authority to remove other threats, including putting an end to guano mining, bottom fishing, longline fishing, and removing the threat of deep sea mining.  Ancient ruins and biocultural resources important to Native Hawaiian culture and famous wrecks from American maritime and military history are also now protected.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are today home to the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, the world's largest marine protected area as of August 2016 (#MahaloObama).  Today, about 3% of the ocean is highly protected, and Papahanaumokuakea accounts for about 10% of that total.  While this is a tremendous advance in the protection of our ocean, there is still much work to do.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature recommends that we protect 30%, meaning we are an order of magnitude below where we need to be to ensure sustainability for future generations.  So, yeah, we're just getting started.

100 years ago it was America that led the world to protect nature on land, a conservation movement that continues today and is best represented by the National Parks System, often called "America's Best Idea."  Today, as we march into the 21st Century, America has again challenged the world with the creation and expansion of Papahanaumokuakea .  At 1.5 million square kilometers -- nearly twice the size of Texas -- the area preserves islands, seas, and culture, and sets a precedent for what can be accomplished in the years to come.

*I found this book while doing research on this topic.  It's a good read!

Note: I started out to write about my involvement with the expansion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and IUCN's decision to adopt a recommendation to protect 30% of the ocean and it turned into this opinion piece.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

18 Hours in Niagara Falls

My cousin Julie got married over the weekend in Utica, New York.  Julie grew up across the street from us in Worcester and our families are close.

Utica is close enough that we decided to drive up, so Edz and I loaded up the car early Friday morning and drove to Cooperstown, New York for a quick visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  We stayed at a bed & breakfast just outside of town with a great view of a lake.  We drove up to Utica the next day for the wedding.  But that's a post of its own...that in all honestly I'll probably never get around to writing.

After the wedding, Edz was begging for us to visit Canada while we were so close.  How could I say no?  Monday morning we drove from Utica to Niagara Falls, Canada and joined the hoards of people playing Pokemon Go enjoying the waterfall.

Our original plan was to drive straight back to DC, but we were tired and looked into spending the night.  We ended up staying the night, and having dinner in the spinning restaurant in that tall space needle looking building.

I took a few more photos of the falls and the wedding, but not a lot, and posted them to Facebook.

Friday, September 23, 2016


Back in February on my last afternoon in Hawaii, I was at the Ala Moana shopping mall with Edz and her friend Melody.  They wanted to get their shop on, and surprise, surpise I wanted to get my grub on, so I ditched them to go find something to eat. 

There was a live band playing at Mai Tai, the bar on the roof of the mall, so I got a table close to the stage and ordered a Longboard Lager and some wings. 

They weren't playing original music, mostly pop covers with the occasional 80's rock song thrown in.  I remember thinking they played a lot of Maroon 5.  Then they'd be in a middle of some pop song, say Katy Perry, and all of a sudden the girls would rip into these amazing guitar solos.  It was like someone took Josie and the Pussycats, crossed it with Scott Pilgram Vs the World, and sent them to Hawaii on vacation.

A photo posted by Angelo Villagomez (@taotaotasi) on

I became an instant fan.  When I got home I looked up the band and found they played at the Hard Rock just about every weekend, so whenever I'm in Hawaii I try to catch their show.

This last trip was no different.  We watched them play at Mai Tai again, and then caught the Saturday show at the Hard Rock.  Look them up!  They're rock gods in the making!

Edz and I took her friend Kristine and her boyfriend to the show.  The girls took their photo with the band afterwards.

Don't know when I'll be in Hawaii next, and am going to miss going to see EMKE play!