Farewell to Saipan's best ambassador
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The Honorable Ramon G. Villagomez was the first Chamorro I ever met. It was in 1978, and I was flying to Saipan on the Continental island hopper, and we were stuck in Majuro waiting for a kidnapped child to be boarded on our flight for his eventual return to Alaska. I had been sitting with some Capitol Hill statesiders, who laughed at my naivete for wanting to settle on Saipan without a "prime" lucrative contract, which is the only way, according to them, a statesider would want to live on Saipan.
I remember saying that I still wanted to land on a Pacific island like Saipan, even though my survival depended on only a few dollars in my pocket and my wish to experience the island way of life.
I felt uncomfortable listening to some arrogant Trust Territory primers, and I eventually found a seat next to a quiet young man, who had watched me debate the Capitol Hill gang. I thought he was Spanish, but he proudly said that he was Chamorro. I asked where he lived, and he said that he lived on the island of Saipan. Thus began my education of Micronesia and my future adventure, and my current home of Saipan.
I could have never met a better ambassador for my island orientation. Former Justice Villagomez was returning home from law school, and he gave me limited, but wise insight into the island people that I was about to meet and come to love. I had been apprehensive about my decision to just up and leave California, and my friends thought I would last a few days before I would call and asked them for plane fare back to Los Angeles. But I figured that I could survive, even though I had just discovered that the minimum wage on Saipan was about 60 cents an hour!
Well, I have live the life that many a statesider could only dream of living, and I thank Justice Villagomez for being the introduction into my Saipan world. I have mingled with global people and I have traveled to foreign countries and met with leaders of several countries in my many jobs on Saipan. I have also worked in some of the most interesting jobs that a man would want to have, including my latest job in the Attorney General's Criminal Division.
Let me finalize my tribute to my friend with this somber note. In Justice Villagomez's last days as Chairman of the Board of Regents at the Northern Marianas College, I developed with his blessings the ultimate goals of my educational life, that is, I was able to plan and implement several vocational programs for the island residents that became a loves of my life. Unfortunately, Justice Villagomez fell ill, and with his departure from NMC's Board of Regents, our community college went into a fiasco of greed and the misdirected desires of self-interested people. I only hope that Justice Villagomez's vision will once again return to NMC. God bless you, my friend Ramon Villagomez, and may you rest in peace forever.
Dr. Jack Angello