Monday, July 31, 2006

Saipan Sucks!

Just kidding...no it doesn't!

You might remember that a while back I lamented about Saipan Sucks' prominent position in the results for a google search of the word "Saipan." Well, that site has a lot of google juice and is still the #6 result. That really sucks, huh?

The only way to bump that site from the top is create more websites that portray Saipan in a positive light (like mine!) and to get lots of other websites to link to those websites. When that happens, those websites will overtake Saipan Sucks at the top of the list. Until that happens, Saipan Sucks will remain towards the top.

In the meantime, don't add any links to Saipan Sucks. That only gives them more google juice.

Link to this blog instead. Or the Marianas RC&D blog. Or the Marianas RC&D homepage. Or the Beautify CNMI blog.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

62 years ago...

..an American GI pulled the pin out of this grenade and threw it with the intention of killing another human being. It may or may not have hit its target, but there it sits, slowly eroding away.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Bodies on Fire - Backstage Pass

So my modeling career started and ended last night with the Bodies on Fire finale at the Saipan Grand Hotel. I am proud to say that I wore a brightly colored speedo onstage. In public. In front of people that I know.

Here are some pictures from backstage:

Getting ready for the big show. The hair and makeup guys gave everybody a faux hawk. I was no exception.

This picture was taken just after the guys finished lathering each other up with baby oil. Seriously.

Does this sarong make my ass look fat?

The show is about to begin, but first, group pictures!

Don't get burned by those Bodies on Fire!

A nice picture of the girls about to go onstage.

Next segment!

Elmer is the frickin' man!

I take that back. Captain Manila is the frickin' man!

You lookin' at me?

The "towel" segment.

Another shot of the "towel" segment.

This is the most action Ryan has gotten since he moved to Saipan.

This is what a Body on Fire model sees when they walk down the runway.

So who looks more like Ozzie Ozbourne in this picture? Ryan or Angel?

Jackie was my modeling partner. I'm flashing Blue Steel in this picture. Isn't it beautiful?

Three more satisfied customers.


I think that is more than enough pictures. If I get a lot of comments requesting a picture of me in a speedo, I'll post one, but somehow I expect most of the comments will be for me NOT to post a speedo picture.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Read this book!

I bought Lino's book back in December when I was in Saipan for Dad's funeral. I think I burned through it in about 2 days. It is a very easy read, written as if Lino was in your living room telling you a story. I picked it up a few days ago and read it again.

It is a great book and I want the world to know about it.

The book is an autobiographical account of Lino's quest to discover his Carolinian heritage. (I'm Chamorro. Carolinians are the "other" Micronesian ethnicity on Saipan. I'm not going to give an historical account of the Chamorros and Carolinians in this post. If you want to know about it, read the book or look it up on google.)

Back to the book:

What makes this book so interesting is that during Lino's search into the past, everything around him was flying face first into the modern world. To put it in perspective, around the same time that my father was going to college in Guam and then law school in Washington, DC, which would ultimately help bring these islands into the modern world, Lino was donning a loin cloth and learning how to cross the ocean in an outrigger canoe so that we wouldn't forget where we came from (although I'm not Carolinian, thier culture is very much a part of Saipan and I consider it part of who I am.)

Some of the anecdotes in the book are hilarious. I especially liked the story about getting drunk and falling of the back of a canoe in the middle of the ocean. I also liked the stories about fishing and the story about the tatamona that fell in love with Lino when he was younger.

The book isn't all fun stories and rainbows, though. Lino gets very heated when he discusses the loss of his people's culture and the lack of respect that young Carolinians and off-islanders (ok, hoales) often exhibit. All of this good stuff comes in the final chapter, Seeking Balance, but you have to read the whole book in order to put it in perspective.

I'm not really into doing book reviews, so I'll end it right there. If you are in this part of the world, I highly recommend picking up this book. They sell it at a couple different places on island. If you are off-island, let me know if you want a copy and I'll see about shipping one to you. I think it is only about $25 or so (maybe less, I don't remember).

Monday, July 24, 2006

My two cents

The big story this week is the power rate hike that just took place. The price of electricity just doubled from about 11-14 cents/kilowatt to 24-30 cents/kilowatt (depending on your usage).

I expect our electricity bill to double. The first month we were here, the bill was $100, last month it was $110, and this month it was $120. I expect next month to be in the $250 range (Ouch!).

CUC, the government-owned utility, says that they need to jack up the prices because of the increase in the price of gasoline over the last few years (yes, you read that right, Saipan uses gasoline to produce electricity.) They say that that they weren't even charging enough to cover the cost of the gasoline, never mind the cost of administration, etc. I've also heard rumors of people stealing electricty, much in the same way people steal cable TV.

CUC is having having a hard time making fuel payments. They say that it is because customers keep paying thier bills late. As a result of all this, Saipan has had rolling black outs every day for the last several weeks.

This is what I think:

The rich people on island won't even notice the price hike (Hell, the rich people on island don't even notice the black outs because they all own generators).

The price needs to go up, though. You can't charge less than something costs unless you have identified another source of revenue to subsidize it. I do like the idea of charging more per kilowatt for users that consume more, but I think there is still a lot of room for argument for as to how high the price has to go up.

Unfortunately, I also think that the increase in price will have the short term effect of making things worse. Instead of not paying their bills on time, I predict that people will just not pay their bills.

I guess time will tell.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Saipan the Beautiful - just another Saturday

This island is so beautiful. You don't have to look far; the beauty is all around you. Just open your eyes and take a look around.

This morning as I was driving along Beach Road I saw this:

Then much later in the day, just as then sun was getting ready to set, I looked up into the sky and saw this:

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wednesday Night at Godfather's

We survived the earthquake! It measured 4.8 on the Richter scale and was centered about half-way between Guam and Rota. The girls said that they didn't even feel it.

So anyways, Ace Soll invited the three musketeers out to Godfather's to celebrate her Mom and to listen to the Brown Republic Band. Unfortunately, after a fun night of corralling little South Korean children and not feeling the earthquake, the girls decided not to go. It was just me and Joe (improper English alert!).

Elena (Ace's mom, Herb's wife) just got a new job at the Fiesta Hotel, so I think that's what we were celebrating. I'm not really sure, though. Ace said they were just celebrating her Mom. That's cool, I guess.

Joe liked the Brown Republic Band a lot more this time around. They were playing fewer pop and club songs and more rock songs. I guess that's more his style or something.

The two girls in the band were still hot. This time the former fur jacket + hot pants girl was going for a Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas look:

While the former union jack + hot pants girl was going for an Xtina thing:

I still say Xtina is hotter, but I have to admit that Fergie does have "attitude."

We also ran into a few of the Bodies on Fire girls. These photos have been censored in order to protect the innocent:

The girl doing the licking is Aubrey. The girl getting licked is Jackie. Her shirt says, "Boys Lie, Make Them Cry." Both Jackie and Joe appear to be greatly enjoying being licked by Aubrey. No comment.

Although she didn't lick me, I had my picture taken with the hot singer:

Don't tell Emily, but she's my new girlfriend.

The Brown Republic Band will be playing at Godfather's every Wednesday night for the next three months. They play at Fiesta Resort on Thursday nights and then at Grand Hotel four nights a week. They don't play anywhere on Sundays.

On Sundays they are going to teach Diana how to play the tambourine so that she can be in the band.

EARTHQUAKE!!!

Emily and Diana are off at the World Resort teaching English and I'm sitting at home, um, working. I was actually in the middle of writing an email to a volunteer, telling her when and where to meet me so that we can go dig up some coconuts for Sunday's tree planting.

That's when the apartment started shaking. It wasn't a big tremor, but it was strong enough to feel like someone was outside shaking our apartment building.

It was probably just one of those hundreds of small tremors that are felt all over the world every day, but I can't help but wonder if it was a stronger earthquake somewhere far away. It would be just my luck to have a tsunami hit Saipan the year that I decide to move back.

(If you're reading this in a few hours and the news says that Saipan was washed out by a tsunami....send money.)

Technorati Tags: , ,

Monday, July 17, 2006

Work and other exciting things

Work has been going well, even though I have a ridiculously long title (coral reef public involvement coordinator) and work for an organization with the longest name on island (Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council).

My coral reef project is going along swimmingly. I am supposed to recruit volunteers to work on a revegetation project, a fish survey, and some water sampling. Over the course of the year, I am supposed to recruit 75 volunteers to participate in these activities.

As of Sunday, 94 people have been involved in our volunteer activities. In fact, 62 people helped us plant trees at the Lao Lao revegetation project this past Sunday alone.

Volunteers are great and my program is designed to get volunteers involved in coral reef management, but the overreaching goal is to get people talking about the environment and coral reefs in particular. To do that, you've got to get into the media. I've been on 6 O'Clock news, on the radio twice and quoted or pictured in both of Saipan's newspapers for 5 weeks straight. I hope people are noticing.

Click HERE to visit the Marianas RC&D blog.

I've also been very involved in a new coalition of community groups, individuals, and government agencies called Beautify CNMI. Thier name is pretty self explanatory.

I've been helping the Restoration Committee of Beautify CNMI, which is charged with restoring the natural, historical, and cultural beauty of the CNMI. One of our projects has been the planting of trees. Since June 19 we've planted 651 trees on Beach Road and at the Lao Lao revegetation site. Only 22 of those 651 trees were non-native.

The Restoration Committee also has plans to fix up some of the historic sites and to clean up some of Saipan's blighted areas.

I've also been helping them with a blog. I'm the only contributor right now, but I'd like to get other contributors posting to both the Beautify CNMI blog and the RC&D blog.

Click HERE to visit the Beautify CNMI blog.

There's also that, um, Saipan Grotto thing, but I've been doing that quietly on the side in my spare time.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Banadero Trail, Take 2

This time I had no problem finding the trail head. We started the hike from right behind the Korean memorial, went to the top, looked around, and came back down. In attendance were Scott, Dee, Diana, Dee's friend Tony, Emily, and myself.

The trail was a lot greener this time around, even though it has only been two weeks since my last hike up Banadero. When the rainy season starts, the trees really take advantage of all that extra water.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bodies of Slowly Melting Ice

Last night I was supposed to participate in the Bodies on Fire fashion show. I got there late and I missed it. My body was not on fire. I suck.

That didn't stop me from having a great time at Club V, though. Willy Tan, the owner of, well, just about everything on Saipan, just brought over a cover band from Manila. Last night was their first show.

The name of the band is The Brown Republic Band...and they don't suck. Almost every single cover band in the world sucks. This one doesn't. That is my cover band expert opinion.

But that's enough talk about the band. Let's talk about the two girls in the band. Emily and Diana liked the singer in the fur jacket because she had "attitude."

I thought the other girl was hotter.

Speaking of hot girls, Tina was there!

Quite possibly the best picture of Joe ever taken.

After dancing, Joe tried macking on this MILF (just kidding, that's Laurie Anne's mom).

After Club V we went to Godfather's to see who was around, but mostly because I was hungry. One problem: The kitchen was closed! NOOOOOOOO!

So we made a beeline for Ocean's and I ordered some chicken poppers and some fried lumpia. After that, happy Angelo went home.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Blue Steel!

I had three hours of model training last night. Somehow I let Joe talk me into joining Bodies on Fire at the Grand Hotel....I think it had something to do with the four Bud Lites I drank at Happy Hour.

Speaking of Happy Hour...Diana's here!

I picked her up at the airport, pointed out Dan Dan Elementary and San Vicente Elementary, bought her a tuna at one of the roadside vendors and then took her drinking.

The party is on!

Speaking of the party...I'll be showcasing my Body on Fire at the Grand Hotel at midnight tonight.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

More Postcards!

Texas:

Japan:



Keep them coming! I love postcards!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Carleen's Chamorro Wedding!

Cal's daughter Carleen got married over the weekend. They had the wedding reception at the round buidling (does it have another name?) in Garapan Central Park (right next to Sugar King Park).

We got to the party before the bride and groom arrived. They were driving around the island "amening" thier aunts, uncles, and grandparents. It's difficult to describe "amening" to non-Chamorros and non-Carolinans. As far as I know, and I don't know much, the Marianas are the only place where this custom is practiced.

You have to "amen" any relative that is a generation above you. So you have to amen your parents' brothers and sisters and your parents' parents, but you also have to amen your parents' cousins, uncles, aunts, etc. You don't have to amen your second cousins, because generationally you are the same rank. You do have to amen your parents' second cousins, though.

It can get really confusing, especially with the size of the families and the amount of intermarrying. For example, there is a particular Villagomez girl on island who is related to my three youngest brothers as a niece (her grandfather was my father's second cousin), a second cousin (her grandmother is the sister of my father's 3rd wife's mother), and a godsister (my father was her godfather; that's a Chamorro convention). So who amens who? A good rule of thumb is to just amen everybody who has grey hair.

I should probably describe how you do it. The person doing the amening goes up to their aunt or uncle and puts there nose close to the back of the aunt or uncles hand (kind of like if you were kissing a ring) and says "nor" if it is a uncle or "nora" if it is an aunt (pretend that there is an enye above each of those n's). Those words come from Se"nor" and Se"nora."

The aunt or uncle then says "God Bless You" in Chamorro, usually accompanied by a pinch on the cheek or some other sign of affection.

Amening has always been kind of awkward for me. The first time I visited my father in Saipan, which was in 1987 when I was 8, I thought amening was the weirdest thing. One of my American uncles used to play this game where he'd point at your shirt and say, "hey, what's that?" and then flick your nose and say, "NERT!" when you looked. I couldn't help but think of that everytime I amened one of my Saipan aunts or uncles.

Whew. I didn't mean to write so much about amening. Let's get back to the wedding.

The Carolinians have a custom where the Bride is carried from the car to the party. I think that's a pretty cool custom.

The party started when the bride and groom arrived. The food was all laid out and ready to be served. All they had to do was uncover it. After they uncover it, ladies stand next to the food and wave paper plates over it to keep the flies away. This is what it looks like:



You can see from the video that there were 5 buffet tables. I couldn't believe how much food there was. There was enough rice to feed the chinese army! They also had six pigs. Wowzers!

It was a great party! I should have taken more pictures, though. Not much to say after that. I ate a lot of food, drank a couple of beers, and had a good time.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Save the Grotto


There is an online petition that people can sign to help save the Saipan Grotto. It only takes a minute to sign. Please help!

Do it for your country!

Click HERE to sign the Save the Grotto Petition

Please forward the petition link on to your friends, family, and contacts.

Thanks!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I Found Nemo


These pictures were taken at Obyan Beach on Sunday. On my second dive of the day I didn't bring my camera, but discovered that there is an outer reef past the first stretch of sand. Jeremy and I saw three huge lion fish and a whole bunch of garden eels.

Woot! I think Emily and I are going to go explore it this weekend.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Joe Turek: International Supermodel

Bodies on Fire:
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha....

Joe has a blog called Tropical Recovery. You should bounce over there and tell him that he has a "Body on Fire!"

Fishing Derby Update!

Cal won for the largest wahoo!

Wahoo!

Our friend Joe Taijeron also won. His boat is the one that pulled in the 330+ pound marlin.

Marlin! (Doesn't have the same ring as Wahoo!, does it?)

Today was a good day

After watching the Liberation Day parade with Joe, I rounded up the troops (Joe, Jeremy, Scott, Claudio, and David) for some man time down on Obyan Beach. We built a fire, roasted some kielbasa, Scott went spear fishing, and I went on two dives with Jeremy.

All in all a very good day. If I'm feeling motivated later maybe I'll post some of the pictures.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Getting ready for the Parade

On Sunday while I was helping plant 11 more trees along Beach Road with Beautify CNMI and MOVER I noticed that people were setting up tents along Beach Road. They were also marking large sections of the public land between the road and the beach with flagging tape, string, and just about anything else that could be tied between trees or sign posts.

This is something new that I've never witnessed before on Saipan. People were camping out for choice spots along the parade route for the Liberation Day Parade.

When did they start doing that?