Marianas Variety, Thursday, February 8, 2007
A voice for CNMI's teens: FLASHBACKThere are only a few things which I want to clarify: Bernard wrote that Beautify CNMI! is a "non-profit coalition of government agencies." Our coalition also includes business, community groups, and individuals; we are not just government. Also, I have another job in addition to my volunteer work with Beautify CNMI! and my new MINA position. I am the Public Involvement Coordinator for the Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council. They are the ones who brought me to Saipan, so they deserve a lot of credit for my work.
By Bernard Rivera & Jackie Dela Cruz
MV Teen Reporters
Adults and teens mix about as well as oil and water. Teenagers sometimes forget that their parents, teachers, political leaders and other adults were once youngsters like them.
Flashback features a view on what life was like when the men and women of today's community were back in their teenage years. Yes, teens, your parents were once the highlight of the hip and wonder years during the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's.
With children to worry about or bills piling up, the responsibilities of taking care of family or maintaining a career drives most adults in the "real world" as the life of no return.
But here, in Flashback, adults can share their wonder years and forge a better understanding with teens and teens may be able to see adults in a whole new light.
Angelo Villagomez's Mission: To Beautify CNMI!
How horrible the 90's were - bad video games, bad fashion, and extremely bad hair.
At least that's what one of CNMI's most proactive young leaders thinks.
"Back in the old days, I mean, 1996, ten years ago. Um, it was very similar to life now, people just have better hair now," Angelo Villagomez laughs.
Villagomez leads Beautify CNMI!, a non-profit coalition of government agencies that have planted thousands of seedlings and continue to clean the islands' beaches and roadways on a weekly basis. He is also the Executive Director of Mariana Islands Nature Alliance (MINA), a non-profit group which aims to preserve the CNMI's natural resources.
Villagomez remembers back in high school with his shining bald head running along the Winter Park Florida High School track. Though he describes himself as the kid who was the stereotypical "dork," those teens labeled as the "geeks of today are the bosses of tomorrow."
"When I was in high school? I was a dork!" says Villagomez. "Oh man, I was on the cross country team, I was in honors classes, and I was in AP classes. And I got good grades."
Life in Winter park High School in 1996 was different from what life was like back then here in the Marianas.
"Well, life in that high school was very different from life here. My high school was more of like Beverly Hill 90210," Villagomez smiles, referring to the hit teenage television series back in the 90's, which was followed by "The OC" and "Laguna Beach."
"It was a public high school, but I lived in a rich neighborhood, so the kids would have Porches, and some even had a nice Mercedes. And then there was me, my Honda Civic and I," said Villagomez.
Villagomez excelled in track. "An unforgettable moment in my life back in high school was being on the track team. Most athletes in Florida were these six-and-a-half foot African-American guys, and then there was me. The skinny kinda white, kinda brown kid who was part of a team in the regional race," he said.
"In the backstretch, I passed all of these athletic-looking guys, and let me tell you, they were huge! And the crowd numbered about 4,000," he added.
"I swear, I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. I mean, the light was shining on my bald head, and I was like this light bulb, running around the track," he laughs. "But the whole crowd went into an uproar, because this skinny little boy was beating all of these big guys."
"High School was cool. I made a lot of friends, and in my senior year I played sports, which was kinda like my salvation. I didn't like Florida when I first moved there, but when I got involved with sports, I guess I kinda found my 'calling'," he said.
But when it came to dating, Villagomez was nervous and shy.
"Well, uh, let's see, back in 10th grade, I didn't really have a serious relationship. I was a late bloomer. I'm still blooming," he laughs. "I'm single, just to let people know. I had a girlfriend for like a week in the 10th grade, but after that, I didn't date back in high school. As I told you before, I was a dork. I was into reading, and learning, and playing Super Nintendo, and I played sports, which kept me busy. But I did have crushes."
"There were like two girls in every class. Oh man, I couldn't talk to girls, I was so awkward. I couldn't send them anything on Valentine's Day. When a pretty girl would talk to me, I would just totally shut down," he grinned. "I would forget my name. I couldn't talk. Oh man, I was such a dork. I can't believe it."
Other than making those simple clarifications, I thought the article was excellent! Thanks, Bernard!