Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Vote for Pedro

Is anyone named Pedro running in the CNMI this year? Hmmmmm.....I wonder. Speaking of elections, how come only the Republicans are getting press about their candidates? When are the Democrats and the Convenants going to start announcing their lineup?

Anyways. I have news alerts about Saipan sent to me each day. This morning I found this one, written by local reporter Haidee Eugenio for GMA News in the Philippines:

Mission Accomplished.

I feel a rant boiling deep inside me, but it is not quite ready to come out. Erg. Maybe I should drink some prune juice.

In more happy news, the Tribune published Walt's weekly article today. He talks about the branding and the marketing of the CNMI and mentions me, this blog, and Beautify CNMI several times. He also mentions me making documentaries about 2mm tsunamis and sticking boarding passes to my head. Thanks, Walt.

If you scroll all the way to the bottom of Walt's article you'll see that he has just released a new e-book. He is offering it for free for a short period of time. Visit www.jamaicaninsaipan.com to download the book.


In other news, I added a second clip to the video of the green sea turtle hatchling rushing to the ocean. I wasn't going to publish this second clip, but I got such a great response from the first clip that I figured I had to. The second clip is cut short before the turtle reaches the ocean because my stupid memory car filled up in the middle of the filming. That's what I get for not wiping all my old pictures. Dang it!

I also added some more pictures to the video.

27 comments:

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

zThat story is pretty much the same as what we read here. Those people do keep those girls trapped in the barracks on a short leash, and the whole thing is seedy, but I don't think they are forced into anything much other than economic desperation from the corrupt Philippine government.

How about the famous George Carlin syllogism:

Selling things is legal.
F***ing is legal.
Why is selling F***ing illegal?

here's what i said...

Everyone wants a try at giving the CNMI a good whipping - it's the *in* thing these days. Kind of late for GMA News to jump on the bandwagon, though. That story is old and anyone interested in the happenings here, where ever they are in the world, has already heard about it. It's high-time we put an end to rehashing these old *tsk tsk* stories. Keep the counter attack going, keep telling your stories about all the fun and good there is here in this tropical beauty, the CNMI.

The Saipan Blogger said...

rehashed? I don't think so. That happened LAST YEAR. There are many people to blame for what goes on here, but most of the blame seems to go to "The CNMI," the pirates, and the sweat shops.

How about the human traffickers, the people that sell the girls, the list goes on...

I need to drink more prune juice before I go any further.

Saipan Writer said...

I'll possibly come back to talk about the politics, but on the environment stuff-love the video, old and as edited/added to.

Found this on You Tube under Saipan-a new "release. " http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hF1fs5aEBww Wonder what you think of it?

Saipan Writer said...

On the reporting in the Philippines--don't scream. Just think about what you can do to stop the problems here--the real problems, not the reporting about them.

Jeff, you are so wrong on this.

I represent some of the women who've worked at the Stardust and Starlight. I've listened to their stories. I've read the statements made to the DPS and followed the club owners' statements in the news. I've talked with the AG's office.

Some of the dancers were minors (under 18) when they were brought to the CNMI. They didn't have a choice. They were trafficked.

Most (all?) came expecting to dance naked, but with promises that there would be no touching, no prostitution. But when they got here, they were forced into prostitution. They were tricked and defrauded. And "trafficked."

And when they got here-- as for being on a "short leash"-I find that an offensive term but not wholly incorrect. These girls and women were locked up, kept under guard, unable to go anywhere without an escort, unless they "escaped." There was even an alarm installed on the door. And that's how they finally got free--one escaped and went to the authorities, because she had the audacity to want to live like a human being and have a boyfriend, go out once in a while, you know-be a free adult.

It's NOT old news. It happened last year (which would be "old" except...)The criminal case against the Starlight and Stardust owners is still pending. Nobody's pushing. Nobody's punishing all of the people who engage in trafficking here in the CNMI.

This isn't about whether prostitution should or shouldn't be legal. It's about freedom of women to make choices. And alien women who are brought in, tricked into illegal status by being told to enter as tourists and then "given jobs," locked up, forced into prostitution, already in debt from the "contracts" they signed for recruitment (which is supposed to be illegal here), and --oh, I forgot to mention this, made to purchase their clothing, etc. from the "company store"-- It's slavery. It's abhorrent. It's happening in Saipan.

And we should be ending it, not criticising journalists who follow the story.

Saipan Writer said...

PS. BTW, you're clock on these posts is an hour off. It's closer to 6 PM as I post these.

The Saipan Blogger said...

I'm not upset at Haidee for her article. I think the article is great.

I'm pissed off that this is still going on. We're sending people to DC saying, "that is so 1990's, things are WAY better now."

They may be better, but they still seem pretty bad.

I want these people who broke the law to be prosecuted. Let them know what it feels like to be locked up...and to take a shower with "Bubbles."

The Saipan Blogger said...

As for the shark video. Cool video. Naughty language. Would have been cooler if the shark had bit him.

Back in the day they would have had a shotgun on them to shoot the shark.

and to that I said...

Everytime I read a story that's even a month old, I know it's rehashed.

"How about the human traffickers, the people that sell the girls, the list goes on..."

Why don't you voice those concerns to the owners of Chicago2 the next your there drinking some boobs, eh beer...

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

I'm not sure what I'm wrong about or what we disagree about. I don't advocate underage strippers or forced prostitution. I talked to some island strippers when I first got here for the usual reason guys talk to strippers and I knew four years ago they were being kept under control at pretty much all the clubs. This is a widely known fact. I don't like club owners, or anyone, controlling anyone like that, and if people were doing their jobs in our government, that fact would have stopped years ago. Let's be clear on this, I'm using LEASH metaphorically for controlled, not to demean the women, so there shouldn't be anything to be offended about.

I'm speaking more generally about the forced prostitution tag that gets applied to the CNMI in MS Magazine, Dengre and elsewhere, not this specific case.

Saipan Writer said...

Jeff, I was reacting to the "I don't think they are forced into anything much other than economic desperation from the corrupt Philippine government" statement. That's what I thought you were so wrong about.

It's the trafficking situation itself, and people's willingness to say "old news" and that if people want to prostitute, what's wrong with that--those things that make me see red.

Undoubtedly there are prostitutes somewhere who are free, but the alien women who are working as strippers and whores here are not among them. They're chained by more than poverty.

The Saipan Blogger said...

(Resisting attempt to make joke about White House)

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

Does someone have a gun to the head of all those Chinese streetwalkers on island?

Lots of people get paid to abuse their bodies for money: commercial divers, NFL football players, soldiers, coal miners et al. The life expectancy for all these jobs is much lower than average. Should those be banned, too?

Clearly no one should be captive to an employer. Clearly no one underage should be in that business, but not every prostitute the world over is a victim. I don't really know anything about this specific case, and I don't have much to say about it.

bradinthesand said...

...and i say that i think that the whole story (of 'forced prostitution') is a load of garbage. they knew they were coming here to strip. i buy the fact that they could have been told about the 'no touchie' aspect of the job...but prostitution? nah, i bet that it never happened. at least not the way it was set up. i read the testimony. those girls wouldn't simply say 'no like, no like' and cry about it later. are you telling me there wasn't any kicking and screaming? no scratching? no shrieks of terror coming out of those rooms? nah, i don't buy it. not for a second. their testimony was bought and paid for. the club owners may be filthy people who operate in evil ways, but i gotta take a pas on that one. i mean, are you suggesting that all girls working in similar places back home in the philippines are innocent little angels who come here to be 'shocked' by what happens in strip clubs in the cnmi? come on, that's just not the way it works. they're poor girls who make a choice to dance naked for god sakes. do they expect to be working in a church run by priests and nuns? no. they know what kind of a seedy business they're joining. to call them victims is ridiculous.

the worst part about this mess that is actually true is that the girls are kept under lock and key. check out that building across from joeten dan dan. that is (or used to be) one of the stripper barracks. i only say used to be because they took the barbed wire down in the back.

..and for those asking how i know that (ha ha) i was apartment hunting a couple of years ago to check the building behind that one. when I parked I noticed all of the girls walking back and forth…of course I had to strike up a friendly conversation

just a few thoughts. feel free to crucify me now.

Saipan Writer said...

You don't believe a woman would agree to dance naked but say no to prostitution? I know women in the states who stripped as a means of paying their way through law school, and they most definitely refused the option of prostitution.

Some women who come here are hard as nails and know exactly what's in store, but the Star Dust, Star Light owners specifically refused to hire women who had ever worked as strippers or dancers before. They specifically chose young, naive girls and women from the provinces.

And I think it's really sad that men who are basically good, decent caring guys like you (jeff, brad) can't believe that young women can be duped and tricked, that somehow they're all just sleazy whores.

At least jeff you admit you don't know the facts on this (starlight/star dust) case.

And brad, on the last case that was prosecuted, there was screaming and some serious trauma to the woman's "private" parts. Perhaps you just didn't hear the screams yourself.

Next post is why I stopped back-it's on the turtles!

Saipan Writer said...

ON THE TURTLE VIDEO, Angelo, thought you'd like to know that this guy - http://kona-scuba-diving.blogspot.com/ - stopped by my blog and left a nice comment on your you tube video that I'd posted.

bradinthesand said...

of course women who dance can say 'no' to prostitution. hey, not all strippers are prostitutes. i don't put them in that classification. but to say that strippers pay their way through school is so funny. to paraphrase chris rock when addressing the stripper myth...

“no strippers are paying their way through college. how many schools do you know that take one dollar bills? and if it's true then how come i never got a smart lap dance? I never had a stripper say 'you know, you should really diversify your portfolio' or 'after the end of the cold war i feel that nato is obsolete.'”

in the story, eugenio wrote,

"In some instances, the employer would instruct the workers to fly from the Philippines to Hong Kong and from there fly to Saipan as 'tourists' to avoid the Philippine Overseas Labor Office’s requirements of authenticated contracts."

if you’re getting into a job this way you have to know that something isn’t right. and these girls from the provinces are a little closer to their families than their counterparts in the city. the family has to know what’s going on and give them counsel before they sign on the dotted line.

i grant you that anyone can be duped, but not all of them.

i have no problem with people who choose to dance in the buff for money.

i have no problem with people who have sex for money either. hey, it's their lives.

i don’t automatically link the two.

i have no problem with people who choose to do both.

i do have a problem with the mashers looking to, well, mash.

i like mashed potatoes, but not the monster mash.

Anonymous said...

No one said every stripper on Saipan is forced into prostitution. No one said every prostitute on the island is forced into it, even. What people are saying is that a bunch of them are, that it's terrible that they are, that there may or may not be powerful people complicit in the forced prostition, and that all those involved should be prosecuted.

The "they're Filipinas from the provinces and they asked for it" argument is pretty terrible.

Try to remember the values you came here with.

bradinthesand said...

um, no. you're completely missing the point there. i am not saying anyone asked for anything. that's just the way you took it.

i'm saying that people signing up for jobs under the auspices of fraud know that they're dealing with underhanded people from the start.

anyone who is victimized by the brutal act of rape has had their choice (among other things like their dignity) stolen from them.

i thought my take was pretty simple and straight forward. oh, and i am perfectly happy to present my point openly. have a name or an account? ah, the secure soapbox in anonymousville has yet another occupant.

here’s what we know…
seedy people from here go shopping in the philippines for girls to fill their strip clubs. do you think that the girls believe they are going to work at a cozy mom and pop place that serves coca cola and popcorn to the good wholesome men folk that happen to pass by after a long day doing the lord's work?

come on.

these girls are not the innocent flowers that articles like the one mentioned would suggest. i think that a lot of folks in the philippines know what’s going on and play up the drama aspect of ‘we’re being taken advantage of overseas’ when people are placing their safety behind the dollar.

strippers are strippers for a reason (or a number of them, but I’m not trying to get into that discussion). they make their decisions free and clear--nobody forces them to take off their clothes for money. THAT DOESN”T MAKE THEM PROSTITUTES!

i just find it hard to believe that people have girls cooped up in some kind of 'barns' ready for the next drunken customer.

you said…
"No one said every stripper on Saipan is forced into prostitution. No one said every prostitute on the island is forced into it, even. What people are saying is that a bunch of them are, that it's terrible that they are, that there may or may not be powerful people complicit in the forced prostition, and that all those involved should be prosecuted."

i agree, but the possibility of the strippers being "forced" into prostitution is a tough pill to swallow.

how does it work? so they just tossed a guy into the 'barn' and said 'have at it man' or something? there’s got to be a choice they make in her somewhere. You don’t think that the girls would make a move for the FRONT DOOR DURING BUSINESS HOURS if this was happening? come on. they’d be running out the door the next day.

i'm not saying that the possibility of being raped isn't out there. it is and it's terrible to think of. i believe that the slime ball owners would have no qualms providing the venue for girls and customers to meet in private for additional services as well.

maybe i’m just naive myself.

as far as my values go, their just the same as ever. i value life. i respect women. i believe that everyone is created equal. god and country and all of that stuff.

The Saipan Blogger said...

I think a big part of what is going on here is that we don't want to admit that some of these things go on here.

In the same way that it can be difficult to accept that your parents are human and make human mistakes, no one wants to believe that such horrible things can be happening in your own back yard.

Forced abortions? I have a hard time believing that. Forced prostituion? How about coerced prostitution, would that be more correct? Duped into stripping when you thought you were going to be a waitress? Absolutely that happens here.

...and yes I have bought beer at Chicago 2.

bradinthesand said...

want to buy me some boob, er beer, at chicago2?

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

This below is an outrageous attack and a misattribution. I don't think anyone is a whore. I don't even believe in the concept of whore. I'm not a feminist or holy roller obsessed with the sex act so I don't go around ascribing "dirtiness" to it. I've read blogs of escorts and sex workers and many of them seem like strong, independent people.

I've already said I don't know anything other than what is in the newspaper about this case. I just don't think forced prostitution is an island wide epidemic we should associate with Saipan in 2007. Even if it happened at Stardust as stated, it doesn't make Saipan a hotbed of forced prostitution anymore than Saipan is a hotbed for Chomsky reading Mitch Hedberg fans who like Portuguese food because I happen to be here and fit that profile.

As for the ability of people to be duped, millions of people vote Republican every year. Bush got re-elected I think. People can be duped into all kinds of things. I have no shortage of belief in the naivete of the general masses.

And frankly I was going to make this point before Brad, but didn't want to blame the alleged victim, but I agree with Brad here:

"You don’t think that the girls would make a move for the FRONT DOOR DURING BUSINESS HOURS if this was happening? come on. they’d be running out the door the next day."

And also in the Philippines, there isn't any just "strip bar," either. A Filipina's idea of strip bar and prostitute are synonymous.

Perhaps if government didn't get involved with a victimless crime like recreational drug use or prostution there wouldn't be these problems. How much forced prostitution do you think Amsterdam has?



And I think it's really sad that men who are basically good, decent caring guys like you (jeff, brad) can't believe that young women can be duped and tricked, that somehow they're all just sleazy whores.

The Saipan Blogger said...

Jeff, you forgot to mention that you are bald.

Saipan Writer said...

Women don't run out the front door for the same reason many women don't flee abusive husbands. They have no where to go.

They're young. They're in a foreign country. Not all of them speak the language well. And perhaps some of them knew they were avoiding the Philippine Overseas Labor Board by coming in as tourists, so they are even more afraid because they're worried they committed some crime. Who are they going to go to? Who will they trust?

And at the Starlite and Stardust, they couldn't run out the door-because the bouncers were there to stop them.

Brad, you don't think there's forced prostitution in Saipan? I think you're right when you suggest you might be naive.

Jeff, you ask if someone has a gun to the heads of the Chinese streetwalkers. Figuratively speaking, yes.

Haven't you heard of the Chinese women's bodies that have washed up on the beaches over the years? Some of those deaths were drug related, but some were messages not to run away from your pimps.

Perhaps it's becaue I've been here a long time, have met and personally interviewed victims of forced prostitution, have gone to barracks and seen the limits on personal freedoms imposed firsthand, have even had conversations with club owners to try to get women out of their situations--perhaps that's why I get totally upset with people who "don't believe" forced prostitution is happening here.

It would be a lovely world if all of the prostitution and stripping and everything was voluntary. but it's not.

It would be a lovely world if the only victims of crime were total innocents, but that's not true either. The women forced into prostitution here aren't pure as the driven snow, but none of us are (well, maybe Angelo?). Just because they're not perfect doesn't mean they haven't been victimized.

And Jeff, you have a great sense of humor. (loved the Bush comment) I'm sorry I offended you with my attribution, but I'm just basing my comments on the words on the page. If I got it wrong, I apologize.

You're point that Saipan or the CNMI is no more a center for forced prostitution than it is for guys like you is of course true. Nobody said otherwise (or if Haidee did, I missed it--but I didn't say that). But for women in the Philippines anticipating jobs here, it's important for them to know there are traps to avoid (whether they are ubiqitous or occasional isn't really important if you're the one caught in the trap).


Hot topic, Angelo. Lots of comments. Good job.



Oh, one more comment for Brad. What's the problem with someone making their comments anonymously? If Angelo set up his blog to allow anon comments, how does using anon invalidate the comment? Not everyone in the world has a blogger id. Are we judging the comments by who says it? Or by it's content? Or is it just that there's nothing else you can say against the comment itself, so you attack the person saying it rather than deal with the content?

I think anon's comment is great. Wish I'd written it (so you can attack me instead, if you like).

bradinthesand said...

saipan writer, I love you.

It's clear that we will never see eye to eye on this one but I do appreciate your points.

One thing I'd like to answer is that I don't attack anyone. It's not my style. I do like to rebut from time to time. But, if I did I would have the courtesy to let my intended target know where or from whom the jab is coming.

Again, you've got me wrong. It's okay though.

On to bigger things...

You said:
"Women don't run out the front door for the same reason many women don't flee abusive husbands. They have no where to go."

First of all, women don't marry and fall in love with their abusive jobs.

I've got more on this but I'll save it for later.

You said:
"They're young. They're in a foreign country. Not all of them speak the language well. And perhaps some of them knew they were avoiding the Philippine Overseas Labor Board by coming in as tourists, so they are even more afraid because they're worried they committed some crime. Who are they going to go to? Who will they trust?"

So you think they'd rather be raped than risk getting in a little labor trouble? Hmmm.

Oh, and I went to both of the clubs once or twice in my nearly five years here and the bouncer (singular) was outside, not inside.
They wouldn't have seen a thing. Oh, and they were big fat smoker guys too. They wouldn't have been able to catch a cold, much less a tiny dancer (couldn't resist).

In the event that they didn't get very far, tell me that a scream one foot out the door on the Paseo de Marianas wouldn't attract attention from the uniformed and undercover police across the way.

And as far as "forced prostitution" goes, I am sure that most of the women whom you consider "forced" see prostitution as a way out of their financial hole.

What am I talking about?

Well a lot of the Chinese, in particular, gamble illegally and run up big tabs with loan sharks in back room casinos (ask the FBI to verify that if you don't believe me).

They put their passports up as collateral and work off their ill-gotten loans however they can. Ever notice the missing passports ads in the paper? Check out the names and tell me what you find. On extremely rare occasions you'll find someone who lost theirs who isn't Chinese.

Of course, when facing the large debt from some pretty ruthless dudes, the women turn to prostitution. Maybe they ask around for tips from their friends or the loan sharks. Hey, that's not forced. That's an option. Those washed up bodies could be a number of things. Pimps? Yeah, could be.

Want another one? Read up on the Rabauliman case where they snatched up these Chinese girls off the street and raped them on Suicide Cliff, beat the living hell out of them and left them for dead.

And on the subject of pimps, there's got to be a reason why you have one in the first place. Think about that for a second.

I don't just mean for "security" on the mean streets of Garapan. Do you think they are just issued a pimp when they get off the plane? You gotta do something to get a pimp, like actively look for one.

And the Chinese women have DAY JOBS. I wrote a story about this about three years ago. If they don't have an official job then they are doing it on their own to try and get by under the radar. That's not forced, that's a lifestyle choice.

You said:
"The women forced into prostitution here aren't pure as the driven snow, but none of us are (well, maybe Angelo?). Just because they're not perfect doesn't mean they haven't been victimized."

I totally agree.

My point about that was directed more toward the original article that seemed to portray these girls as completely hoodwinked by the "recruiters" back home.

I'm not the monster who thinks that "Eh, they had it coming to them," at all.

I took and take issue with the initial article and that case.


What did those girls get in return for their testimony anyway? Well, they're still here working wherever they want thanks to a nice change of status.

You don't think that could have been an incentive for their testimony? The criminal charge is done. I didn't hear about any civil trial. Guess they don't want the money. But wait, isn't that what brought them here (under shady auspices of a tourist visa)?

Just some thoughts.

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

I don't think being a "Flip flopper" is a bad thing, and I'm open to changing my mind on the CNMI being a hotbed of forced prostitution as you contend. I frankly am not involved in that area as you are, so you could be right. I just haven't seen compelling enough evidence yet.

My understanding of the Chinese street prostitutes right now is that they are out of work garment workers uneager to go back home due to the shameful loan sharking just to get here for $3.05 thing we've read about. I haven't done a full blown empirical study on the work histories of current street prostitutes, but that seems to be what I've heard from people I know in law enforcement and it sounds plausible.

You did get it wrong in the dirty whore thing because I don't look down on prostitutes or strippers, don't believe in a concept like whore or its one sided association to women only and I loathe that sex is considered "dirty," and for that matter, when we rate movies and so forth there are endless shootings and murder, but the sight of a naked body or sex means the end of the world.

Having said a lot in this good little tussle, let me say that I hold the highest regard for what you do in offering legal services to the poor.

Saipan Writer said...

I wasn't going to comment any more, but I have to say this.

I don't think the criminal case against the owners of the Stardust/Starlite is done. I haven't heard anything about it--and as I said, our office represents the victims (on other matters--we don't handle criminal cases).

Brad, you said you read the women's testimony, but there's been no trial yet. (I took your statement to mean you'd read their police statements. I have, too.)

And I don't know of any civil suit against the owners, except for the administrative claim for unpaid wages, etc., which is still at Labor, with only the initial administrative findings order issued, and no further proceedings done yet.

And you're not quite right about the StarliteStardust dancers getting some great bonus from the allegations as a menas of staying--none has anything more than a TWA, which is renewed at short intervals (30 days, I think, but maybe as long as 90 days). And at least one of the women has returned to the Philippines.

There are far more disincentives to reporting sex crimes like rape than there are for going through the system.

(and yes, I'll acknowledge that there have been women who falsely report-at least in the states, and some most unfortunate men who have spent time in jail on bad convictions-thank God for DNA testing).

And one other aspect to the Starlite/Stardust case that bother me--and this was also seen in the last case that was prosecuted locally-there's a woman recruiter, and at least two other women who acted as "mama sans."