What the heck does a panda have to do with Saipan anyways?
Well, Saipanda is just a play on words. The Japanese word for rhino is "Sai." So the literal translation of "Saipanda" into Japanese is something like "Rhino Panda." Saipanda can also mean "It's Saipan" in both Korean and Japanese and in Russian it sounds like, "Saipan Yes."
So that is the connection between Pandas, Rhinos, and Saipan. It is purely meaningless, has nothing to do with the location, and is just an attempt to be cute.
In Japanese, Saipan could also translate into "Rhino Bread." So why not create a Rhino Bread Man character? Japan already has Anpanman,a character with a head made out of bread stuffed with bean jam (see photo).
Anpanman (アンパンマン, voiced by Keiko Toda): The hero of the story, whose head is a bun made by Jam Ojisan. His name comes from the fact that he is a man with a head made of bread (Japanese: pan, a loanword from the Portuguese word meaning "bread") that is filled with bean jam (Japanese: an) called an anpan. His weakness is water or anything that makes his head dirty. He regains his health and strength when Jam Ojisan bakes him a new head and is placed on his shoulders. Anpanman's damaged head, with Xs in his eyes, flies off his shoulders once a new baked head lands. He was created when a shooting star landed in Jam Ojisan's oven while he was baking. He has two special attacks called: An-punch and An-kick. When Anpanman comes across a starving creature or person, he lets the unfortunate creature or person eat part of his head.
Saipanman could be Anpanman's formidable foe from the South. Using the dreaded Rhino Lightning Attack, Saipanman could milk money from unsuspecting Japanese tourists.
Anpanman could fly in and feed the starving tourists part of his head. Then he could hand them a doll, not Saipanda, but Gomen na Saipanda.
And we're back.
The Garapan Revitalization Group had a press conference on Wednesday to report on the progress that they have made in the last six months.
The group was formed in a partnership between Tan Holdings and Hyatt Regency Saipan. They noticed that the Garapan Tourist District has not-so-slowly been deteriorating into the Garapan Red Light District.
They wanted to do something about that change, so they contacted DEQ, CRM, Rep. Kaipat, and Rep. Waki to help out. Along the way they also received help from FMI, Kinpachi Restaurant, and the Division of Angelo Villagomez.
They assigned each of the 19 blocks in the Tourist District to a hotel manager and tasked the manager to go out into the community and to identify the problems that needed fixing. Then they asked the businesses and the volunteer groups to help clean up the place.
In the last six months they have painted the Fire Station, painted the colored pathway on the Paseo de Marianas, painted all the public benches and trash bins, paved Date Street, painted all of the no parking curbs red, held weekly trash cleanups, received a promise from the Governor that Parks & Recreation would pick up trash every day, installed lighting, cleaned out the ditches and drainages, and cleared out several of the abandoned overgrown lots.
A lot of work still remains to be done, but at least we are getting there and at least we are working together. Even the government is pitching in to enforce the laws; I saw a CRM enforcement vehicle out policing the area this past Thursday during the Street Market.
Change is slow, but it looks like change is happening. I hope that people realize that. We had an article in Thursday's paper, but I don't think it did justice to the amount of work that has gone into that project.
On a side note:
These girls were hanging out at Wing Beach during our monthly cleanup on Saturday. Now don't you wish you had gotten up?