Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Today is a sick day

I'm not feeling so hot today. I had a wicked headache all day yesterday and today I feel kind of erggggggg...

The latest news is that the haze covering Saipan is a combination of volcanic gases and, get this, Chinese smog. That's right, the pollution in China is so bad that it can make people in Saipan sick even though we are thousands of miles away. I say we start bombing right now.

So.

I've been doing a lot lately, both physically and mentally. The physical part is what is really killing me. After 10 years of 12 ounce curls, I gave up drinking...and now I've been training with the CNMI Men's Football Team for exactly three weeks. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I've been sore on a different body part every day since practices started.

Today it is my shoulders. I have the Coach Ziggy Korytoski Circle of Death to thank for that.

Speaking of Football, we've been getting requests from Football fans around the world wanting to see pictures of our team. Here are a few that I stole from Brad's Myspace:

These are the guys that showed up on the first day of practice:

Our numbers (and our waistlines) have been reduced over the last three weeks.

I think this picture is from the third day of practice, the first time we had to do excercises in the ocean:

CNMI Football Team at Micro BeachI think I'm the only guy not sucking it in. I'll post more pictures as I take them.

Another Blogger Meetup!

Oops! I forgot to bring my camera! I stole these pictures from Bev and Walt:

Saipan Blogger MeetupSaipan Blogger Meetup11 people showed up this time. Walt tried to make it formal by having us all introduce ourselves and our reasons for blogging. The old pros helped the newbies with their blog formats. I ate some chicken nuggets. All in all it was a good time.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Volcano Day

Anatahan VolcanoThe kids were sent home from some of the CNMI Public Schools at 9 AM today, because, get this, the volcano on Anatahan is erupting! The volcano, which is 75 miles north of us, is spewing out ash and a thick grey haze is covering Saipan...and let's not forget that wonderful sulphurous (that's a new word) aroma!

Here are pictures from my front (facing inland) and back (facing the ocean) porch:

Saipan Volcano HazeAnatahan Volcano HazeYeah, so some places have Snow Days. We have frickin' Volcano Days!

Another Blogger Meeting

The ever increasing stable of We Love Saipan bloggers will be meeting for our second meetup at Java Joe's this Wednesday at 7 PM. The meetup is totally informal. We just sit around with our laptops avoiding eye contact and emailing each other.

Just kidding.

But seriously people, anyone interesting in blogging is welcome to attend. We exchange blogging ideas and links, help each other with html and formatting, drink coffee, eat buffalo wings, make fun of me (incessantly), and generally have a good time.

Last month we created three new blogs, so you don't have to be a blogger to attend. We'll help you get started. You just have to have an interest in blogging and we'll go from there.

Speaking of blogs, there are a few others out there (besides the Beautify CNMI! Blog and the Hafa Adai Coral Reef Outreach Blog) that I've been posting to, for well, about two years. I've neglected them for the last few months, but I want to get them going again.

Here they are:

-Chopsticks-

and

Daily OSB

If only I had some free time...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

CNMI Men's Football: The Starting 11

We had our first friendly match against the CNMI All Star Team today. This was the starting eleven:

CNMI FootballFront Row (left to right): Vince, Dale, Jason, Wes, and Mike. Back Row (left to right): Ben, Dave, Mark, Bruce, Yosh, and Pete.

We lost 4-1, but it was a good game. We fell apart in the last fifteen minutes of the first half and they scored 3 goals, boom, boom, boom. Those fifteen minutes cost us the game.

I didn't start, but I went in after 30 minutes and then played the whole second half. For what it is worth, I was a little disappointed with my 15 minutes in the first half, but I think I did better in the second half.

Here are a few pictures I took before I was put in:

Bruce BerlineYosh GabaldonMount Tapachou SaipanSaipan FIFACNMI FootballAnd here's another shot of the starting eleven from a lower angle:

Friday, February 23, 2007

Libra Mae Sparks: Why do you hate the CNMI?


I missed this "editorial" in Pacific Times by Libra Mae Sparks. Someone recently forwarded it to me:

A signature campaign to BLOCK the approval of the impending MONORAIL project at the GROTTO has already garnered over 1,000 signatories. Environmental advocate ANGELO VILLAGOMEZ is leading the opposition to the proposed monorail project at the Grotto.

I disagree with this. You know, this is our problem. Here we are clamoring for PROGRESS yet, we IMPEDE progress in the name of ENVIRONMENT. Listen, Boy, we can have a MONORAIL without disturbing the environment. The technology will allow a MODERN EQUIPMENT to INTEGRATE itself among the trees and the shrubs and the bushes. Google MONORAIL and you will see several samples of those monorails that are not even visible from afar.

Take note of what the MONORAIL will do to most people. Just take me, for example. Do you know that I have not even reached the bottom steps of the stairs down to the Grotto? Why? Because I am so afraid to go LOOK DOWN and GO DOWN by FOOT. Whereas if I am riding a monorail run by a motor, then I save my ENERGY and NERVES and instead of FEAR, I will feel AWE and more APPRECIATION because I am taken down there with EASE and COMFORT. See the difference?

Do you want more tourists to SEE and APPRECIATE what Mr. Angelo Villagomez described as one of the best, if not the best, NATURAL and CULTURAL TREASURE, one of the best diving destinations in the world? Well, then allow the construction of the MONORAIL !! What about the DISABLED individuals, those who are on WHEELCHAIRS, the MAN'AMKO whose knees can no longer traverse the 100 or more steps? You are depriving these people and ME, personally to see how beautiful the Grotto is. Let PROGRESS TAKE ITS COURSE, Boy, and don't let your name be associated with RUSTIC mentality. PROGRESS is PROGRESS and there ain't no way you can STOP IT! Do you want to be a hero? Well, then GROW UP!!!
Dang it! I can't believe I missed this "editorial" when it first came out!

I find this "editorial" hilarious for a number of reasons, the main one being that I only talked to the Saipan Tribune about this story (the second probably being that she writes like she has Tourette's Syndrome). I never talked to anyone from Pacific Times. Pacific Times must read the other local newspapers to look for stories. Who knew?

I fail to see how protecting the diving industry on Saipan from cockanany ideas impedes progress, or wait, I mean IMPEDES PROGRESS. I also don't understand the "want to be a hero" or the "grow up" comments. You were talking about PROGRESS and then you went off on a tangent. WTF, mate?

By the way:

I dove the Grotto on Monday. I'll be diving it again in 8 hours. Who are you going to trust, someone that readily admits that she's never even been to the Grotto, or someone that goes there at least once a month, if not once a week?

At least she had the courtesy to call me Mr. Angelo Villagomez.

Save the Grotto, bitches.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The children of the CNMI NEED YOUR HELP!!!

I made the team! I'm going to be first string Third Bench! Just kidding! I'm the Left Out!

But seriously folks...

March 25 is getting closer and closer. The first cuts for the newly formed CNMI Men's Football team were made today. We're getting closer to choosing the 11 Men (plus 7 subs) that will face Guam in the CNMI's first International Match (keeps fingers crossed).

We've also come to point where we need to ask for financial assistance. The players are passing this letter around to potential sponsors:

Northern Mariana Islands Football Association

The Northern Mariana Islands Football Association is proud to announce the NMIFA Junior Kick-off. The event will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2007, from 2:00 PM until 4:00 PM for children between ages of 5 -15 at the American Memorial Park. This one day skills clinic is designed to increase awareness for the world's most popular sport and encourage our local youths to the right path toward living a healthy lifestyle.

This event will be led by Coach "Ziggy" Korytoski and CNMI Men's and Women's National Teams. Coach Korytoski is a seasoned professional who led the Penn State University Women's Club Team to the 2001 National Championship and is currently an Assistant Coach at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, as well as the District II Head Coach for Ohio South Olympic Development Program. Korytoski holds a United States Soccer Federation Class B license as well as an NSCAA Premier Diploma.

The cost to participate in the NMIFA Junior Kick-off is $10 per child and registration is open up to and including the day of the clinic. Coach Korytoski will only be on island for a short amount of time to lead the CNMI Men's and Women's National Teams into their first international matches against Guam and this is a rare opportunity for local kids to learn from someone with his experience.

The recent All-School's tournament brought several spirited youngsters to the field and introduced many more to the sport of soccer. While NMIFA's numbers have more than doubled in the past 18 months, there is still a significant amount of local youths left out of the loop due to many reasons, one of which is financial. Our goal is to have esteemed members of our business community work together with NMIFA in providing the NMIFA Junior Kick-off and the experience of Coach Korytoski to as many youngsters as possible by sponsoring local schools.

We ask that you join our efforts by making this rare opportunity available to as many children as possible by sponsoring schools (i.e. 50 children for $500). Any support you can offer will be welcomed and the amount of children you wish to sponsor is up to you. As part of our recognition for you sponsorship we will proudly display your self-provided company banner throughout the NMIFA Junior Kick-off.

We thank you in advance for your support and look forward to acknowledging you during the NMIFA Junior Kick-off. Please make all check payable to the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association.

If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 236-2441 or by fax at 322-5453.

Northern Mariana Islands Football Association
PO BOX 501937
Saipan, MP 96950
Tel No. (670) 236-2441 Fax No. (670) 322-5453
The letter is geared towards local businesses, but if you are currently off-island and would like to help a great program, please consider putting a $20 (or $100!) check in an envelope and mailing it to the address listed above. Leave me a comment on this blog, too, so that I can tell Coach Ziggy to keep an eye out for it.

Volunteers and in-kind contributions can only get us so far. We need cash donations for equipment, uniforms for both National Teams, and so on.

This clinic is a way for us to give back to the community and to raise some needed funds at the same time. Youth sports were an important part of my upbringing, but I was on the East Coast; Kids here don't neccesarily have the same opportunities that I had. This is a chance for you to donate to a great cause that will get a local kid involved in youth sports. I'll do my part by donating my time, but I need your help in donating cash.

So, in closing:

Pretty please?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Is anyone bleeding?

The Micronesia Challenge seeks to "Effectively Conserve 30% of our near shore resources and 20% of our forest resources by 2020." A huge part of "Effective Conservation" is educating our children about our environment, especially on coral reefs, watersheds, and how the two are related in the CNMI and the rest of Micronesia.

The Mariana Islands Nature Alliance and the Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council, the two leading environmental non-profits in the CNMI, have been leading groups of local students on field trips to the Laulau Watershed for the last several months.

You can add 27 students and 2 teachers to the list of people that have been on the Angelo Villagomez Death March, um, I mean, Laulau Watershed Revegetation Project Field Trip.

The 6th grade students at Tanapag Elementary are learning about the environment. Their teacher, Miss Eileen Babauta, contacted me to see if I could either come into the class or show the kids where I work. Last week they had someone from the Division of Environmental Quality come into their classroom to talk about nonpoint source pollution. Today they got to climb up on a mountain (that's right, I work on a mountain!) to get a first hand look at nonpoint source. Exciting, I know!

I took the kids to the top of Mt. Laulau and they were able to point out the different sources of pollution leaching into Laulau Bay. They noticed things like agriculture, roads, houses, and golf courses in Kagman, San Vicente, and Dan Dan.

Any kid who goes on one of my field trips is responsible for learning one thing; they have to be able to repeat this simple mantra:

"What we do on the land can affect our marine environment."

Even though I make them repeat it no less than 30 times, it is really easy to get the kids excited about saying this mantra. Before we step onto the trail to start the hike, I lay out some rules about safety and having fun. Then I tell them that they only have to learn one thing on the field trip. This always gets them excited because kids like being told that they're not learning (even when they really are).

After I tell them the mantra, I ask one of the kids to repeat it back to me. There is always some hesitation on the kids' part, and sometimes it takes a couple of tries, but the first student to get it right wins a pack of Mentos (that's candy for those of you who don't remember those Mentos commercials from the 1990's).

When they see that answering a question wins them candy, all hesitation on the part of the kids goes away for the rest of the field trip.

This was the rowdiest bunch of kids I've taken on a field trip so far this year. My nephew, Edmund Villagomez, was their teacher last year. They figured this out in the first few minutes of our hike, which made us all instant friends. They even started calling me Mr. V and Mr. Villa-gorgeous...because that is what they call Edmund.

The thorns were really bad on this trip. I mean really bad. Really, really bad. Once the field trip was over and we were back on the bus I asked if anyone was bleeding.

I think pretty much everyone, including the teachers, raised their hands! Bleeding and still smiling?!?! Another successful field trip!

If you would like to experience the thorns and blistering heat at the Laulau Watershed Revegetation Project, please schedule a field trip with Angelo Villagomez at the Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council office, 236-0894, or his cellphone, 483-1078, or via email angelovillagomez@gmail.com.

Mark your calendars!

I've got a busy day today.

At 8:30 AM I am meeting 27 students from Tanapag Elementary School up at the Laulau Revegetation Project site for an outdoor learning class (I hope the thorns aren't as bad as they were for the NMC kids last month!) Then at 2:30 I am judging a science fair at Garapan Elementary School. Then I've got soccer practice at 4:30.

That's right; I said soccer practice.

Two weeks ago I decided to try out for the first CNMI National Football (soccer) Team. I haven't officially made the team, but here's to hoping. The Northern Mariana Islands Football Association brought over a college coach, Ziggy Korytoski, to train us for an upcoming tournament with Guam. He has been kicking my ass (and the rest of the team's ass, too) up and down the soccer pitch for two weeks.

I've been sore on at least one part of my body every day since practice started. First it was my quads, then my calves, then my hamstring, and now my ass hurts. That's right. I'm man enough to admit that my ass hurts. It's a good hurt, though. No comments, please.

The two games against Guam aren't until the end of March, but we have a friendly game scheduled for this Sunday against the NMIFA All Stars. The All Star team is made up of the best players from the 8 teams that just played in the recent Men's Soccer League. These are guys that would be on the National Team if only they had American passports, so they are really good. It will be interesting to see if three weeks of hard training can beat a more talented international team.

The game is this Sunday at 2 PM at Ada Gym. Come support us!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ooooohhhh.....Scary



Today was a good day. I dove the Grotto, watched a Little League game, took a nap, went to the gym, and watched this fun little video (thanks, Yoshimi!)

Here are some pictures:

Have you ever seen these holes on Suicide Cliff? They were put there 62 years ago by the US Navy.

Saipan Suicide CliffSaipan Suicide CliffBoom, boom, bang, boom, boom.

Here are the Grotto pics:

Saipan Grotto BarracudaSaipan Grotto DiverSaipan Grotto CaveWhen we surfaced we were greated by throngs of Chinese tourists spending the Lunar New Year in Saipan. I love that Chinese tourists have no problem wearing hats that says "BLOW ME" or dressing their kids up like Little Bo Peep:

Blow MeChinese Tourists in SaipanAfter the dive, Bev and I picked up some Subway and then drove over to the baseball fields at Ada Gym to watch Franklin and AJ's Little League game. Here's a picture of Frank swinging for the fences (it was an inside the park homerun) and his older brother AJ about to throw a strike.

Saipan Little LeaugeSaipan Little LeagueThe name of their team is the Hustlers. Saipan is one of the few places in the world where you can get away with calling a Little League team the Hustlers.

We Love Saipan Network Update

The We Love Saipan Network is kicking ass and taking names. The last time I checked we had 17 local blogs profiled on our Main page and 28 local blogs listed on our Links page...and I know of several other local blogs that haven't gotten around to listing themselves.

And in case you were wondering, yes, I am talking to you, Cinta, Gus, Carl, Harry, Jeff, Crystal and Ken, Sean, Mai, Lori and Laurie, Krista, Alex, Ed, Tina, Ken, Kelvin, JT, and everybody else that I can't think of right now who hasn't added a link yet.

So.

In a recent google search for the word "Saipan," We Love Saipan popped up as the #36 result! Think about that for a second. In a span of less than three months, We Love Saipan has become the #36 website for people looking for information on Saipan (this number will invariably fluctuate day to day).

How big of a deal is that? Well, we appear higher than the Marianas Visitors Authority for a "Saipan" google search! Ponder that for a second. A network of bloggers have a greater Internet presence than the semi-autonomous government agency charged with promoting tourism in the CNMI...and we did it in three months with no budget. Talk about results! Beware my blogger kung-fu!

It just goes to show you the power of the Internet. The 50 or so local bloggers cranking out stories, pictures, and videos showcasing life in Saipan are redefining Saipan and the CNMI's image. Sure we have our problems (thanks for relentlessly pointing them out, Dengre), but the good far outweighs the bad.

So.

We'll be having our second Blogger meetup on Wednesday, February 28 at Java Joe's at 7 PM. The meeting is totally informal and anyone interested in blogging, drinking coffee, or listening to my off-color jokes is welcome. Mark your calendars; We meet on the last Wednesday of every month.

Friday, February 16, 2007

An inspirational Haiku for Beautify CNMI!

Wing Beach HaikuAs you can probably tell, I am not a poet. This Haiku has a deeper meaning, I just don't know what it is.

The picture was taken at this morning's MINA cleanup of Wing Beach. I also snapped a picture of this guy:

Yellow bitterns (Ixobrychus sinensis) are medium-sized, pale yellow birds with black wing stripes. They appear awkward in flight, with their legs trailing behind their bodies and their necks folded into an S-shape. Their local name "kakkak" refers to the loud call that they make when startled.

My favorite recipe:

YELLOW BITTERN TETRAZZINI

1 1/2 cups boned yellow bittern
3 tbsp. butter or margarine
3 tbsp. onion, chopped
1/3 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups yellow bittern broth
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups thin spaghetti
1 cup shredded cheese

Clean Yellow Bittern

Melt butter in saucepan; cook onions and mushrooms over low heat until tender. Add yellow bittern broth and cornstarch and stir until thickened. Add yellow bittern and spaghetti. Heat mixture until bubbling, stirring frequently. Turn into baking dish and top with cheese. Place under broiler until cheese melts.

Delicious!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love was in the air

Club V ValentineLast night was another great night at Saipan Grand Hotel's Club V...but I don't have time right now to post pictures...come back later tonight for the scandalous Club V Valentine's Day Party pics!

In the meantime, who would you pick, based on eyes alone:



Update:

Here are the pictures I promised:

As you can probably gather from the pictures, we had dinner together at Aoi Restaurant before the show. Hello, bottomless plate of shrimp tempura? Heck yeah!

The show itself was a lot of fun. There were 5 guys and 5 girls and we were each asked several rounds of questions. At the end we all wrote down who we wanted to be paired off with and if two people chose each other, they were paired off.

On my piece of paper I wrote:

"I choose you, Pikachu!"

I didn't get Pikachu. I was paired off with Margaret...who ran off after the show without saying a word to me. I think her first choice was Squirtle, not me.

Oh well, at least I still have my health. I didn't go home empty handed though; Before she ran off, Margaret gave me a stuffed teddy bear with rabbit ears (at least that's what it looks like to me). Right now it is in my car next to my dirty soccer socks. I will cherish it forever.

...and of course, none of this would have been possible without my loyal fans cheering me on:

...and that was Valentine's Day 2007.