Tuesday, July 29, 2008

World Heritage Site Update, July 2008

unesco world heritage siteTo quote myself from a previous post, one of my professors at Rollins College used to describe World Heritage Sites in this manner:
"If aliens were to land on Earth and you wanted to tell them where the most important ecological, cultural, and historical sites on the planet were, you would use the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites."
Before my recent trip to Hawaii, I had visited the following 25 World Heritage Sites:
  1. Area de ConservaciĆ³n Guanacaste - Costa Rica
  2. Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park - Costa Rica
  3. Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church - United Kingdom
  4. Maritime Greenwich - United Kingdom
  5. Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites - United Kingdom
  6. Tower of London - United Kingdom
  7. Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Church - United Kingdom
  8. Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Remi and Palace of Tau, Reims - France
  9. Paris, Banks of the Seine - France
  10. Everglades National Park - United States
  11. Statue of Liberty - United States
  12. The Great Wall - China
  13. Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties - China
  14. Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing - China
  15. Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing - China
  16. Historic Centre of Lima - Peru
  17. Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza - Mexico
  18. Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal - Mexico
  19. Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama - Japan
  20. Complex of HuƩ Monuments - Vietnam
  21. Ha Long Bay - Vietnam
  22. Hoi An Ancient Town - Vietnam
  23. My Son Sanctuary - Vietnam
  24. Town of Luang Prabang - Laos
  25. Angkor - Cambodia
I can now add these two sites to my list:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
South China Karst/Li River

Obviously I visited Volcanoes National Park last week, but maybe you are wondering about the one in China? Well, the South China Karst World Heritage Site was declared just last year. When I visited in 2004 it was not yet a listed site. Now it is. Add it to my list.

That brings my total to 27.

Solid.

I've been meaning to write more about World Heritage Sites for some time. Until I do, answer me this question:

How many have you visited? Tag.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mokupapapa Discovery Center

MokupapapaOne of the benefits we have been tauting of the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument could be the visitor's center that would be built by the NOAA sanctuaries program. The benefits of a visitor's center are two-fold: There would be education benefits for local students and residents and there would be an added tourist attraction for our overseas visitors.

The Papahanaumokuakea visitor center is called the Mokupapapa Discovery Center and it is right on the water in Hilo on the Big Island. I tried finding the meaning of Mokupapapa, but couldn't find it. Any help would be appreciated.

The Discovery Center is in an historic looking shopping center and I have to admit that I was not impressed by the front door.

Mokupapapa Front DoorIt looked like an antique furniture shop or an ice shaved parlor, not a museum. The front entrance to the American Memorial Park visitors center is much more impressive.

Looks can be deceiving. The inside more than made up for the lack of a grandiose front door.

national parks map in pacificAs soon as you walk in the door you are greeted with a giant map of the Pacific Ocean highlighting all the monuments, national parks, sanctuaries, and other significant marine protected areas in our part of the world. Points on the map light up to show you the different parks' locations.

blue trevalliHanging from the walls and the ceilings are some models of a giant manta ray, sharks and other apex predators, like giant trevally. The predator density in Papahanaumokuakea is one of the highest in the world. That is one of the many things that make it special.

One of the areas inside the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument has the highest shark densities in the Pacific. We're special, too.

In the front room, in addition to the big fish and a coral reef mural, there are several interactive video displays with information on volcanoes, the Hawaiian Islands, birds, fish, conservation, and biodiversity.

AquariumIn the next room there is an aquarium with fish that one finds in the monument, like the convict tang, known locally as kiyu.

submarineThe back room has a theater with displays on the history of the islands on the walls. A movie was playing and a double hulled canoe was hanging from the ceiling.

Probably my favorite display was the life size mock up of a submersible. There were buttons and switches that lit up, you know, for the kids, but the best part was the remote control arm, you know, for the kids. I refuse to admit how long I spent trying to pick up the little foam balls with the arm.

marine debris displayThere were also displays on marine debris and its affect on sea life as well as a looping video of a Hawaiian chant explaining the creation of the Hawaiian islands.

All in all we spent a good hour in the visitors center, but could probably have stayed longer if we watched all the videos and read and played with all of the interactive displays.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hawai'i Photo Preview

North Shore sunsetToday is a busy day.

We learned a lot this week, especially during our visits to the Mokupapapa Discovery Center and Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.

Time to run, come back soon for pictures.

Hilo Coral Reef Discovery Centevolcanoes national parkwilliam aila and angelo villagomez

Saipan Tribune endorses Marine Monument

I returned from Hawaii late last night to find an email from the Saipan Tribune Business Editor letting me know to expect a surprise in today's editorial section. Talk about a good surprise!
Marine Monument: Good for the CNMI, good for the environment

Since the decline of the local garment manufacturing industry, the CNMI has struggled to revive its economy and reinvent its image in the eyes of the world. Now we have that chance with the White House considering the waters around our northern islands as the site of a future national marine monument-a golden opportunity to capitalize on one of our region’s greatest assets, the fragile and unique ecosystem of our oceans.

History is full of economic success stories born out of environmental preservation efforts. Take Kalispell, Montana. Founded in 1891, Kalispell began as a station stop on the Great Northwestern Railway. After the railway sought to promote Montana’s wilderness as a tourist attraction, it lobbied Congress for help and in 1910, President William Howard Taft signed legislation designating the nearby wilderness as Glacier National Park. Today, Kalispell is known as the "gateway" to Glacier with a thriving tourism economy-Need a hotel near Glacier? You’re going to Kalispell. Need gas to tour the park? Stop in Kalispell. You get the idea.-and has grown to become the largest city in its region of the state.

Countless places throughout the world share the same story. Look at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, near Grand Teton National Park, or Banff, in the Rockies of Alberta, Canada. Ecotourism has brought them significant economic growth, jobs and a promising future. With a national marine monument, the CNMI could have the same.

A more direct comparison to bear in mind is the Papahanaumoku National Marine Monument in Hawaii established by President Bush in 2006-a key step in fostering his so-called "blue legacy" of ocean conservation-which draws $10 million in annual funding alone, according to a recent study released by the Pew Charitable Trust, the organization that is spearheading the monument campaign here in the CNMI.

Economic statistics on the Hawaiian monument are scarce right now, the study notes, but just one 15-person trip by tourists into its waters results in $75,000 worth of spending. The same study found that a monument here in the CNMI could spur up to $10 million in tourism spending each year, and create hundreds of new and much needed local jobs.

Yet perhaps more important than the economic impact of a marine monument is the dire need to preserve our ocean waters for the future. The world’s oceans are now threatened with a slow death due to over-fishing and pollution. Ocean scientists have warned, for example, that if these problems continue at their current rate, 90 percent of the world’s seafood supply will be depleted by 2050. Already, a continent-sized swath of water in the Pacific is engulfed by a swirling mass of plastic garbage that threatens marine life and litters beaches, a problem with no foreseeable solution in sight.

Meanwhile, global warming is taking its toll on ocean life in the CNMI and worldwide. A recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report on the nation’s coral reefs revealed that researchers in the CNMI recently had to add ocean acidification-a process that occurs when ocean waters absorb carbon dioxide, prompting changes in pH levels that can harm a variety of aquatic species-to the list of threats facing local corals as atmospheric carbon levels continue to rise.

Pew is also poised to release a scientific report in the coming days composed of never before revealed data showing the proposed monument's waters are a hotbed of biodiversity and rare geological activity, placing greater urgency on the need to safeguard them for generations to come.

The Saipan Tribune is first and foremost a community newspaper. Our commitment is and always will be to do right by the people of the CNMI. And it is in that spirit that we are giving our endorsement to the proposed national marine monument. The proposal is the right plan at the right time, and was put forth for the right reasons. A national marine monument will benefit our local tourism economy and preserve a beautiful environmental gem. It is our hope that President Bush will establish the monument to give the CNMI the economic boost it needs and the environmental protections its waters deserve.
The scientific study mentioned is almost ready to go to the printers. I will announce on this blog and in the newspapers when hard copies are ready to be picked up.

Hard copies of the economic study will be available today. They were actually ready last Tuesday, but as I was in Hawaii, nobody was around to pick them up.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Off to Hilo

I'm sitting in the Honolulu airport using the $0.20 per minute Internet to type this out. I haven't had Internet since we left the North Shore.

We're going to Hilo for the day to visit the Papahanaumokuakea Discovery Center. We are also going to stop by Volcano National Park, the idea being that the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument would include volcanoes, the trench, the fish, and the steaming hot magma. Don't forget about the steaming hot magma.

We get back tonight and then tomorrow it is back to Saipan.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Working

Angelo Villagomez in HawaiiI've got another day of meetings (it is still Wednesday here) and then tomorrow morning I am off to Hilo to visit the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Discovery Center.

This trip is my first time visiting the North Shore of Oahu and tomorrow will be my first time visiting the Big Island.

Solid.

...and Boni, I've got your Starbucks mug. You wanted a ceramic one, right? If not, anybody want a ceramic Starbucks mug?

Committed to Ocean Conservation

Jay Nelson penned an editorial which appeared in both local papers this week:
Considerable recent press has been devoted to plans to establish a world-class marine park in the waters around the three northernmost Mariana Islands - Asuncion, Maug and Uracus. Letters, editorials and opinions have focused on both the benefits of the idea and on the non-profit organization, the Pew Charitable Trusts, which believes such a program would not only benefit the Mariana's marine environment and economy, but would also greatly enhance the reputation of the Mariana Islands as an environmentally friendly tourist destination.

The participation of people in CNMI in this very public discussion has been useful and healthy and will hopefully continue.

Worldwide, the oceans and their marvelous ecosystems are in trouble from global warming, pollution, overfishing and a host of other problems. But there are some places, like the Mariana Islands, where people still have a chance to preserve their cultural heritage and leave a wonderful environmental legacy for their children, while at the same time creating jobs and revenue that can improve the local standard of living.

Any new idea, however, is bound to stir interest and questions. So what of the Pew Charitable Trusts itself?

Pew, through its environmental arm, the Pew Environment Group, has launched a global effort to improve scientific understanding of the oceans, prevent the continued decline of fisheries to the benefit both fish and fishermen, and promote the preservation of particularly spectacular locations that have yet to suffer the devastating impacts of much of the world's marine environment.

Our efforts to encourage the establishment of a marine park in the Marianas are very much in keeping with our work around the world. Pew is an independent, non-profit organization governed by the same set of U.S. laws that apply to other charitable or non-profit groups, such as the Red Cross. We operate completely independent of government and business, although we try and work with both whenever possible. Moreover, as a non-profit, we make no money from our charitable work.

Pew has been a leader in advancing policies that improve lives, in Philadelphia where it is based, and throughout the world. Indeed, we are one of the most well-known, independent, non-profit organizations in the United States, running programs relating to education, culture, public health, the arts and the environment, among others. Our polling and information work is considered to be amongst the highest quality and most influential of its kind in the world.

For two decades the Pew Environment Group has been a major force in promoting sound conservation policies in the United States and, in recent years, internationally. The Environment Group is staffed by respected senior scientists, attorneys and policy specialists, all of whom have had significant prior experience in nonprofit advocacy, government and the private sector.

The Pew Environment Group focuses on reducing the scope and severity of three major global environmental problems: dramatic changes to the Earth's climate caused by the increasing concentration of global warming pollution in the atmosphere; erosion of large wilderness ecosystems that contain many of the world's rapidly vanishing plants and animals; and damage to the world's marine environment.

What led us to our work in the Mariana Islands was a number of factors. First, the environment in the waters around the northernmost islands has been little impacted by fishing or other extractive activities and is relatively healthy, containing some of the world's most unique geological features and ecology. Second, there is virtually no fishing in this area because it is so remote, and has never had the concentration of high-value fish that would make it a productive commercial fishing area. Third, it contains a portion of the world's deepest marine canyon and a host of native species, plants and other marine organisms that make it ecologically unique. And fourth, establishment of a marine park would actually benefit CNMI's economy through increased tourism and government support, in addition to generating jobs and revenue.

In the Mariana Islands, as in other areas of world where we are encouraging the establishment of marine reserves, we work with governments and the public to analyze the potential environmental and economic benefits of protecting these remarkable places.

The area being proposed for protection in CNMI is a spectacular complex of coral reefs, undersea volcanoes and deep ocean waters along a portion of the famed Mariana Trench. We believe this area will best serve CNMI both economically and culturally if it is conserved for education and research, for tourism and for future generations. We have sought to collect and disseminate information on the significance of this area and to bring this information to the attention of federal and local officials, as well as to better inform the people of the Mariana Islands about the area's natural values.

As part of our assessment of what a marine monument might mean to CNMI, three months ago we asked a respected economist at the University of Guam, Dr. Tom Iverson, to study the potential costs and benefits of such a designation. Dr. Iverson calculated that a marine monument would produce up to 400 new jobs and annually generate $10 million in new spending and $14 million in sales. He identified a number of potential benefits that would be created from a monument, many of which are related to the visitor industry and tourism marketing.

The establishment of parks or wildlife reserves, either on land or in the sea, is often a controversial process. There are always some individuals who do not believe that special natural areas should be protected from activities such as industrial fishing, mining, logging, and that these areas offer more value to people if their resources can be extracted for commercial gain. History, however, has generally proven this to not be true. The great parks of the world, places like Yellowstone or Yosemite in the western United States, or the spectacular game parks of Africa, provide far more benefit to people as parks than they ever would have if left unprotected. Protecting the waters around the three northernmost islands as a marine park will create much greater economic value for CMNI than commercial fishing or other extractive activities are every likely to produce. And at the same time, one of the world's most spectacular oceans areas will be protected for the culture and the people of the Marianas and their children and grandchildren as well as for the rest of the world.

Quite simply, we have approached the Mariana Islands as part of our overall mission to protect and conserve natural resources. In doing so, we seek to create a healthier and more sustainable environment for both people and nature. Our goal for the CNMI is to be a constructive advocate for an environmental opportunity that will not only benefit the local and global marine environment, but also the people who live here.

The decision on whether or not to designate a monument can only be made by government. If a marine monument is established, Pew will have no role in its management, and receive no compensation or benefit other than the satisfaction of knowing that a portion of the world's marine heritage is protected for future generations, while at the same time bringing certain economic benefits to local people.

Designation of an internationally recognized national-park-of-the-sea in the waters around the three northernmost islands of the Marianas will protect a portion of one of the world's premier marine ecosystems. It also will focus favorable global attention on the Mariana Islands, promote local tourism-including ecotourism-and establish CNMI's reputation as a global leader in marine conservation. As one of 15 protected areas within the U.S. National Marine Sanctuary Program, CNMI also would be able to take advantage of federal dollars devoted to public education and conservation. We believe this is one of those fortunate circumstances where conservation and economic development can work together for the benefit of both.

We encourage you to investigate this opportunity for yourself and look closely at its cultural and economic benefits. We look forward to continuing to work with the business community, your elected leaders and the public on this proposal.

Jay Nelson

Jay Nelson is director of the Pew Environment Group's Global Ocean Legacy, a project to protect some of the world's most spectacular marine environments.

The Flair with Friends

Party at the FlairChamp from the Flair SaipanAya and Mari Matsumoto

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Iverson Report Online

The economic report authored by University of Guam professor Tom Iverson can now be downloaded off the Internet. Click on this link and the report will open in your web browser.  The report can be saved as a pdf document.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Going to America!!!

Has it really been almost three years since I've stepped foot in one of the great states of the greatest country that God has or ever will create?

Indeed it has. That drought ends tomorrow. Cheesecake Factory, here I come!

Anybody need anything from Hawaii? Anybody in Hawaii want to hang out? I'll be in Oahu, but not quite sure where I'm staying yet.

Grand Theft Auto: Tinian to Saipan



I shot this video while flying from Tinian to Saipan last Tuesday afternoon. I was sitting in the front seat with the pilot, so I had a great view. The video starts with the takeoff in Tinian and ends with the landing in Saipan. The flight usually takes about 7 minutes, but I sped it up 8x and added music to make it more interesting.

I never realized Saipan looked so small from the air.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dream Interpretations

I had one of those dreams last night from which you never want to wake up. I don't know any better way to explain it.

In the dream I traveled to Virginia with one of our local elders to teach people about canoes and Chamorro warfare.

A girl I used to know in Orlando was at the Chamorro warfare presentation and gave me three foreign bills with hearts printed on them. What foreign currency has little red hearts?

Then I went to three different bars in Washington DC, where I kept running into people that I knew from college.

I saw a really good friend walk into the bar and when I went over to say hello, it wasn't him. He was wearing a Gryffindor scarf.

...and oh yeah, I was married to Patty Coleman!

******
I feel sorry for you if you read this post, but I'm excepting dream interpretations in the comments section.

Undersea Eruption



I love the Internet. This was on the Discovery Channel recently. The video is not within the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, it is actually off the coast of Rota, but this is the kind of stuff scientists will find if and when they start doing more expeditions up north.

Mariana Trench on Youtube



Bob Embley with NOAA in Newport, Oregon shares some video about the Mariana Trench. The video is titled, "Mariana Arc Video." It has some pretty cool shots of the smokers, liquid carbon, and other volcanic activity from the Ring of Fire.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Coral Spawning this Week

Get your snorkel and your flashlight!

This year's coral spawning event will take place over the next couple of days. Check out Peter Houk's article in the Saipan Tribune for more specific information.

Watch out for the sharks!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tinian Tour

Ike Cabrera Deb Fleming John Salas and Angelo Villagomez at Flemings HotelI owe Deb Fleming a huge thanks for helping us set up meetings about the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument in Tinian. Here we are posing with Ike Cabrera and Dr. John Salas from the University of Guam.

Deb did all of the organizing for the meetings. She provided all of the sound equipment, organized all the people of Tinian to come to the meetings, and gave me as much fresh fish kelaguan as I could handle.

Thanks again!

******
This morning after breakfast and an informal recap of the previous night's meeting, John, Laurie, and I went on a self guided tour of Tinian. Our first stop was Suicide Cliff.

Suicide Cliff SignI had a visitor to Saipan recently who thought the sign in Marpi that pointed to Suicide Cliff was funny. I guess I can see the humor in that. You know what's even funnier? The sign in Tinian that reads, "Welcome to Suicide Cliff."

Right, I know the history. Terrible things happened here, but...

Okay, I'll stop.

Angelo Villagomez Suicide CliffThe Tinian Mayor has done a bang up job (or is it Tinian MVA?) of creating sidewalks and such around the tourist areas. Suicide Cliff was no exception.

Tinian Suicide CliffThe view was amazing. I'm not completely sure, but I had a sense that the ocean was bluer in Tinian, especially between Tinian and Goat Island.

Our tour then took us to the Tinian Shrine, which I think is properly called Ten-something Jinja (that first character is ten-). Any help with the proper name would be appreciated. The name is on this lantern:

Tinian Shinto ShrineBack in the day (was it really almost three years ago?), I used to visit a shrine in Toyama-ken. The lion at the Tinian shrine reminded of the lion in Toyama.

shrine lionshinto lionShinto Shrine Lion on TinianNow is it just me, or does this lion look like Oreo?

Anyway, I should get some lion statues to guard my house. That would be cool.

Monarcha takatsukasaeI think I saw a Tinian Monarch at the shrine. Any bird people out there want to confirm my sighting?

Long Beach Tinian Turtle signFrom there we drove over towards the end of the island leased by the media. Our first stop was Long Beach, where I saw this cool sign reminding people not to drive on the beach.

One of the things I talk about when I talk to students about conservation is using culturally appropriate conservation techniques. One example I use is a story one of my professors used to tell when I was in college. His story has some applicability to our islands.

So let me tell his story by asking a question.

In Jamaica, when officials put up a sign that reads "NO FISHING," what does a Jamaican fiserman see? Simple. He sees a sign that says "GOOD FISHING."

:)

Long Beach TinianLong Beach overlooks Saipan. Cool.

live ordnances signOur next stop was Unai Chiget, which was recently fenced off by the US Military because of live ordnances in the area from World War II.

military fence with holeLive ordnances? Military fence?

Never mind!

People just cut a hole in the fence.

This was my first time visiting this beach (I think). Again, pretty cool. It is hard for my limited vocabulary to describe it, but there was sort of a reef flat or cove, which led out to the ocean or something. It reminded me of one of the islands from Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, but if said which one, I'd truly be a dork, so I won't.

***cough****Besaid Island***cough***

This post is starting to get a little long, so I'll just finish up with a picture of me posing next to one of the House of Taga latte stones.

House of Taga Latte StonesNext stop: Rota!!!

Tinian has it worse

Tinian Gas pricesThe price of gas on Tinian is a full 50 cents more expensive than it is on Saipan. This is nuts. We are going to have to completely change our way of life if the price keeps going up.

Monday, July 14, 2008

This Day in History

A while back a good friend gave me a DVD with a copy of most of the First, Second, and Third CNMI Constitutional Convention documents. My father was a delegate to the First and Second ConCon and he thought that I might want to read about his contributions to our Constitution.

I'd been meaning to look through the documents to find out how the islands of Asuncion, Maug, and Uracas came to be protected by our Constitution, but didn't actually sit down to sift through them until yesterday afternoon.

One of the things I wanted to know was whose idea was it to protect the islands and how did this discussion come about?

I discovered that only Maug, Sariguan, and Managaha were protected by the first ConCon. It wasn't until the second ConCon that the islands of Asuncion, Uracas, and Guguan received conservation status.

Well, I'm still digging, but I was able to find the following conversation, which took place on July 15, 1985, exactly 23 years ago today:
President H. Guerrero: Secretary Nabors, can you read Committee Recommendation No. 29?

At this point Secretary Nabors read Committee Recommendation No. 29 in its entirety, as follows:

"COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION NO. 29.

"A PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

"To amend Article XIV, Section 2 to include two other uninhabited islands to be protected and preserved.

"BE IT ADOPTED BY THE SECOND CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION:

"Upon ratification pursuant to Section 5 of Article XVIII of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Constitution and Public Law No. 4-30, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is amended as follows:

"I. Effective upon ratification, Section 2 of Article XIV is amended to read:

"'Section 2. Uninhabited Islands. The island of Managaha shall be maintained as an uninhabited place and used only for cultural and recreational purposes. The islands of Maug, Uracas, Asuncion, Guguan and other islands specified by law shall be maintained as uninhabited places and used only for the preservation and protection of natural resources, including but not limited to bird, wildlife and plant species.'"

Delegate Villagomez: Correction.

President H. Guerrero: Delegate Villagomez?

Delegate Villagomez: The correct pronunciation is not "Gu-an" but "Gu-gu-an."

President H. Guerrero: I believe "Guan" is the proposed name for Guam.

Secretary Nabors: Let's be progressive.

President H Guerrero: The Chair is ready to entertain its adoption. Delegate Villagomez?

Delegate Villagomez: Mr. President, (in Chamorro)

Delegate King seconded the motion.


Delegate Manglona: I'd like to translate that in English for the benefit of one of the delegates in this Convention. Delegate Villagomez has just moved to adopt Committee Recommendation No. 29 and has been seconded.
Just so you know, President H. Guerrero is Herman T. Guerrero, Secretary Nabors is William B. Nabors, Delegate King is Esteven M King, and Delegate Villagomez is my Dad, Ramon G. Villagomez.

I'll continue to dig through the documents to see if I can find any record of the conversation that led up to Committee Recommendation No. 29 (my father was a member of the Second ConCon Committee on Personal Rights/Natural Resources), but I can now say with all honesty that my father is the person that first motioned to protect the three islands within the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument (excluding Maug, of course, which was protected by the First ConCon).

How cool is that?

I need your help!

Hi Everyone,

The Saipan Rotary Club Las Vegas Night is on Saturday. I need to sell $300 worth of tickets. Can you PLEASE help me out by buying a $20 book of tickets?

Please, please, please...

Thanks!

Call me.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Greetings from Tinian!

I am on Tinian today with Dr. John Salas and Ike Cabrera for a public meeting on the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. We were invited to speak by Debra Fleming of Fleming Hotel. The meeting is tonight at 6 PM and everyone is invited.

In other monument news, we are discussed in the pages of both the Saipan Tribune and the Marianas Variety as well as on a post on Mike Tripp's Saipan Scuba Diving blog.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Back in the Day III

This is Back in the Day III. I welcome my fellow bloggers to post their own Back in the Day. No rules. No tagging. Just post some old pictures and write whatever you want to write about them.

Justice Villagomez and Family
Another Family Portrait: Back in the Day II has one of only two photos that exist of all my father's children in the same place at the same time. This is the other photo. This photo was taken in the summer of 1992, the only year that all of my Dad's kids were on Saipan together. If you look really carefully, you can see that Solomon is only wearing one shoe and that he has a bandage covering his big toe. A few days earlier he was proving to his cousins how strong he was and picked up a car battery...and subsequently dropped it on his foot. Ouch!
Angelo Villagomez and Fred Camacho in 1979
Happy Birthday to me!: Here I am with my first birthday cake! I think that's my Dad with the guitar and that is Fred Camacho, Reina Camacho's dad, rockin' the 'stache and Eric Estrada sunglasses.
Angelo Villagomez on Anatahan
Nice Lizard: In 1995 I went to Anatahan with my Dad. The day we arrived I went on a hike around the time the sun was setting. I hiked uphill, heading towards the summit on the eastern side of the island. I remember seeing wild goats, wild pigs, some Mariana megapode, and more fruitbats than I could count. At one point I saw a huge lizard's tail sticking out of the trunk of a tree. I grabbed the lizard by the tail, pulled it out, and carried it back to the beach. The sun set as I started back and I got back to camp in the dark. My father was pissed, but hey, I had a big monitor lizard to show for it. I tied the lizard to a big rock using some string, played with it for a few hours the next day, and then let it go.
Solomon Villagomez
The Guy from the Village People: On my last day on Saipan in 1995 I went down to Old Man by the Sea with my father, Alex, Abraham, and Solomon. Solomon found this washed up construction hat on the beach and I memoralized the moment with this photo. I can remember showing this photo to my father and him saying, "You shouldn't cut off people's feet when you take their picture." Thanks, Dad.
Angelo Villagomez in short shorts
Nice shorts: This picture was taken during the summer of 1995. I was fishing with my Dad at Tank Beach. He caught the fish and I carried the bag.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Miss Saipan Contest II

Miss Saipan ContestAya and Willie Matsumoto invited some of the Beautify CNMI crew to a charity concert at the Hyatt on Thursday. Goro Noguchi was the headliner.

I've never heard of him, but I hear he's pretty famous in Japan.

:)

Before the concert the lastest winner of the Miss Saipan contest was crowned. She's the one wearing the tiara...and this time she's not 15 years old.

Eego KomatsuKomatsu liked the one in yellow. She's the tall one wearing "gladiator shoes."

One of the guys pointed that out to me. I won't reveal who, but I revoked his Man Card. No man should know the latest craze in women's footwear.

Cinta Kaipat Angelo Villagomez Anician TomokaneAnyway, I sat between Anicia Tomokane and Cinta Kaipat. Dinner was great. The Hyatt served up a three course surf and turf. Yum.

Japanese Singer DudesI think Goro Noguchi is the guy on the left. I'm not sure who the other two guys are, but I think they were mentioned in this Saipan Tribune article. After the concert I hung out in the lobby with the Matsumotos and the famous Japanese people and had a few drinks. The singers ordered two bottles of Veuve Clicquot and several bottles of red wine.

Good times.

Thanks Aya and Willie!