Sunday, November 30, 2008

Leavin' on a jet plane

Today is the three year anniversary of my father's death. It is also Catie's birthday. She turned 9 today.

I am up late packing my things for the trip back to Saipan. It is around midnight. I've got about three hours before I have to go to the airport.

It has been too long since I've been to Florida. The past week has been great but it was not nearly long enough. I spent lots of time with my family and managed to see a few, but not enough, of my friends here.

I'm much calmer than I was when I left three years ago, seeing as I have more knowns, both known and unknown. I'm not as nervous because I'm not jumping into a situation sure to bring many surprises. I'm just going to my other home, not my first home or my newly returned home or my second home or my adopted home, just my other home.

If three years ago someone had told me that all that has happened in the last three years was going to happen, I would have laughed at them. Case in point, as I was looking through my boxes of old pictures and letters tonight, I realized that the last time I held those objects in my hands my father was alive and I had every intention of spending the rest of my life with Emily. Funny how life works out. Makes you wonder what the next three years will bring.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Amigos

Alex and KevinI've been having a great time spending time with my family, but I've also seen some friends.

Crissie YoungI first met Crissie at Wolfgang Pucks in 2000. We've been roommates twice and have remained good friends over the years.

Sandra DiazI worked with Sandra at League of Conservation Voters in 2004. She worked on the c(3) side and I was on the c(4) side. She lives up in West Virginia now and works on ending mountain top removal. She celebrated her birthday this week. Happy birthday, Sandra!

Selena MoshellSelena and I have lived parallel lives. I know her from Rollins where we were both Environmental Studies majors and in the Eco-Rollins club. Hold on, there's more. We both went to Winter Park High School and have both worked in the Entertainment Department at Walt Disney World (Selena still performs in the Festival of the Lion King at the Animal Kingdom.) Wait...there's more! Selena is dating one of the Conner kids from Saipan, Levi, who is Brad's girlfriend Kathy's ex-boyfriend. And finally, my middle name is O'Connor.  She's also Vietnamese and I've been to Vietnam and eat at the Vietnamese restaurant near my house run by the Chinese guy.

Whoa...freaky.

Dragon Room dancing girlI don't know this girl but she was dancing at the Dragon Room.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Delegate Watch II

I am excited and proud that we have a Delegate to Congress. I swear I don't have a mancrush on Kilili, I'm just posting all the news about our first Delegate on this blog because I think it is a big deal.

Biba Alternative Energy!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Delegate Watch I

About a year from now every citizen in these United States will know about the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands when we get our quarter. Since we are the youngest members of the American family, we get our quarter last.

In the meantime, we are going to have to rely on the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument and our new Delegate to Congress, Greg Sablan, to tell our American brothers and sisters about our islands.

Greg was featured on a FOX News blog the other day and now he has made the pages of one of Comedy Central's blogs.
We have exciting news for all of you who have been on tenterhooks (whatever that means) awaiting the results of the delegate race for the Northern Mariana Islands...

Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan will be going to Washington!

Sablan, an Independent, squeaked out a 357-vote victory over Republican Pedro A. Tenorio in a recount election that was finally decided last week. He intends to caucus with the Democrats.

The Northern Marianas Islands (previously best known for housing Jack Abramoff's slave-fueled sweatshops) is thrilled to be sending a delegate to Congress for the first time ever. Now, Sablan will get to join the ranks of delegates from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam in not being able to vote on legislation. But at least they get to watch!
Woo hoo! We're famous!

Oh yeah, the monument is featured in Popular Science right now, too.

Quality Family Time

alex obama and angeloThe last few days have been great. I've spent more time with the family than I have in years. My first night back we had a family dinner at Macaroni Grille.  The next day we went shopping and I bought a life size cutout of Barack Obama.  I have to figure out how to get him back to Saipan.  Any ideas?

Sandra Tiana and AngeloI spent a few hours over at Sandra's house the other night (Sandra's my in-law). Mostly we watched Kevin and Alex (my two brothers) play XBOX 360.  I didn't get to spend Thanksgiving with Tiana (my niece and goddaughter) because they are spending the holiday with relatives up in North Carolina.  I miss you, T!

jim and kevinYesterday we rented a pontoon boat and boated around the Winter Park chain of lakes.  We've got some friends who live on the lake, so we picked them up and took them with us.

mom and catieMy Mom and Jim (my Mom's husband) have a property in a development that has a communal boat. You can rent it for a few hours for a very reasonable price.  They rent it every couple of weeks.

Angelo and KevinIt was cold but beautiful and very fun.

I feel kind of bad that I've been asleep more than I've been awake since coming back. I've been gone so long and came from so far away and I feel like I've been asleep all week. I think it is a combination of getting sick and having the chance to decompress from the stress of the monument.

******
I cheated and had a beer with Thanksgiving dinner. I just couldn't resist the huge variety of beer at Publix (our local grocery store). I decided to go with a Boddington's. Yum.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sick, Tired & Cold

The Florida skies are clear and the temperature hovers right around 70 degrees. I know I've lived on Saipan too long because I am absolutely freezing. My first day back I wore a ski cap and my jacket. The second day I managed to take off the jacket. I'm just now getting used to the "cold."

I remember Abraham and Dad coming to Massachusetts in 1990 during the summer. Even in June, the lows in Massachusetts can dip into the 60s and 70s. While Alex and I were rejoicing in the thaw, I distinctly remember Abraham and Dad freezing their tooshies off. That must be why Abraham peed in my bed during that visit. Twice.

I'm heading north for a few days after Florida before returning to Saipan. Here's hoping for a heat wave.

******
Angelo Villagomez at Rollins CollegeMy presentation at Rollins College was this afternoon. I was up late last night adding slides to try and fill in the assumptions I can take for granted on Saipan. For example, on Saipan I don't have to explain that Maug consists of the rim of an emergent volcano with a beautiful lagoon that is really an underwater crater. If I give this presentation on this side of the Pacific again, I'll have to add a better picture of Maug.

Other than that I think the presentation went well. I chuckled to myself as I explained the private venture bringing high-end tourists to Midway in Papahanaumokuakea. In Saipan I have to ask people to just trust me that there are people that will pay big bucks to go see some birds and snorkle. Not at Rollins. I could see Dr. Barry Allen's eyes get wide as I described the tour. I imagine he was thinking, "Alright, I'm on sabbatical in two years, I've got some room on the credit card, haven't been to Hawaii in a while...."

Lee Lines Barry Allen and Angelo VillagomezOne of the questions I was asked was (I'm paraphrasing) "How did you get involved in this?"

I touched on it in my answer, discussing my previous work with MINA and RC&D, but if I could answer again I would say this ball started rolling when we planted that first Beautify CNMI tree on June 19, 2006. We planted four trees that day. The next week we planted 7. Then 11. Then 100. Then 250. Then we branched out into beach cleanups, painting over graffiti, protecting our coral reefs, promoting a system of parks & trails and now we support the idea of a monument.

Anyway, I went to bed late last night, got up in time for the presentation and then went back to bed after I finished. Like I said, I'm sick, tired and cold.

We're about to eat dinner. I'll probably go back to bed afterwards.

Representing Saipan

Eden BlancoI am digging through my old files looking for photos that I can use for the presentation I am giving at Rollins College tomorrow morning. I will be talking to Environmental Studies majors about the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. I'm mostly using the power point presentation Laurie created, but I'm adding some pictures and slides to better explain Saipan, the Marianas and the Antiquities Act.

I'm not going to use this in my presentation, but this picture represents Saturday night.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Clear Skies Over Chubu

My flight to Orlando had layovers in Nagoya and Narita. The skies over both Japanese cities were cloudless and lended themselves to some spectacular views.japan mountainschubu photos from airplanenagoya from the airnagoya airport aerialnagoya aerialnorthwest airplane picturetokyo aerialMount FujiSaturday was an extremely long day. I woke up in Saipan, saw Mount Fuji in the late morning and ate at the Macaroni Grille in Altamonte Springs in the evening. The 15 hour time difference made it a 39 hour day.

Orlando Gas Prices

Orlando Gas PricesThis picture was taken north of the Orlando International Airport on Saturday, November 22, 2008.  The price of a gallon of gas in Orlando is now cheaper than it has been in years. I left Orlando right after Hurricane Katrina. Gas prices were approaching $3.00 in those days.

Although gas prices in Saipan broke $5.00 back in July, they have dropped to the mid-three dollar range since the price of a barrel of oil has dropped to under $50.

Gas prices in the lower 48 are clearly dropping much faster than gas prices in Saipan.  Gas in Saipan has always been more expensive than gas in the mainland, but I don't remember it ever being over $1.50 more expensive. Is something fishy going on or is it just taking longer for the prices in Saipan to self-adjust?

I hope it is the latter. If historical comparisons hold, we can look forward to $2.50 gas in the near future.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

15 minutes of fame

When I cast my vote for Washington Delegate I imagined who I would want standing in front of a FOX News or CNN camera talking about being the newest member of the American Family. I imagined that right after being sworn in on January 3, 2009, the winner would get about 30 seconds on TV, repeated every 30 minutes for a day.

That may still happen, but in the meantime Delegate-elect Sablan has made the pages of FOX News reporter Chad Pergram's blog. The post is about the incoming freshman class of Congress. I've posted the section discussing Sablan.
Perhaps the least-noticed member of the freshman class was Del.-elect Gregorio Kilili Sablan (I-MP). For those wondering what MP stands for: It's the postal abbreviation for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

Lawmakers decided this year to grant the CNMI a non-voting delegate position to Congress, just like Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands. Delegates are treated just like other lawmakers. They can chair committees and caucus with parties. They're given suites in the House office buildings. They just can't vote on the floor.

Well, Sablan certainly looked like a man without a vote at the orientation. Or a state. Or a country.

He sat dejectedly on a couch at the Hyatt as his classmates flitted about. The House Administration Committee initially wouldn't allow Sablan to take part. It cited the fact that his race wasn't certified yet (Sablan was leading by 250 votes out of 10,000 cast, with three other candidates within striking distance). Never mind the House brought in both candidates for orientation from contested races in Ohio and California.

Sources familiar with the orientation told FOX News that the House Administration panel simply forgot about the new seat from the CNMI.

So Sablan waited. And waited. Until they finally declared him the winner later in the week.

I asked Sablan how one gets to Washington from the Northern Mariana Islands. He took a four-hour flight from the capital of Saipan to Tokyo. Then boarded a Northwest flight to Detroit. Then hopped a direct flight to Washington.

"I've been traveling more than 24 hours," Sablan moaned.

And those of you in Washington complain about your commute on the Beltway.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Googling Dad

In two days I am traveling to Florida for my first visit in 3 years. I'm going to celebrate Thanksgiving with my Mom, brothers, sister, niece and stepfather for the first time since 2003.

Lately I've been reflecting on my last three years in Saipan. Not just because I'm going to Florida for the first time in 3 years, but also because Dad's three year death anniversary is in 10 days and because tomorrow we are going to appoint an administrator for his estate's probate.

The recent deaths of Hydee and Ann also have me thinking about what I want to do with the rest of my short life. I think about Dad a lot when I think of my own life. I often compare my life to his. What was Dad doing when he turned 30? How many kids did he have by then? What had he accomplished? What have I accomplished that he never did? What mistakes did he make that I didn't have to make? Stuff like that.

I also compare what Dad was known for to what I want to be known for. Am I doing the right thing? Would Dad approve of what I do? Am I following in his footsteps or striking out on my own? I'm sure most of you ask the same things of yourselves and make similar comparisons to your parents.

These are just some of the thoughts that were barreling through my skull as I decided to do a Google search for "Ramon G Villagomez." I found the following letter, published in the Marianas Variety back in 2002, on the second or third page of results:
Letter to the Editor: Visionaries
WEDNESDAY, 03 JULY 2002

“We should...pause and pay tribute to the framers of our Constitution who had the foresight 26 years ago to see the need to preserve, protect, control and manage our natural resources.”

THE framers of the CNMI Constitution should be viewed as visionaries who had the foresight to devote an entire article of the Constitution to the preservation of our natural resources. The verbs they used to describe what the government must do with respect to our environment—control, protect and preserve—guide us today in our management of our natural resources.

The article of our Constitution that is dedicated to our natural resources is Article XIV. Article XIV states that the natural resources of the commonwealth are to be controlled, protected and preserved for the benefit of the people. It further states that no interest in these resources may be transferred except as provided by the Legislature. This article is divided into three sections.

The first section states that the fish and marine life located in the waters off the coast of the commonwealth, to the maximum distance allowed by current or future U.S. law, shall be managed, controlled, protected and preserved by the Legislature. The emphasis again is on stewardship—to control, protect, preserve and to manage our ocean resources for the benefit of the people of the CNMI.

The second section requires the preservation of certain islands as uninhabited places. It states that the island of Managaha shall be maintained as an uninhabited place and used only for cultural and recreational purposes. It states that the islands of Maug, Uracas, Asuncion, Guguan and other islands as identified by law shall be maintained as uninhabited places and used only for the preservation and protection of natural resources including bird, wildlife and plant species. Thus, these four islands are to be maintained as sanctuaries. One reason for preserving the unique biological diversity of these four uninhabited islands is to serve as a source of restocking other islands where certain species have been depleted. The framers of our Constitution, in a committee report, expressed their concern with the rapid rate with which native wildlife was being depleted. Their solution was to preserve certain islands as natural habitat where fish, coconut crabs, fruit bats and other native species can flourish in a pristine environment.

The third section provides for the preservation of sites of historical, cultural and traditional significance to the people of the Northern Mariana Islands. This includes historic sites such as Managaha Island, the Last Command Post, Sugar King Park, the museum and many other sites too numerous to mention. This section also protects artifacts such as latte stones, canons and other objects that are part of our heritage and should be preserved.

As we prepare for July 4th and the celebration of the Declaration of Independence, we should set aside a few minutes to reflect on the contributions of Thomas Jefferson who is credited as the author of the Declaration of Independence. We should also pause and pay tribute to the framers of our Constitution who had the foresight 26 years ago to see the need to preserve, protect, control and manage our natural resources. The members of the Constitutional Committee on Personal Rights and Natural Resources who drafted Article XIV are Francisco T. Palacios, Pedro M. Atalig, Ramon G. Villagomez, Manuel A. Tenorio, Luis M. Limes, Hilario F. Diaz, Henry U. Hofschneider, Juan S. Demapan, Jose S. Borja, Felix A. Ayuyu, Daniel P. Castro, Leon I. Taisacan and Felipe Q. Atalig.

Let’s pay special tribute to these leaders of the commonwealth who foresaw the need to preserve, protect, control and manage our natural resources for the enjoyment and benefit of the people of the CNMI. [emphasis mine]

By Thomas B. Pangelinan
Secretary of Lands and Natural Resources
On the issue of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument I have been told by different people that Dad would be proud while others say that he is rolling over in his grave, stabbing at his eyeballs with a rusty fork in shame.

When I took the first steps of this journey I had no idea that 23 years ago it was my father who first motioned to have the islands of Uracas and Asuncion 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" during the Northern Mariana Islands' Second Constitution Convention. I also did not know that "fish" was specifically dropped from the Constitution with the intention of leaving the protection of the marine resources up to later generations during other Constitutional Conventions.

Knowing this I am confident that my father would have supported the monument were he alive.

The biological and geological signficance of the monument and the benefits of marine protected areas (more fish, bigger fish and more biodiversity of fish) are unquestioned. You never hear anyone say that they don't support the monument because marine protected areas don't work or that the area is insignificant and unworthy of recognition. Opponents and proponents of the monument all agree on this issue. This is my number one reason for supporting the monument.

To quote Mr. Pangelinan, I support it for the benefit of the people of the CNMI.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Friends of the Monument Thank Supporters

The Friends of the Monument released this letter today:
MONUMENT MOMENTUM
An Open Letter to the World from the Friends of the Monument

Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands - As we move towards the culmination of our goal of establishing a marine monument, we wish to offer this letter of gratitude to all those who have helped us reach this point in our journey.

The idea was a quite simple one: preserve the waters, along with the richness and biodiversity within, for this and future generations. As we stated in our formal request to President George W. Bush, "Declaring the waters as a monument would expedite the process of bringing protection to the precious resources found in the waters there, while establishing specific federal responsibilities toward governance of the Monument, and enhancing our ocean legacy."

Yet, as simple as the idea was, the journey to see its fruition has been one fraught with challenges. They were challenges, however, for which we were prepared.

Scientists will tell you that any new theory is first rejected as false, then dismissed as trivial, then accepted as important--but known all along. (1. The theory is not true; 2. The theory is true, but it is unimportant; 3. The theory is true, and it is important – but we knew it all along.) So, we suffered the slings and arrows of doubts from some…and we persevered.

Marketers will tell you that every new innovation goes through the stages of awareness, interest, evaluation, and trial before it is accepted. So, as interest mounted, we educated the masses about the benefits of such a monument to the CNMI… and we persevered.

Philosophers will tell you that all truth passes through three stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Finally, it is accepted as being self-evident. So, we responded to allegations of deception from our critics… and we persevered.

Playwrights will tell you that every great story must have conflict. It is the heart of drama. (Someone wants something, and people and things keep getting in the way of them achieving the goal.) So, we tolerated the media spin that portrayed the chasm between Monument supporters and critics; a spin which at times minimized the overwhelming support for the monument from within our community….and we persevered.

Finally, all of life's great achievers will tell you there is no victory without struggle, so we accepted the role of those who positioned themselves as our opponents, for we recognized the role of the opposition in every new theory, every new innovation, all truth, and every great story.

We realize, with all the attacks, the suspicion, the pace of change, the drama, the conflict, struggle, and false statements, the real danger lies not in our acceptance of the monument, but in allowing things to continue as they are. It is a fact that the health of our oceans continues to decline every year. Without intervention, species will disappear, reefs will die, and we will lose what has been described as "one of the most unique geological and biological environments on Earth."

In fact, the most compelling 'danger' of a new revolutionary theory is the real and present harm its acceptance would inflict on the power, wealth or prestige of adherents to the already-existing theory. We are aware that there are those who feel their power, wealth or prestige are at stake. To them, we offer the assurance that we, like them, seek only the best for our children and future generations. We are willing to sacrifice a little in the interest of future need.

And, there is no victory without the efforts of those who have helped take this from a seed of an idea to being a part of the conversations within the highest echelons of power within these United States. Therefore, it is with a sense of gratitude that we, the Friends of the Monument, thank the following:

We thank the scores of volunteers who donated countless hours helping our community become educated, and speak out about an issue important to the CNMI. Thank you.

We thank the 5,632 residents (and growing, on an island of 13,000 indigenous and 60,000 total population) who have signed our petition. Thank you.

We thank the business leaders who have come out bravely in support of the idea, and who have written letters to the media as well as to President Bush voicing their support. Thank you.

We are thankful of the increasing coverage by the world media that has helped us shine a light on the natural beauty deserving of our attention and preservation. Thank you.

We thank James Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality for his valuable time and energy listening to the concerns of our leaders and community. Thank you.

And, finally, we thank First Lady Laura Bush for lending her presence and position to our cause, and to the momentum of the world-wide movement in support of the Monument. Thank you.

Historians will tell you that every great movement is subjected to attempts to suppress, and subvert, but that the worthy ones eventually gather grass-roots momentum and spark the changes that move us forward as a society. The annals of history are filled with evidence that there is no greater force than an idea whose time has come.

We believe our time has come.

Thank you, one and all.



Ignacio V. Cabrera
Chairman
Friends of the Monument

Kilili Wins

CNMI Washington Representative Pete A. Tenorio garnered only 3 more absentee ballot votes than front runner Greg "Kilili" Sablan, far short of the required 361 he needed to claim a come from behind victory.

While 9289 ballots were cast on Election Day 2008, off-island voters had until 5 PM today to turn in their absentee ballots. Before the absentee ballots were counted, Sablan had a commanding lead of 360 votes (3.9%) over second place Tenorio.

The results for the top four vote getters before the absentee ballots were counted were as follows:
Lizama, Juan Tudela (I)
1611 (17.3%)

Gonzales, John Oliver Delos Santos (I)
1740 (18.7%)

Tenorio, Pedro Agulto (R)
1919 (20.7%)

Sablan, Gregorio Kilili Camacho (I)
2279 (24.5%)
The top absentee ballot vote-getter was former Judge Juan Lizama with 208. Tenorio garnered 198 votes and Sablan received 195. Although Lizama received the most absentee ballot votes (13 more than frontrunner Sablan), he fell short of the 669 he needed for a come from behind win.

The Saipan Blog hereby declares Gregorio Camacho Sablan the winner with 2474 votes, which represents 24.3% of the 10,161 votes cast in 2008.

Congratulations to Representative-elect Sablan for officially becoming the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island's first Delegate to the United States House of Representatives! History was made today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Take Out Mexican and Friendship

Wednesday is Edz' day off. We usually go to the movies, go out to eat or just hang out at Godfather's Bar. Last Wednesday, because I was at the office late with a meeting of the Friends of the Monument, we stayed in. After the meeting I picked up some take out Mexican food from Hawaii Bar & Grill and brought it to her house for a quiet night at home.

Edz' roommate, Ann, also has Wednesdays off. I've only known Ann since she started working at Godfather's about a month ago. She's a nice girl and very close with Edz. The three of us shared the cheese quesadilla, chicken enchiladas, rice and beans while watching some hokey Filipino soap opera on TFC. Afterwards we sat around and watched more TV, just another exciting night in Saipan.

I don't remember every minute detail we talked about that night, but we talked about life in Saipan, complained about the local economy and shared our hopes for the future (Ann urged Edz to go to nursing school). At one point Ann showed us a photo album full of pictures of her and the man she was going to marry one day.

I vaguely remember the commercial for the new iCarly TV movie, iGo To Japan, coming on and both Edz and Ann lamenting that they would be at work during the premier. Like I said, a truly exciting evening.

It was a happy night, just three friends sitting around, eating, laughing, and enjoying each other's company. Nothing of special importance happened, but it is a night I will remember for a long time.

Rose Ann BautistaI will remember it because they were the last moments I spent with a friend.  Ann passed away early this morning.  She was only 19.

She finally succumbed to injuries she sustained in a car accident the night before. Before Ann, the crash had already claimed the lives of two other friends, including Ann and Edz' other roommate, Haydee.  Haydee was just 26.

Haydee GarciaI will reflect on the roller coaster of emotions experienced yesterday before writing them down. In the meantime I am going to appreciate those seemingly insignificant moments I spend with friends and family.

Mom, Alex, Tiana, Kevin, Catie and Jim, I'm looking forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hacked

The poll on the Marianas Variety website was hacked while we slept last night. Yesterday afternoon there were about 400 votes in support and 150 or so votes in non-support.

In the last 12 hours the non-support votes have jumped to over 700.

Cheaters!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NMIFA Men's League Finals

The end of season tournament for the 2008 Fall Men's league is this Sunday, November 16th at Ada field.

The format of the tournament is a seeded team format. The teams' records during the regular season will determine their seed.

Games will consist of two 35 minute halves with a single 5 minute half time. If regulation ends in a tie, there will be two ten minute overtime periods, and a shoot-out if still tied after overtime.

Schedule:
Game A: 11:00 AM Independents v. MPU (2nd v. 3rd place)

Game B: 1:00 PM Inter v. MFC (1st v. 4th place)

Consolation: 2:30 PM loser A v. loser B

Final: 4:00 PM winner B v. winner A
The winner takes home the NMIFA Cup. Trophies will be presented at a ceremony across the street on the beach.

Standings after regular season play:

1. Inter 6-0
2. Independents 3-3
3. MPU 2-4
4. MFC 1-5

******
I only played in the final two games of the season because of my achilles heel, which has been bothering me since March. For those two months I was wasn't playing I ate and drank myself into a fatter, slower Angelo.

On the advice of a friend...alright, many friends...I've decided to lose those pounds I've gained over the last several months. I stopped drinking about a week ago and I'm limiting myself to just two trips when I go to the buffets.

:)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I NEED YOUR HELP!

There is currently a poll on the Marianas Variety website asking the question, "Are you in favor of the marine monument proposal?"

PLEASE VOTE YES!!!

The poll is on the right side of the website. Please forward this message to supporters.

******

A message from the Friends of the Monument:
Dear Angelo,

First of all, thank you for your support of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.

In the last weeks and months we have collected over 5600 signatures in support of the monument and at the recent White House Public Workshop almost 400 Saipan residents turned out to participate in the monument process.

Thank you.

Now I must humbly ask for your help again.

There is currently a poll on the Marianas Variety website asking the question, "Are you in favor of the marine monument proposal?"

The website can be found at http://www.mvarietynews.com

Please take a moment to visit the website and vote YES. The poll is on the right hand side of the website. It should only take a moment of your time.

Si Yu'use Ma'ase for your continued support.

Sincerely,


Ignacio "Ike" V. Cabrera
Chairman
Friends of the Monument

http://marianamonument.blogspot.com
marianamonument@gmail.com

Thanksgiving in Florida

Angelo VillagomezOn Sunday morning I volunteered for the Rotary Club of Saipan's 2008 District Governor's Charity Golf Tournament. To make a long story short, I bought $20 worth of raffle tickets and won the Grand Prize (scroll down to the bottom of Mike Tripp's blog post), a gift certificate to fly on Northwest Airlines.

I'll be in Orlando the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I arrive at 4:22 PM.

Who wants to pick me up at the airport?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Papahanaumokuakea Jobs

One of the letter writers who sent commentary to President Bush on the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument (MTMNM) asked the following question:
Our people (John Gourley) have been trying to get a list of jobs under the NW Hawaiian Island Marine Monument under the Freedom of Information (sic); but were unsuccessful. What types of jobs will be available to our local people if these areas are designated? How many jobs will be available?
The Freedom of Information Act request was unnecessary. A quick Internet search found that the job titles for Papahanaumokuakea are:
  1. Education & Technology Coordinator
  2. Research Support Technician
  3. Monument Superintendent
  4. Administrative/Fiscal Assistant
  5. Detail from DC
  6. Research Support Specialist
  7. Program Coordinator
  8. Policy Specialist
  9. Executive Administrative Assistant
  10. Field Operations Specialist
  11. IT Support Specialist
  12. Policy Specialist
  13. GIS Specialist
  14. Constituent Outreach & Development Assoc.
  15. Maritime Archeologist
  16. Policy Program Manager
  17. Policy Analyst
  18. Fiscal Administrator
  19. Navigating Change Curriculum Programs Coord
  20. Administrative Officer
  21. Constituent Relations Associate
  22. Research Coordinator
  23. Resource Protection Specialist
  24. Marine Operations Coordinator
  25. Program Associate
  26. Mokupapapa Discovery Center Manager
  27. Mokupapapa Disc Center Education Specialist
  28. Mokupapapa Disc Center Admin/Fiscal Assistant
  29. Mokupapapa Discovery Center Programs Coord.
  30. State of Hawaii Monument Research Coordinator
  31. State of Hawaii Monument Permit Coordinator
  32. State of Hawaii Monument Policy Coordinator
  33. State of Hawaii Monument Permit Coordinator
  34. DIG Senior Data Analyst
  35. DIG GIS Developer
  36. DIG Senior Programmer/Program Manager
  37. DIG Data Base Administrator & Programmer
  38. DIG Junior Data Analyst
I count about 38 positions.  Additionally, and I may be wrong, this list does not include the federally funded state and private sector jobs that get funding as a result of the monument (for example NOAA funds some state positions like they do here in the CNMI and has two separate memoranda of agreement between themselves and Maui Community College and the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology).

The Economic Impact of a proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument authored by University of Guam economics professor Dr. Tom Iverson predicted that the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument would have 14 employees in their first year. While Dr. Iverson cannot speak for the federal government, his predication that the funding for the MTMNM will be approximately 25% of Papahanaumokuakea is not unreasonable.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Keith Olbermann on the Monument


It is kind of cool to have Keith Olbermann weighing in on a project on which I work. That's the first time that's happened.

He calls the issue "Swimming with the Sharks - gate."

Catchy.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Looking for a job

I am looking for a new job as my current contract ends in January.

I have two bachelor's degrees, one in Biology from the University of Richmond and one in Environmental Policy from Rollins College.

I have five years management experience as an environmental/political community organizer having worked with League of Conservation Voters (as Campaign Coordinator), USDA NRCS Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council (as Public Involvement Coordinator), Mariana Islands Nature Alliance (as Executive Director) and Pew Environment Group (as Saipan Coordinator). I have been an advocate for coastal communities opposed to offshore drilling, water quality, coral reefs and marine protected areas. I also belong to Micronesians in Island Conservation, a network of indigenous conservationists working throughout Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands.

Additionally, I worked in the tourism industry in Orlando, Florida for about 11 years starting at the age of 17.  9 of those 11 years were spent working at Walt Disney World.

I have volunteer experience with many organizations, most notably the award winning Beautify CNMI, serving as their volunteer coordinator since their inception two and one half years ago.  Our major activities are cleanups and tree plantings and in 2006 I helped organize an island-wide cleanup where over 3000 Saipan residents volunteered with us on a single day. I am also a member of the Saipan Rotary Club.

I have exceptional Internet and computer skills and contribute written pieces to a number of blogs.  I am also a regular contributor to the Saipan Tribune, our local newspaper.

I would prefer to stay on Saipan, but am willing to work in other locales if I cannot find employment here.  I have work experience in the United States, Northern Mariana Islands and Japan, study abroad experience in England and Costa Rica, and travel experience in over 15 countries and territories.

If you have any leads, I would appreciate them. My email is angelovillagomez at gmail dot com. Resumes and references are available upon request.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congrats Scott Randolph

My old roommate Scott Randolph (D-Orlando) was reelected yesterday by a 46 point margin.

Scott was first elected to office in 2006 when he defeated the incumbent Sheri McInvale.

Congrats, Scott!

Obama Victory Party

Come on down to Hawaii Bar to celebrate our new president, Barack Obama.

******
I am being deluged with phone calls and emails. CNN and FOX News are showing scenes of people dancing in the streets. Brad Ruszala pointed out that it is like every single city won the Super Bowl.

When was the last time something like this happened?

Oh, I remember.

Luke Skywalker killed the Emperor and Darth Vader.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama takes Vermont!

I promised in an earlier post that I'd buy a round of beers for every state Obama wins. Well, he just won Vermont!

Ken Kramer and Angelo Villagomez at Hawaii BarMy wallet thanks Ken Kramer for being the only one in the bar at 10:30 AM.

...and while the picture was loading Obama picked up 8 more states!

New Jersey! Maine! Massachusetts! Connecticut! Delaware! Maryland! DC! Illinois!

2008 CNMI Election Results

I got up early this morning and drove over to the Multi-purpose Building in Susupe to get the vote count so that I could be the first to put it on my blog. 9289 votes were cast yesterday. Here is the breakdown:

Davis, John Henry Jr. (I)
139 (1.5%)

Won, Chong Man (I)
219 (2.4%)

Atalig, Felipe Quitugua (I)
233 (2.5%)

Cing, David Mendiola (D)
270 (2.9%)

Crisostimo, Luis Palacios (I)
879 (9.5%)

Lizama, Juan Tudela (I)
1611 (17.3%)

Gonzales, John Oliver Delos Santos (I)
1740 (18.7%)

Tenorio, Pedro Agulto (R)
1919 (20.7%)

Sablan, Gregorio Kilili Camacho (I)
2279 (24.5%)

There are still up to 1200 absentee ballots out there. Even taking that into account, Greg "Kilili" Camacho Sablan has a commanding 360 (3.8%) vote lead over second place Pete A. Tenorio.

The Saipan Blog hereby declares Greg Sablan as the first Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Delegate!!!

Congratulations to Greg and all the other candidates.

Monday, November 03, 2008

CNMI Delegate Election Results

Stay tuned. The Saipan Blog will be the first media resource in the CNMI to carry the election results.

Here's why:

We won't know the winner for a while. The (up to) 12,947 ballots cast on Saipan, Tinian and Rota will be counted at the Multi-purpose Building in Susupe starting first thing tomorrow morning. We'll probably have a sense of the top tier candidates by tomorrow afternoon. I'll post those numbers on this blog if I can get a hold of them.

Then it comes down to the absentee ballots.

The 1,112 absentee ballots (about 1/10 of all votes) will be counted on November 18, two weeks from today. We won't know the final outcome of the election until then.

So, keep waiting.

I'll post the election results as soon as I have them.

******
According to KSPN anchor Lannie Walker, the vote counting started at midnight. We should have the totals by the morning. Lannie is at the Multi-purpose Building right now and will report live as soon as the results come in.

Biba Delegate!

I voted today in the first Congressional Delegate election in the Northern Mariana's history. I think my guy is going to win.

Presidential Election Results Central

The Democratic Party of Garapan is hosting a presidential election results viewing luncheon tomorrow at Hawaii Bar & Grill. We will have two large wide screen TVs showing the election results and food and beverage available for purchase.

The polls close on the East Coast at 10 AM local Chamorro Standard Time. The polls on the West Coast close three hours later.  John McCain should give his concession speech by early afternoon.

Please come join us for all the fun!

The menu is as follows:
HAWAII BAR & GRILL
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RESULTS CENTRAL

~ $7.95 lunch specials ~

Wednesday, November 5th
11am to 2pm

Maverick Burger
w/freedom fries

Hockey Mom Fish & Chips
w/swing state salad

Joe the Plumber Poki
w/red state rice 

Teriyaki Chicken Obama
w/red state rice 

Drink Specials

Miller Light on Tap
$ 2.00

Domestic Bottles
$ 2.50

Import Bottles
$ 4.50

Single Mixed Drinks
$ 4.50
Please forward this invitation to your friends. Everyone is welcome to attend, as long as they support Barack Obama.

Best Anonymous Blog on Saipan

It has been a while since I've had a poll up. How about if we determine once and for all the Best Anonymous Blog on Saipan?



Every computer can vote once. The poll will run for one week.

Uncle Ben on Facebook!

Ben Fitial and Sarah PalinGovernor Ben Fitial has a profile on Facebook!  How awesome is that?

Anyone know if there are there any other famous Saipan people that have a Facebook profile, you know, besides me and Brad?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Undecided Voter

With less than 24 hours before the polls open up on Saipan, Tinian and Rota I have yet to decide which candidate gets my vote.

More on this later.

Maybe.

******
A reader sent me an email asking how I can vote in the CNMI and in the mainland at the same time.  American citizens who have voted in one of the 50 states can continue voting as an overseas absentee voter. I'm not going to dig up all the info right now, but it is a special category where you register as an overseas voter.

Brown Sugar

Nola Hix and John JoynerI think this should just about do it for Halloween.

******
I played with my soccer team Wild Bill's today. We beat the MFC team 2-0. I haven't played soccer in about two months because of an ankle injury. I played about 50 minutes out of a 75 minute game and my ankle feels fine.

I hope I feel alright tomorrow.