Tuesday, March 31, 2009

NBC in Town

There is a camera crew on island from NBC Nightly News doing a story on the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. I've spent the last two days taking them around the island. Yesterday we did a tour of Marpi. They shot b-roll of Bonzai Cliff, Suicide Cliff, Bird Island, and the Grotto. We also had a long meeting with John Joyner and John Starmer at the Coastal Resources Management Office. Today we went diving. Man, did we go diving. We dove Grotto, Naftan, Ice Cream, Shipwreck, and stopped at Managaha for a short visit.

The Saipan Tribune had a short story about the film crew today.
NBC crew here to do feature on Friends of the Monument

By Haidee V. Eugenio
A team from national television network NBC is currently on Saipan to do a series of stories on the Friends of the Monument, which was the main proponent of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

Angelo Villagomez of the Friends of the Monument said the three-member NBC crew will do a feature on the events of 2008 on Saipan that led to the Jan. 6, 2009, declaration of then-President George W. Bush of 190,000 square miles of ocean as marine monuments, including the 95,000-square mile Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument is an area around the three northernmost islands in the CNMI-Uracas or Farallon de Pajaros, Maug and Asuncion.

Villagomez said the NBC team, which arrived early yesterday morning, will also be featuring the “wonders” of the Marianas, which will take them to some of the most popular dive spots in the CNMI.

“They will also be talking about how the Marine Monument will be enforced and managed, so they will be talking to the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies. There will also be talks with a research ship that's doing studies on volcanoes off Rota,” said Villagomez.

He said NBC is just one of the many national and international media firms that have taken an interest in the Friends of the Monument and the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier announced that the Friends of the Monument are the recipients of the 2009 EPA Environmental Award, which recognizes individuals and groups outside of the USEPA who are making significant contributions to improve the environment. The ceremony will take place on April 16.

Monday, March 30, 2009

58 pound Napoleon Wrasse

napoleon wrasseLast Monday a surfer visiting the Marianas on vacation speared and killed an Endangered 58 pound Napoleon Wrasse off the coast of Tinian. The picture above was taken as he was trying to sell it to one of the Chinese restaurant/brothels in Garapan for $50 (the smaller fish is also a Napoleon Wrasse).

About a year ago there was a huge controversy in Saipan when a local fisherman speared two Napoleon Wrasses. Mike Tripp discussed those catches on his blog when it happened.

Any thoughts?  Should we take up a collection so that wealthy tourists don't feel the need to fund their trips by killing and trafficking endangered species?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wild Bill's Story

There was a certain famous person having breakfast at the table across from me at Wild Bill's this morning.

He engaged me in conversation and we ended up talking about federalization.

This is a direct quote, "With Federalization, how are we going to bring in our waitresses, strippers, and dancers?"

The Canadian girls at the next table added, "Yeah, or teachers and doctors..."

Island Wide Cleanup

The Saipan Tribune carries a story about the planned island wide cleanup next month. Full details of the event will be available first thing next week.
Islandwide cleanup set for April 17

By Haidee V. Eugenio

At least 5,000 volunteers are expected to participate in an islandwide cleanup set for April 17 as part of Earth Month activities in the CNMI.

Coordinating the event are Beautify CNMI partners Division of Environmental Quality and the Rotary Club of Saipan.

“The idea is that if the community, businesses and the government go out and spend one hour or two hours picking up litter, planting trees or painting over graffiti, the combined effort will be greater than working individually,” said environmental advocate Angelo Villagomez, who is also the Beautify CNMI public involvement coordinator.

Entities who want to join the islandwide cleanup could choose to do it in the morning or in the afternoon of April 17, a Friday.

“We will provide trash bags and gloves if they want, and DEQ will pick up the trash collected,” Villagomez said.

Back in October 2006, Beautify CNMI coordinated an islandwide cleanup participated in by 300 volunteers who not only picked up litter off of beaches and streets but also planted trees and painted over graffiti. Beautify CNMI is a coalition of business, government, and private sector entities to enhance and preserve the CNMI's natural resources.

For those who want to participate in the cleanup, contact DEQ's Joe Kaipat or Jacob Lizama at 664-8500 or Angelo Villagomez at 285 6462.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stanley Torres and the Friends of the Monument

Last night I was having a meeting with Ike over a few beers at Godfathers. We were discussing tomorrow's meeting with the Friends of the Monument and some plans for raising funds for our organization.

At one point the topic turned to Stanley Torres, with Ike telling me that he saw Stanley recently and that Stanley had congratulated Ike on the monument. Ike told Stanley that we were all on the same side now (or something like that, Budweiser has a promotion where you can get a bucket of beer for $15 and I....I'll just stop there).

Ike asked me if I ever gave Stanley one of our campaign t-shirts. I answered, "Yeah, I ran into him outside of Quick Print the other day and gave him one." I didn't tell him it was right after the Randy Taylor vs Stanley Torres throwdown in the parking lot, which I missed by about two minutes...

And we're back.

"Have you seen him wearing it?" asked Ike.


I kid you not, two minutes later, guess who walks through the door and guess what shirt he was wearing?

Stanley Torres and Ike CabreraI think the three of us make for quite the trio of characters. Perhaps we should start a boy band?

Stanley Torres Ike Cabrera and Angelo Villagomez******

For those of you with short term memory loss, Stanley spent the better part of 2008 wearing a button that read, "I am a proud Force of Evil." Now he's our friend. Such is life on Saipan.

I don't always disagree with Stanley. Back in 2006 when the Fitial Administration wanted to put a monorail in the Grotto, Stanley and I were on the side of the opposition.

Saipan is a small place filled with a lot of big personalities. Down the line I'm sure there will be more times when Stanley et al and I will be on the same side and/or on opposite sides of an issue. Like I said, such is life on Saipan.

Former First Lady Thanks Friends of the Monument

Agnes McPhetres and Laura Bush
Monumental moment: Friends of the Monument's Agnes McPhetres presented then-First Lady Laura Bush with Mariana Trench t-shirts on the day the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument was created by then-President George W. Bush.
SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands – Former First Lady Laura Bush recently wrote to the Friends of the Monument thanking them for their role in supporting the creation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

The letter, embossed with the official White House seal reads, “We are pleased that you joined us at the White House for the signing of the proclamation to create the Pacific Marine National Monuments. Your gifts will always remind us of your support throughout the process that led this special occasion.”

Friends of the Monument’s Agnes M. McPhetres presented then-first lady Bush with two orange Mariana Trench Monument t-shirts after the monument declaration signing in Washington, DC on January 6, 2009.

The former first lady added, “Conservation and protection of our ocean resources is vitally important to our nation and the world. I am proud of the accomplishments of my husband’s Administration to protect America’s oceans. He joins me in sending best wishes to your organization for future success in advancing marine conservation.”

The letter from the former first lady included an autographed photo of her and former President George W. Bush.
Friends of the Monument’s Angelo O. Villagomez said of the letter, “I am really proud of our people. We are showing the world how local actions can have global consequences. Even the former President of the United States and his first lady know about our work here.”

The Friends of the Monument were the main proponents for a marine monument in the Marianas. When local elected leaders were not receptive to the idea of a marine monument, the Friends started a petition drive and collected over 6000 signatures from local residents. They also gained endorsements from the business community and prominent community leaders.

The islands’ political establishment ultimately supported the monument. According to a statement issued by Governor Benigno R Fitial on the day of the designation, “I welcome President Bush's historic announcement establishing the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument…Over the past few months, I have been actively engaged in discussions with the White House Council on Environmental Quality regarding the objectives and scope of the proposed monument. I have been joined in these discussions by President Pete Reyes of the Commonwealth Senate and Speaker Arnold Palacios of the Commonwealth House of Representatives.”

When asked about what he was going to do with the letter, Friends of the Monument’s Ignacio V. Cabrera said, “I’m going to hang it on my wall at home so that I can remember all we have accomplished.”

Angelo Villagomez
Silly grin: Friends of the Monument's Angelo Villagomez and the letter from Laura Bush.
Friends of the Monument officers Agnes M. McPhetres, Ignacio V. Cabrera, and Angelo O. Villagomez were on hand to witness the historic monument declaration this past January.

The Friends of the Monument formed in the Spring of 2008 to express the voice of the local community and consists of a cross-section of indigenous and resident people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who are dedicated to the conservation, preservation and protection of marine flora, fauna and geological features of the oceans; and the creation and proper management of a Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

More information on the Friends of the Monument and the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument can be found at http://marianamonument.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fat Guy Update IX

I fell of the wagon.

After my stellar performance at the 5K in Guam I developed an undiagnosed case of bronchitis. I've been sick for a week and a half now. Perhaps if I had insurance I would go see a doctor.

I haven't been going to the gym, mostly out of courtesy to the other people who use the gym.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Assassin's Creed

I just spent the better part of the weekend playing and finishing Assassin's Creed on PS3. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remember somebody telling me that this was the greatest game ever created, but it didn't really live up to expectations.

The story line is pretty out of this world, kind of a cross between the Matrix and Kingdom of Heaven, and exploring the three cities is fantastic, but the game play gets kind of repetitive by the time you are on your ninth and final mission, there aren't that many weapons to use, and there is only one attack button. Single button attacking, what's up with that?

The best thing about the game is that you can play the missions in any order you want and you can complete them in whatever style fits you. Not to oversimplify the game, but the goal is to assassinate nine targets during the time of the Crusades. You travel to the cities of Acre, Damascus, and Jerusalem to gather intelligence to figure out where the targets are going to be and when to strike, but after that, how you kill them is up to you. Want to climb the city wall, sneak past the guards, slitting their throats without them seeing you on your way to the kill?  It takes a little extra time, but you can do it that way.  Or would you prefer to go in the front door swinging your sword like a mad man? Go right ahead.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Friends of the Monument to be Recognized by EPA

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands – The Friends of the Monument were informed this week that they are to be recipients of a 2009 EPA Environmental Award on April 16. The award seeks to recognize individuals and groups outside of the EPA who are making significant contributions to improve the environment. Jane Mack of the Friends of the Monument was the first person notified about the award.

"I was really excited to receive the dawn telephone call from Wendy Chavez at EPA, telling us that Friends of the Monument would be recognized as an award winner," Mack said when asked about the award. "I nominated the community organization for special recognition because the Friends worked hard and its members put their hearts and souls into the campaign for a monument. The Friends efforts directly contributed to the eventual designation of the Monument by President Bush."

The award is open to people and groups who are working all across California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and tribal lands to protect public health and the environment. This year over 200 nominations were made, but only 40 winners will be recognized.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the EPA for our work. This is an award the Friends will share with all our supporters, especially the Pew Environment Group,” said Friends Chairman Ignacio V. Cabrera about the award.

On January 6, 2009, then-President George W. Bush declared 190,000 square miles of ocean as marine monuments, closing parts of them to mining and commercial fishing, including the 95,000 square mile Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

The Friends of the Monument were the main local proponents of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. They worked to build and showcase local support to convince then-President Bush to declare a monument around the three northernmost islands in the Marianas archipelago.

“In less than a year, the Friends of the Monument grew from an idea into the most powerful grassroots movement in the Mariana Islands,” said Jay Nelson, Director of Global Ocean Legacy with the Pew Environment Group. “It was amazing to see a such an outpouring of genuine support for the marine environment.”

The Friends of the Monument waged an old-fashioned door-to-door grassroots campaign to build support for the monument.

Wesley Bogdan, a local attorney and one of the Friends of the Monument said of the monument declaration, "The creation of the monument shows that the system can work, that the people actually do have the ability to affect their government to some degree. The Friends of the Monument's hard work and receipt of this award from EPA can help spread that message and hopefully encourage more people to get involved and work on projects important to their community."

Initially local leaders were not receptive to the idea of a marine monument, so the Friends started a petition drive and with the help of 60 volunteer petitions gatherers, collected over 6000 signatures from local residents.

They also made presentations to local junior high school, high school, and college students, which resulted in over 500 handwritten support letters being sent to President Bush.

During a White House sponsored workshop, the Friends recruited over 400 supporters to attend. Most were wearing orange, as the workshop took place during the Friend’s sponsored WOW Week – Wear Orange Week.

They worked with the local business community and signed 206 businesses on to support the monument, including the Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Association of Northern Mariana Islands, Tan Holdings, DFS, and McDonalds.

They also organized a letter writing campaign in support of the monument. Over 100 current and former community leaders sent letters to then-President Bush in support of the monument. Constitution writers Dr. Joaquin A. Tenorio and Karl T. Reyes and business leaders David M. Sablan and Manny S. Villagomez were among the prominent letter writers.

Officers of the group also traveled to Washington, DC on two occasions to meet with federal officials and national media outlets.

Mike Tripp, a local dive operator commented about the grassroots campaign, "If it were not for the Friends of the Monument, the monument designation would never have happened. The organization stands as proof that individuals coming together for a common cause can truly effect positive change in their own backyard, and also for the benefit of the planet".

The Friends of the Monument formed in the Spring of 2008 to express the voice of the local community and consists of a cross-section of indigenous and resident people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who are dedicated to the conservation, preservation and protection of marine flora, fauna and geological features of the oceans; and the creation and proper management of a Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

More information on the Friends of the Monument and the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument can be found at http://marianamonument.blogspot.com.

Josh Reichert Video

The Pew Charitable Trusts has recently posted a video of Josh Reichert, managing director of Pew Environment Group, discussing the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. My favorite quote from Josh is, "This was not an easy lift with this White House." I would embed the video, but Pew doesn't have a Youtube profile.

I've got it up on Youtube.

Lubchenco confirmed by Senate

I just received the following message via text:
Jane Lubchenco was confirmed by the US Senate as the head of NOAA today! Great news for the monument, not great for Kitty Simonds and Wespac.
By the way, Kitty Simonds thinks I'm hot.

Caption Contest VII

KAP is the winner of Caption Contest VI. He gets nothing.

Here is the picture for Caption Contest VII:

The old man in this photo said he would kill me if he ever saw his name on this blog. For the record, his name does not appear on this blog, only his bald spot.

Leave your caption in the comments. The winner gets...nothing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thank you

One year ago I introduced the concept of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument to the people of the Marianas with the following words:

“It is the responsibility of every indigenous person to ensure that these islands are passed down to the next generation in the same condition in which they were passed down to us. I take that promise seriously. This is how I practice my culture.” (Practicing My Culture, Saipan Tribune, March 20, 2008)

The monument as proposed to the public in March 2008 had several months worth of input from government and environmental leaders in the Marianas. Prior to the announcement I had set up a meeting between Secretary of Department of Lands and Natural Resources Ignacio Dela Cruz, Senior Policy Advisor Ramon Mafnas, then-Representative Cinta M. Kaipat, and Jay Nelson of Pew Environment Group (August 2007). I also arranged a presentation by Pew Environment Group to the Mariana Island Nature Alliance at one of their public meetings (November 2007) and personally briefed the three heads of the local government’s natural resource agencies, Sylvan Igisomar of Division of Fish & Wildlife, Frank Rabauliman of Division of Environmental Quality, and John Joyner of Coastal Resource Management (December 2007). The monument was also discussed in several Beautify CNMI meetings, which are open to the public and announced ahead of time. Additionally, a letter outlining the concept of a monument was also sent to Governor Fitial in December 2007.

One week before the public announcement I helped set up meetings with other government officials, including a presentation to a joint session of the Legislature and a meeting of the Governor’s Military Task Force, Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Commission, and Strategic Economic Development Council in which over 40 government, business, and community leaders attended (March 2008).

Input was taken at every meeting and led to the following proposal, which was eloquently captured in a letter to the editor by Cinta Kaipat on May 1, 2008. The proposal was to “create federally funded local jobs, give a needed boost to our struggling tourism industry, bring positive worldwide attention to our shores, and most importantly, protect three of our islands and their surrounding waters for generations to come.” (Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, Saipan Tribune, May 1)

The announcement was made in a letter to the editor and was followed by a series of 115 public meetings in conference rooms, meeting halls, pala palas, bars, classrooms, restaurants, people’s homes, and offices on the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

During this process 6000 local residents exercised their First Amendment rights and petitioned President Bush to create the monument. 500 students wrote hand written letters containing their concerns and hopes for the monument. Over 400 people participated in a public meeting hosted by the White House to gather comments, the first of its kind in the Commonwealth. 206 Business owners and managers signed a petition in support of the monument and about 100 local people wrote letters and emails to the President.

Many of our local private institutions supported the designation of the monument, including the Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, Tan Holdings, Mariana Islands Nature Alliance, Beautify CNMI and Marianas Dive. The Saipan Tribune also endorsed the monument in an editorial.

Finally, Governor Fitial, Senate President Reyes, and House Speaker Palacios in an eleventh hour turn around came to support the monument. The monument would not have been designated had they not come on board. This was repeated at every meeting and despite claims by Wespac officials to the contrary, ultimately proved true.

Early on there was some confusion as to the role of a private institution and government. The process to create a monument was always something that would occur between governments. Although the Pew Environment Group and Friends of the Monument would have loved to have been at the so-called negotiating table, this process was always going to take place between the duly elected leaders of the Commonwealth and the United States and their appointed representatives. The role of the private institution was to provide information and public education.

It has been nearly three months since the Marianas became home to one of the world’s largest marine protected areas, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, yet the process to draft a management plan has just begun.

By April 6 the Secretary of Commerce will select a five person Marine Monument Advisory Council. Three of the council members will be government officials of the Northern Mariana Islands. They will be chosen in consultation with Governor Fitial.

Following the selection of the Advisory Council, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service will begin a scoping period where the public will have more opportunity for input.

With that said, everyone who was involved in getting us to where we are right now deserves a hearty pat on the back and a well-deserved thank you. I cannot think of any other issue that has engaged and inspired so many people and brought so many people together in recent memory. People who can usually not agree on anything came together to support this project. I admit that there were some people out on the fringes, but the vast majority of our people were behind the monument on the day it was designated.

Our community should be proud of what we have accomplished. Thank you to everyone who was involved.

Angelo Villagomez
Gualo Rai

Integrity Intact

I am writing my final letter to the editor concerning the creation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument and have been reading some of my older letters to pull quotes. I am really proud of the work I did last year. I had a few slip ups, like when I publicly made an estimate on how much federal funding the monument would get before we had our economic study from the University of Guam, but for the most part I was careful with what I said and wrote and did so with respect (with a few exceptions, like when I joked about James Connaughton's sandwich).

One of the early criticisms I received was that I did not answer questions when I did not know the answer. Somebody want to tell me how the hell you are supposed to respond to that accusation?

Anyway, I wrote a letter titled Only If the people want it on April 30, 2008. It ended with the following:
Let me be clear: The process to create a monument in the CNMI is only in its infancy. If the CNMI wanted to explore this proposed project, there would be public forums, a task force, and plenty of opportunity for local input. Unfortunately, the proposal may be killed before it had a chance to start. The White House will not consider any proposed project that hints of controversy.

The Pew Environment Group wants this proposed project to happen, but only if the people of the CNMI want it. With that said, the only chance this proposed project has of even getting started is for an upwelling of community support and a letter of clarification from the Legislature saying that they would like more information before the proposed project is shelved.
I like that I can look back on what I wrote and be able to say that I knew what I was talking about.

Back in April of 2008 the process to create a monument hadn't even started. It only started on August 25, 2008, after President Bush issued his executive order directing his agencies to explore the possibility of creating a monument. There were public forums. A bill for a task force was introduced, but never acted upon, something I could not control. There was plenty of opportunity for local input. There was an upwelling of community support and the Legislature eventually clarified their position and supported the creation of the monument.

When I look back on the last year all I can think about is how proud I am of our people. Good work.

For our Irish President

I've posted this before and I'll post it again. Here's to our Irish President! Drink, drink, drink!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I learned at Rotary Club yesterday that all Irish Catholics are given a day pass to skip Lent. Enjoy all the beer, roast beef and potatoes you can handle!

Seabees Monument already exists on Tinian

There was a story printed in the Marianas Variety today about a recently passed Senate resolution asking the Department of Interior to build a monument to the Seabees who served in the Marianas during World War II.

The newspaper quotes Senator Maria Pangelinan:
“The people of the commonwealth have not forgotten that it was the United States Seabees that led us toward modern day conveniences and provided the necessary infrastructure for our islands,” Pangelinan said.

“In remembrance of the Seabees’ dedication to the islands of Saipan and Tinian, the people of the CNMI desire a monument to be built in their honor,” she added. “The lack of a memorial dedicated to the work of the United States Seabees constitutes a missing page in Saipan’s history.”
If I'm not mistaken, there already is a monument built to honor the Seabees who served here. It is on Tinian.
On a lonely stretch of road between the Tinian Airport and the old North Field stands a simple white memorial to the 107th Naval Construction Battalion. The monument memorializes the Seabees who lost their lives during the construction that took place there during World War II.
Apparently the only thing we've forgotten is that we've already built them a monument...well, except for the people on Tinian who know about it (scroll down to the bottom for a photo of the monument).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Johnny B. Goode

This is for all the Brad Ruszala fans out there. Both of you.

This video was taken at the awards banquet for the EAFF pre-qualifier in Guam over the weekend. I've got photos, which I'll post some time later today.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Zaldy on Littering

Last Friday Zaldy Dandan wrote an editorial about littering.
Useless laws

EARLY this week, a high school sophomore reminded the community about the existence of a law older than her — the Commonwealth Litter Control Act of 1989, or P.L. 6-37, which sets a $200 to $500 fine for littering and requires the following agencies to employ litter control officers: the Division of Environmental Quality, the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Public Health, the Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Coastal Resources Management Office, the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Marianas Visitors Authority.

Like many CNMI laws, P.L. 6-37 has never been enforced.

More than two years ago, 20 litter control officers were certified, but DEQ, which is supposed to administer to program, now says that these employees cannot perform their tasks because they have other full-time jobs.

Litter control officers can issue citations and report violations whenever they witness people dumping trash in public premises. But littering happens either at night or on weekends — when litter control officers have not yet reported for work or are already off.

So what’s the point of certifying them if they can’t do their job? Why pass a law that no one wants to enforce?

The solution is simple. Everyone knows where and when littering happens. Why not adjust the hours of the litter control officers so they can actually perform their tasks? Some have noted that the fine, $200 to $500, is too high to begin with. Well then, amend the law and adjust the fine: for first offense $50, second offense $100, etc.

This government should stop making a mockery of its own laws and enforce them for once.
I disagree with him on lowering the fine. Our litter fine is already much lower than it is in the mainland United States and people know that they aren't supposed to litter.

You know how many times people have told me that they've seen people litter and then utter something like, "Beautify CNMI will pick it up for me?"

Fine them. Fine them. Fine them. Fine them.

We've been picking up after these assholes for three years. If you can't afford to pay the fine, then you can't afford to break the law. If anything, the fine should be increased.

Fried Chicken and Bud Lite

Angelo Villagomez Jamaican Grille GuamI veered off my diet a little bit this weekend. I drank a Budweiser instead of a Bud Lite and ate some ribs.

Stayed tuned: In a few months time I'll be writing a book called the Fried Chicken and Bud Lite Diet. It works, trust me! Well....we'll see what I weigh when I get back to Saipan, first.

Missed Calls

cnmi soccerNot content with being a foot taller than the Macau player, CNMI player Ben Wood grabs a fist full of t-shirt.

macau footballThis high kick should have been called as a dangerous play.

Friday, March 13, 2009

2009 Marianas Cup

Jeff Cloud

These photos are by Peter Bosner.

Guam 2 - CNMI 1

The boys from the CNMI put on one hell of a show this afternoon. Guam scored early and took a 1-0 lead into halftime. Guam scored a second goal in the second half to make it 2-0. CNMI fought back and scored on a penalty kick late in the game to come within 1, but it wasn't enough.

cnmi soccerThe fans were still appreciative. You never would have known that we lost from the looks on all our faces.

Here's to winning in 2010!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ring of Fire

Where was this video when we needed it 6 months ago?

Man Ho too much for Brad Ruszala

Today's Pacific Daily News carries a story about yesterday's soccer games.
Macau 6, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands 1: Despite taking an early 1-0 lead, the CNMI fell to the much quicker Macau team.

Joe Miller found an opening on the right side of the net and booted the ball past Macau's keeper in the 5th minute of the game to start the scoring. Fans in attendance cheered wildly for Guam's sister island after Miller's goal. At that point it was clear that CNMI was pumped up and confident, while Macau's players seemed surprised their opponents scored so quickly.

The goal by Miller was just about the only thing the CNMI had to celebrate. Macau regained its composure and in the 9th minute tied the match on a shot by Kin Seng Chan. Chan had two goals in the game, the second one coming in the 24th minute to give Macau a lead that it never relinquished.

Macau added two more goals in the first half, one in the 33rd minute by Man Hou Ho and another in the 40th minute from captain Chong In Leong to take a 4-1 lead into halftime.

CNMI's players gave it their all in the second half, but it was not their day. Macau scored twice more in the final period to put the game out of reach. Wai Hong Loi scored one of the second-half goals, while Ho picked up his second goal of the match in the 90th minute to cap the scoring.
How awesome is it that some dude named Man Ho scored two goals on us? Who cares if we lost, his frickin' name is Man Ho!

Oh yeah, in other news, Guam won their first game against a FIFA opponent, well, EVER, by defeating Mongolia 1-0 yesterday afternoon. I'm looking forward to the game on Friday.

New Haircut

chamorro mohawkchamorro haircutI believe I am slaying the competition when it comes to seeing who can have the worst haircut on Saipan.

Macau 6 - CNMI 1

I just received a text that CNMI lost their first game of the EAFF qualifier in Guam. We lost to Macau 6-1. Joe Miller scored in the first five minutes of the game, so for a short while we were leading 1-0.

The next game is against Guam on Friday afternoon. I will be at the game and will post pictures.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fat Guy Update VIII

When I went into the gym today I asked the staff if they kept the paperwork from the first Gold's Gym Body Success Challenge. They did. I asked if I could see my starting weight from the first contest. 197.4 lbs.

Damn. I'm still fatter than I was when I started that first contest back on June 16, 2008.

I didn't keep up with my exercise regimen over the weekend. I played a pickup game of soccer on Thursday and didn't run, I overexerted myself lifting weights and doing situps on Friday and didn't run, and I had a coed soccer game on Monday and didn't run.

I'm also still not eating right. My dinner last night consisted of two slices of pizza and three Bud Lites in a smoke filled bar (no need to mention which one).

Even so, the pounds are dripping off. When I stepped on the scale this morning my weight was 200.8 lbs, making me 11.8 lbs lighter than my starting weight of 212.6.

3.4 lbs more and I'll be right where I was last June, except last June I couldn't run six miles in an hour. Hell, last June I couldn't run period because my achilles heels were injured.

I really am feeling great these days. I'm running around the soccer field better than I have since 2007 and I feel like I look healthier when I look in the mirror. More than half of my beer gut has disappeared and I get almost daily comments from people who notice. I'm increasing my speed on my runs and I'm also adding more weight and doing more repetitions on my weight lifting days. I'm still not where I was at my peak, but I'm getting there. Even my flexibility has improved. I stretch for about 15 minutes before and after every run. I haven't been able to do the splits since I was about 23, but I can still put my palms flat on the ground when I reach for my toes.

I've written this before, but my fitness plan is to maintain an active lifestyle on top of 60 minutes of running each day. I know I should work on my diet, but man, I really like beer and fried chicken. Maybe next month.

I attribute all of my weight loss to the 60 minutes of running each day. When I first started running again I had a hard time maintaining even a 4.5 mph pace. It took a few weeks before the runs weren't completely wiping me out. I slept a lot. My legs were sore. But I kept at it. Everyday I would get back on the treadmill and knock out 60 minutes, no matter the speed. What mattered was getting to 60 minutes.

When I was a competitive runner we would always talk about something called "The Wall." You hit The Wall while you were training and the sheer force of it made you want to quit. To stop. To take a rest. When you hit The Wall your body has run out of glycogen, out of energy. The only way for you to continue is to start burning fat, using the energy stored in fat cells to keep your body moving.

We thought that breaking through The Wall would take us to the next level of running. We thought that once The Wall was overcome, you would be able to run forever.

I still think of that when I'm running, even if I'm only doing 4.5 mph on the treadmill. There comes a point in a tough run when you want to rest. Maybe your lungs burn or your legs scream, but whatever it is, it makes you want to stop. Forcing your body to overcome the pain and fatigue is how you become a better runner. Overcome The Wall and you'll be able to push your body to its limits.

I'm sure I'm getting the concept of The Wall wrong here, but when I was in high school and college this is how we imagined it. That is the secret to my weight loss. 60 minutes on the treadmill, not 45, not 55, no matter what.

Jacquelyn Gets an Answer

A few weeks ago during the monthly cleanup of the Garapan tourist district, one of the volunteers, a student at Saipan Southern High School, confided in me that participating in the cleanup made her really frustrated and angry.

Having done 30 cleanups of Garapan since October 2006, I understood where she was coming from. We clean it up every month, as do a number of other groups including the Department of Parks & Recreation, but it is still a mess when we come back on the first Sunday of every month.

Anyway, I suggested to the student that she write a letter to the editor expressing her frustrations. It was published in the Marianas Variety yesterday.
Letter to the Editor: Stop littering

I AM a sophomore at Saipan Southern High School. Last week I participated in the Beautify CNMI monthly cleanup of Garapan and was terribly frustrated by all the garbage I found in almost every corner. After spending 90 minutes under the hot sun, my partner and I filled up about four huge bags with trash. The majority of this trash consisted of beer bottles, paper plates, and cans — all things that could have easily been disposed of properly.

When I went home, I looked up some information about littering. I found that the CNMI has a Commonwealth Litter Control Act of 1989 (Public Law 6-37) that provides for a $500 fine for littering and that the Division of Environmental Quality, the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Public Health, the Division of Fish & Wildlife, Coastal Resources Management, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Marianas Visitors Authority all employ litter control officers.

Knowing this information, I wonder how many litter tickets have been issued in the last 12 months?

If our Commonwealth Litter Control Act were enforced, we would have a cleaner island. A cleaner island would benefit tourism and improve the quality of life for everyone who lives here.

I ask that the government enforce our litter law so that people like me don’t have to spend our weekends picking up other people’s garbage. I also realize that the community and businesses are responsible and I ask that they stop littering and put pressure on those who do to stop.

San Antonio, Saipan
The Marianas Variety ran a follow up story to the letter in today's paper.
Saipan has litter control officers but littering continues

THE litter control officers certified more than two years ago have other full-time jobs in different government agencies and this prevents them from going after violators of the Litter Control Act, Division of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Reina Camacho said.

The litter control officers can issue citations and report violations whenever they witness people dumping trash in public premises, she said.

But littering usually happens either at night or early in the morning — when litter control officers have not yet reported for work, she added.

Camacho said DEQ has only one solid waste enforcement officer who can issue citations to commercial and industrial establishments that violate anti-litter law.

In Sept. 2006, 20 litter control officers were provided citation booklets, summons, sheets for narrative report and the Litter Control Act Complaint report during the signing of the National Public Lands Day Proclamation at American Memorial Park.

They were also provided uniforms — dark blue T-shirts with yellow print on the back.

Those who were certified were personnel of the Division of Environmental Quality, Coastal Resource Management. the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Department of Public Works, the Saipan Mayor’s Office and the Marianas Visitors Authority.

The officers also went to schools and met with different community groups to discuss the anti-littering law which imposes a maximum fine of $500.

A month later, the officers published a photo of the trash dumped at the 13 Fishermen Memorial Pavilion and warned the people responsible that they would be cited next time.

Camacho, in an interview yesterday, said she did not receive citations from the litter control officers in fiscal year 2008.

But DEQ continues to spearhead monthly cleanups, she added.

The problem, she said, is that “litter bugs” never tire of dumping trash — every time DEQ and volunteers conduct a cleanup, there’s always trash to pick up.

Since the government still has to address its manpower issue in able to fully enforce the law, Camacho said officials may want to consider using surveillance cameras to identify violators.
I'm not going to give a treatise on littering in the CNMI in this blog post, but it does not surprise me that not a single litter citation was handed out in 2008. There are a number of factors contributing to this, number one being the extreme aversion the CNMI government has towards enforcing laws. In many instances the apprehending officer feels bad for the perpetrator and will just let him go. Or the attorney prosecuting the case won't want to push for a stiff sentence. Or the judge will let him off with a $25 fine and time served. And I'm not just talking about littering.

The other problem is that in making enforcing the litter laws everone's job, they in effect made it nobody's job. There are eight government agencies responsible and it is easy for one of them to pass the buck to the next.

At the same time, the Legislature is trying to write revenue generating bills, which is an Orwellian synonym for raising taxes. If the litter laws were enforced, we wouldn't need to increase the cost of doing business by increasing fees.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Holani Smith and Lee Anderson

Lil' Hammerhead has a post linking to sites that write about Saipan. One of them is an advertisement for an ebook about terrorists using Saipan, well, I didn't really read the website closely enough to really figure out what the hell the author was talking about. The website is called JIHAD! Holy War in Paradise and it is written by one, Lui A. Piliwale.

Lui, although I thought it was Lou, uses several aliases on the website, including Lee Anderson and Holani Smith. Frequent readers of the Saipan Tribune will recognize those two names as two very prolific letter to the editor writers (the Marianas Variety doesn't allow people to write letters to the editor under pen names).

Stanley Torres wrote a letter to the editor a while back making a accusation that I'll repeat here, Lee Anderson is Holani Smith is Lou Piliwale.

I don't know Lou, but I know he wrote some nasty things about the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument on the blogs, so I don't feel bad exposing him.

Link to the Saipan Blog!

Saipan BlogTonight, a Saturday, being the loser that I am, I was writing code to allow bloggers to link to the websites of the other Micronesians in Island Conservation members and posting the code on the MIC blog. While I was doing "work," I figured I might as well create a badge for the Saipan Blog.  Who knows, maybe there are people out there who have been dying to add a link to this blog (besides my mother).

To add this badge to your blog, simply paste the following into your blog or website template:

I had fun creating this badge. Expect more in the near future.

Here's an old one:

The Saipan Blog

Phil Dalhausser at Godfathers

Phil Dalhausser won a gold medal in Beach Volleyball at the 2008 Summer Olympics. He is on Saipan this week to compete in the Marianas Cup.

Tyce Mister, one of the guys who played on the CNMI National Soccer team with me in 2007, won a raffle and is going to be Phil's partner during the volleyball tournament at PIC this weekend. Lucky bastard!

Bob Coldeen had a great editorial this week comparing being able to play with the top ranked volleyball player in the world to being able to buy a raffle ticket to play with Tiger Woods or Lebron James in one of our other local sports tournament.

Phil Dalhausser SaipanPhil was at Godfather's the other night and took this photo with some of the girls, including Edz. This has to be one of my favorite photos ever.

Doggy Field Trips

dog riding in carLike most dogs, the mere whisper of the word "walk" sends Oreo Kenobi into a tail waving frenzy. Also like most dogs, he loves going for rides in my Jeep.

dog sticking head out windowI always take Oreo with me when I play soccer. Since I got back from Pohnpei I've been playing soccer at least two days per week and I've refereed a game here and there. That's a lot of soccer and a lot of doggy field trips. That makes Oreo a happy dog.

Edz Blanco and Oreo KenobiI usually tie him up during the game, but every once in a while he gets lucky and someone watches him for me. That makes Oreo a happy dog, too.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Fat Guy Update VII

Yesterday I was looking up the definition of obesity and came across a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator. I am 5'10" and my starting weight was 212.6, giving me a BMI of 30.4. Obesity is defined as a BMI over 30. Dang it! Who (besides the mirror) knew I was obese?

The last time I stepped on the scale I weighed 204.4 lbs (I've lost 8.2 lbs since starting the contest) making my current BMI 29.3. That makes me only overweight! Only 30 more lbs until I'm normal weight!


I woke up to an earthquake this morning. Actually, I woke up to Oreo barking at an earthquake this morning. Good, dog.

anatahan earthquakeIt wasn't a very big one and there is no associated tsunami warning. I think I'll just go back to bed.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Fat Guy Update VI

I attribute the weight gain to stress. Eating calms me down. It feels good. Still, I should have known I needed a change when I popped that first button off a pair of pants. I say first, because there was more than one. The endless ribbing and teasing from my brothers should have been an indication, too.

When I was putting on the weight there were times I would go to bed feeling like a stuffed turkey. I could literally feel my diaphragm and the skin around my stomach stretching up and outwards, respectively.

When I started the Body Success Challenge my stomach was hard. In fact, dating back to my high school days when I weighed only 150 pounds the skin around my stomach was tight and later on, even though I might have had a little something extra around the middle, my stomach was still relatively hard.

After I lost the first three pounds, I noticed a change. My stomach started to jiggle.

This is a problem I hadn't anticipated. I've got an issue with loose skin. Gross.

I'm 30 years old and I'm only looking to lose 30-40 pounds. I'm praying that my genetic makeup combined with my age has bestowed me with a more resilient than normal skin elasticity.

Although I rested on Sunday, I'm keeping up with my 60 minutes on the treadmill per day routine. Yesterday I ran 5.5 miles with no problems (plus a one mile warmup), so I decided to kick it up a notch today. This afternoon I ran 6.0 miles in 60 minutes. Getting through the first 30 minutes was tough, but once I got past the midway point I knew I could finish.

I think I will be able to manage the 10 minute mile pace until I drop below 200 pounds. Once I get below 200, I'm going to start training for some races. I will hopefully have improved my eating habits by then, too.

My weight today was 205.2 pounds, making me 7.4 pounds lighter than when I started the Fat Guy Contest.

Link to this blog

micronesians in island conservationDuring the 11th Micronesians in Island Conservation Retreat I was tasked with taking over the learning network's blog found at http://mic-network.blogspot.com. I've fiddled with the template and the colors a little bit here and there over the last two weeks and I'm liking the new look.

My first change was to turn the background from a solid green to a picture of two fishermen in an outrigger canoe. What says connecting islands better than a canoe?

I also added a Sitemeter counter, some frequently asked questions, contact information, and changed things around a bit so that the site is easier to navigate (at least to me). In the past I've done a few widgets for organizations I've done work with (i.e. a logo that links to your website). I used that code to add logos that link to Friends of the Monument, Micronesia Conservation Trust, and Beautify CNMI.  I'll add a few more logos as work progresses on the blog, including the html code so that you can link to those websites, too!

As for the color scheme, I offer the fact that I am color blind as an excuse.

I encourage you to add a link to the Micronesians in Island Conservation blog.  In the upcoming months we should be adding some great conservation stories from the whole of Micronesia. You heard it here first.

Carnival of the Blue XXII

carnival of the blue 22Carnival of the Blue XXII is now live at Rick MacPherson's Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice, & Sunsets. It has been a while since I've submitted a post for Carnival of the Blue, not like I don't post something about the ocean every single month, but I managed to get my act together this month. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

I was in no rush to play the game that came for free with my PS3, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. From the cover it looked like some souped up version of the Atari 2600 classic, Pitfall.

So I got bored the other day and popped it in. I played the first couple levels. No big deal.

Then I got to towards the end of the game and the whole focus of the plot and the gameplay switches.


I do not want to give away how the game changes, but it is frickin' awesome. If you have a PS3, go out and buy Uncharted: Drake's Fortune right now.

I turned the game off about 15 minutes ago and my heart is still pounding. All I can say is, WOW!