Sunday, May 31, 2009

A New Month

As I was contemplating the new month this morning I wondereed what June would bring. A new project? A new job? Travel?

Nope.

Just more blackouts. The power is out again.

If we can't keep the power on with the Aggrekko generators, what are we going to do in September when the lease ends?

2009 Republican Primary

In a previous post I made some comments about the online presence of the different gubernatorial candidates. That was nearly four months ago. Not much has changed. Only two of the five candidates have a website and none of them are effectively using any social networking websites.

Later this month there will be a Republican Gubernatorial primary between Heinz Hofsneider and Juan Babauta. The winner will get the Republican nomination and will go on to face the Covenant Party nominee and two independent candidates (so far).  Time for some more commentary from the Saipan Blogger.

Republicans hold an open primary, so any registered voter, even voters such as myself who have a donkey tattooed on their ass, can vote. The Covenant Party nominee and one of the Independent candidates have asked their supporters not to vote in this primary, but as the founder of the CNMI Jedi Party and the leading voice for the people of the CNMI that live in my apartment, I say, go ahead and Barack the Vote!

The winner of this primary has a very good chance of going on to be our next governor, so I recommend you educate yourself on the candidates and their issues and make a rational decision on who is best.

Then vote for the guy that promised to give you a job!

Kidding.

The social fabric of the Commonwealth is changing and as years progress we will vote less along family lines and hopefully more along party/idealistic lines. This is not just because Chamorros and Carolinians are becoming more sophisticated in their voting behaviors, but also because the number and percentage of non-indigenous voters increases every year. They are beginning to make up their own "family" of voters and have their own sets of concerns and issues. Then there are also the hundreds, if not thousands, of voters that have one foot firmly planted in two different worlds. I'm an Irish Chamorro American Environmentalist. The old ways just don't cut it for people such as myself.

So back to the Republican Primary.

Juan Babauta is running with Galvin Guerrero and Heinz Hofschneider is running with Arnold Palacios.

Juan Babauta is the immediate past governor. Before that he was the Washington Representative for about a decade. Galvin Guerrero is on the Board of Education and is the principal of Mt. Carmel School (although he's resigned to run for office). Heinz Hofschneider and Arnold Palacios are both in the House of Representatives. Palacios is the current Speaker and Hofschneider is a former Speaker.

In the last election, while Babauta was still governor and up for reelection, Hofschneider decided he wanted to run for governor, too. Babauta wasn't having it and convinced the Republican Party to nominate him as their candidate without a primary. Hofschneider didn't let that stop him and ran as an Independent candidate. Both men ended up losing to Benigno Fitial, who won with about 28% of the vote in a four-way race. Hofsneider was only 99 votes (thus 50 voters) behind Fitial and Babauta was about another 100 votes behind Hofschneider. I have often heard the sentiment expressed that Fitial only won because the Republican Party was split (the fourth candidate in 2005, Froilan Tenorio, was a distant fourth-place vote getter).

That brings us to 2009.  This year there is going to be a primary and each of the Republican candidates have pledged to bow out of the race should they lose, thus "guaranteeing" a unified Republican Party going into the regular election (that's if there is such a thing as a unified political party in the Marianas).

That's unless of course former Democrat-turned-Independent Juan Pan Guerrero's Republican-but-soon-to-be Independent Lt. Governor Joe Camacho pulls a lot of Republican support...but I'll leave that for another post.

So anyway, I have not made a decision as to who I am supporting in the Republican Primary, but I recommend that you look up both candidates and find out as much about them as you possibly can.

Juan and Galvin have a website, a Facebook profile, and a Myspace. Their platform is listed on their website. I was surprised (but not really) to find that one of their campaign promises is to "Seek federal funding to augment local environmental initiatives, such as Beautify CNMI."

Hey, that's me! I didn't ask them to get federal funding for Beautify CNMI, but I'll surely accept it.

***EDIT***

Heinz and Arnold have a campaign website at http://heinzarnold2009.com/

The only online pages I could find for Heinz and Arnold were their Facebook profile and fan page. They have an email address at heinz.arnold2009@gmail.com if you want to contact them for more information.

***END EDIT***

They have printed material, though.  One of my cousins gave me a full color 12-page breakdown of their platform. They don't mention Beautify CNMI by name, but on the second to last page they promise that "a summer corp program will employ individuals dedicated to tree planting, forestry and landscaping in keeping with plans to beautify our islands, advancing beautification efforts while providing an education on what it means to have a clean and healthy environment."

They also make a promise in "developing new parks, underwater conservation zones, and new forest areas."

When it comes to the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, Juan and Galvin say that we must "Capitalize on all opportunities to make the most of the newly established Marianas Trench Marine Monument." Heinz and Arnold kick it up a notch with "It is due time to take advantage of the world's focus on the biodiversity and unique beautify of the Marianas Monument. We will take the lead to develop a visitor market niche and funding for a research institute."

That's a good start. I'll post on any upcoming events should I hear of them.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Forbidden Taste

Forbidden island mpaEdz and I went down to Forbidden Island with a group of people yesterday morning. We checked out the Forbidden Grotto, swam in the swimming hole, and a few of us climbed to the top of the island. It was the first time going there for almost everybody we were with, including Edz.

forbidden grotto saipanWhen I first got to Saipan three years ago I went to the beach several times per week. Then you get so caught up living life that you forget that you live next to one of the most spectacular places on the planet.

******
snow white and edz in GarapanLater in the evening we took both dogs to the Taste of the Marianas. Snow White managed about 15 minutes of walking before Edz carried her for the rest of the evening.

snow white and edz at the taste of the marianasLast night was the final Taste of the Marianas of 2009. It is one of my favorite events on Saipan and I look forward to it every year. Still, there are some changes I would make if I were King of the Universe.

First of all, is it really necessary to use so much packaging for every single item when you only have to transport your food from the vendor booth to a nearby picnic table? A typical item comes served on a styrofoam plate, wrapped in plastic, then placed in a plastic bag with a plastic fork and spoon, chopsticks, and napkins. Is it because of government mandated food handling regulations? Whatever the reason, I can't imagine how much solid waste is generated from this one event. It would be refreshing to see someone challenge MVA to have a "zero-waste" Taste of the Marianas next year and every year after that.

Secondly, and this kind of goes along with my first criticism, I wish the portions weren't so large. The name is the Taste of the Marianas, not the Gorge Yourself Silly of the Marianas. Again, if I were King of the Universe, I would require the vendors to sell bite-sized food items for a lower price, perhaps $2-$3 per item. That would allow people to try a larger variety of items, giving them a better taste of the food of the Marianas rather than going out and purchasing the standard five items for five dollars that is available at the Street Market every Thursday.

Finally, and maybe this is too sophisticated for the Saipan palate, I would like to see drinks matched with food. It could be beer or wine, but I would like to be told that roast wild boar goes great with a pinot noir...and that a particularly well paired pinot noir is available by the glass for $7.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beautify CNMI Meeting Next Week

The first Beautify CNMI monthly meeting in about a year is scheduled for next Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 3:30 PM. This will be a reorganization meeting. We're not going to change too much, just bring everyone back to the table to see how we can continue to work together.

I will start the meeting off with a short synopsis of our different programs over the last 3 years.

Bad Puppy

snow white blanco villagomezI had a meeting around 6 PM tonight and afterwards went to the street market and then met up with a few friends for drinks. Before I left the house I put Snow White in a plastic tub with some food, water, and towels.

When I returned 6 hours later, I was greeted at the door by Oreo and Snow White. Somehow our sweet little puppy managed to climb plastic walls twice as tall as she.

Don't you just love dogs?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Snow White Blanco Villagomez

oreo kenobi villagomezFor a few weeks now Edz and I have been talking about getting a second dog. Edz knew she wanted a small dog, just like Oreo, so we starting asking around if anyone knew anyone who had purebred puppies available.

We eventually found out about a family in Papago who had two litters of Maltese pups. We gave them a call and after some difficulty finding the house, brought Snow White Blanco Villagomez home.

snow white blanco VillagomezSnow White is a female Maltese with pure white fur on most of her body and light brown ears. I expect the ears will turn white when she gets older, just like Oreo's did.

Oreo and Snow WhiteSpeaking of Oreo, I don't think he quite knows what to make of Snow White. He sniffed her once and then decided she wasn't worth his time. I wonder if he knows that she'll be hanging around for the next couple of, well...decades?

******
Just so that there is no confusion, Edz is the one who named Snow White. I had suggested Buffalo Hunter Wolf's Bane, but she didn't like it. Snow White it is.

Edz took the naming of Snow White as an opportunity to make fun of Americans.

She told me, "Americans always name their dogs after food. Filipinos give their dogs human names."

To which I responded, "Yeah, we may name our dogs after food (i.e. Oreo), but at least our dogs aren't food."

She thought that was funny.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Request for Donations

I rarely ask for cash donations. For three years Beautify CNMI has been very successful getting by with good coordination, sharing resources as in-kind contributions, and stretching every dollar we get. For example, the recent island wide cleanup was made possible with a $1500 donation for supplies by MVA and donations for prizes by Marianas Tourism Educational Council and the Kramis family of $1000 and $300 respectively. With that little amount of money and a lot of volunteer hours from the Division of Environmental Quality and other volunteers, we were able to recruit 4,140 volunteers to remove over 27,070 lbs of trash from Saipan's beaches and roads.

Today, however, we are in need of about $300 to pull off our 3rd annual Boonie Dog Show. We're calling it PAWS WARS Episode III: Revenge of the Boonie. This is the annual event where PAWS and Beautify CNMI team up to educate people about the benefits of responsible pet ownership, all while having a good time laughing at the animals we love. And yes, this year we have a Star Wars theme.

I am humbly asking that you donate $20 to PAWS to help us put on the Boonie Dog Show. If you can help, please contact me or Katie Busenkell at busenkell@gmail.com.

******
If you are not on Saipan you can mail a check to:

PAWS (Pet Assistance and Welfare Services)
P.O. Box 5330
Saipan, MP 96950

This money is going directly to PAWS, so unless you know me on a personal level, don't send the money to me.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Susan Boyle in the Semi-Finals


Yes, I am a Susan Boyle fan.

What a great song for her to sing. In her first appearance she said she wanted to sing like Elaine Page and here she is singing like Elaine Page.

******
My mother used to sing this song all the time when I was about 7 years old. I can close my eyes and practically hear her singing upstairs at our house in Worcester. Funny what you remember from your childhood.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Weenie Roast Coed Soccer Tournament Tomorrow

All is set for tomorrow's Navy Hill BBQ starting around noon.

I'm going to head over around 11 AM to set up tables and get the fire started. I hope it all fits in my Jeep.

I'll provide fire, tables, condiments, and a cooler. If someone could please bring plates, napkins, ice, beer, sodas, water, hot dogs, hot dog buns, and other tasty delicious snacks, that would be great.....yeeeeaaaaah.

Oh yeah, if someone could bring ball, too. Thanks.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Phantom Boonie

PAWS WARS LogoIt is that time of year again – when Beautify CNMI! and PAWS team up to celebrate Saipan’s boonie dogs. This year, the dog show, PAWS WARS, Episode III, Revenge of the Boonie, will be held on June 13, 2009 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at CPA Airport Field. Categories include:

Star Wars Character
Booniest
Fattest
Most Disobedient
Most Talented; and
Best in Show.

Come down and bring your dog in their best storm trooper or Darth Vader mask. There will be great prizes and loads of fun for the entire family. Registration forms are available here. As we have done in the past, we hope to use the dog show as a method of educating people about the benefits of responsible pet ownership and promote the human-animal bond.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Terminator Salvation: Delivers

The Greatest Summer Movie Season Ever continues this weekend with Terminator Salvation.

Kristanna Loken Fembot Terminator
Fembot Terminator: Kristanna Loken was the best part of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
Like all good nerds, I love the Terminator movies (the only reason for liking the third one was the hot Fembot Terminator). I saw T2 the week it came out. I was in Paris, France. That was way back in the 1990s. Whoa. And, yes, I was with my Mom. Geekness confirmed. I won't mention my Terminator comic books.

Fans of the series know the story line. Humans create robots. Robots become self aware. Humans have an "oh, shit" moment and try to destroy robots. Robots respond by nuking humans. War ensues...and we get three Terminator movies.  

And that brings us to Terminator Salvation. It is 2018 and John Connor (played by the guy who was Batman - Batman vs Terminator? HELL YEAH!!!) travels around kicking robot ass. There was some sort of attempt at a plot, but who cares? This movie was about blasting robots.

And there are all kinds of cool new robots. Sam Worthington is Marcus Wright, a death-row inmate turned one-of-a-kind human cyborg hybrid. Then there are the earlier versions of the Terminators. Cool, but ugly. The big transformer looking Terminator. And of course, the virtual cameo by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, reprising his role from the previous films.

CNN didn't give the movie a very good review, but I thought it was great. Anyone who likes movies with ninjas, hobbits, jedis, or dragons will think this is a great movie, even if Christian Bale is a terrible actor.

So, to recap the Greatest Summer Movie Season Ever:

Wolverine: Sucks

Star Trek: OMG Rocks!

Terminator Salvation: Delivers

Next up? Transformers on June 24.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ficus for Congress - Part I


I love Michael Moore.

www.beautifycnmi.org

The beautifycnmi.com url expired a few months ago and I have unsuccessfully tried to get it renewed. Tonight I just went ahead and purchased beautifycnmi.ORG.

If you have a blog or a website that links to our blog, please change the url to either:

http://beautifycnmi.blogspot.com

OR

http://www.beautifycnmi.org

The .ORG address simply redirects to our blog.  Thanks.

Beautify CNMI T-shirts

beautify cnmi shirtsIn celebration of Beautify CNMI's third year I have commissioned new Volunteer T-shirts. The designer of the shirt is none other than Dexter Mendiola, the designer of the popular Fotten Gaga t-shirts. What do you think?

I had wanted to have the shirts to be ready for April's Island Wide Cleanup. Now I'm shooting for June's dog show, PAWS WARS: Episode 3 Revenge of the Boonie.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Memorial Day Weenie Roast Coed Soccer Tournament

The idea has only been around for about 10 minutes, but so far two people have committed to play soccer in the First Annual Memorial Day Weenie Roast Coed Soccer Tournament on Navy Hill. That's Steve McKagan and me! One more person and we have half the amount of people we need to play 3 vs 3!

Here's the deal:

Plan to show up at Navy Hill before noon. I'll bring the fire and the condiments. I also have a cooler, tables, and chairs. Somebody else will volunteer to bring ice, napkins, plates, and whatever else is needed for a BBQ.

We'll start playing soccer right away. The entrance fee for the tournament will be a pack of hot dogs, a six pack of drinks, or something else to share with everyone. If you can't do that, just show up anyway.

It might be a little hot for those first few games, but who cares? The hospital is right down the street!

Let me know if you want to play so we can plan.

Hafa Dolla

On Sunday minimum wage workers throughout the Northern Mariana Islands are going to greet each other with a friendly "Hafa Dolla!" rather than the customary "Hafa Adai."

That's because everyone making minimum wage gets a Hafa Dolla raise on Sunday, courtesy of Ted Kennedy and the Democratic Party of the United States of America. The wage will increase from $4.05 to $4.55, which is still more than a dollar lower than the first job I ever had while I was a high school student in Florida.

Absolut Starburst

infused vodka recipe1 jug
1 pineapple
2 bottles of vodka
8 oranges

Slice fruit and put in jug. Add vodka. Refridgerate for two days. Enjoy.

What are you doing this weekend?

Taya Power

The power went out as I was paying for something at a store on Middle Road.

Grrrrrr....

This is the first blackout we've had in a while.

I hope these power outages don't become a regular occurrence again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Saipan Blogger on ABC

In April I was on NBC. This month I'm on ABC, that's the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

I made a bit of an oops in this interview.

I talk about what else in this interview? The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

I was interviewed yesterday and it played on the Pacific Beat program about an hour ago. It will probably play on the local NPR, but I don't know when. Anyone anywhere in the world can listen to the program online.

Click HERE to listen to the interview.

You have to listen to the entire 19 minute podcast before you get to the story on the monument. It is the last story, starting at about 17 minutes.

I'm comfortable with everything I said in the interview, except that I said the trench was 15 thousand miles long. Oopsie. Make that 15 HUNDRED miles. That's 1500, not 15,000. Like I said. Oopsie.

Other than that I am comfortable with the things I said in the interview. Those interviews happen so fast, that it can be easy to get ahead of yourself, slip up, or plain say something wrong, stupid, and moronic.

I feel like I did alright. Am I right?

Part of the interview didn't make it into the final cut. I discussed the expected timeline for drafting a management plan and how it is likely to take place and so on.

I think it is clear in my interview how complicated the issue is. It's not like we drew a circle on a map and said, "Alright, no one can go here."

******
A longer, less edited version of my interview can be found HERE. It is 3:34 minutes long.

Friends of the Monument First Monthly Meeting

The first monthly Friends of the Monument meeting is tomorrow night, Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at my house at 6 PM. We are electing officers and directors. The meeting is open to the public. If you need directions to my house, contact me.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Template

I changed my blog template a few weeks ago because my blog was loading slowly and was showing errors. Turns out Feedburner was screwing up for some reason. I removed most of the bells and whistles and what you see here is the result.

Only a few people have commented on the new look. What do you think? Is it easier to read and navigate? Or is it totally boring and lame?

Saipanda for a Day, take 2

Yeah, that's me as Saipanda!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Support a Smoke Free CNMI

I received an email from the George Cruz of Marianas Health Services this morning asking to support a Smoke Free CNMI. The email, edited for length is posted here:
Either this Tuesday, MAY 19th, or Wednesday, MAY 20th the House of Representatives will go into session to address HB 16-47 around 9:30 or 9:45 a.m..

The version of HB 16-47 which passed the Senate included the following amendments:

1. Page 9, Sub-Section 3174 – the Senate reduced the distance from a ventilated area, such as a window, door or vent, from 25 fee to 15 feet.

2. Page 11 – the Senate inserted a provision that gave establishments “Partial Exemption” of the Smoke Free Air Act by allowing 10% of their establishment to be designated as a “Smoking Area” if they pay an annual $2,000 Partial Exemption Fee.

3. Page 12 – the Senate continues with their ingenuity by allowing “Full Exemption” to the Smoke Free Air Act by giving establishments the option to be 100% Smoking Allowed by paying an Annual $10,000 Full Exemption Fee.

Please take a moment to an email in support of this important legislation, including language that the "Partial Exemption" and "Full Exemption" clauses be removed.

The letter should address the following:

1. To support the PASSING of HB 16-47 also known as the “CNMI Smoke Free Air Act of 2008”
2. To support the elimination of the Partial & Full Exemption clauses of the bill

Please email your comments to Congressman Ralph Torres at saipan_pride@yahoo.com and to Senator Joseph Mendiola at senatormendiola@yahoo.com. You can also fax your letter using the following numbers:

Congressman Ralph Torres
Chair
House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare
Email: saipan_pride@yahoo.com
Fax: (670) 664-8926

Senator Joseph Mendiola
Chair
Senate Committee on Health & Welfare
Email: senatormendiola@yahoo.com
Fax: (670) 664-8876
When I was in San Francisco one of the friends I met looked at me with disgust when I told him they still allowed smoking in bars on Saipan. How barbaric!

This is something I fully support. Not supporting this bill is indefensible. There are no cultural arguments to be made, because smoking is not a part of our culture. There are no health arguments to be made, because second hand smoke is universally accepted to be harmful. There are no economic arguments to be made either, because restaurants in states that ban smoking usually end of doing better business.

A sample letter could be:
Dear Commonwealth Representative Torres,

I support HB 16-47 which would protect my children from harmful second hand smoke. I do not support the "Partial Exemption" or the "Full Exemption" of the bill as amended by the Senate. I humbly ask you to remove them.

Thank you,

Your name
Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
It's that simple. Now mail out a letter!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Want to go to London?

According to CNN, Susan Boyle may one day star in one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals. If Susan ends up in a play, I will fly to London to watch it, just so that I can say I flew 8000 miles to see Susan Boyle in a play.
(CNN) -- She "dreamed a dream" on the TV show Britain's Got Talent, but could Susan Boyle be living that dream as the star of a West End show?

[snip]

"She's a great fan of my shows," Lloyd Webber was quoted as saying to The Sun. "If she wanted to be in one, well, it could happen. It would have to be the right role. Maybe I know what it could be, but I'm not telling. She's got a great future."
Anybody want to come?

Undersea Mining Bummer

undersea mining mapThe economist has an interesting article on undersea mining this week. You can purchase the print edition, or read it online.
The unplumbed riches of the deep
May 14th 2009 | WOODS HOLE, MASSACHUSETTS
From The Economist print edition

And why they’ll wait a while longer before being disturbed

IN TEENSPEAK, if a star such as Madonna or J.Lo is huge, that is a reference not to her size but to her popularity. Similarly, in the world of seabed geology, if a sulphide deposit is massive, it is not necessarily big, but formless and rich in metals. As it happens, seafloor massive sulphides are also huge—at least they were until recently. The collapse in commodity prices last year has diminished them a bit, but many expect their popularity to recover.

[snip]

Apart from the Russians, the only company mining the seabed at present is De Beers, which gathers diamonds off the coasts of Namibia and South Africa. These gem-quality stones were once carried down the Orange river and have since been swept up the coast, some even borne ashore by tide and wind. But they lie only about 100 metres down, so scooping them up is fairly simple.

Two other companies have shown serious interest in seabed mining. One is Neptune Minerals, an Australian-based company that applied for a mining licence in 2008 for two deposits in about 1,250 metres of water near the Kermadec islands off New Zealand. It has also been granted exploration licences in territorial waters off Papua New Guinea, the Federated States of Micronesia and Vanuatu. But it is nowhere near mining commercially. The other company is Nautilus Minerals, a Canadian firm whose Solwara 1 project in Papua New Guinea’s territorial waters contains 60,000-100,000 tonnes of copper, and gold too. It was due to start production next year, but most operations are now on hold.

[snip]

Moreover, mining companies much prefer the known difficulties of operating on land to those of operating on the seabed. The risks of working in a place where volcanic activity seems to have stopped but may suddenly resume are uncertain. So indeed are the possible obligations to repair the underwater environment: no legal codes are yet in place for deep-sea mining. That helps to explain why the only places in which companies have dipped more than a toe in the water are in exclusive economic zones, which are not just shallower than many parts of the distant ocean but also within the legal ambit of a national authority.

[snip]

One day, however, deep-sea mining will surely start to look commercially attractive again. At present China and Russia are the two countries most interested in massive sulphides, followed by India and South Korea. Russia, which has been grubbing around on the seabed for years, knows exactly what it wants and where: it has found four massive-sulphide deposits of over 10m tonnes each in the past four years, all on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. China is less sure of what it is after, but has become interested in the southern Indian Ocean, as well as the zone in the North Pacific where most of the manganese-nodule licences have been granted. While China makes up its mind, it is blocking all decision-making at the International Seabed Authority, which was due to issue legal, environmental and revenue-sharing regulations about mining in international waters this month but is unlikely to do so. Fortunately, no miners are in a hurry to get started—and massive sulphides, unlike huge rock stars, can wait. [emphasis mine]
So, still think that undersea mining is right around the corner for the Marianas?

Korean Newlyweds

edz and angeloWe're not Korean. We're not Newlyweds. I still like the photo.

Adopt a Flame Tree

adopt a flame tree
Two years ago Beautify CNMI had an adopt-a-flame tree program. Donate $25 and Beautify CNMI would plant a flame tree in your name.

That year we planted flame trees along the road fronting the substation in Koblerville, in front of Koblerville Elementary School, in Dandan near the airport, along beach road, and in Marpi. I'd have to dig through my files to figure out how many we planted, but it was several hundred. I remember a local lawyer donated something like $1000 to support our project.

Many of those trees are blooming this year, but unfortunately, a lot of the trees died from a combination of bushcutter damage, drought, and just bad luck. Many of the trees are doing very well, though, like I said.

Hafa Adai Magazine included a story about our adopt-a-flame tree program (see above) in this month's issue. This evening I got a phone call to let me know that two people had adopted trees. They are Mr. Nobuo Mizuno and Ms. Michiko Abe, both from Kamakura City in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

We are going to plant two flame trees for them.

I talked to a farmer this evening about growing trees and there is a large company on island that has expressed interest in planting several hundred flame trees on Saipan (I've got a cool idea to combine planting pretty flame trees with erosion controls using native trees, but I'll write about that later), so you may see a resurgence in Beautify CNMI tree planting in the upcoming rainy season.

Stay tuned.

Delegate Watch III

Representative Greg Sablan was interviewed by Politico.com recently. The story was posted today.

He does us proud in this article. Thanks, Greg.
Gregorio 'Kilili' Sablan wants to show the Northern Mariana Islands' better side

Gregorio “Kilili” Sablan has come to Washington to make amends.

Sablan is the first-ever delegate for the Northern Mariana Islands. But before he can do much of anything for his constituents, he has to convince his colleagues at the Capitol that the Northern Marianas are more than just a haven for sweatshop labor and Jack Abramoff’s handicraft.

“The one thing I do here is I tell everybody the truth,” Sablan said in a recent interview with POLITICO. “Mr. Abramoff — I never met the gentleman. Over 99 percent of our people never met Mr. Abramoff. I think we got taken for a ride.”

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands hired Abramoff in 1995 to help it fend off congressional efforts to impose U.S. labor laws on its textile and clothing manufacturers. Abramoff made millions off the engagement, and, along the way, he sent dozens of members on junkets to the archipelago in the South Pacific.

When Abramoff went down — he’s currently serving a four-year sentence in federal prison — the Northern Marianas’ reputation in Washington went down, too. Or would have, if it weren’t at rock bottom already, what with the steady stream of harrowing stories pouring out of the capital, Saipan. The underage children being forced into sexual servitude. The forced abortions. The workers boated in from Asia, who wore their fingers down to nubs sewing buttons in garment factories for less than minimum wage.

“A perfect petri dish of capitalism” is how former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay would summarize this to The Washington Post.

But others took a dimmer view of what had become of the Marianas since the commonwealth signed a covenant with the United States in 1976. And no one was more vocal in criticizing the commonwealth than Rep. George Miller, the veteran California Democrat and close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

So when Sablan arrived in Washington, he says his first order of business was to see Miller.

“Mr. Miller has been harshly criticized from the Northern Mariana Islands,” Sablan says. “I told him that, if we have done anything to personally insult him, I apologize on behalf of the Northern Mariana Islands.”

Sablan says he offered Miller “a new chapter in the relationship ... and I assured him of my sincerity, and I asked him to approach this relationship with a new approach and an open mind. And I feel that he has done that.”

Miller calls Sablan’s approach “a critical development for the CNMI.”

“For years,” he says, “lobbyists like Jack Abramoff could claim to ‘represent’ the commonwealth’s interests but were really working against the interests of workers and families there.”

Sablan acknowledges that much of the blame for the Abramoff mess lies with the local politicians in the Marianas — some still in positions of power. “He would not have taken us for a ride if the handful of people that were in official positions didn’t allow him to take us for a ride,” he says.

But the job of apologizing has, nevertheless, fallen to him.

“I think he’s done a good job at that,” says Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.). “Nobody wants to punish or withhold or deny any services or considerations because of Abramoff’s presence there.”

There is still work to be done. Sablan says he’s heard, not infrequently, that the Abramoff taint has members and staffers leery about visiting the Marianas. He has been working hard on organizing a members trip — and although he’s cautious with the details, he says he’s hopeful it will come together before year’s end.

He needs Washington’s attention, and quick. Since the garment trade went kaput in 2006, the islands’ general economic state has gone from dreadful for many to abominable for most. Nowhere in Saipan is the water safe to drink, and the next-largest island, Tinian, is without a single sewer line. Sablan says that the federal government has plans to fix these problems, that it’s “just a matter of getting this prioritized.”

And there’s the rub.

“What was an infrastructure problem will eventually be a health problem,” Sablan says.

The Senate bill former President George W. Bush signed into the books last May, which provided for a CNMI nonvoting delegate in the House, also extended U.S. immigration law to the islands. A previous law requires the islands to increase their minimum wage 50 cents each year until it conforms to the federal standard.

Prior to winning the delegate seat, Sablan worked for two Northern Marianas governors. Most recently, he headed the Commonwealth Election Commission, a job he appreciated because, he says, “I was obligated to be fair, even though some of the politicians happen to be my friends, my relatives or people who don’t like me.”

Now he must navigate the commonwealth’s highly nepotistic and quasi-dynastic local political scene, while trying to present a reform-minded face to Congress. It’s a delicate endeavor, which may be why as effusive as Sablan has been in his Abramoff atoning, he’s careful not to single out anyone in particular back home.

He says he has differences with local politicians, but that it’s best he works them out in private. Sablan chuckles when asked if it’d be better for the islands if those politicians were removed from the equation.

“Look, Mr. Abramoff is already in jail,” he finally says. “We don’t have anybody else to go to bed with.”

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cinta Kaipat to run for Senate

The Marianas Variety reports today that Cinta Kaipat is planning to run for Senate under the Covenant Party banner:
LABOR Deputy Secretary Jacinta M. Kaipat yesterday said she is running for the Senate on the Covenant Party ticket to continue making a difference in solving the larger issues facing the community.

An environmental advocate, the former House member is also known as a strong proponent of more local participation in the private sector’s workforce.

Kaipat promises to “bring people together.”

“I believe that our people will work together to make our collective lives better and better. I founded Beautify CNMI! on that principle. In the Beautify CNMI! efforts, we welcome everyone’s efforts and we organize to pursue a common goal. We need to focus more on our common goals and the common good. Dividing people is not the answer. Bringing them together is a better solution. I believe I can do that.”

She said she will focus on specific big problems and get them solved.

“I like to work through broad participation. When I was in the 15th Legislature, I held hearings, formed joint public-private task forces to come up with acceptable legislative language, worked with my fellow legislators to get agreement, and got important legislation passed. I particularly want to focus on health care. Affordable, quality health care is a problem that affects all our people. We need to confront our limitations, be creative in our solutions, and above all, be responsible in what we can afford. But we cannot just let this current situation go on and on. Health care crises tend to be individual problems for individual people who are sick and individual families who have to care for loved ones. But our whole community is harmed when we cannot provide the quality health care, and especially preventive health care, that everyone needs.”

Kaipat at the same time said the CNMI must also “face up to some basic realities in our situation…and come to terms with it in ways that allow our citizens to live comfortably on our islands.”

“I want to work on alternative power for individuals as one aspect of this. I think that ‘big power’ is necessary; but that ‘small power’ has great potential for us. I want small wind energy and small solar energy for individuals so that residences and small businesses can have their own source of power without having to pay [Commonwealth Utilities Corp.] rates for all their power. I think we can help finance ‘small power’ for individuals because the payback is there — everyone uses power — and the benefits are clear.”

The CNMI, she added, must “look ahead to our future and capitalize on some of the changes that are happening out there in the world. Although we are small and isolated geographically, we are a part of the world through the Internet. We can conduct commerce efficiently, even within our islands, on the Internet. We can help expand our education system by tapping far-away institutions and capabilities through the Internet. And we can expand our personal horizons as well. I want to bring the Internet to everyone who wants it. I want to explore ways to support Internet access for everyone.”

Her plan includes training everyone who wants to participate with free classes in how to benefit from the Internet.

“We need to get more computers into our classrooms and schools, and use more of the on-line resources to augment the education we provide for our kids, particularly in the specialized subjects in which we can’t always provide instruction in person.”

A law graduate, Kaipat described herself as a fiscal conservative.

“I don’t believe in spending money we don’t have. That never works in the long run. I believe we should have a required budget analysis attached to every bill that is introduced in the Legislature. How much is this measure expected to cost if it is enacted? Is this cost already built into the next year’s budget? If not, where will the funds come from? Everything the Legislature does affects the allocation of our scarce resources. We cannot kid ourselves — nothing is really for free. So we should have a system that requires everyone to declare and debate, up front, what a proposed legislative measure will cost, no matter what topic that bill covers.”

She said everything the Legislature does has to be done while keeping an eye on the effect on jobs.

“Jobs for our U.S. citizens is the primary factor that drives our economy. That is clear from all the professional economic reports on our current situation. When we grant incentives, we need to ask how many jobs will be created. When we work on taxes, we need to ask how will this affect jobs. When we issue permits to foreign investors, we need to ask how many citizens will be employed. When we place burdens on local businesses, we need to ask whether jobs will be affected. The Legislature needs to get useful and factual reports on these things and to hold hearings to hear from the public if the numbers seem to be wrong. We must make progress on jobs — real, verifiable, productive jobs accounted for one by one if necessary — over the next four years.”

Asked why the people should vote for her, Kaipat replied: “I humbly ask for everyone’s vote because I care deeply about the people and the future of our islands. I will use my education and work experiences gained from working abroad in the United States as well as here in the commonwealth to continue serving our communities to the best of my abilities. I am dedicated and take my job seriously, no matter what the job is. I never forget who I am supposed to represent and work for. And, I’m a doer; I get the job done. As a lawmaker in the 15th Legislature, I succeeded in getting important pieces of legislation passed and signed into law. And, finally, I pledge my full commitment to my family and to the people of our commonwealth that I will neither embarrass nor betray your trust in me.”
Cinta is a very good friend of mine and was an instrumental part of both Beautify CNMI and Friends of the Monument.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NW Rota-1 on National Geographic


This undersea video was shot the same week NBC was on Saipan.

I figured out how to embed the video, so I'm bumping this back up to the top.

Check out the link to read the story:
Deep-Sea Eruption, Odd Animals Seen

May 7, 2009—Scientists have caught a fast-growing, 12-story underwater volcano erupting—along with odd creatures evolved to survive its toxic emissions.

Scientists, witnessing and videotaping for the first time the eruption of an undersea volcano in the Pacific Ocean in the Northern Mariana Islands near Guam.
The footage of the erupting volcano was shot at 1700 feet before the surface of the ocean. That is much deeper than even Harry Blalock can dive.

******
A quick search of the Internet and I found the b-roll of the two species of shrimp living on the active underwater volcano. There is no sound, but the pictures are pretty cool.

Those shrimp are now protected since Rota NW-1 is part of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Saipanda for a Day

saipandaDuring the Rotary Club of Saipan's Parade of Books on Sunday I returned to my glory days as a character performer. I was Saipanda.

You'll notice my pants sticking out near my shoes and my watch on my wrist. Kind of destroys the magic, huh?

Photo courtesy of Mike Tripp. Thanks, Mike.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Star Trek OMG Rocks

In every way Wolverine sucked, Star Trek rocked! OMG. I loved it!

The story was great. The effects were great. It's got Leonard Nimoy. No William Shatner. The new Spock was awesome. The new Scotty was hilarious. Best of all? Sulu's a frickin' ninja!

Ninjas, Romulans, and spaceships, oh my! Can there be a better movie?

The story opens up Star Trek to another 10 movies, too. And you thought the series was dead when Kirk got knocked off back in Star Trek Generations? No way!

So anyway, the movie's got emotional impact, too. It made Edz cry. No kidding! In the flashback(forward?) scene with Spock where those unnamed-so-as-not-to-ruin-its all die, she had tears in her eyes. For reals!

So anyway.

To recap the Greatest Summer Movie Season Ever thus far:

Wolverine: Sucks

Star Trek: OMG Rocks!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Fat Guy Contest Final Update

Photos don't lie. All the running has paid off.

I've lost a lot of weight in the last three months. Even if I could cheat a little by sticking out my stomach in the front and side pictures, there's no cheating on the pictures from the back.

I lost four inches around my waist and a total of 10 lbs. Most of my pants fit again and I feel great.

The Bud Lite and Fried Chicken diet was a success and now I think I need to write a book.

And now, back to reality:

I really feel like this was just a start. I'm hovering right around 200 lbs now. I'd like to get down to 180 in the next six months.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Basking Sharks in the Marianas Trench

There is a cool story on the National Geographic website about basking sharks spending their summers in "deep, warm-water hideouts." One of the scientists said the discovery was like "finding polar bears in Kansas."

So maybe there are basking sharks in the Marianas Trench? Who knows? Maybe Megaladon is down there, too.

megaladon******
Speaking of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, the Friends of the Monument are on the front pages of both the Saipan Tribune and the Marianas Variety today.

angelo villagomezFrom the Saipan Tribune:
On May 1, Fitial told Sablan not to support any changes to the national monument proclamation by legislation at this time.

On the same day, the governor wrote to the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, telling him that he “strongly opposes” the Friend's recommended reversal of the three provisions of the proclamation.

Island Wide Cleanup Award Winners

Saipan, (CNMI) – Two elementary schools and a government agency that provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers are one hundred dollars richer today as Beautify CNMI! handed out prizes to groups participating in last month’s island-wide cleanup.

Garapan Elementary School received $100 for the photo they submitted of their entire student body right before cleaning up their campus and the surrounding neighborhood. They won the contest for the photo with the most volunteers.

“I told some of the staff that we won and they were really proud,” remarked Dale Roberts, Vice Principal of Garapan Elementary.

In the contest to take a photo of the biggest pile of collected garbage, San Vicente was declared the victors. ACT President Betty Miller was on hand to accept the $100 on behalf of the students.

“We had a lot of support from the parents on our cleanup day and they deserve a lot of the credit,” said Miller about winning the contest category.

Each of this year’s 61 participating groups also had their names put into a random drawing to win $100. William S. Reyes 5th grader Shizuka Takayama pulled the name of the Children’s Developmental Assistance Center during a press event at the Marianas Visitors Authority office on Wednesday.

“Everyone who participated in this year’s island-wide cleanup deserves a hearty thank you,” said Angelo Villagomez of Beautify CNMI. He added, “the Kramis family also deserves a big thank for their generous donation making these prizes possible.”

Award winners: Roberts and Miller with the $100 checks for their schools. Saipanda is also pictured.
The 2009 island-wide cleanup had the participation of 4,140 volunteers from 61 groups and over 13.5 tons of litter was removed from the streets and beaches of Saipan. The Rotary Club of Saipan, Division of Environmental Quality, Marianas Visitors Authority, and Marianas Tourism Education Council coordinated the event.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Representative Sablan on the Friends and Beautify


Representative Gregorio "Kilili" Sablan gave a two minute speech on Beautify CNMI and the Friends of the Monument on the floor of the US House of Representatives last week. I ripped the video off his website and uploaded it to Youtube for your viewing pleasure. I'll post the text of the speech if anyone sends it to me.

Fat Guy Update XI

I had my final weigh in on April 30.

I lost weight, but not as much as I had wanted. I'm cool with that.

If I had tried the Tagaman back in February there is no way I would have been able to complete the swim or gotten as far as I did on the bike.

I feel good.

The next events are the Tinian Triathalon and the Silver Streak in June.

I got 4th place in the Silver Streak in 1995. I wonder how I'll do this year?

Micronesian Anthology

There was an article in the Saipan Tribune last week about a planned Micronesian anthology.
The Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa is calling for submissions for a planned anthology of Micronesian writing.

The Center is soliciting submissions of written work by indigenous writers from Micronesia, including the islands of Guam, Saipan and the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk, Yap, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Nauru for possible inclusion in this first anthology focused specifically on this region of the Pacific Islands.
I figured some of my blog posts were good enough for inclusion, so I edited two and sent them in. The two I selected are listed in my Best of Saipan Blog links. I received a lot of feedback when I wrote these pieces.

I wrote I Found the Jinja in the Jungle around my one-year anniversary on Saipan. I had previously been away for 24 years and I was contemplating what it meant for me to be back on my father’s island after so many years.
Submission #1
I Found the Jinja in the Jungle


The Force is strong in Saipan. It can be difficult to feel, but when you are able to get away, able to find a place untouched by the modern world, you can feel it. You can call the feeling what you want, whether it be religious or spiritual, but you can still feel it. We've all felt it at some time in our lives, a connection to the past and to something greater than ourselves.

I have been back in Saipan for just over three years now. I joke that the planets aligned to bring me back to this island, but I feel that they did. The Force brought me back to Saipan.



Returning to Saipan was never in my life plan. My mother ran away from Saipan with her two kids when I was three years old. After he divorced her, my father moved on and started a new family. My mother raised my brother, Alex, and me as a single parent. I received the occasional letter from my father, but I saw him no more than once every few years. I was raised as an American, visiting Saipan exactly five times during my childhood. Even when I was about to graduate from college, no one was asking me what I was going to do when I returned to Saipan. I don't think anybody ever even considered me coming back.

In my final week of college, my father suffered a massive heart attack and was evacuated to a hospital in Honolulu. I flew to Honolulu to be with him, his wife, my four brothers, and my sister. I missed my college graduation so that I could be there with them. It was worth it though; it was the last, and only the second, time my father's six children were all together. I don't know if that will ever happen again.

When he stabilized, we brought him home so that he could die on Saipan. We didn't expect him to live long. I thought he was going to die on the plane, but he hung in there for five and half years. During that interval, I went back to America, earned another degree and continued on with my life. Alex and I had an unspoken understanding that we would go back for his funeral and then we would probably never return to Saipan.

Well, that changed.

I made plans to visit Saipan in 2005. I was moving to Japan and before my job started there, my girlfriend at the time and I decided that we wanted to pay a visit to Saipan and my family. We were scheduled to arrive on December 17, 2005.

I moved to Japan on November 18, 2005. It was an exciting time; I was living in a new place and things were going very well. Then my world turned upside down.

On the morning of December 1, 2005, I woke up and opened up my laptop. I immediately started getting chat requests from Alex in Florida. I plugged in my camera, accepted the chat invitation and saw that Alex was bawling his eyes out. My father had died the night before. Alex already had a ticket to Saipan. I told him I would meet him in the Narita airport.

Now, if my father had died at any other time, I would have purchased a ticket to Saipan, stayed for one week, buried him, and I would have left Saipan behind forever. But he didn't die at any other time. He died 17 days before I was going to see him for the first time in half a decade. So instead of coming for one week, I came for one month.

After burying him, I was able to rediscover Saipan. I was able to see Saipan for the first time as an adult. I was able to see the island through my own eyes.

Three months later I was living on Saipan for the first time since I was three years old.

And you know what I have discovered?

I belong here.
People later told me that they cried when they read that. 

I wrote Practicing My Culture as I was getting ready to launch a campaign to create a large marine protected area around the islands 300 miles north of Saipan. In it I try to argue that protecting our natural resources is just as important to protecting our culture as is continuing cultural practices.
Submission #2
Practicing my culture


Sometime in the last 20 years, indigenous people in the Northern Mariana Islands came to understand conservation as a bunch of haoles telling us not to fish, not to feed our families, and not to practice our culture. We have been mistaken. Conservation has always been an integral part of our Micronesian culture. I learned it from my father and I know other people on this island learned it from theirs. Even so, times have changed. Our islands have changed. The definition of conservation has changed along with them.

Old habits and old technologies result in expected outcomes. About a thousand years ago, when one of our Chamorro forefathers went out to catch fish using the technology available to him at the time, he could safely assume that he wasn’t depleting his resource. No new technology was going to be introduced to help him catch more fish and no huge influx of off-islanders would be coming to his home anytime soon.

The only things he needed to navigate his world were the stars, the waves, and the wind. He lived the way his grandparents lived and after he passed, he could reasonably assume his grandchildren would live the same way. That was 1,000 years ago, however. Times have changed. We now have more people and new technologies.

When people use old habits combined with new technologies, unexpected outcomes occur. 

Our local Division of Fish & Wildlife will tell you that SCUBA spear fishing nearly decimated our Napoleon wrasse population and that in the 1990s monofilament gill nets wiped out the turtle population in our lagoon.



When these new technologies were introduced, they weren’t introduced with the intent of destroying our natural resources. We just wanted to catch more fish, feed our families, and practice our culture.

Even so, old habits (catching as much as you can to share with family and friends) combined with new technologies (diving deeper and longer with SCUBA and better nets) led to a decline in the resource (an unexpected outcome). Fortunately our leaders were able to identify both of these new technologies as destructive. Both technologies have since been banned.

Culture and conservation are integrally linked. One day when my parents were still married, my father shot a Mariana mallard on our family property. He cooked it and we ate it.

A few days later my mother was visiting with an American wildlife biologist working on Saipan. Inside his office was a picture of a similar mallard and my mother told the him that her husband had just shot and eaten a bird just like the one in the photo. The biologist replied, "That was probably the last one."



My father did not purposely shoot and kill the last mallard. He was just feeding his family. He was practicing his culture. Also, if you had asked him about the bird on the day he shot it, he would probably have told you that he knew where to find more.

I don’t recount that story to try to paint my father in a negative light; I just use it to highlight my point. He had spent his whole life shooting and eating that bird and probably expected his children, my brothers, to spend their whole lives shooting and eating that bird. He was feeding his family. He was practicing his culture. However, old habits (hunting every bird you see) combined with new technologies (more people with better rifles) led to extinction (an unexpected outcome). 



Am I less Chamorro because I will never see another Mariana mallard? Am I less Chamorro because I will never taste one again? And is Saipan less Saipan because we no longer have fruit bats, barely any coconut crabs, and fewer turtles and reef fish? If eating certain foods is part of our culture, what does it say about our culture when we allow that food to go extinct? Will our culture go extinct along with the resource?

We say that we are the people of the land and that these islands define who we are as a people. For that to remain true, then it must be 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. That is how I practice my culture.
People have told me that they supported the creation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument the moment they read this. The week that I published it I read it out loud on Harry Blalock's radio show. Somebody later told me that they were driving when it came on and that they pulled over so they could listen better.

I don't really consider myself a writer and I took my last English class during my senior year of high school, but I think these two pieces are as about as good a product as I can produce. Not that Killer Saipan Tsunami wasn't inspired.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Beautify CNMI and PAWS announce date for Best of Worst Dog Show

The Beautify CNMI Animal Welfare Committee and PAWS have set a date for the third annual Best of Worst Dog Show. PAWS WARS Episode 3: Revenge of the Boonie is set to take place on June 13. This year’s dog show will have a Star Wars theme in celebration of veteran dog show host George Hasselback’s 40th birthday.

Like years past, this year’s contestants will compete for prizes in six categories. Popular categories “Booniest,” “Fattest,” and “Most Disobedient” are returning for this year’s competition, along with new categories, “Most Talented” and “Best Star Wars Character” to go along with the theme of this year’s show. A “Best in Show” award will also be given out.

Dogs will be able to participate in multiple categories and there will be no cost to compete, although a donation to support PAWS is always encouraged.

The event is still in the planning stages and both Beautify CNMI and PAWS are looking for sponsors for Micronesia’s only annual dog show. The organizers are looking for in-kind donations of raffle items, as well as cash to pay for tents, tables, and awards.

People interested in volunteering to help with PAWS WARS are encouraged to attend a meeting next Friday, May 15 at 12:00 at Oleai Bar & Grille. Contact Angelo Villagomez at angelovillagomez@gmail.com or 285-6462 for more information.

Friends of the Monument set regular monthly meetings

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands – The Friends of the Monument will elect seven officers at their first regular monthly meeting scheduled for Wednesday, May 20. The group decided at their meeting on April 28 to have a regular monthly meeting.

Ignacio V. Cabrera, the current Chairman explained, “During the campaign to create the monument we were meeting almost every other day. We don’t need to meet as often anymore and we went people to be able to schedule the meeting into their other activities. We also have a number of areas where we intend to work over the next few years, so we are going to elect directors to lead us. For example, we are going to elect a Federal Relations Director who will lead our work with the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.”

The group will also elect Congressional Affairs, Public Relations, and Outreach & Education Directors. Additionally, the organization will elect a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman, and a Secretary.

The meeting will take place at Angelo Villagomez’ residence at 6 PM.

The Friends of the Monument will also distribute booklets detailing the global media coverage the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument received during the first half of January.

When the monument was declared, the story was on the front page of the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and USA today. It was on the evening news of all three national networks as well as on CNN and FOX News. It played on the radio and was seen on a number of popular magazines and blogs.

According to the group’s Secretary, Angelo Villagomez, “For a few weeks in January the spotlight was shining on our islands and this booklet chronicles all that media exposure in great detail.”

The articles in the booklets were compiled and printed by the Pew Environment Group.

A copy can be obtained by emailing the Friends of the Monument at marianamonument@gmail.com. For directions to Villagomez’ residence, please contact him at 285-6462 or 233-6462.

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 flora, fauna and geological features of the oceans; and the proper management of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. The organization was a recipient of a 2009 EPA Environmental Award for their community outreach work supporting marine protected areas.

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

Monday, May 04, 2009

Carnival of the Blue 24

carnival of the blueCarnival of the Blue 24 is now live at Sea Notes, the blog of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This month's carnival features the best in ocean blogging from across the globe.

My contribution this month is the NBC Nightly News story on the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument from two weeks ago.

Beautify CNMI award nominations deadline on Friday

The deadline to submit nominations for the annual Beautify CNMI Steward and Beautify CNMI Champion awards is this Friday, May 8.

The awards are given out to recognize the individuals or groups who have been environmental leaders during the past 12 months. There are two award categories, the Environmental Steward and the Environmental Champion.

The Environmental Steward award recognizes a person or group that leads the community in activities that help protect our environment in a variety of ways. This individual or group has demonstrated the need to take pride in our islands and to take care of the place we all call home. They serve as an example for others, especially the next generation, to follow.

The Environmental Champion award recognizes a person or group that exemplifies the Beautify CNMI spirit. Those qualities include volunteerism, cooperation, innovation, creativity and the ability to infect others with the Beauty Virus. The Environmental Champion is a role model for others to follow. They bring environmental issues to the forefront of public consciousness. They make things happen and effect change.

The 2007 Environmental Champion winners were Bree Reynolds, Kathy Yuknavage, and Carl Brachear. The winners of the 2007 Environmental Steward award were Adam Sablan and Friends of the Mariana Islands.

The 2008 Environmental Champion winners were Nava Khorram, Marites Castillo, Katie Busenkell and Rose Callier of PAWS, Mike Tripp of Marianas Dive, and Aqua Resort Club. The winners of the 2008 Environmental Steward award were Friends of the Marianas Islands, Marianas Dive, Paseo de Marianas Promoters and Max Aguon and the Pantalon Boys.

To nominate an individual or group, submit a written nomination explaining why that person or group deserves recognition. You can make as many nominations as you like, but individuals and groups can only be nominated for one award category. Nominations must include the award category the nominee is being considered for, a well written argument detailing the reasons why this nominee should be considered, and contact information for the nominee and for the person making the nomination.

Send nominations to Angelo Villagomez at angelovillagomez@gmail.com or mail them to PMB 360 BOX 10001; Saipan, MP 96950 or call 285-6462 for more information.

Do you know Joaquin Cabrera?

This photo was taken in May of 1948 at the Coast Guard long range aid to navigation (LORAN) installation on Saipan. The people in the photo from left to right are, "Sam" Taylor from St Louis, Joaquin Cabrera of Saipan, Arthur Kelly from Brooklyn, New York, Pete Mundy from Brooklyn, New York, Lloyd Jones from Terra Haute and Abner Chapman from New Hampshire.

One of the Americans in the photo emailed the photo to someone living on Saipan, who in turn emailed it to me.

So, do any of my readers know any of these guys? Who is Jack Cabrera?

MINA Annual Meeting

The 2009 MINA general membership meeting will be held on Thursday, May 7, 2009 from 5:00PM to 8:00PM at the 13 Fishermen's Pavilion on Beach Road in Garapan. We would like to invite all of our members as well as the general public to join us, and learn about the opportunities and challenges facing MINA in 2009, as well as our accomplishments in 2008.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Wolverine Sucks

Wolverine sucked. I expected so much more. Wolverine was my favorite character from the X-men cartoon back in the 1990's. He was arguably the best character from the X-men movies, too.

What the hell? Did the producers not care about the movie? Were they just trying to crank something out in time for the 2009 movie season, regardless of the product?

Yeah, parts of the movie were cool. So what? Everything that was cool was already in the commercial.

This was disappointing on so many levels. Did they purposely try to cast every actor that had been killed off by the producers of LOST? And whose idea was it to turn Van Wilder into a supervillian?

This is supposed to be the greatest summer movie season of all time. I may have to commit suicide if Transformers, GI Joe, Harry Potter, Terminator, and Star Trek suck as much as Wolverine.

Feedburner is Gone

I think Feedburner was slowing down my blog. The bells started going off when I noticed their website was down. Oh, well. I kind of liked Feedburner.

The blog seems to be loading better now. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, May 01, 2009

I <3 Susan Boyle

Alright, if you haven't seen Susan Boyle on Britian's Got Talent, you need to watch this video and catch up on your pop culture.

...and then have a good cry. Or at least a smile.

Gold Elite!

That last trip to San Francisco, coupled with the triple mileage bonus from Northwest, has bumped me into Gold Elite WorldPerks status. I can't wait to get my new card in the mail! Woo hoo!