Monday, February 08, 2010

Under the Pala Pala IX – The Saipan Blogs

Island Decisions and Island Opinions are made Under the Pala Pala

I started my first blog in 2004. I think it was in March. It got me fired in December. You read that right, my first blog got me fired. No joke. I wrote in a blog post that I wasn’t making much money at a new job and when the owner found it online, he fired me. The popular term for getting fired for blogging is “dooced.” I got dooced in my first year of blogging.

My second blog was a food blog. Insert fat joke. I blogged about the food I cooked, food I ordered at restaurants, and food I just wanted to write about. Insert second fat joke. I posted to that blog for about a year and a half before I lost interest.

Around the time of the food blog, I also created a blog about my plans to move to Japan. That blog, found at, started off as a blog about trying to get a job in Japan before morphing into a blog about how to get rejected for a job in Japan. As time went on and after I moved to Japan it turned into a blog about living in Japan and starting in early 2006 it became a blog about living and working in Saipan. Now that it is 2010 the blog is about living with my parents and being unemployed in Florida.

For those of you had lives, jobs, and avatar-less friends during the Lost Decade, a blog is type of website made up of short (or long) “blog posts” written on any given subject that appear in reverse chronological order on your computer screen. They are often written as a sort of diary, ahem, I mean journal, so they can often be self-centered and peppered with the words “me,” “myself,” and “I.”

During my tenure on Saipan I published over 1700 posts to the Saipan Blog and wrote hundreds of posts for the blogs of Beautify CNMI, Friends of the Marianas Trench Monument, Marianas RC&D, Micronesians in Island Conservation, Rotary Club, and Friends of the Mariana Islands. I blogged about Saipan tree plantings and beach cleanups, how to get a CNMI driver’s license, annual cultural events, family parties, local sports, the best place to get a beer or a good meal, interesting places to visit, the best beaches, and the list goes on and on.

And I wasn’t alone; Many other people publish blogs from Saipan. The Saipan Bloggers count among their members an eye doctor, an attorney general, several teachers, a dental hygienist, a magazine publisher, high school and college students, nurses, scuba divers, and even a member of the local legislature. Those bloggers and the topics they write about capture what life is like on Saipan for many different people, living many different lives. Talk about an anthropologists dream come true. Anyone from anywhere in the world can get an unfiltered view of what life on Saipan is like from a hundred different perspectives.

Some of the most thoughtful well-written perspectives on life in Saipan can be found on the Saipan blogs. Thinking of accepting a teaching job on Saipan? Read Jeff Turbitt’s piece on teaching. Want to know why people who come to Saipan end up staying for a lifetime? Read David Khorram’s ode to what he likes about Saipan. Want a taste of the idiocracy we call our local government? I can refer you again to Jeff Turbitt who compares our leaders to George Costanza from Seinfeld.

The creation of a coordinated Saipan Blogosphere was no accident, either. In November 2006 during a meeting of Beautify CNMI the idea for a network of Saipan bloggers was born. The plan was to get as many people writing and publishing blogs as possible and to link them all together in a single place.

Thus was born the We Love Saipan Network, found at We Love Saipan was the brainchild of Walt Goodridge and myself. At first Walt worked on the website and I promoted the idea on my blog and around the island, but We Love Saipan quickly spread and many other people got involved. For example, after we went on a morning radio talk show to promote our idea, the host starting blogging and talked about blogging on his show every day.

Our plan worked. People from all over the island started publishing blogs. I link to over 150 of them on my Master List of Saipan blogs while We Love Saipan focuses on some of Saipan’s more prolific bloggers.

For a while anonymous political blogs were very popular on Saipan. These blogs quickly turned nasty as people used their anonymity to attack other people. This led to a witch hunt of sorts to identify the anonymous bloggers; a witch hunt that ultimately fingered the two most vile anonymous bloggers.

Unfortunately, there aren’t as many people blogging from Saipan in 2010 as there were in 2007. One reason is that many of the bloggers left the island. Many people also stopped blogging because they were turned off by the incessant attacks of the anonymous bloggers. People also turned to Facebook and gave up on their blogs.

Even with the decline in sheer numbers of bloggers, blogs are still being published in
Saipan. Two popular blogs that still post regularly are Saipan Writer, written by Micronesian Legal Services attorney Jane Mack, and SOSaipan, written by retired educator Ken Phillips. Wendy Doromal also has a blog that I used to only check from time to time, but now read religiously to keep up with the latest on Governor Fital’s late night massage. Saipan Middle Road is a popular anonymous blog that still posts occasionally. You should skip the posts and go straight to the comments for some insight into the petty bickering of Saipan politics.

I still keep up with the Saipan blogs on a daily basis. They provide the best raw, unfiltered insight into what is going on in the islands and along with reading the local papers online and using Facebook, it is how I keep in touch with the place I call home.


It has not yet been a month since I left Saipan but I continue to blog and write about issue’s pertinent to life on Saipan. I’m sure as the weeks turn into months, the frequency of posts about Saipan will diminish, but for now I still have one toe in the Saipan Lagoon. For instance, there have been several news items concerning the Marianas Trench and the Marine Monument that I’ve found interesting and written about. I’m also fascinated by Governor Fitial’s late night massage. I am astounded that he has not even apologized and fear that Judge Munson’s order to quash the evidentiary hearing and subpoenas will only embolden the governor to abuse his power to an even greater degree. Like a kid who pushes his parents just to see how far he can go until they snap, I imagine the governor is already scheming to see what he can get away with next. And when he gets caught I’m sure I will be inspired to share my thoughts with you.

As for how life in Florida is progressing, I am not working yet but I am moving forward. I sat for GRE last week and scored a respectable 1270. I have not yet received my writing score, but have a feeling I did well.

I really enjoy spending time with my family again. I make dinner for everyone several nights per week and pitch in around the house. Today I spent the afternoon helping with yard work, raking leaves, pruning bushes I planted 5 years ago, and mowing the lawn. To some degree it’s not much different to the volunteer work I did with Beautify CNMI.


Under the Pala Pala is the regular commentary of environmentalist and erstwhile politician Angelo O’Connor Villagomez. Pala pala is the Chamorro word for an outdoor shelter traditionally made of wood and thatch used for staying out of the sun, cooking, eating, drinking, singing, and talking. Sign up to subscribe via email at

Skype: saipanblogger


Bon said...

Gee thanks for the plug :)

The Saipan Blogger said...

Post more often!