Monday, April 30, 2007

HOLY CHOW! He Put My Head On Dolly Parton's Body

I decided to take a walk around to visit some of the booths on the second day of the Flame Tree Arts Festival and ended up striking up a conversation with Greg Borja Flores, a caricaturist from Guam. As I was looking at his portfolio, I noticed that he'd done mural drawings with community members in Guam to combat graffiti. "What a coincidence," I said to him. "Beautify CNMI! is just getting ready to launch the 'War on Graffiti' [for lack of a better name] Project next Tuesday." He offered to come up and help us with the Project.

And while we were talking, he said, "Here -- let me do a complimentary drawing for you on the condition that you hang this in your office -- not at your house." Not one to pass up that kind of offer, I quickly accepted before he changed his mind. :) Several people stopped by and snickered as they looked at the drawing. I wondered out loud if he was giving me a Groucho Marx mustache or something. When he was all done, this is what I saw...HOLY CHOW! He put my head on Dolly Parton's body! Trust me -- I don't have Dolly Parton's assets!The 2007 Flame Tree Arts Festival came to a close yesterday. I arrived home utterly exhausted after midnight last night, but I had to muster up enough energy to check my e-mail and some blogs real quick to see how my friends fared over the weekend. I cruised by the Saipan Middle Road Blog and saw a familiar name. DUH! Now it all makes sense! I didn't even look up to see this sign, but now the pieces fall into place.Be careful what signs you end up standing under! Thanks to my friends at The Saipan Middle Road blog for allowing me to borrow this picture. :)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Flame Tree Arts Festival -- April 26, 2007: Day One, The Set Up

This year, the Flame Tree Arts Festival, the largest of its kind in the Pacific, is held at Civic Center Park in Susupe, Saipan, CNMI. Festival staff, volunteers, and vendors were busy getting ready for the 6 p.m. Opening Ceremonies.
The stage.

Local musician Joe Limes who is a fixture at these events. Look for Joe to volunteer again when the Liberation Day Festivities begin. Thank you and Olomwaay, Bwibwii Joe.

Arts Council Director Cecilia Celes, on right, and staff Ramona T. Rubuenog take a breather to assess their progress.

The sound crew and emcees. L-R: David Chan, owner of the sound system used this year; Gordon Marciano, awesome emcee, John Hosono, extra emcee, and Gus Litulumar, another local musician volunteering to help with this year's Flame Tree celebration as it was yesterday.

John Hosono sharing a light moment with our photographer.

The hardworking staff of the Arts Council and volunteers pose for a shot.
Angelo and Marites arrive early to set up. Thanks to Arts Council for donating this tent to Beautify CNMI!
Those healthy-looking Flame trees were grown for us by Brad Doer. Stop by the Beautify CNMI! booth and sign up to adopt a Flame tree for $20. We can plant it for you during the rainy season and let you know about it or you can come join us and plant it with us.

The much-coveted Beautify CNMI! t-shirts! Stop by and get yours for $20 adults and $10 kids. Sign up for a MINA membership and you'll get one FREE! MINA stands for Mariana Islands Nature Alliance and is a proud partner of Beautify CNMI!

The FMI banner is hung and the Beautify t-shirts, buttons and stickers went on display.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

1st Ever Carolinian Language Symposium April 18 & 19, 2007

Hard to believe, but this was the first ever Carolinian Language Symposium held. The reason for the Symposium was to address the rapid erosion of the Carolinian (Refaluwasch) language proficiency in the Refaluwasch community.
Registering for the Symposium, from the left are Joe Itibus, Gus Kaipat and Rep. Frank Dela Cruz, who was on hand to help present a House Resolution to the Carolinian Affairs Office.
Ana Somol, Eugene, Bobbie Iginoef, Tata Felix Fitial, and Nana Laura Ilaal
DPS Color Guards at the official start of the ceremonies.

Brother Gus Kaipat sings the U.S. National Anthem acapella.
Forefront, far right: Angie Ignoef-Mangarero, Executive Assistant of the Carolinian Affairs Office. She is the first female to ever hold this position since the Commonwealth was established. In this red booklet that she's holding, I was listed among several predominently male Refaluwasch as a "first Refaluwasch producer." How ironic that she was left off the list of "Refaluwasch pioneers." I don't recall if "Felicidad (Daling) Ogumoro was mentioned also, but she was the "first female Congresswoman" that the CNMI ever had! Hmmm....
Gus Kaipat, Joe Limes, and Edson Limes led Lt. Governor Tim Villagomez, Governor Ben Fitial, and the rest of us in singing the Chamorro-Carolinian National Anthem..
Here, everyone takes a crash course in the song that Edson Limes composed for this Symposium. The term for it is probably called "crash singing." Not exactly what the name implies. Edson did a great job and with the lyrics provided, the audience quickly learned the song well enough to sing along. In the middle row from closest to farthest are Public School System Commissioner David Borja, Rep. Frank Dela Cruz, and Vice Speaker Justo Quitugua.
Nana Gaudencia Sablan, Jack Ogumorro, and Mariano Sablan, Jr. (June). That necklace he's wearing is a traditional Refaluwasch necklace called "Lighatut'ture", pronounced "Li-ha-tut-ture."
Angelica (Angie) Iginoef-Mangarero is the first woman to be appointed to the position of Executive Assistant of the Carolinian Affairs Office. Governor Benigno R. Fitial appointed her to this position. Not only was this appointment historic, but Governor Fitial also made history when he appointed Rebecca Warfield to the position of Commissioner of Department of Public Safety (DPS). Good appointments, Governor, and CONGRATULATIONS to Angie and Rebecca. You are important role models to the women and young ladies in our Commonwealth.
Governor Benigno Repeki Fitial addressing the audience.
Lt. Governor Timothy Villagomez addressing the attendees, sharing that he has "a little bit" of Refaluwasch blood in him, which comes from his late father's side.

Symposium attendees. Governor Fitial urged government agencies to grant leaves of absences for their employees to attend this conference provided that services aren't interrupted.
Back row backs from left: Vicky Selepeo Magofna, Nana Rosie Roppul-Warakai, Tom Tebuteb, me (Rep. Cinta Kaipat), and I don't know the rest of the people to my right. I wish I could report on the Symposium, but right after Vice Speaker Justo Quitugua, Rep. Frank Dela Cruz, and I presented the House Resolution, we left to attend the House Session scheduled for that day and the following day. I was quite disappointed that the last-minute scheduling of the House Sessions prevented me from attending the rest of the Symposium, especially since I was scheduled to be a presenter and panelist months ago. I may not have been able to contribute as a presenter or panelist, but I at least hosted lunch the first day of the Symposium.
Tangible pieces of traditional Carolinian/Refaluwasch artwork, clothing, jewelry, and weavings.
Artwork and assorted publications that were supported by the Library Friends, some with funding through an ANA Grant that led to the construction of the Children's Library called Children of Our Homeland Library. I am a Board Member of Library Friends as well as its past vice president.
Library Friends Display Table.
Replicas of the traditional Refaluwasch canoe.
A replica of a traditional Refaluwasch Utt.

Hidden Treasures At Lau Lau Bay

I was back at one of my favorite places, Lau Lau Bay, for another meeting of the Lau Lau Bay Launching Project yesterday.
While waiting for everyone else to show up, a tree that had split in half caught my eye. As I went over to investigate the cause of the tree's demise, I first noticed that someone or some persons had burned the base of the tree tunk. I also noticed that the inside of the tree had rotted away. As I explored further, I discovered some of Lau Lau Bay's other hidden treasures -- this nice Tataga fish that someone had painstakenly carved into the tree...

... and this hook that was also carved into the tree. As much as I enjoyed the artwork, it's hard to appreciate it if carving them into the tree helped to kill the tree. I liken it to graffit -- the artwork can be breathtaking, but where it is applied may spoil the beauty.

December 2006 Meeting Re Lau Lau Bay Launching Project

This was the December 2006 meeting I arranged with CRM officials to meet with Herman Tudela, the leader of the Traditional Fishermen's Group advocating that the government allow small fishing boats to launch from this Lau Lau Bay site.
View of the southern end of the Bay.
Kathy Yuknavage (CRM), Angelo Villagomez (RC&D), Herman Tudela (leader of Traditional Fisherman Group), Tim Lange (CRM), and Gen Cabrera (HPO).
Clockwise: Gen Cabrera, Kathy Yuknavage, Rep. Cinta Kaipat, Angelo Villagomez, Herman Tudela, Tim Lange
I invited CRM to this meeting for an informal informational assessment meeting to see if a compromise could be reached to enable the launching while complying lawfully with our regulatory agency regulations.

One of the things Angelo and I suggested to Herman Tudela in November when we first met was to gather all the stakeholders together (other potential users of the area, divers, landowners, etc.) for a public discussion on this. We said that there should be a "give and take" on this -- that, in exchange for allowing the launching, that the fishermen help discourage driving on the beach and littering, among other things.
Herman Tudela was enthusiastic about this approach and said he could get the local fishermen to go along with this proposal.
Everyone agreed that having a cooperative agreement between the public and government in which everyone agreed to abide by the rules was preferrable to legislation at this time. In fact, legislation would be a "last resort."
Back row: Herman Tudela, Tim Lange, Angelo Villagomez. Front fow: Rep. Cinta Kapat, Gen Cabrera, and Kathy Yuknavage. Thanks, team!
Note: Not pictured was John Starmer (CRM), who was present earlier. Thanks, John.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

November 2006 Meeting Re Lau Lau Bay Launching Project

I have been working with Herman Tudela, leader of the traditional fishermen's group, since last year. Herman first came to me to seek my assistance in getting a permanent boat launch site designated for the local fishermen to launch their small fishing boats from the Lau Lau Bay lagoon. The Saipan Tribune ran a story on this today. You can read the article here.

After our initial meeting, I arranged for our first on-site visit in order to gain a better understanding of the issue. I invited Angelo Villagomez, Public Involvement Coordinator for Marianas Resource Conservation Development, to assist me in helping the fishermen. Gen Cabrera, historian for the Historic Preservation Office at the time, was also present. Here are some photographs taken that day.

I am a firm believer in maintaining our traditional cultural practices while respecting the need to maintain our laws and regulations necessary to preserve and conserve our natural resources. The right balance of both must be achieved. This is something I often find myself constantly seeking and promoting.

To optimize the chance of brokering a good compromise between what the fishermen want and what our laws mandate our various regulatory agencies to enforce, I felt it best to go the quiet diplomacy route. This led to two onsite meetings -- the one in November memorialized in the above pictures and one held a month later in December 2006. I will post pictures of the second on-site visit later.