Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Our Meeting With Visitors From Washington

L-R: Steve Sander, Cinta Kaipat, Allen Stayman, Josh Johnson, & Matt Gregory

Corporal Lee Roy Apatang Camacho's Funeral

Cpl. Lee Roy Apatang Camacho's funeral was yesterday. :(

The Kaipat family choir was asked to sing at Lee Roy's Responso service at Mt. Carmel Cathedral.

On the way to church, I contacted my office to request that the Governor recognize/include Jesse Castro in his rememberance of the CNMI sons who lost their lives in Iraq. This was a promise I made to Jesse's mother Doreen, widow Theresa, and sister Lisa who all came up from Guam to attend Adam Quitugua Emul's funeral. I kept my fingers crossed that Charles Reyes, the Governor's press secretary, would be able to work his magic on the Governor's speech as I proceeded to church. I got there before 7:30 a.m.

We sang for a couple of hours in tribute to Lee Roy during and after the Responso and rosary services. Aye Adai... It's hard to hold the tears back, let alone sing through the grief all around us. Sigh....!

Sudden death is something my family is all too familiar with. My father was killed when I was 10 years old and I lost a brother in 1992. Both happened suddenly, so unexpectedly, in hugely dramatic and traumatic ways that have affected our lives even today. Yes, this pain is all too familiar. How I hurt for these families who are now going through this endless nightmare. It's going to be a long and rocky road. GOD, I pray for their strength to go on even though the path will be long and difficult.

From where I sat, I kept glancing over at this painting of Lee Roy every time I looked over at his casket. I didn't realize it was a painting until the funeral attendants started to move it out of the church to get it ready for transport to the chapel at the Veterans Cemetary in Marpi.

After a brief break for breakfast, we were summoned back to church for the 10 a.m. official presentations. The presentation began with our singing of the CNMI National Anthem, followed by a speech from the Governor. The Governor's speech was touching. More importantly, he INCLUDED JESSE CASTRO among the CNMI sons who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We shall never forget Eddie Chen, Wilgene Lieto, Derence Jack, Adam Quitugua Emul, and Lee Roy Apatang Camacho. The Washington Rep, Pete A. Tenorio, also gave a brief speech, followed by the presentation of resolutions to the family by members of both the Senate and the House, 15th Commonwealth Legislature. I was sitting with the choir when the lawmakers were invited up to present the resolutions. I went over to join my colleagues after I saw the Speaker beckoning me over. The military also presented the family with several medals, including the Purple Heart. We sang "America The Beautiful" after the official presentations concluded.

Gus took these pictures and made the accompanying comments [in italics]. The first one below shows Lee Roy's children and family as they headed out of the Mount Carmel Cathedral after mass to escort Lee Roy's remains to the burial site.

Cpl. Lee Roy Apatang Camacho was buried at the CNMI Veteran's Cemetery up in Marpi. It was a long and tiring day for everyone. I would like to thank those who ... worked so hard to make [this] funeral service a memorable one for our fallen hero.

Let us continue to pray for those who are still in harm's way.

Aye Yai Yai! Paging Roland Quitugua!

How did we get from this...

... to this?

Well, I'm certainly no expert, but the Tree Care and Tree Trimming Workshop that Beautify CNMI! and RC&D co-sponsored taught me where to look first for the problem and this is what I found...

Our Ace Instructor, Mr. Roland Quitugua of RC&D Guam, was right when he said that bushcutters (as wonderful as they are on weed) are the biggest menace to plants. Here are some devastating effects of this tool wreaked upon these once thriving daok trees that Beautify CNMI! volunteers planted at the Grotto last year.

This highlights the importance of continuing our training in workshops such as that which was recently conducted by Roland Quitugua and which was attended by Beautify CNMI!'s coalition partners RC&D, CUC, DPW, DLNR Forestry and Parks and Recs, and my (Rep. Kaipat's) Office.

Education and awareness are crucial to our ability to avoid repeating these same mistakes that tend to undermine our efforts to help make this a much better place to live and visit. I know that the fellas who took the recent workshop do get it and see the importance of teamwork. Let's get everyone else on board, shall we?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Meeting With DPW and Kagman Komunidat

Right after the TRIO Proclamation Signing at NMC, I attended a meeting with DPW and Kagman Komunidat concerning the massive Kagman Community Cleanup that my office helped coordinate the week before. I invited Steve Hiney, who graciously arranged for the large garbage bins to be donated for the cleanup. FYI, the Recycling Committee, Junk and Litter Committees are now consolidated into one committee called the Solid Waste Committee. Steve chairs this Solid Waste Committee for Beautify CNMI!

TRIO Proclamation Signing

Thursday morning, February 22, I attended the Mayor of Saipan's Proclamation Signing of the TRIO Program at the Northern Marianas College. This Program consists of (1)the Educational Talent Search (where they identify students from schools and assist them to complete financial aid applications to attend college, among other things; (2) the Upward Bound Program (where the students are tutored in English, Math, and Science and are taught other life skills; and (3)Student Support Services, which is pretty self-explanatory.

The three programs assist students who are first generation (neither their parents/guardians holds a Bachelor's Degree)and low income status to further and succeed in the post-secondary education.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Corporal Lee Roy Apatang Camacho

The nightmare continues. It was only 10 short days ago last February 13 that we laid to rest the body of Lance Corporal Adam Quitugua Emul at the CNMI's Veterans Cemetary in Marpi. And, today, we welcomed home the casket of Corporal Lee Roy Apatang Camacho. Sob!

I extended my heartfelt condolences to Lee Roy's mother and widow while we were waiting for his casket to be brought off the plane. His poor mother received me with quiet grace and dignity. His widow, Velma Matagolai, is my niece. Absolutely broke my heart to see her with her three little boys. Oh, GOD! SO young to be a widow and SO young to be fatherless! I hugged them and was almost speechless. What could I really say that could possibly give them an ounce of comfort? Velma said that the boys have been asking when their Daddy's going to come home. Sob! Sob! My heart squeezed and contracted with pain. GOD, please watch over this poor young family and may you bring some peace and tranquility to the many shattered lives affected by the death of this brave young soldier, son, husband, and father.

Youth Summit Meeting

I spent half the day at the Pacific Islands Club (PIC) attending this Youth Summit Meeting that was sponsored by the Youth Congress.
The "ice breaker" -- volunteers competing to see who has the best (corniest?) pick-up line.

The panel, L-R: Larry Cabrera, Heinz Hofschneider, Fred Deleon Guerrero, Howard Willens, Kodep Ogumorro Ulodong, Juan ("Pan") Guerrero, Jed Horey, Edmun Villagomez and Marian Aldan-Pierce. The topics were: Labor and Immigration and Minimum Wage.

See if you can spot me in this photo.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

CPA Graduation, Kagman Community Cleanup, Troops To Teachers

Some of My Friday, The 16th, Activities....

8 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. -- Met with staff to go over day's activities.

8:30 - 9:30 a.m. -- Checked mail, e-mail, signed documents, made/returned calls, etc.

9:40 a.m. -- Left Office for Airport

10 a.m. -- Attended Graduation ceremony for the Commonwealth Port's Authorities newest Finest

Rushed to Marine Beach in Kagman to meet up with the Kagman Cleanup Coalition. Found the crew bbqing and just getting ready to eat lunch. Yummy! Thanks to Rep. Seman for making the bbq lunch possible! Thanks also to Bettyanne & JJ Cabrera for providing the rest of the menu. Yum! Yum! Yum!

1:30 p.m. -- Went back to Office

2:45 p.m. -- Left Office for 3 p.m. Meeting w/Troops 2 Teachers at Prel Offices at MHS

3 p.m. -- Made pitch to recruit the Troops for the Energy Assistance Project.

The Troops 2 Teachers Program's Director here in the CNMI is Geri Willis. Thanks to Geri for her vision and heart! Roman Benavente, one of the original four Troops 2 Teachers participants along with Fred Camacho, informed me that the Troops 2 Teachers Group wanted to join Beautify CNMI! Of course, I immediately said "WELCOME!" I'm always happy to hear that the now famous "beauty virus infection" continues to spread! :D GO BVI (Beautify Virus Infection), GO!

Shortly before my invitation to come speak with the Troops, Linda Torres of the Energy Office contacted my office and requested some manpower assistance for a particular project she had. After a meeting, Linda informed me that she had been running a program to assist the elderly and indigents in our community lower their energy consumption by as much as 30% by having their roofs waterblasted and painted with this special paint (can't remember what it's called now). Well, now you know that got my attention! In addition to the waterblasting and roof painting, Linda said they also needed assistance replacing doors where needed.

I thought, hmmm....this project is going to require a SPECIAL group from the Beautify CNMI! Coalition Partners. Anyone guess which Special Group this might be? Yep! That's right! If these brave young men and women can survive the fierce streets of Baghdad, surely they can climb a roof to waterblast and paint it! THANKS, GUYS and GALS!!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lawmakers Team Bid Farewell To Regular Season Play

This is one of the teams I sponsored. They played their last regular-season game tonight. But the good news is that they made it to the play offs. They'll be going up against Byron's team from CPA. May the best team win!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007

How My Day Went On Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007

9 a.m. -- Leadership Meeting. I'd mentioned to the Speaker that I had another meeting at 10 a.m. that I hoped to make. Meanwhile, I alerted Angelo that I might be running a little late and to start the meeting without me.

10 a.m. -- I'm still in the Leadership meeting.

10:50 a.m. -- I'm convinced I've missed most of the other meeting. We finally finished with the Leadership meeting.

11 a.m. -- I went to my next meeting. This is Beautify CNMI's monthly meeting which I'm supposed to chair. I showed up way late. Rep. Waki beat me there. Everyone cheered and clapped when I walked in feeling bad I was really late. The group went back to discussing what they were discussing before I walked in. I snapped a few pictures (that's why I'm not in this picture).

Tried to gauge the group's progress. Yikes! It looks like they're really done! I missed the whole thing! Rep. Waki is giving everyone an update on his trials and tribulations in attempting to get the agencies to work more efficiently with the revitalization of Garapan District. I tried to get a summary of each committee's report. The group disperses at close to noon.

12 Noon -- Went to Marine Beach in Kagman. My Office and Beautify CNMI! has been working with Kagman Komunidat to undertake a village cleanup of Kagman I, II, III, and IV, which is the entire Kagman Homestead area. I wrote a letter to the Secretaries of our partner agencies: DPW, DPS, Saipan Mayor's Office, DLNR--Forestry/Agriculture, and Department of Corrections to work with the team. Roads that had been overgrown with bushes were mowed and trash was picked up. Friends of the Mariana Islands (FMI) was led by their President, Marites Castillo, in providing their usual volunteer work for three days (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday). Even though some equipment broke down and had to be returned to be fixed, or some equipment could only be used on a limited basis, the project was still a success.

Lao Lao Bay Golf Resort provided refreshments. Kagman Komunidat paid for lunch on Tuesday. My Office paid for lunch Wednesday and Thursday and the Office of Rep. Seman paid for lunch on Friday. Actually, it was a bbq at the beach, but more on that later. We're still on Thursday's activities.

Some local students were let out by their teachers to pick up trash around the perimeters of the school, which is cool because all that trash stuck by the chain link fence takes away from the beauty of the schools and the surrounding environments.

Had lunch with everyone. HPO staff was doing a project nearby, so we shared the pavillion and their company. The corrections staff and volunteers were there, as were DLNR staff, DPS staff, and other coalition partner staff.

Took a group photo with those who remained behind. Took in the beautiful scenery.

1:15 p.m. -- Left site to go back to the office.

1:30 p.m. -- Attended a Natural Resources Committee meeting with Secretary of Department of Public Lands and staff. The meeting had to do with leases and lease extensions. The meeting lasted until 3:30 p.m.

3:40 p.m. -- Back in my office to make/return some calls, sign some documents, etc.

3:55 p.m. -- Finally headed out the door for my 4 p.m. Garapan Tourist District Revitalization Meeting at the Hyatt Regency. I arrived late, of course. Rep. Waki beat me there and was giving a report. I took my seat after quietly greeting people. Last month, I received an invitation to attend a meeting concerning the revitalization of the Garapan Tourist District. I didn't know who else I'd be meeting at this initial meeting, but when I got there, I found out soon enough. It looked like a meeting of Beautify CNMI coalition partners, except that this was being led by the private sector's Hyatt Regency and Tan Holdings. Rep. Waki and I had been "drafted" to assist in this project. The group's goal is to give the Garapan Tourist District a complete facelift. Our deadline? Six months from January.

I'd heard it said that Jerry Tan was inspired by "1020 on 1020", Beautify CNMI!'s phenomenally successful one-day island-wide clean-up. Why is this successful? Well, in case you haven't heard, we set out to recruit at least 1,020 volunteers on October 20 to stop what they were doing and come out that day to do something to beautify the island of Saipan. Some people painted over grafitti, some planted trees, some picked up trash, etc.

At the end of the day, the official count was [INSERT DRUM ROLL] 3,380 volunteers came out to show how much they LOVE this island we call home. But, I digress....

5 p.m. -- Meeting adjourned. Went home; had dinner; spent some time on the computer checking e-mails, etc.

6:30 p.m. -- Left for my 7 p.m. Micronesian Challenge meeting at Cafe at the Park.

7 p.m. -- Meeting began. Angelo, Gus, Tenney, Steve, Bree, Doug, and three of Bree's Hopwood students were welcomed additions. These students are really bright and are lucky to have a teacher like Bree, who engages them actively in and out of the classroom. In fact, they're active participants in Beautify CNMI! activities. They will be awesome leaders someday.

8:30 p.m. -- Meeting starts wrapping up or winding down, depending on how you see it.

8:40 p.m. -- On the road back home.