Monday, December 8, 2008

The Bears And I

Subject: Bear Story - Once In-A-Lifetime Photographs

Black bears typically have two cubs, rarely one or three. In 2007, in northern New Hampshire , a black bear sow gave birth to five healthy young. There were two or three reports of sows with as many as four cubs but five was, and is, extraordinary. I learned of them shortly after they emerged from their den and set myself a goal of photographing all five cubs with their mom, no matter how much time and effort was involved. I knew the trail they followed on a fairly regular basis, usually shortly before dark. After spending nearly four hours a day, seven days a week, for six weeks I had that once in a lifetime opportunity and photographed them in the shadows and dull lighting of the evenin g. Due to these conditions the photograph is a bit noisy as I had to use the equivalent o f a very fast film speed on my digital camera. The print is properly focused and well exposed with all six bears posing as if they were in a studio for a family portrait. (Read on?)

I stayed in touch with other people who saw the bears during the summer and into the fall hunting season. All six bears continued to thrive. As time for hibernation approached, I found still more folks who had seen them and everything remained OK. I stayed away from the bears as I was concerned that they might become habituated to me, or to people in general, as approachable friends. This could be dangerous for both man and animal. After Halloween I received no further reports and could only hope the bears survived until they hibernated.

This spring, before the snow disappeared, all six bears came out of their den and wandered the same familiar territory they trekked in the spring of 2007. I saw them before mid April and dreamed nightly of taking another family portrait, an improbable second once in a lifetime photograph. On April 25, 2008 I achieved my dream. (Read on ?)

When something as magical as this happens between man and animal, Native Americans say we have walked together in the shadow of a rainbow.

And so it is with humility and great pleasure that I share these photos with you.

Sincerely, Tom Sears

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Man Killed for 'Hogging Karaoke'

My Dear and Precious Friends and Family--Near and Afar:

I came across this story and just had to share it with you all. I heard from one of you that this type of incident actually happened twice in the PI, so all the Karaoke bars took out "My Way" from their songbooks. Apparently, this song, more than any other song, provoked way too many fights over who sang the song better. In fact, the arguments ended up getting so heated that two people ended up meeting the same fate as the poor soul in the article below. (Note to Tonei: Pick another favorite song to sing on your next Karaoke outing in the PI.)

So, think of this as some sort of "insurance policy."

As the Holiday Seasons are once again upon us and before I receive any Karaoke invitations from any of you, I simply have this one small and simple wish--Please pass the microphone and Let there be Peace on Earth!

Man killed for 'hogging karaoke'

A Malaysian man has been stabbed to death for refusing to stop singing and hand over the microphone at a karaoke bar, police say.

Abdul Sani Doli, 23, reportedly angered some of the customers when he hogged the stage at the bar in Sandakan town on eastern Borneo island.

Witnesses said he was attacked, and the fight spilled out on to the street.

He was punched before being stabbed to death with a knife. His body was found a short distance from the bar.

Sandakan's police chief ACP Rosli Mohd Isa said two men were in police custody, helping them with their inquiries.

Karaoke, in which amateurs can sing along to their favourite songs, first emerged from Japan and became hugely popular across Asia during the 1980s, before spreading to other parts of the world.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

President-Elect Obama's Victory Speech

Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama-as prepared for delivery

Election Night

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Chicago, Illinois

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends.though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Planting Flame Trees With Kanagawa Truckers Association

Our friends from Isa CNMI, led by Aya-san Matsumoto and Horiguchi-san, led some members of the Kanagawa Truckers Association of Japan to this afternoon's flame tree planting at American Memorial Park. Beautify CNMI's Cinta Kaipat, Angelo Villagomez, Gus Kaipat, and the Kaipat boys (Marvin, AJ, Jun, and Dusty) along with my other nephew Peter Angui, joined the group. Brad Doerr of MINA was also there and brought the flame trees that were planted.

The flame trees that Herminia Fuscho donated, which had been growing under the Ylang Ylang tree at my Mom's house were loaded into the Beautify CNMI! trailer that Gus and the boys hauled to American Memorial Park. The rest of the flame trees will be planted as soon as the Park staff decide the most appropriate places to plant them. Ranger Nancy is off island, so we got to meet Ranger Rianna (I hope I spelled her name right). I was going to shake her hand when I introduced myself, until I saw how muddy her hand was (you'll see it in the slideshow), so...never mind. :) Anyway, thank you, good folks at American Memorial Park and Park Rangers Nancy and Rianna!

The Kanagawa Group makes a living driving trucks. It is remarkable and commendable that they came to Saipan to plant trees to do their part to help reduce the carbon footprint we humans have left on Earth. Thank you SO much! Arigato gozaimasu!

The X Chromosome Panel

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Panelists: Women need to continue to seek equality

By Kristi Eaton
Laura Manglona speaks at the X Chromosome: Gender Equality in the CNMI forum Thursday night. Sen. Maria Pangelinan, Cinta Kaipat and Frances Sablan are in the background. (Kristi Eaton) Gender inequality is improving but it continues to be an issue, a panel of highly regarded women from the CNMI and Guam said Thursday night.(L-R) Laura Manglona; Senator Maria Frica Pangelinan; Cinta Kaipat; Moderator Frances Sablan; Rebecca Warfield; Guam House Speaker Judith Won Pat; and Kimberlyn King-Hinds

“Is gender a moot point?” asked Sen. Maria Pangelinan, one of the panelists. “No, as long as we have the human race made up of males and females, gender will still matter.”

The other panelists at The X Chromosome: Gender Equality in the CNMI were: Cinta Kaipat, deputy secretary for the Department of Labor; Kimberlyn King-Hinds, general manager of Tinian Ice and Water Co. and member of the Public Utilities Commission; Laura Manglona, a former educator from Rota; Rebecca Warfield, assistant attorney general for the CNMI, and Judith Won Pat, Guam's Legislative Speaker.Frances Sablan was the moderator of the event, sponsored by the NMI Council for the Humanities as part of its We the People Project and organized by Taro Leaf Inc. More than 50 men and women were in attendance.

As a woman, Pangelinan said, she can pull from experiences different than her male counterparts.

“We have a different setup, our experiences are different, our set of eyes are different,” she said before the forum began. “Running a house is like running a Legislature.”
Society dictates a woman to act a certain way, Kaipat said, but females should not be afraid to stand up for themselves, including seeking equal pay.

“We have not achieved equality,” she said. “Absolutely not. Look around you. There is no way we're achieved equality. Ladies, we have along way to go. We need to march along.”

When it comes to pay, Warfield said one thing she has learned is that men can count.
“If I'm saving you money, you will pay me so I will not disappear,” she said. “As long as you have the ability to make yourself necessary, you can demand to make yourself count.”

Won Pat, who was one of the first women in Guam's Senate, said legislation was passed in Guam requiring an equal number of men and women on boards and commissions.“But because governors are male, that isn't the case,” she added. Out of 25 boards, only eight have equal representation, she said. But females do hold several powerful positions in Guam. A woman leads the Office of Public Auditor, the Attorney General is female and there is a woman federal judge, she added.

Won Pat said growing up she sometimes received conflicting messages from her family about her gender role. Her father often told her education was important, but women are expected to be the homemaker, telling her, “You have to get an education. You have to be able to compete in this world. If something happens to your husband you have to be the bread winner.”

It is important that women are not their own worst enemy, Won Pat said.

“When one is elevated, it should be an example, but sometimes there is jealousy,” she said.

Kaipat said women should aspire to hold positions that in the past have been dominated by men, like engineers or architects.

“Men think those are just for men,” she said. “Women are just as qualified as men to hold those.” (L-R): Vice President of Tinian Ice Kimberly King-Hinds; Deputy Labor Secretary Cinta M. Kaipat; Senator Maria Frica Pangelinan; Former CUC Board member Laura Manglona; Guam House Speaker Judith Won Pat; Moderator Frances Sablan; Humanities Council Chair Dr. Debra Cabrera; and former DPS Commissioner and current Assistant Attorney General Rebecca WarfieldThanks to my Ace photographer for the evening -- Auntie Chailang Palacios, aka Acha Baby!

Open Letter To President Bush

October 25, 2008

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

The Friends of the Monument was 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 CNMI who are dedicated to the conservation, preservation and protection of marine flora, fauna and geological features of the oceans; and the creation and proper management of a Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

We, the Friends of the Marinas Trench Marine Monument, thank you and support your interest in declaring the marine ecosystems surrounding the three northernmost islands of Uracus, Maug, and Asuncion as a marine national monument, in accordance with the Antiquities Act of 1906. Declaring the waters as a monument under the Act would expedite the process of bringing protection to the precious resources found in the waters there, while establishing specific federal responsibilities toward governance of the monument, and enhancing our ocean legacy.

Additionally, we ask that you specifically include in the language of the Executive Order under the Antiquities Act that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, through its National Marine Sanctuaries Program, be the federal agency that administers, co-manages, and enforces the monument, along with the CNMI.

Furthermore, any co-management agreement must anticipate unknowns and allow for responsible change. The management arrangement, goals, and objectives of the monument should be reviewed on a regular 10-year basis.

The health of the world's oceans has declined drastically over the past several hundred years, and we believe the most effective means of restoring their wellbeing is through the setting aside of large no-take zones or sanctuaries, such as the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. This would offer marine life a safe haven.

We believe that the creation of a monument in our northern waters would generate many benefits for the CNMI. The monument will enhance the stature of the CNMI on the world stage as a contributor toward the revitalization of the world's oceans, and as a contributor to the Micronesia Challenge to set aside and effectively conserve 30 percent of the region's near-shore resources by 2020. The monument would also provide countless benefits to the people of the CNMI.

We have taken the liberty of spelling out a number of the benefits, in the form of a vision that we believe would accrue from the monument. These fall into six categories: management and enforcement, culture and tradition, conservation, education, research, and economic development, which we address, in turn, below.

Management and Enforcement, by which we mean not only management of the monument once it is declared, but also the process of defining how the monument would function once it is established.

The Friends envision that the federal and local government officials will co-manage the monument. We would like the Friends to be involve in this co-management; we are sure that there are innovative means for our members' support and contribution. For example, we hope that the initial Advisory Committee for the Monument includes members of the Friends and other conservation-minded people who actively supported the creation of the monument.

Additionally, critical to see these efforts are the necessary resources to enforce any protections established by a special designations. With this regard, we would request your assistance with the necessary equipment, training and support to properly enforce the designated area. We envision having planes and boats for enforcement and patrol. In order to better manage and enforce the protections of the monument, we suggest that all vessels entering the monument area should be required to carry a VMS tracking system and adopt strict invasive marine and terrestrial species prevention measures.

Culture and Tradition, by which we mean the lifestyle, practices and beliefs of the Chamorro and Carolinian peoples that have been handed down from generation to generation.

The Friends believe, first of all, that the Chamorro and Carolinian cultures and tradition must be treated with respect, and taken into full account in decisions that are made about the management and use of the monument. We should take into consideration the precepts of our indigenous culture and tradition when deciding issues like, for example, sustenance fishing, canoe travel and other similar matters.

Conservation, by which we mean the protection and preservation of the marine ecosystems and their interrelationship with land ecosystems; and their continued presence and existence in the future.

The proposed monument contains some of the world's most unique habitats and unusual features, such as chemosynthetic and photosynthetic organisms living side-by-side, mud volcanoes, vent communities and other natural wonders. One of these is volcanic coral reefs, which occur nowhere else in Micronesia. The coral reefs that exist there are flourishing and vibrant, and need protection to help guard our planet from the threat of global warming and potentially act as a source of corals for other marine areas.

The Friends acknowledge that people of the CNMI and the world have historically relied on the oceans for food and other resources. We believe that the need for continued availability of our precious, limited marine resources does not conflict with conservation. We believe that creating the monument will help increase the oceans' abundance by contributing to the survival and recovery of depleted marine resources and biodiversity.

Education, by which we mean both formal and informal education, for students as well as the public, for residents as well as the rest of the world, in all relevant media formats, produced both commercially and non-commercially.

The Friends believe that funding should be made available to enable oceanography to be taught in schools, at the college and through lectures and programs for the public, and to ensure that pertinent education materials will be readily available, that careers in the marine and geological science will be encouraged, that opportunities for field trips for students, teachers, the general public and tourist should be made available.

We envision a Visitors' Center, including a centrally-located facility funded under the auspices of the NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries Program that would be open to everyone that would contain not only displays of various sorts, but would also offer related items for sale.

The Friends believe that the Visitors' Center would bring benefits not only to the local economy by attracting tourist, but to the people of the CNMI as it would showcase information about marine geology in general, about the monument in particular, about the CNMI, and about its indigenous history and culture to all who visit it; it would present, in a variety of formats, the results of marine research done in the area and relevant research done elsewhere; it would regularly present programs open to the public on matters related to marine life in general as well as marine life specific to the area, thus allowing the people of the CNMI, tourists, and other visitors to benefit from the establishment of the monument.

It is our dream that this monument will inspire and contribute to the first indigenous students receiving their Ph.D. in marine biology, deep-sea geology, or other related sciences.

Research, by which we mean the process of studying marine life, geology and other sciences, and of data generation, as well as the products of such activity generated by scientists, teachers, or students.

The Friends believe the researchers and scientists who base their work on the marine monument and its environs should be asked to obtain permission prior to undertaking research in the area and should share the information they garner with the local community through presentations at the Visitors' Center or in other forms and forums. They should make accommodations to take along local students and teachers on research trips, so that local students are encouraged to become scientist and researchers.

Economic Development, by which we mean assistance in improving the economy toward enabling the CNMI to become self-sufficient. The CNMI, being a small island with limited assets, will always be dependent to some extent on outside forces and influences, but certainly more is needed and can be done to increase independence.

There are many great economic benefits that we anticipate from the monument. We envision a surge in the media attention from your designation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, which will attract more visitors to the CNMI. The CNMI relies heavily on tourism as its number one industry, and help to this sector of economy-whether from traditional or high-end visitors-will have a significant beneficial impact. The monument will likely attract scientists and other researchers, who will contribute financially while visiting or living here. The operation of the Visitors' Center and administration of the monument will create jobs, both directly and indirectly.

The contribution that a monument would make to the CNMI economy is in stark contrast to the present situation, where the only economic benefit that presently occurs from this significant resource is limited to illegal foreign fishing activities, such as shark finning. Obviously, this current economic activity has little benefit to the CNMI.

The Friends believe that the anticipated economic activities from the monument are much more suited to the CNMI's image in the world and more productive of tangible benefits. The increased flow of traffic from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota to the monument would also benefit the people of the CNMI in that it would make more feasible resettlement of the Northern Islands and provide transportation and communication with the “lower” Northern Islands.

We envision the northern island of Pagan being used as a staging area for research, fuel storage facility, and other needs. Of particular benefit would be the expansion of the landing strip for easier and faster access. The provision of the floating dock could preserve its unique black and beach.

Greater protection of our monument resources from illegal fishing, exploitation, or harvesting will also help our fishermen who follow the law to stay competitive.

In conclusion, the Friends of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument hope that you make the designation of this monument soon and expressly give it the highest possible protections available by law.

Ignacio V. Cabrera
Chair, Friends of the Monument

Agnes McPhetres
Vice Chair, Friends of the Monument

Andrew Salas
Vice Chair, Friends of the Monument

Belinda Norita
MarjaLee Taitano
Ken Kramer
Chailang Palacios
Karl T. Reyes
Jane Mack
Cinta M. Kaipat
Emelain D. Fejeran
Wes Bogdan
Lynn Knight
David M. Sablan
Ruth L. Tighe

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

At forum, public speaks out on NMI monument

By Stefan Sebastian
Business Editor

Members of the public both for and against the White House's plan to establish a marine monument in the CNMI gave federal authorities feedback during a public forum at the Fiesta Resort Monday night. (Stefan Sebastian) A sea of people, some sporting orange t-shirts and others holding protest signs, filled a conference room at the Fiesta Resort and Spa Monday night for a forum on the White House's proposal to declare the waters around the CNMI's three northernmost islands as a marine monument.

The proposal-which would place thousands of square miles of ocean water around the islands of Maug, Asuncion and Uracas under heightened federal protections-has become one of the most hotly contested local issues of the day, with supporters saying it will preserve a unique haven for undersea life and opponents arguing it will trample on the rights of people in the CNMI.

Diving into the fray this week are officials from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, who earlier on Monday held a four-hour talk with the local Legislature and private discussions with Gov. Benigno Fitial. In Monday night's forum, the White House team did far more listening than talking as members of the public both for and against the monument gave them a piece of their minds.

Throughout much of the forum, the public participants engaged in discussion groups to answer a host of questions about the proposal on topics such as, among others, what resources should be considered in the White House's assessment of the waters at issue and how to structure a co-management scheme for the region.

Among the key concerns raised by the discussion groups were whether the federal government could guarantee funding linked to the monument, whether indigenous people would continue to have access to the northern islands if the plan moves forward, and the Bush administration's timeline for making a decision-which some critics have said is rushed given the president's pending departure from the White House in January. For his part, CEQ chief James Connaughton appeared ready to try to calm the nerves of many in the crowd who came with apprehensions about the plan.

“This is an opportunity to put the Northern Marianas on the international map,” he told them. “But it's an opportunity that the people of the Marianas have to want.”

A crucial reservation many opponents of the proposal have long voiced is that it will limit or bar access in the future to undersea mineral deposits in the region and geothermal energy resources. However, in an interview, Connaughton said that preliminary scientific data on the plan suggests that the undersea geological resources within the proposed monument's boundaries are uniquely arranged so that they could potentially be extracted without harming the surrounding ecosystem, a point the White House is considering as it weighs how to manage the waters.

“There does not appear to be a conflict between the biological resources there and the other natural resources,” he said. “This region is blessed with having all of these resources but not in conflict with one another, so all of the different interests could be met.”

On the amount of access indigenous people would have in the monument, Connaughton added that “freedom of navigation” would be assured under the plan if it moves ahead and noted that when the federal government established a similar monument in Hawaii several years ago, it made significant accommodations for native people.

“You as a culture are already there on conservation,” he said to one member of the crowd who had raised the issue. “What this could do is reflect that.”

Some critics of the monument proposal at the forum, however, remained skeptical after Connaughton's assurances. Rep. Ramon Tebuteb (R-Saipan) said the short period of time available in the twilight of President Bush's final term might be too little for the local community to come to grips with the issue and make a decision.

“Now we have a two-month grace period before the president leaves,” said Tebuteb. “Is that enough time for everybody to understand the pros and cons of this situation?”

And rather than declare the northern waters a monument, commercial fisherman David Lewis suggested the area should instead become a federal marine sanctuary, a designation he said would give more flexibility to his industry and others when it comes to the economic activities federal regulations would allow to take place there.

“I just think that the people here need to consider what they would be giving up,” he said. “In order for anything to change once you create a monument, it would require an act of Congress.”

Nevertheless, proponents of the monument pointed to a slew of prospective benefits the proposal might bring to the CNMI, such as an increase in tourism and new opportunities for federal funding. Deputy Labor Secretary Jacinta Kaipat, for example, who was raised on the island of Pagan near the monument's waters, said the plan could open up opportunities for indigenous people to resettle some of the northern islands with federal aid.

Kaipat added that the plan could give the CNMI's public image a boost.

“Let's get some good press for a change,” she said.

Restaurateur and former congressman Andrew Salas noted the monument could also help to heal the CNMI's relationship with the federal government after heated controversies over minimum wage and immigration laws.

“This is the beginning of repairing that relationship,” he said. “I hope that based on this, we can begin to develop some trust.”

But for Connaughton, a major incentive in establishing a monument in the CNMI is the rare and untouched coral reef ecosystem that it would contain, one that could give the world a bright example when it comes to how to manage reefs around the globe.

“This is not about t-shirts and signs,” he said, noting later that the diversity of life in the monument is richer than almost any other place on Earth. “This is the world's control for what a truly pristine coral community is supposed to look like. It has much to teach the rest of the world, so we have to do this right.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

120 on 10/20 IS TODAY!!!!

Caption: Cinta Kaipat places a mwaar on the head of CEQ chairman James Connaughton while 65 other Friends of the Monument members look on. Inset, James Connaughton greets the line of Monument supporters at the entrance to the Hyatt Regency Saipan yesterday afternoon. (Contributed Photos)

Don't forget to wear your Orange t-shirts and come on out to the Hibiscus Hall, Fiesta Resort, for the 5:30 p.m. workshop meeting today! Your presence matters!

Angelo has a great post and pictures of the warm welcome reception we gave the White House officials who arrived at the Hyatt yesterday. Visit The Saipan Blog - Saipan, CNMI's most popular blog since ever since

While you're at it, visit the other blogs that Angelo contributes to --

Angelo O'Connor Villagomez

Saipan Coordinator - Ocean Legacy
PMB 360 BOX 10001
Saipan, MP 96950

(670) 234 2665

Beautify CNMI
(670) 285-6462

Monday, October 13, 2008

120 ON 10/20

Monday, October 13, 2008

120 on 10/20

Special to the Saipan Tribune

Two years ago, the people living in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands set out to do something extraordinary. Members of the Beautify CNMI! coalition challenged themselves to recruit 1,020 volunteers to clean up our island on Oct. 20, 2006. We called this day 1020 on 10/20.

On that fateful day, not 1,020, but over 3,000 people came out to clean up litter from our roads and beaches, paint over graffiti, and plant trees. It was one of my proudest moments knowing that I was a part of it-I was part of something bigger than our community.

In the two years since that day, our people have learned the value of a beautiful, clean island. On an almost weekly basis, we see pictures of community groups, schools, and churches pitching in to do their part to keep our islands beautiful. Our community members are doing this on their own, not at the urging of the government, but because they know it is the right thing to do and because it makes our islands a better place to live and visit.

As a result of this new ethic among our residents, it is a safe bet to say that the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota are now the cleanest islands in Micronesia. That is something of which we can all be proud.

In a few days, the people of the Commonwealth will again have the opportunity to be a part of something large with potentially global implications, and it happens to fall on the two-year anniversary of 1020 on 10/20.

The federal government will be holding a public workshop on the proposed Marianas Trench Marine National Monument on Oct. 20 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. This will be an opportunity for our people to stand up and tell the federal government and the world that we support the preservation of our marine resources.

Preservation is enshrined in our Constitution. Article XIV, Section II of the CNMI Constitution protects the islands within the proposed Marianas Trench Marine National Monument for the preservation of birds, wildlife, and plants. The constitutional protections do not extend to the marine environment, however, and we now have an opportunity to fulfill the intent of our Constitution by working with the federal government to declare a monument.

I hereby challenge the people of the Commonwealth to come out in support of preservation and the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

I hereby declare Oct. 20, 2008, 120 on 10/20.

I call for 120 of our community members to join hands with me on 10/20 to support the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. I challenge at least 120 of you to attend this meeting to show the federal government and the world that we support preservation.

I look forward to seeing you there in your bright orange t-shirt!

Biba Monument! Biba Preservation!

Cinta M. Kaipat, the deputy secretary of Labor, is one of the founders of Beautify CNMI.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I'm reposting the e-mail below which I received from Angelo. Please help find our favorite mascot, Oreo!

(Picture stolen from Angelo.)

Hafa Adai,

My dog Oreo escaped. He was last seen in the China Town/Garapan area Tuesday night at 6 PM. Help! Please call Angelo at 285-6462 if you find him or see him. Oreo is a small white dog with some black fur. He answers to "Oreo" and is wearing a brown leather collar with silver metal studs. Please repost this on your blog and/or print in the newspaper.



Angelo O'Connor Villagomez

Saipan Coordinator - Ocean Legacy
PMB 360 BOX 10001
Saipan, MP 96950

(670) 234 2665

Beautify CNMI
(670) 285-6462

Visit The Saipan Blog - Saipan, CNMI's most popular blog since ever since
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Marine Protected Areas as Effective Fishery Management Tools

The marine protected area system is an integral part of the CNMI's coastal zone management program. Our marine sanctuaries, reserves, and conservation areas provide a tool to manage human activities and sustain multiple fishery species using an ecosystem-based management approach. Managing fisheries on a species-by-species basis can be very difficult. Therefore managing them as a whole through managing the ecosystem is the most efficient and cost-effective method. Furthermore, no take zones are much simpler to monitor and enforce than conventional fishing regulations such as gear and harvest restrictions. This is particularly true in the CNMI where such a large area of the sea and reef requires surveillance.

No-take zones where fishing is prohibited can enhance fishing in surrounding areas in a number of ways. First, fish are more abundant in the no take zones and grow to a larger size, since fishermen don't remove them. By protecting reef fish stock within marine sanctuaries, fish live longer and grow larger. Generally, bigger fish produce more eggs and offspring than smaller fish and the greater number of fish in the sanctuary will produce more offspring overall. These larvae are not strong enough to swim faster than ocean currents so many of them may be carried out of the no take zone. As the larvae develop into adults, they help replenish the surrounding fishing grounds and can be captured by fishermen.

Second, inside no take zones the density of fish can increase to the point where things become too crowded. Fish compete more intensively for food and suitable habitat. As a result, some adults and juveniles will "spillover" into adjoining areas and become available for capture and harvest.
On many of our coral reefs, high fishing pressure has changed the natural community structure, damaged habitats and removed some of the large target species such as groupers. By prohibiting fishing and destructive practices in marine protected areas, important habitat and fish stocks can restore themselves and the ecosystem can return to its natural functioning state.

Third, fishery management is bedeviled by uncertainty. In order to determine harvest levels that do not result in over-fishing, fishery managers need to accurately estimate the population size of the fish being caught and some of their biological characteristics, such as how fast they grow. Getting this information is difficult because the fish are hidden underwater and may swim long distances. In addition, population size can fluctuate widely due to environmental conditions such as typhoons, ocean warming, and volcanoes. At the least, no take zone sanctuaries provide an "insurance policy" to mitigate these uncertainties.

Studies in Guam, Fiji and throughout the Pacific have shown that the weight of fish per unit area was far greater in marine protected areas than at other sites. Fish were more abundant, and there were more species present than in fished areas. Other studies have shown that populations of lobster, conch and shellfish within protected areas increased significantly, demonstrating that these areas had recovered from over-fishing. In Fiji, no take zone sanctuaries have increased fish catch for villagers dependent on fisheries for food, and in Florida recreational fishing has improved dramatically with the inception of their marine sanctuaries program.

Fourth, marine protected areas can protect vulnerable species and habitat critical to their survival. These organisms may naturally exist in low numbers or have become endangered as a result of man's activities. Others may be relatively abundant but their biological characteristics-slow growth or low fecundity (few offspring)-make them especially susceptible to over-harvest. Sea Turtles for example, take over a decade to grow and mature to a point where they lay eggs. Then, they only lay their eggs at the beaches where they were born. By that time, the beach may have eroded or been replaced by man with housing or commercial establishments, or predators may eat the turtle or its eggs before they have a chance to replenish the population. In some instances a fully developed network of sanctuaries and conservation areas could replace other management measures. For example, if a significant proportion of a population were protected in no take zones, there might be less need to set harvest limits and restrictions, which can be hard to accurately determine and expensive to enforce.

Fifth, removing species directly, whether due to fishing, habitat damage or pollution, affects biodiversity (species richness) in an area. A species doesn’t have to go extinct for biodiversity to be diminished in any given area. If an organism's home range is reduced, ecosystems in those places where it no longer occurs are less diverse and less diverse ecosystems are often less productive. Removing species can also have indirect effects. For example, if a predator disappears its prey can proliferate, displacing other species. Alternatively, if one of two competing species is removed, the other will dominate the ecosystem and may imbalance the system making it less productive.

Sixth, many human activities, especially certain fishing methods, can damage fish and reef habitat. Even recreational activities can cause harm, if they result in anchor damage to sensitive reef areas, boat groundings, littering, or trampling of bottom-dwelling organisms by inexperienced snorkelers and divers. If these activities are restricted within marine protected areas, damage is less likely to occur. However, marine protected areas cannot prevent pollution originating outside their boundaries from harming habitat. The no take zone boundaries will not turn away oil spilled in an adjacent area or sediment and polluted water that runs off from land during heavy rainstorms.

Seventh, marine protected areas can directly benefit people by enhancing recreational opportunities and protecting cultural resources. People seeking to enjoy the natural environment expect scenic beauty and minimal evidence of human impacts. By prohibiting destructive uses, marine sanctuaries and conservation areas help sustain this concept of nature. In the CNMI, marine protected areas protect important cultural sites such as shipwrecks and Indigenous burial sites and permit traditional practices such as Fiirourow.

The existence of more, larger and many different types of fish makes marine protected areas very attractive for diving and snorkeling, and thus enhances the tourism industry. Based on their benefits to the fishing and tourism industries, marine protected areas are a good investment for the CNMI. They are similar to no-hunting areas within terrestrial wildlife conservation areas. Fishing rights, like hunting rights, must be balanced with conservation needs, the rights of other marine resource users, and the rights of future generations to have sustainable resources. Marine protected areas provide a good means of protecting these rights. No take zones ensure the protection of marine bio-diversity, which is the source ultimately of all fisheries productivity, the source of marine life that attracts divers and snorkelers, and provides the basis for our unique island culture and lifestyle.

The Marine Sanctuaries program at DFW has supported the formation of Advisory Committees for all no take zones to ensure input from stakeholders and those parties affected by the establishment of marine sanctuary’s and conservation areas. DFW encourages the public and these stakeholders to actively participate in the planning, management and enforcement of protected areas. By reinforcing social and cultural lines of enforcement, balanced use, and fisheries management, our marine protected areas can sustain our needs today and the needs of generations to come. Please help support and promote the No Take Zone policy by participating, whether directly as an informed stakeholder, or passively by respecting the restrictions in marine sanctuary’s, conservation areas, and reserves. It’s the right thing to do! And, it’s the law!

(NOTE: This used to be on a CNMI Government Agency website, but they took it down.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thank You, Aya-san and Willy-san!

It's been quite a while since Beautify CNMI! friends enjoyed an evening out together. I have to thank Aya-san and Willy-san for the invitation. Arigato Gozaimasu!

The leader of this Japanese group (the gentleman with me in the first photo in this slideshow) brought a group to Saipan last year to shoot a movie and to promote the Japanese version of "Miss Saipan" contest. (The winner got a part in the movie.) Last year, the film crew landed in Saipan and went straight from the airport to Pau Pau Beach to do a cleanup with Beautify CNMI! This gentleman is the film director.

Now, they're back with a new set of contestants and some members of the first crew. Welcome back and thank you for promoting our islands.

To sum up the evening -- the food was delicious, the company was great, and everyone had a great time!

Angelo has a post on this evening and the contest here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oreo Kenobe as Cinta Kaipat

(Picture stolen from Angelo.)

Check out Angelo's blog for more cute pictures of Oreo.

By the way, Catie, Angelo's little sister who entered Oreo in show, went as Angelo. Is she cute or what?!

Okay, I'll admit it, Oreo, you look so darn cute!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ron and Nancy Kramis Eco-Exercise--Wing Beach

It's never too late to say Thank you, so Thank You, Ron & Nancy!

Ron Kramis at Wing Beach

Hi Gus and Cinta:

I'm sending a picture from our Sunday, February 24th Wing Beach excursion as you requested. Most of the obvious litter was around the parking area and the picnic areas nearby, but the rest of the beach looked very good in general. It was clear that people have been taking very good care of Wing Beach.

We covered a great length of the beach and into the picnic and shaded areas adjacent to most of the beach so obviously we got a lot of old stuff along with some new. Personally I left a small bit of stuff that was being guarded by those large spiders I don't like. After two hours of hiking we only got about two large garbage bags full. Very nice to have the garbage container there.

We highly recommend this as a nice early morning weekend activity for folks------eco-exercise. Who knows where we'll strike next weekend! :)

See you soon,

Making A Difference

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Beautify CNMI "Beauty Virus" Is Alive And Well

Thanks to Aya-san and Willy-san of Isa CNMI for keeping the Beautify CNMI "Beauty Virus" alive and well!

Gus and I got our niece and nephews together and headed up to the Last Command Post in Marpi, Saipan, this bright Sunday morning for a cleanup with Isa CNMI and 200 visitors from Japan. They are members of the Nenpoushinkyou group in Japan. They say they have 800,000 members. WOW!

I put together this slide show of the day's events. The first 100 or so pictures were taken of the cleanup.

The last pictures are of the first blooming flame tree of the group we planted on lower Dandan Road (the road leading up to Dandan from the Welcome/Adios Sign). We planted these trees last year, and now one of them is already blooming!

The last pictures are of the road sign on Tun Kiyoshi Road.

Thanks to everyone who pitched in to help. Isa CNMI's Aya-san and Willy-san Matsumoto led the effort with Beautify CNMI and her coalition partners MVA, PDI, Tasi Tours, RC&D, PEW, and community members. In addition to Gus and I and our niece Sheena Saures and nephews Peter Saures, Franklin, Josiah and Jun Lizama, other community members who were there included Juanita Fajardo and her niece Breana and nephew Vince.

Once, again, thanks to everyone for a fine job! Arigato-gozaimasu!

Friday, May 2, 2008

New PSA for Beautify CNMI!

Thanks to Cory McRae and Mike Tripp for this awesome new PSA. Bravo!

Monday, April 28, 2008

1st in a Ron & Nancy Kramis Eco-cise Series

It is people like Nancy Kramis and her husband Ron who help make Beautify CNMI! what it is today. Nancy travels to work in the CNMI periodically to help our people learn to better assist and serve those citizens in our community who are deaf and/or hard of hearing. Depending on the need, Nancy stays for weeks, and sometimes several months at a time, and her husband Ron has made some of these trips out here with her several times. Their invaluable contributions as Beautify CNMI! community volunteers deserve to be recognized, so here begins the first posting of the Ron & Nancy Kramis Eco-cise series right here. After some begging, Nancy was kind enough to give me permission to post these photos and accompanying eco-cise journal that she shared with Beautify CNMI's Kaipat family (that would be my family and her adopted Island family).

The series starts here....

A couple of pics of Ron's and my Sunday a.m. eco-exercise program for your collection. Sunday, March 9 we did a round trip from the Bird Island lookout past entry to Kalabera to the end of the road. About 3 hours and not too much junk. Looked fairly good.We then hiked down to the beach and noted that the ocean has left way too many "presents" for us at the high tide line. So we high tailed it outta there with plans to return another day with many big bags.Gettin' outta there!


Nancy and Ron have contributed in so many other ways, from adopting a flame tree. . .L-R: Chuck Sayon of MINA; Nancy Kramis of Beautify CNMI Bellingham, Washington; Cinta Kaipat; and Doreen Jesus of Beautify CNMI Guam at the 2007 Flame Tree Arts Festival.

. . . to making a $500 donation at the 1st Anniversary Dinner for Beautify CNMI held at the Aqua Resort last year. They were there again this year at the Jake Shimabukuro Benefit Concert for Beautify CNMI and HANMI.

In addition to their own Eco-cise, they've also participated in numerous Beautify CNMI! activities, including the monthly clean-up of the Paseo de Marianas, which is the heart of the Garapan Tourist District, and they've attended some Beautify CNMI General and Committee meetings. Ron is a member of Beautify CNMI!'s Parks & Trails Committee headed by Ken Kramer of RCD.

Even when they're back in Bellingham, Washington, they still participate from afar in spreading the Beautify CNMI "beauty virus" in the mainland. Their dog, Molly Kramis, even planted a tree in honor of Arbor Day as we in the CNMI celebrated it here.

Thanks, Nancy and Ron! Congratulations again on being winners of the 2007 Beautify CNMI! Spirit Award. You are quite an inspiration to many of us.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thanks For Nothing!

I know, I know...I haven't been blogging much lately, so you're probably surprised I am posting this within hours of my last post, but DARN IT! I just read Ken Kramer's letter in the Variety on the lost opportunity with PEW and it's very upsetting! Click here to read Ken's excellent letter to the Editor.

I knew it wasn't good when I read that the Legislature passed a resolution voting against the Marianas Trench National Park of the Sea proposal. I just don't get it. Or should I say -- they just don't get it.

I, for one, still believe that we had not given this community a chance to fully explore this opportunity. The resolution was premature but effective in killing a wonderful opportunity for the CNMI. Lucky are those who welcome PEW with open arms. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to do enough to help PEW succeed. Most of all, I'm sorry for all of us.

Last Day of Flame Tree Arts Festival

Jun joined Gus for a few numbers. Actually, he was only supposed to join Gus for one number, but when he got on stage for the sound check, he decided to stay from beginning to end!

It sure was hot out! But, in the end, it was well worth it. At the end of the performance, Parker presented Gus with an appreciation certificate. (Photo courtesy of sister Nan Kramis.)
Sisters Cil, Vio & Niece Lei enjoying the Festival. (Photo courtesy of Nan Kramis.)
Nan and Cin. (Photo courtesy of Nan.)
Cin & Gus say "See you all next year!"

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Give PEW A Chance

Monday, March 24, 2008

Give PEW a chance

Special to the Saipan Tribune

I am fully aware that there are some individuals, and one individual in particular, who have been actively spreading misinformation about PEW and PEW’s intent. Rumors, innuendos, and political rhetoric should not play a part in preventing each and every one of us from exercising our responsibility to gather as much information and examining both sides of this issue before making up our minds.

My late father, Frank Borja Kaipat, was a congressman and District Administrator in charge of the Northern Islands in the ’60s up until 1972. In Carolinian culture, we believe that where a person dies is where their spirit shall forever remain. My father breathed his last breath on Pagan Island. This is another reason I care deeply and will ALWAYS care deeply about the Northern Islands. One thing that my father’s leadership taught me by example was that all of our islands are interconnected and that what happens on one island impacts the rest. I’ve always understood this.

I was first introduced to Jay Nelson of PEW by Rep. Diego Benavente. I introduced Jay to Angelo Villagomez. For those of you who don’t know me, my love and loyalty to our people and our islands is unquestionable. I was born in the Northern Islands. I will ALWAYS care deeply about these islands and future of these islands probably more than anyone who has never been there or lived there. The Northern Islands will ALWAYS be special to me.

I just served as a congresswoman in the 15th Legislature and founded the well-respected, award-winning environmental organization Beautify CNMI! My track record speaks for itself. My beliefs in the preservation of our core traditional and cultural values are well-documented in the award-winning cultural and historical documentary film Lieweila: Navigators’ Children/A Micronesian Story.

I have known and worked with my friend Herman Tudela in assisting our local fishermen. As a Senate aide to former senator Tom Villagomez, I appeared and testified before WESPAC in support of the preservation of our local Chamorro and Carolinian cultural and traditional fishing practices. I served for years as a member of the Historic Preservation Review Board. My keen interest in enhancing our people’s quality of life has a direct influence on my passion for enhancing our land and water environment and in the preservation, conservation, and propagation of our plant and animal species (in the broadest sense).

Please, I humbly and respectfully ask each and every single one of us NOT to rush to judgment, but to allow our community to have this much-needed open dialogue with PEW representatives on this very important issue. Only then would we be able to collectively and responsibly make a well-informed decision that would be in the best short and long-term future interest of our people, our islands and our natural resources. Our children deserve nothing less.

I Taotaota! I Tanota. I Linalata! Aramasach! Faluwasch! Malawasch! Our People! Our Land! Our Way of Life!

Jacinta Kaipta is a former congresswoman in the 15th Legislature and is currently the deputy secretary of the CNMI Department of Labor. She helped found the environmental group Beautify CNMI!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Beautify CNMI Awards To Be Presented On March 27

Thursday March 20, 2008


Beautify CNMI! to award environmental champions next week

By Raquel C. Bagnol
Variety News Staff

THE winners of this year’s Beautify CNMI! Steward and Champion awards will be announced at the Saipan World Resort on March 27.

Beautify CNMI! volunteer Angelo Villagomez said the two recipients of the awards will be recognized for their contribution as exceptional environmental leaders during the last 12 months.

“Beautify CNMI! is celebrating its second anniversary and we will be giving out two award categories: the Environmental Steward and the Environmental Champion,” Villagomez said.

The Steward Award is given to an individual or an organization who has demonstrated real concern for the islands of the CNMI.

The Champion Award is given to a person or group who shows the true spirit of Beautify CNMI!

Among the criteria used for picking the winners are volunteerism, innovation, cooperation, creativity and the ability to spread the “beauty virus” all over the island.

As part of their anniversary celebration, Villagomez is also inviting the public to get their tickets now for the world renowned ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro’s concert which will be held on the same night.

“VIP tickets for the concert are already sold out and we are urging everyone to buy their tickets now before everything is sold out,” Villagomez said. He said the doors will open at 6:30 p.m. as the concert will start at 7 p.m.

“We are inviting one and all to come to the concert. This is a real treat for the people of CNMI,” he added.

The proceeds of the concert will benefit the Beautify CNMI! and the Hotel Association of the Northern Marianas Islands.

Villagomez said the local audience will surely be entertained by the Shimabukuro’s revolutionary musical playing which ranges from jazz, blues, funk, and classical, bluegrass, folk, flamenco and rock.

Villagomez said the tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children less than 12 years in age. Tickets are available at the Century Hotel, the Marianas Eye Institute or you may call Beautify CNMI! volunteer line at 285-6462.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Foreign Workers and S. 2739

[I still fail to see how foreign national workers and their leaders could support this bill (and its predecessors) when the bill intends to reduce the foreign worker population down to zero. This is the same thing that the Variety claims is the intent of PL 15-108 even though PL 15-108 never had a provision in it to reduce the size of the foreign worker population down to ZERO. Go figure!]

Wednesday March 19, 2008


‘Foreign workers can transfer anytime if S. 2739 becomes law’

By Gemma Q. Casas
Variety News Staff

FEDERAL Labor Ombudsman Jim Benedetto says the ability of foreign workers to transfer is guaranteed if S.2739, which includes the CNMI federalization measure, is enacted into law.

But he said questions about the implications of certain provisions of the bill can only be determined after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security adopts specific regulations.

The U.S. Senate is expected to deliberate and act on S. 2739 after their Easter break.

Under the bill, Benedetto said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is tasked to establish, administer and enforce a system for allocating and determining the numbers, terms and conditions of permits that will be issued to each guest worker in the CNMI who will be considered as transitional worker.

Benedetto said this means that the department has to pass implementing regulations that should determine how many years transitional workers can work in the commonwealth, among other things.

“It could be a year, three years or five years. That has not been determined yet pending the passage of regulations,” Benedetto told Variety in a phone interview when asked about the length of stay of transitional workers.

He said the provisions of S. 2739 concerning the Northern Marianas should be implemented within a year after its enactment, but it also has a clause that allows the federal government to extend them for another 180 days.

The measure aims to gradually reduce the number of foreign workers every year. By 2014, the CNMI can no longer employ foreign workers.

But Benedetto said this is impossible to achieve given the islands’ small population, and this why the drafters of the bill inserted a clause to allow an indefinite extension of the federal guest worker program in increments of five years, subject to the approval of the U.S. Labor secretary.

“If the secretary of labor determines that such an extension is necessary to ensure an adequate number of workers for legitimate businesses in the commonwealth, the secretary of Labor may, through notice published in the Federal Register, provide for an additional extension of up to five years,” a portion of S. 2739 stated.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Uke Virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro To Hold Beautify CNMI/HANMI Fundraiser Concert

Angelo has a post on this Fundraiser Concert here.

For Olomwaay fans, the great news is that Olomwaay will be opening for Jake. Brothers Gus and Cris will be teaming up with Brother Benji Limes to jam some original Olomwaay tunes that we hope to release soon.

So, March 27 is the date. Tickets are $25 pp and $15 children under 12.

Come on out and support a worthy cause!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Presentation at the 15th General Association of Mariana Islands Mayors and Council Members

Alfred Pangelinan, Director of CNMI Labor's Employment Services Division; Bert Johnston, Education Director of Trades Academy of Guam; Cinta M. Kaipat, Deputy Secretary of CNMI Department of Labor; Eric Plinske, Director of NMC's Small Business Development and SWAT Coordinator; Edith Guerrero, Executive Director for the CNMI Workforce Investment Agency (WIA); and Alice Concepcion, CNMI Labor Employment Services Supervisor.
SWAT Team at 15th General Assembly of the Association of Mariana Islands Mayors
Deputy Labor Secretary Cinta Kaipat speaks to Assembly on PL 15-108 and SWAT
Deputy Secretary of Labor Kaipat fields questions from the mayors and council members
SWAT Coordinator Eric Plinske (NMC) gives an overview of SWAT's mission
List of SWAT Partners

Friday February 29, 2008

NMI mayors no show at general assembly

By Emmanuel T. Erediano Variety News Staff

THE 15th general assembly of Association of Mariana Islands Mayors, Vice Mayors and Municipal Council Members is hosted by the CNMI but none of its mayors showed up for the meeting that started yesterday at the Saipan Grand Hotel in Susupe.

Sixteen municipal officials traveled all the way from Guam to attend the assembly where they discussed the economic impact to the region of the pending military build-up.

The group will elect a new set of officers today.

Tinian Mayor Jose San Nicolas confirmed attendance days ago, but due to “unforeseen circumstances,” he said his presence will not be possible.

San Nicolas said he is sending Tinian Municipal Council Chairman Antonio H. Tudela to attend on his behalf.

He said in a letter addressed to the association that “I strongly value our association and believe that the end results of our objectives will be realized if we work together.”

San Nicolas said he has to hold a very important meeting with the department heads on Tinian.
Rota Mayor Joseph S. Inos also sent a letter to group saying his tight schedule does not allow him to leave Rota. He instead sent Alfred M. Apatang Jr. as his proxy.

Northern Islands Mayor Valentin I. Taisakan, according to the assembly secretariat, did not confirm his attendance prior to the assembly.

Saipan Mayor Juan B.Tudela, the secretariat said, has resigned from the association years ago.

Those who attended from the CNMI are the members of the Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council, which is composed of Chairwoman Antonia M. Tudela, Vice Chairman Ray Blas Camacho and member Felipe Q. Atalig; the Rota Municipal Council’s Roy James A. Masga, Alfred M. Apatang Jr., and Vicente M.Calvo; and the Tinian council’s Antonio Borja, Charlene M. Lizama and Eugenio L. Villagomez.

Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Cinta Kaipat, Division of Employment and Training Services Director Alfred Pangelinan, Labor supervisor Alice Concepcion, Northern Marianas College’s Eric Plinske and Workforce Investment Agency’s Edith Deleon Guerrero were invited to make a presentation on CNMI labor issues. They all showed up.

Guam Mayors Council executive director John F. Blas declined to comment on the CNMI mayors’ absence.

All he could say is that the meeting is important as it focuses on the pending military build-up.
“The economic opportunity brought about by the military build up on Guam will, at some point, impact the CNMI,” Blas said.

He added that yesterday’s meeting also focused on CNMI’s labor situation and the Guam Contractors Association need for skilled workers.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mark Your Calendars! Go See Brad and Jeff in Play Buffet

Hey, Everyone:

Be sure to check out Jeff, Brad, and gang which opens March 7!

Two weeks from Friday, March 7, is the opening of the Play Buffet in the American Memorial Theater in the Park. Nahal Navidar, an amazing actress, is in it. Brad Ruszala has a part, I have a piece, as do a bunch of other cool people. To help promote live theater on the islands, I'd appreciate it if my fellow bloggers would post this image on their blogs until we conclude the run in three weeks.


Check out my Saipan Blog at

Sunday, February 10, 2008



If you would like to know more about PL 15-108 and what's happening at the Department of Labor, I invite you to visit the CNMI Labor Forum at

Saturday, February 9, 2008

President Bush Proposed A U.S. Guest Worker Program In 2004

Letters to the Editor
Saturday, February 09, 2008

Philosophy behind guest worker program

Lots of debates regarding the pro- and anti-federalization plus Public Law 15-108 (which is now in effect), forums, informal meetings and toolbox talks are very much alive in the Commonwealth among locals and foreigners alike at this very moment. Aside from attending forums, meetings and to find a more viable input, I found a very significant article coming from an independent organization that I hope will support the effort of many foreign workers here in the island seeking for improvement in their working status.

This article, titled "Guest Worker Program," was published in the US Immigration website ( I am providing you with a copy of the said article so that both locals and foreigners will understand that no less than President Bush himself wants to improved the status of foreign workers because of their great contributions to the US economy.

Guest Worker Program

In 2004 President Bush proposed a guest worker program as a way of giving back to illegal immigrants. He discussed the important role that immigrants have played in the United States by shaping America into what it is today. The United States has had a tradition of welcoming foreigners into the country who have tended to assimilate well into American culture. Bush mentioned that the growth of immigrants over time has propelled the economy into the world's largest and has allowed it to become a powerhouse. Their contributions continue to be evident as they take on difficult jobs that many times require long hours. Immigrants are also known for starting their own businesses which help contribute to the U.S. economy. President Bush drew upon his personal experiences as a Texan to point out how Mexican immigrants he knew had made a difference in the country. He also added that they bring certain values with them like family, work ethic and independence. One specific example that he brought up was the thousands of immigrants that currently serve in the military. They may be foreign born but this did not deter them from embracing the service opportunities that this country has to offer.

Bush emphasized the qualities that immigrants brought to the country and how the United States was dependent upon them. Therefore, he suggested that changes in the current immigration system needed to be introduced. Some employers take advantage of the current situation of illegal immigrants by paying them less than minimum wage. Many hard-working illegal immigrants find themselves fearing deportation due to nationwide raids where documents are verified. Another possibility is that someone will report them to authority figures which can lead to deportation as well. Bush mentioned that having to spend their efforts on patrolling the borders so as to prevent immigrants from entering the country illegally hampers the efforts of securing the country overall. Thus, President Bush has proposed that a better immigration system be introduced so that more immigrants are able to achieve the American Dream.

Many immigrants come with the intention of improving their lives which is something that is shared by humanity in general. President Bush mentioned how they end up taking the jobs that many Americans will not even consider. Illegal immigrants make many sacrifices to reach the United States and often take abuse. Other times they are exploited but this goes unreported due to fear that they may end up being deported. Bush claimed that the current immigration system was not fair and that laws needed to become more humane. Under Bush's proposed temporary worker program, foreign workers would be given the opportunity to fill a job that Americans are not willing to take. Beforehand, the company must make reasonable efforts to find an American that will take the job. In the case that they cannot find a willing American, then they can resort to hiring an immigrant who has a valid permit. Permits will be given for a three year period and would be renewable upon meeting certain requirements. Those violating any requirements or laws will have their permit revoked and deported to their homeland. Employers will be required to hire only those with a valid permit. In addition, employers must report the information to the government so that they can keep track of those in the system. The government will also enforce harsh penalties for employers who violate any work laws under the guest worker program.

Those who participate in the program will be required to register and possibly pay a fee. This would depend on whether they were currently residing in the country or if they are currently abroad. To identify individuals in the program they will be given a temporary worker card. Bush would also work closely with the foreign governments to make sure that after the permit has expired they will have incentives to return to their country. In addition, he would also find a way to have the credit of a temporary worker applied to the retirement system in the foreign country. The temporary workers would also be able to contribute part of their earnings to some type of retirement savings plan. While the program proposed in 2004 was not approved, the guest worker program still is being promoted by President Bush. He mentioned the need for such program in a two day summit in Cancun, Mexico in March 2006. Currently, the guest worker program is part of a Senate bill on immigration reform that could grant amnesty to 12 million immigrants in the United States.

Disclaimer: This article was published by an independent organization. It should be used for information purposes only. Access it at

Carlito Jimenez Marquez
Puerto Rico, Saipan