Sunday, November 15, 2009


Dear Friends, Family, and Wonderful Supporters Near and Far:

I want to thank each and every single one of you for the many months of hard work in supporting my bid for the Senate. While we came up short of our goal, we were able to finish a very, very strong and respectable 3rd in a field of 8. I know that this race would not have been as close if I did not have your untiring support and vote of confidence.

The future remains exciting for me. I am weighing several options at the moment. One thing that remains constant is my love for the people of the CNMI and these beautiful islands we call home. Rest assured that I will continue to serve our people and our communities as I have done in and out of public office.

Once, again, you have my most heartfelt gratitude. I LOVE YOU ALL!

Peace and GOD BLESS!

Monday, May 18, 2009

It's Official! Cinta Kaipat to run for Senate

Cinta Kaipat to run for Senate
Friday, 15 May 2009 00:00 By Zaldy Dandan - Variety Editor
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LABOR Deputy Secretary Jacinta M. Kaipat yesterday said she is running for the Senate on the Covenant Party ticket to continue making a difference in solving the larger issues facing the community.

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

Kaipat promises to “bring people together.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Gus Left for San Francisco This Morning

He's off with his uke to work with the composer hired to work on the music for the PBS documentary film that we've been collaborating on with Horse Opera Productions. He will be performing at the screening of the documentary at California State University.

As they say in show biz, "Break a Leg", Gus!

Pete & Emma Were Here!

Gus and I went to dinner with Pete and Emma Perez, who were on island for a short few days to visit and scuba dive. Pete and Emma live in San Francisco and it was a real treat to have them here. (Pete co-founded PaganWatch with me. PaganWatch is a citizens' watchdog group that diligently exposed the shenanigans that led to the dissolution of MPLA by the Legislature in 2006!)

Anyhow, we went to Abyss for dinner Friday night and we all agreed that the food was excellent. (Thanks to my WOW sis Laurie Peterka for the restaurant suggestion.) We had one and a half orders of mixed sushi, two orders of special shashimi, an order of otopus kelaguin, and an order of garlic octupus. Well, that garlic octopus was SO good that we couldn't resist ordering two more dishes! Yes, that's three orders of garlic octopus! Yummy! Yummy! Yum!

Great great company, great conversation, great garlic octopus, what more could anyone ask for?

[I'll have to upload photos later because the computer is too slow tonight!)

2009 Flame Tree Arts Festival

This year's Flame Tree Arts Festival concluded and, unfortunately, I didn't take any photographs because I was waiting for the battery charger I ordered for my camera to arrive, but the charger arrived too late.

One of the highlights of the Festival for the family was seeing Gus and the young Kaipat kids perform. Gus did a couple numbers, followed by (L-R) Jun, Aj, and Dusty. This was the second time Jun performed at the Flame Tree Arts Festival. Last year, he performed with Gus, though he only played the uke. This year, he got to sing.

The three were joined on stage by Kadie and Josiah (who stood between Jun and AJ). So, with the exception of Jun, all the kids (Kadie, Aj, Josiah, and Dusty) made their performance debutes at the Festival.

Speaking of debutes, we also had TJ operating the camera. He'd never done that before and was pressed into service that day because his Uncle Gus did not bring the tri-pod and, well, consider yourself forewarned. Heh! Heh!

After the kids' numbers, Uncle Gus joined them for one final number. Poor Uncle Gus, he was supposed to grab the uke from Josiah, but Josiah would not surrender the uke to him, so Uncle Gus had to go on with the show and sang while the kids played. Heh! Heh! We had a pretty good laugh about this aftewards.

All in all, everyone had a great time.

Okay, still want to see that video? Again, sorry for the camera work. :)

See you all next year!

Speaking of Olomwaay, someone posted this on Youtube (thanks for sharing!). This was when Olomwaay opened for Jake Shimabukuro at last year's fundraising concert that he held for Beautify CNMI! and HANMI. Gus (in the blue t-shirt in the middle of the red t-shirts) sings lead, backed by Dee Saures, Cris Kaipat, Ben Limes, and Miki Lisua on vocals.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

28th Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival Kicks Off Tonight

Flame Tree Photos in header and this post courtesy of my friend Mike Tripp.
Flame Tree Arts Festival kicks off today
Thursday, 23 April 2009 00:00 By Raquel Bagnol - Variety News Staff
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THE 28th Flame Tree Arts Festival officially begins at 6 tonight at the Civic Center in Susupe.

Arts Council coordinator Lucille Ayuyo said over a hundred visitors from Guam, Palau and Rota are already on island for the four-day festivities.

“The community will be treated to four days of cultural entertainment,” Ayuyo said.

She said the canoe welcome ceremony will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. today at the Civic Center.

The two traditional canoes will come from Satawal, Yap.

Ayuyo is urging the community to participate in the festival and grab the chance to sample local food and drinks as well as artwork and crafts.

Logistics committee chairman Parker Yobei earlier said that the festival “is a chance for the community to showcase different cultures in one place.”

“Artists and exhibitors will be demonstrating and teaching their respective culture, arts and traditions to the community, and this is an experience everybody should not miss,” he said.

The Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture has reserved 23 slots for arts and education booths.

This year’s festival theme is “Uniting Rainbows of Culture and Tradition.”

For this year, there will be no traditional booth competition but prizes of $500, $300 and $200 are at stake for the float parade on Saturday morning.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I CAN'T thank everyone enough! A MILLION THANKS to all of you who came out yesterday and will come out again today to participate in the 2009 Island-wide Cleanup in observance of this year's Environmental Awareness Month. The number of participants this year shattered the number we established almost three years ago with the 2006 Island-wide Cleanup called "1020 on 10/20" (Where we asked for at least 1,020 volunteers to participate in the Island-wide Cleanup on October 20, 2006, but got 3,380 volunteers instead!) This year, well over 4,000 volunteers (4,040 yesterday morning and counting!) from government, private, and the community set aside whatever they were going to do yesterday to collectively do one GREAT thing for our community -- BEAUTIFY IT and walk right into history while at it!


Angelo Villagomez (of Beautify CNMI!, the Rotary Club, Pew Environmental Group, Friends of the Monument, and MINA)and Joe Kaipat of DEQ did an outstanding job of organizing this massively successful cleanup.

Thanks to our wonderful sponsors: The Rotary Club, DEQ, MVA, NTT Docomo, McDonald's, Ron & Nancy Kramis, PDM Promoters, Marianas Tourism Education Council, and Beautify CNMI!

Oh, and by the way, THANKS to Bank of Guam and Shirley's for donating the money to build our Beautify CNMI! trailer and THANKS to FMI for building it. Joe and the DEQ gang put the trailer to good full use during the cleanup!

And one final thought -- Can you all think of a better way to showcase our beautiful islands to our many friends and visitors who will be arriving by sea and air to attend our Flame Tree Arts Festival? Please...Let's keep our islands clean and beautiful. Let's continue to Beautify CNMI!

Cinta M. Kaipat
Beautify CNMI!

Thousands Pick Up Trash to Clean Up Saipan

Saturday, April 18, 2009

By Anthony Pellegrino
Special to the Saipan Tribune

Terry Camacho, 62, of the Office of Personnel Management, picks up trash at the Garapan Fishing Base yesterday afternoon as part of the islandwide cleanup, in observance of Environmental Awareness Month in the CNMI. Inset, Department of Public Health employees pick up trash from the Bureau of Environmental Health office on Navy Hill to Horiguchi Building in Garapan and back. (Haidee V. Eugenio)

Close to 4,000 young and adults picked up tons of trash along Saipan's major roads, beaches, parks, dive sites and other tourist spots yesterday as part of the islandwide cleanup highlighting the observance of Environmental Awareness Month.

“I hope this day will make a difference for the environment and our children,” said 62-year-old Terry Camacho of the Office of Personnel Management. “I hope that next time somebody throws trash anywhere, he would think twice and think about those who are cleaning up the environment.”

Camacho was among the OPM employees and their families who picked up trash at the Garapan Fishing Base starting at 2:30pm yesterday.

Just a few meters from her was 4-year-old Ila Seman, the youngest of the OPM employees' family members to take part in the activity.

“Please do not throw your trash anywhere,” Joannie Laniyo, 7, said as she tagged along with her mother, OPM employee Benita Seman, for the cleanup.

From 7am to 4:30pm, thousands of volunteers from the private sector and the local and federal government cleaned Saipan of litter-from cigarette butts, plastic bottles, soda and beer cans, plastic bags to soiled baby diapers.

Michael Lizama, 12, a seventh grader at Hopwood Junior High School, said most of what they picked up on campus and at the beach were cigarette butts and plastic bottles. His classmate, Alicia Lloren, 12, said she and her classmates are proud to be part of making their campus cleaner.

Hopwood Junior High School had the most number of cleanup participants at 1,113.

TJ Litulumar of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration joined eight other TSA employees in picking up trash at the beach side fronting the Quarter Master Road intersection all the way to the 13 Fishermen Monument and back.

“We're supposed to clean up only from 9am to 11am but it's now around 12,” said Litulumar, adding that this is part of TSA's community outreach programs.

Mariana Coats and Jeremy T. Sasamoto of the Department of Public Health said they didn't mind the heat and dust to be able to help clean up Saipan. DPH employees picked up trash from Navy Hill to Horiguchi Building and back, starting at 2:30pm.

“Many of what we picked up were beer cans and plastic bottles. I hope people will stop littering,” said Sasamoto.

Aya Matsumoto, vice president of Pacific Eagle Enterprises, said they started cleaning up the area around the 13 Fishermen's Monument on Beach Road at 9:30am.

“We also planted a flame tree. We'd like to show tourists that Saipan is clean and beautiful. We'd like tourists to come back to the island again,” she said.

The cleanup will continue today. Joleen Torres, from the Committee to Elect Juan “Pan” Guerrero and Joe Camacho, said they expect 45 volunteers to clean up Beach Road this morning.

Joe Kaipat of the Division of Environmental Quality and co-chair of the islandwide cleanup, said 55 volunteer groups including public and private schools, government agencies and private businesses took part in the cleanup of 48 sites around Saipan.

The islandwide cleanup is cosponsored by Beautify CNMI, the Division of Environmental Quality, Rotary Club of Saipan, Marianas Visitors Authority and the Marianas Tourism Education Council.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Beautify CNMI looking for award nominations

Friday, 10 April 2009 00:00
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(Beautify CNMI) — The Committee chairs of Beautify CNMI are seeking nominations for their annual Beautify CNMI Steward and Beautify CNMI Champion awards. The two awards will be given out at the end of April.

The awards are given out to recognize the individuals or groups who have been environmental leaders during the past 12 months.

There are two award categories, the Environmental Steward and the Environmental Champion.

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

According to Beautify CNMI volunteer Angelo Villagomez, “The Steward Award winners are the back of Beautify CNMI. These are the people that volunteer their time every single weekend to improve our environment and our islands.”

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

“The Champion Award winners are the environmental leaders on Saipan,” explained Beautify CNMI founder Cinta M. Kaipat.

To nominate an individual or group, submit a written nomination explaining why that person or group deserves recognition.

You can make as many nominations as you like, but individuals and groups can only be nominated for one award category.

Nominations must include the award category the nominee is being considered for, a well written argument detailing the reasons why this nominee should be considered, and contact information for the nominee and for the person making the nomination.

Send nominations to Angelo Villagomez at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or mail them to PMB 360 BOX 10001; Saipan, MP 96950 or call 285-6462 for more information

Friday, March 27, 2009

Former First Lady Laura Bush

Former first lady thanks Friends of the Monument
Friday, 27 March 2009 00:00
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(Friends of the Monument) —Former First Lady Laura Bush recently wrote to the Friends of the Monument thanking them for their role in supporting the creation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

Friends of the Monument’s Agnes M. McPhetres with then-first lady Laura Bush and then-Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne pose for a photo after the monument declaration signing in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2009. Mrs. Bush holds the two orange Mariana Trench Monument t-shirts presented by McPhetres. Contributed photo

Friends of the Monument’s Agnes M. McPhetres with then-first lady Laura Bush and then-Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne pose for a photo after the monument declaration signing in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2009. Mrs. Bush holds the two orange Mariana Trench Monument t-shirts presented by McPhetres. Contributed photo
The letter, embossed with the official White House seal reads, “We are pleased that you joined us at the White House for the signing of the proclamation to create the Pacific Marine National Monuments. Your gifts will always remind us of your support throughout the process that led this special occasion.”

Friends of the Monument’s Agnes M. McPhetres presented Mrs. Bush with two orange Mariana Trench Monument t-shirts after the monument declaration signing in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2009.

The former first lady added, “Conservation and protection of our ocean resources is vitally important to our nation and the world. I am proud of the accomplishments of my husband’s administration to protect America’s oceans. He joins me in sending best wishes to your organization for future success in advancing marine conservation.”

The letter from the former first lady included an autographed photo of her and former President George W. Bush.

Friends of the Monument’s Angelo O. Villagomez said of the letter, “I am really proud of our people. We are showing the world how local actions can have global consequences. Even the former president of the United States and his first lady know about our work here.”

The Friends of the Monument were the main proponents for a marine monument in the Marianas.

When local elected leaders were not receptive to the idea of a marine monument, the Friends started a petition drive and collected over 6,000 signatures.

They also gained endorsements from the business community and prominent community leaders.

The islands’ political establishment ultimately supported the monument.

According to a statement issued by Gov. Benigno R Fitial on the day of the designation, “I welcome President Bush’s historic announcement establishing the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument…. Over the past few months, I have been actively engaged in discussions with the White House Council on Environmental Quality regarding the objectives and scope of the proposed monument. I have been joined in these discussions by President Pete Reyes of the Commonwealth Senate and Speaker Arnold Palacios of the Commonwealth House of Representatives.”

When asked about what he was going to do with the letter, Friends of the Monument’s Ignacio V. Cabrera said, “I’m going to hang it on my wall at home so that I can remember all we have accomplished.”

Friends of the Monument officers Agnes M. McPhetres, Ignacio V. Cabrera, and Angelo O. Villagomez were on hand to witness the historic monument declaration this past January.

More information on the Friends of the Monument and the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument can be found at

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This is a great thing for Saipan Southern High School and the CNMI.

Officials consider alternative energy for schools
Thursday, 19 February 2009 00:00 By Junhan B. Todeno - Variety News Staff
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STUDENTS, school and government officials witnessed yesterday how the wind turbine operates at Saipan Southern High School and expressed confidence that this alternative energy will reduce the school’s monthly power bills.

The wind turbine stands tall on the campus of Southern Saipan High School yesterday. Photo by Junhan B. Todeno

The wind turbine stands tall on the campus of Southern Saipan High School yesterday. Photo by Junhan B. Todeno
Calling the project as a CNMI milestone, both Education Commissioner Rita Sablan and Board of Education Chairwoman Lucy Blanco-Maratita are hoping that all schools will soon have renewable energy sources.

“This is one of the ways we can conserve energy,” Sablan said.

The wind turbine will not only minimize the need for Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s power, it will also show that the school cares for the environment, Blanco-Mararita said.

She said BOE members have discussed adapting alternative energy sources to reduce the schools’ power bills.

SSHS vice principal Craig Garrison acknowledged the efforts of the Allied Pacific Environmental Consultant for installing the wind turbine on campus.

Robert Jordan, Allied Pacific Environmental Consultant program manager, said the wind turbine is still in the system test stage.

“This is a first in the Pacific and first time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a supplemental environmental project that utilizes renewable energy as a pilot project,” he said.

Jordan said the project was proposed to the school by the now defunct Concorde Garment Manufacturing Co. of Tan Holdings as an alternative means of settling the fines it owed to EPA for violations of its rules.

Senate President Pete P. Reyes, R-Saipan, said the project is highly recommended.

He attended yesterday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $90,000 Skystream 3.7 wind turbine and nine Kyocera 18V solar panels.

SSHS administrators, he said, should start thinking now where to install another wind turbine on their campus.

Reyes said he is hoping to see SSHS to have nine more wind turbines so it can entirely operate on renewable energy.

Tom Polevich, Allied Pacific Environmental Consulting president, said the project in CNMI a major step forward toward the future of alternative energy use in the commonwealth.

SSHS student government president Janina Maratita said the students are looking forward to seeing similar projects on campus.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Golden Rays

A friend of mine shared this with me and I think this is so incredibly amazing I just had to share it with you. the sea, thousands of Golden Rays are seen here gathering off the coast of Mexico. The spectacular scene was captured as the magnificent creatures made one of their biannual mass migrations to more agreeable waters. Gliding silently beneath the waves, they turned vast areas of blue water to gold off the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. Sandra Critelli, an amateur photographer, stumbled across the phenomenon while looking for whale sharks.

She said: 'It was an unreal image, very difficult to describe. The surface of the water was covered by warm and different shades of gold and looked like a bed of autumn leaves gently moved by the wind.

'It's hard to say exactly how many there were, but in the range of a few thousand'

'We were surrounded by them without seeing the edge of the school and we could see many under the water surface too. I feel very fortunate I was there in the right place at the right time to experience nature at its best' Measuring up to 7ft (2.1 meters) from wing-tip to wing-tip, Golden rays are also more prosaically known as cow nose rays.

They have long, pointed pectoral fins that separate into two lobes in front of their high-domed heads and give them a cow-like appearance. Despite having poisonous stingers, they are known to be shy and non-threatening when in large schools.

The population in the Gulf of Mexico migrates, in schools of as many as 10,000, clockwise from western Florida to the Yucatan.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


CNMI residents connecting on Facebook

This screenshot shows the Facebook account of Gov. Benigno R. Fitial. Besides being politicians, what does Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, Delegate Gregorio “Kilili” Sablan, President Barack Obama, and several lawmakers have in common?

They are all on Facebook and the number of people in the CNMI who are joining the largest online social networking Web site is growing by the day. From politicians to doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, clerks, students, parents and even the jobless now have a Facebook account.

Given Saipan's isolation, many individuals use Facebook to connect and chat with distant friends, relatives and classmates from elementary, high school or college.

“It's addicting,” said John Blanco, director of the Department of Commerce's Central Statistics Division.

He said in less than two weeks since he became a member, he already has 198 friends on Facebook.

“A college roommate I hadn't heard from for 15 years was on Facebook so I got to connect with him again,” he said.

Many post images of Saipan's tourist spots, photos of all the parties they attended, or links to current events or cute feature stories. Others also turn to Facebook and other social networking sites when news breaks to share stories and pictures.

Floor Leader Joseph Camacho said Facebook allows him to show a side of him that the public doesn't see, including the chance to post jokes and stories.

He, however, maintains his public website,, where the public can view proposed legislation, committee reports and voting records, among other things.

Camacho and Rep. Tina Sablan are among two members of the CNMI House of Representatives that maintain a Facebook account, along with top officials including Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, acting Attorney General Gregory Baka, Health Secretary Joseph Kevin Villagomez, Board of Education vice chair Herman Guerrero and Labor Deputy Secretary Cinta M. Kaipat.

“Since Facebook is a personal forum, I can show my personality outside of my official public role. For example, I like jokes, Sci-Fi shows and old music videos so I post these things. Those who know me for a long time know that I am a joker and love telling stories. With Facebook, I can express that side of me that the public does not always see,” Camacho said.

Others use it to tell their friends and relatives, “I am happy” or they are “looking forward to a long weekend” or “is going to Forbidden Island today” or “Now engaged.”

Many use Facebook to post upcoming events or as a marketing tool. One user, for example, said in her Facebook status yesterday, “recruiting Teams for the 2009 Marianas March against Cancer.”

Frank Tudela of the Marianas Visitors Authority uses Facebook on a daily basis “to post upcoming events” related to MVA, as well as to keep in touch with family members. He said he spends hours on Facebook, and thinks he “will never leave” the social network.

“It has also helped me with annual events and get more friends,” he said.

Tudela prefers Facebook over MySpace, while Camacho said Facebook is easy to use. “You do not have to be a computer expert,” he added.

Just like the other users, Tudela thinks Facebook is now the “in” thing on Saipan. His cousins, best friends, and close friends are members, too.

Kae Atalig, 21, said this is one site where “people with no jobs and people with lots of responsibilities in government” meet. She has 135 Facebook friends and counting.

“It's a way to connect with my long lost relatives and friends,” said Atalig, whose favorite Facebook “activity” is tagging people in photos and posting shoutouts.

President Barack Obama and his supporters used Facebook for his grassroots presidential campaign. Many on Saipan are “fans” of Obama on Facebook.

Facebook started as a social network exclusively for Harvard students. It was launched on Feb. 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg and later became one of the biggest online phenomena. Facebook's growth in the fall of 2007 was staggering. Over 1 million new users signed up every week, 200,000 daily, totaling over 150 million active users.

Its competitors include MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, LinkedIn, Tagged, Hi5, Piczo and Open Social.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Witnessing History in the Making

I've thoroughly enjoyed reading Angelo's posts of his adventures in DC during the inauguration festivities. For those of us who couldn't be in DC for the momentus occasion, we had to settle for the television and living vicariously through Angelo.

I tried to get some shut eye so I would be bright eyed and bushy tailed for that 3 a.m. inauguration, but it was a challenge. I got caught up in all the hoopla leading up to the actual oath taking. I woke brother Gus up around 2:30 a.m. and reminded him not to sleep through history.

Just watching the millions of people freezing to be a part of that memorable day in time was awe inspiring. Much has been said about Justice Roberts' flubbing of the oath, but that doesn't make the occasion any less magical. Not to me.

I tried to stay up for the parade, but I fell asleep and woke up before the parade ended. I watched President Obama and the First Lady walking in the parade and I couldn't help thinking -- OY! I hope she's wearing comfortable shoes! I fell back to sleep. It was worth it.

Inauguration of President Barack Obama!