Digging into anything and everything that makes the CNMI tick beyond politics...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two nights of superb wines

WINE connoisseurs in the island got a special treat as Pacific Trading Company, Ltd. allowed guests to have a taste of its special wines for two nights in a row.

Friday night brought together a merry mix of party goers at the “Discover at Palms Resort Saipan” event—a night where all cares were left at the door and guests partook of free-flowing fine wine from the hotel’s menu.

Taking center stage was Peroni Italy, the world’s number one premium Italian beer which was introduced to the guests.

Chefs had their hands full as everyone indulged in a variety of Italian inspired hors d’oeuvres to choose from. A contemporary fashion show presented by Events Unlimited and Pena House featuring the island’s sexy and dynamic models highlighted the event. Lucky winners brought home attractive prizes from the sponsors including cellular phones from Docomo Pacific and bottles of wine.

On Thursday evening, selected guests gathered at the Lobby Lounge of the Hyatt Regency Saipan to have a sip of the truth from fine Kendall-Jackson Wines.

Jessica Ann Rosario, Mid-Pacific Distributors, Inc. sales and marketing manager introduced the night’s wine tasting including the 2006 Kendall –Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay.

“This is Kendall-Jackson’s flagship wine, a richly layered and balanced wine which glides down your throat while you savor the tropical flavors,” Rosario said.

Also introduced were the 2005 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Merlot and 2005 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

All three wines got above 85 points in rating which shows its excellence. Hyatt Regency Saipan prepared excellent appetizers to go with the wines.

Guests couldn’t just have their fill of fine wine—even after two consecutive nights!

(This article originally appeared HERE)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Taking off!

Dec. 20, 2008

Sky walking

A boy finds pleasure in jumping from the rock and into the clear waters off Taga Beach in Tinian. This is a favorite spot among kids and adults in the island.
Captured from my point and shoot using shaky hands...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hidden Beach revealed

Driving all the way up to Capitol Hill and going to the very end of Talafofo Road will lead you to the portal of one of Saipan’s pleasant secrets.

Photo by Raquel C. Bagnol

Last weekend’s wandering brought me and my buddy to this spectacular cove which I had been targeting for quite sometime. A photographer friend recommended the place, telling me we don’t have to walk far as the beach can be seen from the parking area.
But the sea was nowhere to be seen or heard from the area where we parked. An unpaved road under the trees stretched to infinity before us, and we agreed going back was out of the question.
The wet road led us down, past several turns and yet I can not hear the sea. Walking was not easy with my 2-inch heeled slippers. I was about to give up when I heard the unmistakable rumbling- like the rolling of thunder from a distance.
With renewed courage, we plodded on. A few meters away, we came upon a small clearing behind a thicket. Suddenly, we were looking at a post-card perfect vista from our perch.
Going down 31 cemented steps and ambling over knee-high shrubs, we were finally at the Hidden Beach.
To describe the place as awesome is an understatement! Huge waves slapping on the flat table stones issue a silent yet dangerous challenge for the daring, although personally, I think the place is not ideal for swimming. Those waves are so huge they could sweep you off to the Pacific Ocean and into nothingness in a few seconds.
Hidden Beach is protected by huge boulders of stones that resemble many figures, depending on how creative you are in interpreting them. Here is one secret paradise perfected by nature which provides total relaxation.

This article was originally published HERE
For more PHOTOS press HERE

Saturday, November 29, 2008

bloom amidst the bushes

Nov.30, 2008

Blooming amidst the bullsh**s-- i mean bushes...
a simple message that you can still excel even if assh**es surround you.
This was taken at a very unlikely location--right in the center of Garapan's commercial district.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

People, things, places and events to be thankful for

Here is a Thanksgiving list which appeared in the Nov. 27 issue of the Marianas Variety...a collection from the Variety family which has become a tradition for the past 10 years. (My thanks are in large bold letters...)

THANKSGIVING is about love. And there is no sincerer love than the love of food and days off. It’s also about being optimistic — like trying to start a diet on this special day. We may have more downs than ups in this sorry, sordid year, but hey; at least we’re not a turkey. Poor bird. He’s hit in the neck, loses his head, they break his legs, knock the stuffing out of him, cut him to the heart and pick on him for weeks. Clearly, if you’re a turkey the Bermuda Triangle is Thanksgiving.

And on that uplifting note, here then is the Variety’s 14th annual Thanksgiving list. The items, by the way, are not necessarily arranged in order of importance.

Praise the Lord and have a shot of Tanduay!

1) The local economy, or what’s left of it

2) Paydays

3) Jobs

4) The CNMI will have a new governor in 2010

5) Taotao Tano & Irene Tantiado

6) Diet Pepsi, Coke Zero

7) Mar-Vic, this list’s inventor, says, “I finally found the One and married him. And my name is Mar-Vic C. Palmertree.”

8) She also wants to thank South Park, Family Guy, Google and “my simple desires that make it easy for me to smile and be happy.”

9) Gemma says thank you to Radio Australia, Jojo Dass, Jet, Bey, Myla, Weng, Dave, Hera, Venus, Charlotte, Cherrie, Shabs, Ate Jackie, Tita Lits, Arlene, Anna, Raquel, Tess, Achie, JV, Libay, Sally, Rose, Betty, Sisi, Chummy, Ate Susan, Shintaro, Naoki, Naoko, Hideki, Nojima, Kamimura-san, Fukutomi-san, etc., Mr. Suzuki, other friends and family.

9) She is also thankful to sources for keeping the news flowing despite the odds, Mike & Eleanor Nisperos, Kyodo News, Rep. Stanley Torres & staff, Ernie & Monie, the wires, Flor & Aven and the Marianas Variety & staff

10) Miggy’s, Viralicci, Aliviera

11) Flame Tree Terrace

12) Fat Joy Slim — the music and the friendship

13) Zaldy wants to thank Pareng Onald for the memories, Uly for his tireless devotion to Onald, Hydee and Rose Ann, and the members of the community who joined the week-long rosaries and memorial services

14) Primo’s

15) J’s Restaurant

16) amazon.com, Alibris, Bestseller, Joeten-Kiyu Public Library

17) Godfather’s the bar and parts 1 & 2 of the movie

18) Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis’ Memorias Póstumas de Brás Cubas, Don Casmurro, Quincas Borba

19) Zaldy thanks Mar-Vic and Jason for visiting us

20) Jojo wants to thank Burj Dubai BASE Jumpers

21) Chris says “thank you to my Mom & Dad, Gene & Cora San Gabriel Mr. Abed Younis & Family, Mr. Laurence Boyer & Ms. Laila Boyer, Kuya Zaldy, all my friends specially Maria Eleonor Espinas & Nhorleen Bitco.”

22) Eli says “I’d like to say thanks to my bosses, Mr. Younis, for giving me the opportunity to work here, Ms. Laila, for all the awesome projects. My best buddies Nhorleen and Chris for all the happy moments, the craziness and the dramas. My sisters and brothers at heart, Loidski, Sheryl, Lala, Osang, Sally, Haidee, Ate Chit, Irene, Moneth, Ariel, Kuya Makoy, Greg, Mikol & Dindi, many thanks to you guys. Tita Litz for all the kindness and the ooh so yummy carbonara. Ate Noims and Ate Janet for the crazy Thursdays we’ve shared, Ate Lyn, Kuya Boy, Ka Ed and to the rest of Marianas Variety staff that I’ve worked with, thanks! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!”

23) Moneth says thank you for nothing

24) Jim & Grace Belyea

25) Brenda & Fred

26) Bruce & Maya

27) Jeff, Cynthia and their kids

28) tsetse ija

29) Brad R., Bruce B., Mike E., Angelo V., Brad D.

30) Makoy, Sally, Timbo, Betong, Rick, Julio, Bino, Bel, Prolayn, Ka Ed, Goro, Chris, Mike, Mark, Ernie, Ka Max, Ka Nards, Tekya, Talits, Lenlen

31) Nhorleen says “I would like to thank God for another Thanksgiving, for a year full of blessings and surprises, for a wonderful family, for the greatest friends a person could ever ask and for the rest of the people that continue to rock my world.”

32) Jacq & Joy

33) Aggie, Tomoko, Haids, Marconi & Adam

34) Badjoe, James & Helen, Ella & Sonny, Paul, Tom & Fe, Haidee & Kaycee

35) June says “Thank you to my housemates, Mommy Rio & Daddy Sandie, NMBF association (Macoi, Hapi, Malou M. Shirley, Marylyn, Banker [Malou Malasarte], A. Omori, to my teammates, Roger, Ingrid, Elma, Mar, Riza and Vic), thank you to KWAW and MBI (for Purex and Waioka sardines), thank you to all the editorial staff. Thank you to Rose, Mabel and Leo, to Uro, Uly, Atchie, Chammy, and to all my friends.”

36) Loids says “Thanks to Pipit for coming to our lives and for the blessings and joy that came with him. Thank you to my loving and supportive husband Ariel and to all our friends who are tirelessly helping us in taking care of Pipit. Thank you ever so much to Ninang Lits, Osang, Sally, Moneth, Nhorleen, Ely, Cris, Dindi, Ate Lyn, to my best friend Sheryl and to all the people inside and outside of the barracks. Thanks also to my friends and officemates for giving me bridal and baby showers; thank you for making my life colorful. Thanks also to Mr. Younis and Ms Laila and to all my co-workers.”

37) Miguel Dandan, his wonderful grandparents and ate Lisa

38) Whispering Palms School

39) Gold’s Gym and its management, staff and patrons

40) Hollywood Theaters

41) In Plain Sight, Burn Notice, Monk, Psych, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, South Park, Reno 911, Boston Legal, Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, History Detectives, Chuck, Life, American Idol, The Office, 30 Rock, Worst Week

42) John McCain and Sarah Palin

43) Fox News Channel

44) Hollywood Video

45) Floyd the Maestro and the Big Beats Band

46) Zaldy says Friendster sucks and thank you Facebook and his ever growing number of fellow Facebookians

47) Bon voyage to Raymond, Dindo and Eli — thank you and come again

48) Tina Sablan & Glen Hunter

49) Zhen, Galvin & Velma

50) Gene’s Barbershop

51) Raquel says thank you to “my nocturnal buddies who populate my Yahoo Messenger every night until the early morning hours (you all know who you are…); my family for the long-distance inspiration and for the encouragements to move on; people and objects who kept me going when the going gets tough — my five alarm clocks, cellphone, TV, Internet connection, YM, Facebook, superb sunsets, unpredictable rain showers and sudden weather changes, daily newsroom pressures and trials, and to everyone and everything else that spells the meaning of LIFE; and finally to Roberto Ramirez Herrera for all the memories. You’ll always be in my heart forever.”

52) Arnold thanks “my wife, Jennet and children, John, Ken, Bulet and Yuri for inspiring me to keep going, thanks to my mom for everything, thanks to my Aunts, Cita and Rose my sis, Arlynn for the ‘rescue’ recently, thanks to all the accommodating news sources, thanks to my friends Aries, Anton, Stephen, and the other Malate boys, thanks to Jacob for inviting me to his family’s Thanksgiving party today, thanks to Janet for lending me the camera, thanks to Zaldy for giving me the chance to thank everybody today, thanks to Moneth for valuing our friendship, thanks to Raymond for forwarding sports PRs, thanks to Talits for not being so angry when I failed to pay my phone card on time, thanks to Talits again for the delicious soup, thanks to Mang Nards for being so cool nowadays, thanks to Financial Lending and thanks to Nelson for providing discounts with his vegetables.”

53) Junhan says, “My gratitude and appreciation to all who give when there’s nothing more to give.”

54) Nick Pichay, Beret & John, Jeff Schorr, Pamela Mathis

55) Zaldy wants to thank the Variety’s kick-ass publishers, management, editorial staff as well as the company’s other hard-working personnel.

56) Guam Variety, Palau Horizon and their superb management and staff

57) siomai

58) Zaldy wants to thank his car which he considers symbolic of the CNMI’s spirit — battered, beaten up but bery much alive and kicking.

59) Apples, grapes, oranges

60) KSPN

61) The KAT

62) Heart’s Barracuda, Led Zep’s Ramble On, UB40’s Bring Me Your Cup

63) Friends of the Arts

64) Limewire

65) YouTube

66) Burt Bacharach

67) watermelon and pumpkin seeds

68) The U.S., Guam, Palau and the CNMI held clean, peaceful and orderly elections

69) representative democracy

70) free enterprise

71) detergents

72) Ivory soap

73) electricity

74) shampoo

75) running water

76) drinking water

77) Emperador Brandy

78) Tanduay Rum

79) The CNMI’s hardworking public servants

80) Rex Navarrete

81) Robert Lowell’s Day by Day

82) NMI Humanities Council

83) NMC

84) chess

85) Google

86) AP, Reuters, AFP

87) The Wall Street Journal

88) The Comedy Channel

89) Turner Movie Classics

90) old KMCV news

91) The new kick-ass James Bond

92) sleep

93) waking up

94) sunrise

95) sunset

96) e-mail

97) green tea

98) Nike shoes

99) This year is almost over

100) The Variety’s readers and advertisers

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Japanese buffet at the Palms

Palms Resort Saipan advertising sales representative Minako Kayagaki and executive chef Satoshi Akimoto

HERE’S some mouth-watering news for Japanese cuisine aficionados!

To continually satisfy its diversified stream of clients, Palms Resort Saipan re-opened its Japanese lunch buffet starting Monday to give Japanese food lovers a chance to satisfy their eternal cravings.

With the ever-present sushi, sashimi and tempura as its mainstays in the daily menu, Palms Resort sales representative Minako Kayagaki said that they offer a variety of dishes during lunch hours Mondays to Saturdays.

“Japanese buffet is available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and it’s an eat-all-you-can feast for just anybody who wants to fulfill their craving for Japanese specialties,” Kayagaki said.

Who wouldn’t want to gorge himself with food that come fresh or cooked right before you as you wait. The anticipation is half the fun!

The restaurant provides various atmospheres to suit your tastes. Whether you want a dimly lit portion as a respite from the heat of the noonday sun, a table with a superb view of the swimming pool and the ocean while dining, or a romantic nook right on the mezzanine floor, you have it.

Kayagaki said the place can accommodate over 140 guests. On the re-opening day, a merry mix of locals and tourists couldn’t just have their stomachs full of the delicious bounty—from its tempting line of appetizers, soups, main dishes, vegetables, deserts, and fruits.

Indeed, spending $18 for adults or $13 for kids for a buffet lunch as scrumptious as Palms executive chef Satoshi Akimoto prepares wouldn’t spare you room for a moment’s regret. A special discount applies for locals.

Check out the Japanese lunch buffet at Palms and have a feast.

This article was originally published HERE

Monday, November 24, 2008

Take it away with Le Beaujolais Nouveau 2008!

EVERY year, the race from the grape to the glass had always been half the fun. At past midnight on the third Thursday of November, millions of glasses are raised all over the world to welcome the year’s edition of Le Beaujolais Nouveau.

Guests flocked to the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Saipan to join one of the world’s most anticipated traditions in the wine industry- welcoming and sampling the 2008 edition of this red, fruity wine from France.

“What makes this wine so special is that it is not aged, and it stays for a very limited time only,” says Hyatt’s restaurant manager Philip Padernal.Le Beaujolais Nouveau (pronounced bow-joe-lay noo-vo) easily appeals to everyone. It slides down your throat with a fresh, pleasant and fruity taste because the wine did not undergo storage to age.

Imagine the rush of adrenaline as each individual and machine involved in the total process poll their efforts to have everything done from harvesting, processing, bottling and finally delivering the wines throughout the world at past midnight on the third Thursday each November. Hyatt Regency Saipan’s executive chef Gabriele Colombo said that Le Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk immediately.

“It’s a kind of wine which has to be gulped rather than sipped and most of this vintage will begin to decline after Christmas,” he said. With Thanksgiving a few days away, Colombo said Beaujolais Nouveau comes in handy as an excellent pair for roasted or grilled meats, pastas, salads and cheeses, and particularly Turkey.

Hyatt Regency Saipan general manager Nick K. Nikishawa said that Hyatt has always joined the tradition of launching the year’s edition.

“It’s exciting to be a part of something that the whole world is doing at the same time, and we are glad to give the people of Saipan the chance to join and appreciate fine wines,” Nikishawa said.

To go with the newly launched Le Beaujolais Nouveau 2008, Hyatt Regency Saipan served mouth-watering delicacies and appetizers that left guests craving for more.Since Nov. 20, Le Beaujolais Nouveau, distributed by Pacific Wines and Spirits was already available at the Hyatt Regency Saipan and selected restaurants and bars on Saipan, but don’t wait too long. The bottles won’t wait for you!

For more information, contact PWSI market coordinator Orleyne Tabucanon at (671) 888-8476 or email orleynet@pwsgu.com.
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

This article was originally published HERE

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mysterious cairns of the Suicide Cliffs

FOR a casual passerby, they look like small, ordinary stones piled atop each other but for the discerning eye of an adventurer they could mean a lot of things, depending on the angle where you look at them from, or how the sun casts its shadow on the stones.

Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol

But these stones did not happen to accidentally pile on top of each other to create a spectacular view. Somebody exerted effort and creativity to pile the stones into attractive shapes to make driving, jogging or cycling up to the Suicide Cliff lookout a more pleasant experience.
For some, the cairns scattered along the road especially in the last two miles toward the Suicide Cliff stirs the imagination.
“Some thought that they are part of a local culture, some thought the stones have something to do with religious rites while others thought the stones bring good luck,” the person behind the artistry who opted to remain behind the limelight to maintain the aura of mystery to the cairns said.

He said he gets a lot of satisfaction knowing that the stone piles he started to create some months back have begun to stir intrigue among the visitors.
“Each individual has different interpretations of the stones, and that adds up to the mystery,” he said.
The cairns captured my interest when I first saw them sometime in June. From a distance, some of them look like dwarfs gregariously perched on top of the cairns. I couldn’t help but snap some photos while thinking it had some historical significance.
There are more cairns that you see along the way. Some of them are mysteriously hidden between trees a little distance from the road that you really have to look for them to find them.
If you haven’t seen the cairns yet, go for a drive or jog up Suicide Cliff looko
ut in Marpi and you will see them along the road. Just be careful not to break the piles, or better yet you can add to the cairns.
I wonder what they look like in the moonlight. That is something I will have to discover for myself, and soon!

This article was originally published HERE

Want to see more photos? PRESS ME

Friday, November 7, 2008

Atop Saipan’s highest mountain

IF there is one place that offers you a perfect view of the whole island from a 360 degree angle, it is Mount Tapochao, the highest point of Saipan.

A view of Garapan seen from Mt. Tapochao. Photo by Raquel C. Bagnol

A view of Garapan seen from Mt. Tapochao.

Last weekend’s gallivanting saw me and a buddy slowly urging the small car we took to navigate the rough and bumpy roads snaking its way up the mountain. We knew the roads were fitted for an ATV or a 4x4 vehicle but we still took the chance, hoping our car won’t give up on us and leave us in the middle of nowhere. After a nerve-wracking climb, we finally reach the top. I took in huge gulps of the cold, early morning air while trying to catch my breath. Mt. Tapochao is indeed a perfect place to meditate and get in tune with nature. My first visit to this mountain was during Good Friday this year when the roads and the whole place littered with people, tents and cars. We had to walk all the way to the top as the roads were barely passable. Last Saturday, it was totally different because my buddy and I had the whole place to ourselves. It was eerily quiet, save for the howling of the winds. I felt like we were intruders but it was wonderful to be standing at 1,545 feet above sea level and marvel at the amazing panoramic view of Saipan and the island of Tinian. Mt. Tapochao carries both historical and religious significance for the people of CNMI. Several markers are planted at the top of Mt. Tapochao to serve as constant reminders that Japanese spotters positioned themselves on this mountain to direct cannon fire to the advancing American forces during the bloody World War 11. A slight drizzle started to fall, interrupting the peace and soliloquy I was enjoying for a moment. I am still looking forward for a chance to watch the sunset from this point. I know words would be inadequate to describe its splendor.

(this article is originally published HERE)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tinian’s WW11 monuments

IF you are in the dark about Tinian’s history, the two cemented structures protruding from the ground which looked like crypts would mean nothing, but these are no ordinary structures.

These are the two atomic bomb loading pits that played a significant part in the history of the island.
From the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino, we took the north-bound road which gradually degenerated until it looked just a deserted trail. I lost direction of the twists and turns my tour guide took before we emerged into a clearing beyond forest growth and thick foliage, into the airport taxiway.

There, at the northwest end of the runway were the two triangular-shaped structures that stood for lornly as a monument of the World War 11.
Mindless of the scorching heat of the noonday sun, I went near the pits and peered through the Plexiglas. There was nothing to see in the 27-and-a-half-foot long, 18-foot-wide pits save for a small hole in the ground and faded photographs of the planes that carried the bombs to Japan.
The pits looked innocent and harmless, but if you go back years before, you will learn that from these loading pits the “Fat Man and Little Boy”— the atomic bombs dropped on Japan — were launched from this very site.

The area was deserted, save for a group of tourists in a rented van. There is something about the place that evokes an eerie silence and makes you wish to leave everything without disturbing the ghosts of the past.
This site has always drawn visits not only from tourists every year but WW11 veterans, too whose poignant memories of the war live within them. I left the place in a pensive mood, thinking myself lucky to be able to visit a place that is important to the island’s history.

This article was originally published HERE.

Unwinding at Taga Beach

JUST a stone’s throw away from the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino is a famous beach which never fails to lure locals and tourists alike even under the sweltering heat of the sun.

Taga Beach is just a pocket beach bordered by small limestone cliffs on its sides. To take a dip, you have the option of going down a flight of cemented stairs or jumping or diving from the small cliffs into the amazingly clear, blue green waters. This has become a favorite challenge for kids and adults as they tried to outdo each other in how high they can jump, or how many flips they can do.

The waves from the small lagoon roll into a pristine shore protected by cliffs and cave-like rocks. From the beach, the ocean stretches out to forever. The beach has picnic facilities, an outdoor shower, ample parking spaces and even a place to rent scooters if you want to take an island tour.
If you don’t fancy swimming, you could still enjoy walking on the concrete path which leads into Tachogna Beach a few meters away. Sunsets at Taga Beach are just superb! Here is one place where you can watch the sun bidding goodbye to another day amidst a glorious sky splashed with different hues of reds, oranges and vermilions.
For photo enthusiasts, Taga Beach is one perfect place for you to snap away and capture views of the local color.
Breathing in the cool salty air from the ocean, I wished I could stay at the beach forever and take in the sights and smells that create a bond to nature. However, darkness had fallen. The happy shouts of kids ceased and the swimmers were heading home. It was time to go back to the hotel.

This article was originally published HERE.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Enjoying Micro Beach at your leisure

DO you want to spend precious moments each day in total relaxation yet find it hard to snatch time from your busy schedule? On Saipan, you don’t need to go far.

Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol

Just a few steps away from the Saipan’s commercial district in Garapan near American Memorial Park is Micro Beach, a popular spot which many of us may have taken for granted.
Micro Beach is an ideal place to spend your leisure time. Whether you have a full free day to spend, or just a few minutes to breath in the salty tang of the ocean breeze, this is the place for you.
In the late afternoons, you can catch one of Saipan’s glorious sunsets from Micro Beach with the fascinating Managaha Island at the backdrop.
On Sundays and holidays, Micro beach is the island’s most populated beach. It is a favorite picnic spot to hold local fiestas, barbeques, parties, and just gatherings with friends and family members.
The beach area provides kids a fantastic playground. The beach has tables and benches, swing sets and the tall trees provide shade for the picnickers.
Micro Beach is also an ideal venue for popular sporting events like XTerra Saipan Championship.
On some days, strong winds would gust to the delight of surfers. Micro Beach is a popular windsurfing spot. In 1972, Micro Beach became the competition site as windsurfers from six countries gathered for a three-day race.
The natural beauty of the island with its pristine beaches and natural landscape makes it a perfect destination for tourists.
If you want to break the monotony of your routine, take a few minutes out and head off to Micro Beach. You’ll come back refreshed and renewed.
(This article was originally published HERE)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On the shores of Wing Beach

DESERTED’ is the first word that would come to your mind as soon as you emerge from the thicket that shelters the entrance to Wing Beach, one of Saipan’s seashore treasures.
Darkness was about an hour away and yet I insisted on making a stop to this spot which I just heard about from others. The long fingers of dusk began to claim dominance over the skies, casting a somewhat eerie yet fascinating atmosphere.

The shore was practically isolated, the silence broken only by the slapping of the waves in the distant reef and by our presence. The long stretch of soft white sand seemed to defy our existence.
There is something about Wing Beach that lures you to come back again and again. Turning off from the main road in Marpi, the dirt road that curbs its way around and amidst thick foliage will lead you deeper that you would feel you were already in the jungle, but you are just a few minutes away from your destination.
Running on the shores and leaving deep footprints on the sand is an exhilarating experience you must not miss. It is as if you have the whole place to yourself, and nothing else matter except you, the sea, the skies and the sand on the shores.
Various shells scattered on the beach adds to its attraction. Swinging by Wing Beach during the day would be an entirely exciting and different experience, without the long shadows and the eerie stillness of the place. It is one of the spectacular places to hold picnics or get together with friends. You can visit the place just to pass time, take a dip in the ocean, commune with nature, draw figures or write you name on the sand, or go diving.
Wing Beach, located on the northwest part of Saipan is one place you must not miss. Swing by for a view of some fantastic geographical features like breathtaking drop-offs and large, spectacular crevasses. Chances are you will come back to the place.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rendezvous at the Suicide Cliff Lookout

Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol

The word SPECTACULAR or any other synonym in the dictionary is inadequate to describe the view from the top whereI was leaning against the steel railings on Saturday noon. It was exhilarating to stand on top of a 250-meter tall rock face and revel in the excellent views of the north end of Saipan.

From miles away, the ocean stretched far out with its different shades of blue glistening in the heat. If you look up at the cliffs from down below, they look menacing but when you’re up there, you’ll be telling a different story.

The Suicide Cliff lookout was a somber yet almost romantic place to be. I ignored the butterflies that seemed to flutter in my stomach as I looked down at the Banzai Cliff which resembled a miniature park way below from where I was, a spot which beckons one to come and explore what it has to offer .

The Suicide Cliff Lookout provokes a sense of being lost in time, surrounded by the natural beauty of the cliffs which some almighty power seemed to have carved centuries ago.

If you didn’t have an inkling of the tragic past of the place, if you have no idea that hundreds of Japanese have chosen to end their lives by jumping down the cliffs to their deaths than being captured by the American army after they lost the battle, the place is a perfect getaway.

Except that the place is marred by painful memories of the bloody WW11 events. Each nook and crevice in the cliffs is a mute witness of the unspeakable past.

Half the fun and adventure in going up to the Suicide Cliff Lookout and in going down lies on the picturesque road which snakes its way up the cliff, offering you a fantastic view of Garapan, the sea and nature. It’s one place where you get the feeling of being far from civilization and from everybody.

If you have fear of heights, you may opt to stay far from the railings but then, you will miss much!

You won’t get lost in going to the Lookout. Just follow the road signs toward the north and you’ll be there in no time.

(This article originally appeared HERE.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Reunion with nature at the Tank Beach

CHARTERING unfamiliar grounds by following signs has always been a challenge I find hard to resist and last Sunday’s wanderings rewarded me with one more attractive spot in these islands.

Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol

Driving all the way past Kagman High School toward a dirt road last Sunday brought me and a buddy to a sign standing amidst thick bushes which says “Tank Beach”. As I haven’t heard of the name before, I knew I had to find the place. As there was no other sign on the road, our first turn ended in a private residence and we had to go back to the main road. Our second try brought us to the right place.
The place was deserted, and we found that it was one of the protected areas on Saipan where you can only feast your eyes in the beauty of nature but not disturb anything.

The white sandy beach stretched far on both sides, making us feel small and insignificant in the noonday heat. The rolling waves and the clear waters issued a silent invitation for a refreshing dip.
Tank Beach is a perfect place to bond with nature. This is a spot where it feels like sin to step on the sand and leave footprints in the deserted beach, where you will feel guilty by merely taking pictures of multitudes of butterflies in the flowering patches near the shore.
Tank Beach is one spot where you can delight on the wonders of nature, yet you get a feeling that you shouldn’t be there. You feel like an intruder that unlike other beaches which entices you to shout and run and play on the sand, you would feel guilty just by treading on the pristine shores.
For the beach fanatics, Tank Beach is a haven, great for snorkeling and hanging with friends.
Just be careful not to remove any corals from the waters off the entire reef at Tank beach as it is prohibited. Fishing regulations exist, and disruption of habitat is prohibited.
At this spot, the lines “leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, and kill nothing but time” applies.
See you on our next adventure!

(This article was originally published here)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chulu Beach: Tinian’s hidden cove

DRIVING over rock-paved roads about a mile or two away from the famous bomb pits on Tinian will lead you to one of the tropical spectacles the island can boast of — Chulu Beach.

Tourists pose for a souvenir photo at Chulu Beach. Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol

From the main road, you couldn’t see the water as the place is cloaked with thick foliage and green shrubbery but the minute you step out into the clearing, a stretch of pristine beach that is ideal for a movie set in the Pacific awaits you.
Chulu Beach is a beach bum’s dream: white sandy shores, crystal clear waters, and ideally placed palms swaying to the breeze. The sound of the rolling waves breaking a few meters away from the shore and the sense of privacy creates an instant lure to anybody who steps on its shores.
Overlooking the Philippine Sea to the west side of the island, you will know you have come to the right place when you see a Japanese pillbox at the end of the road.
Japanese Pillbox

Japanese Pillbox

My guide told me Chulu beach is also known as Star Beach to the locals. Here is a beach whose history stretches past beyond the footsteps on the sands created by visitors. It carries ghosts of the past and has been a mute witness to the bloody events of the World War 11 more than 60 years ago.
Ah, how tempting to sprawl on the beach and allow yourself to be lulled to sleep by the sound of waves and the gentle slap of the ocean breeze on your skin.
I hated to leave but time was a harsh enemy. I had 12 minutes to grab a quick lunch and catch the 1 p.m. ferry for Saipan.

Come with me next time on yet another trip and let’s scour famous as well as hidden beaches and explore nooks and crannies of this paradise called the CNMI.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I flunked culinary class!

So what’s new with that? I have never been at home in the kitchen, whether to eat or to cook. I mean I’m not a hearty eater (ever hear of the phrase I eat for survival?) I cook for survival too. Living alone for as long as I can remember has its effects and one of those is developing the habit to buy ready to eat or order from a fastfood whenever hunger strikes. Which is not very often in my case. The best and must-not-meal for me is dinner. Breakfast and lunch I can go without, but not dinner.

Anyways, I signed up for a culinary class for overseas Filipino workers at the OWWA office in Susupe a couple of months ago with 'ranch-mates' Junhan, Raymond, Tita Lits and Terri. What never occurred to me was that the classes would require five Saturday afternoons because if I did, I would have relegated my slot to somebody else. I know I just don’t have 5 consecutive Saturday afternoons free.

We missed the first session which was soup making. The second first session was into Japanese cuisine. Haha when I came into the class I felt I flunked right away. Everybody had an apron and a head gear or hair net. It never even occured to me to get one huhu.

Not a big fan of Japanese food myself (or any other cuisine in that matter) I just observed as Hermie the instructor whipped up sushi and all those rolled Japanesy-foods which I always thought comes in ready made packages.

I kept notes but now I can’t even read what I wrote. If I give it to a pharmacist Im sure I will be given prescription medicines. Tasting time proves rewarding for everybody else except for me.

On our second (and my last alas) session we were into pasta making. Alas, I never cared that much for pasta. I eat them but I can't or wouldn't die for pasta. We were taught how to whip up red and white sauce, spaghetti, soba, and the whole noodle family. I just sat on a corner feeling so drowsy for five hours of staying in one room (*ewww you don’t know how hard that was) The fourth Saturday I had to be on Tinian to cover the Poker tournament at the Tinian Dynasty Casino, so another absent.

Funny but I took more photos of my classmates and of the food and ingredients than what my mind absorbed. I still find it still easier to just point what you want and leave the messy job of food preparation to the expert chefs in the kitchen. I was a misfit in the kitchen. Maybe I was thinking of photography class afterall when I submitted my application form.

The graduation was last Saturday. Only Junhan and Teri were able to make it. We three flunked the classes because we had more than two absences.

Somehow there are some people who could never be at home in the kitchen and I am one of them. My sis and my brod took that talent when I was away and only two were given to each family I guess…

What I would have wanted to join though was the bread baking and cake decorating classes. That im sure I wouldn’t feel drowsy but the list is long and the next classes may be held next year yet.

Maybe I will just have to content myself with taking photos of food, not preparing them.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hyatt grabs grand prize at 9th wine rally

THE moment the bar opened and the Happy Hours started, there was no stopping the guests from downing glasses after glasses of Rutherford Ranch Merlot and Rutherford Ranch Chardonnay (California).

The grand prize winners. Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol

The grand prize winners

The final party has begun.
In a lavish finale on Thursday night, Hyatt Regency grabbed the most coveted grand prize for the 9th Wine Rally campaign which ran from May 1 to Aug. 31, 2008— a Wine Rally prize tour to the Rodney Strong Winery in Sonoma Country.
Hyatt Regency came up with a total of 1,497 points by cases, followed by the Pacific Islands Club with 1,078 points; Aqua Resort Club with 493 points; Fiesta Resort & Spa with 342 points; Sandcastle Saipan with 190 points; World Resort Saipan with 135 points; Palms Resort Saipan with 125 points; Revolving Restaurant 360 Inc with 80 points; Mariana Resort & Spa with 75 points; Country House Saipan with 65; Tony Roma’s with 13; Coral Ocean Point with 10 and Capricciosa Saipan with 3 points.
With sheer luck, Northern Marianas Bartenders Association president Lito Espino’s cork entry was drawn as this year’s winner of $500 from a barrelful of entries.
For the past four months, key players in the food and beverage industry competed with each other in a battle of salesmanship. Four monthly wine rallies were held at Saipan World Resort, Grand Hotel Saipan, Palms Resort Saipan and at the Aqua Resort Club.
A beaming wine rally raffle draw winner Lito Espino of the Aqua Resort Club waves his giant $500 check.

A beaming wine rally raffle draw winner Lito Espino of the Aqua Resort Club waves his giant $500 check.

Food and beverage staff members of hotels and restaurants and the industry’s top executives had a grand time sampling and sipping the best wines, participating in games, mingling with old friends and making new ones while listening to the upbeat music from different bands.
The Wine Rally is an annual promotion organized by the Pacific Wine & Spirits, a competition to encourage servers to sell as many bottles of fine wines as possible during the promo duration.
“The parties are our way to say thank you to the food & beverage industry for their hard work in promoting PWS’ fine wine brands,” Anneliese Wenden, PWS Brand Manager said.

(For more photos, PRESS ME. This article is originally published here)

Party host Brad Ruszala reads the name on a winning cork while PWS marketing coordinator Orleyne Tabucanon prepares the cash prizes. Looking on are PWS general manager Dan Matsuno (second from left) and Steve Balakrishna, PIC Food & Beverage manager.

Party host Brad Ruszala reads the name from a winning cork while PWS marketing coordinator Orleyne Tabucanon prepares the cash prizes. Looking on are PWS general manager Dan Matsuno (second from left) and Steve Balakrishna, PIC Food & Beverage manager.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tinian blow hole

I finally had the chance to visit the famous Blow Hole located at the Northeast part of Tinian, on the Pacific Ocean side last Sunday. This is one place I had always wanted to visit but never got the chance to do so, and i have Kiri Jackson, Tinian Dynasty's casino marketing and promotions to thank for arranging a quick tour for me.

The noonday heat did not deter me from going down to the limestone cliff that ran the full length of the side of the island (I won't mention that I was wearing 2-inch heels) just to snap photos and catch an amateur video using my ever-handy Sony point and shoot. From the Blow Hole, you can see Saipan at the back drop. I felt so alone in the vast stretch of sea, limestone and grasslands, a solitary being snapping fotos under the sweltering heat of the sun.

The vertical hole, a little bigger than a basketball is something that mother nature has carved in the rocks, spews out a geyser when waves roll in. I stood at a distance of about 8 meters away and got wet when a particularly huge wave rolled in. If I was only wearing slippers and prepared to get wet, I wouldn't have missed the chance to really go as near as I can to the hole but alas, I had to think of the ferry trip back to Saipan ( ughhh thinking of it is starting to make me dizzy) and I had to go straight to the office to file my stories. The one hour tour was not enough and I had to really hurry to grab some lunch from One Broadway before boarding the ferry. I had to put something in my stomach just in case the waves decided to get any bigger and I wouldn't want to vomit my intestines out.

ANyways, luck was with me and the ferry trip back was bearable. More about my solo trip to Tinian later. Enjoy the amateur video!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Giovanni's turns 13!

FOR some, the number 13 may be unlucky but for Giovanni’s Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Saipan, celebrating its 13th birthday is a significant event.

Hyatt Regency Saipan family were all smiles as they celebrated Giovanni's 13th birthday. Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol

Hyatt Regency Saipan family were all smiles as they celebrated Giovanni's 13th birthday.

For the thousands of customers whose diverse palates have been satisfied by the mouth-watering concoctions whipped up by the restaurant’s competent and dedicated staff, 13 is a threshold as the restaurant embarks into its teenage journey.

Clients and distinguished guests flocked to Giovanni’s on Friday night for party time as Giovanni’s celebrated a memorable milestone of the restaurant’s success.
It was a night where nothing else matters but food, wine and fun. Guests had a grand time rubbing elbows with one another, exchanging pleasantries, conversation and laughter.
Mouth-watering delicacies that could make one forget about diets and calories loaded the table. Wine flowed freely, and the air became more festive as the night wore on and more wine glasses emptied and refilled.

Then it was time to wheel in the huge, square birthday cake and to blow the candles.
Hyatt regency Saipan general Manager Nick Nishikawa sliced the cake amid cheering from the crowd. Then it was time for food and drinks...and more food and drinks.
Hyatt Regency Saipan general manager Nick Nikishawa slices the birthday cake. Looking on is executive chef Gabriele Colombo.

Hyatt Regency Saipan general manager Nick Nikishawa slices the birthday cake. Looking on is executive chef Gabriele Colombo.

Giovanni’s is one of the four restaurants at the Hyatt Regency Saipan that offers gourmets a taste of real Italian cuisine.

Take the trip with Giovanni’s as they embark on a new journey toward serving its growing list of clientele.
Whatever event or no-occasion occasion you may be celebrating, Giovanni’s provides a cozy atmosphere that can equal any upbeat restaurant on premier dining.
Expect more treats and high quality menu at Giovanni’s with Hyatt Regency Saipan executive chef Gabriele Colombo at the helm.

Giovanni’s is one place where you can dine to the sound of live piano performances at the backdrop, and where you get the best that spells out the Hyatt touch.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Relaxing by the beach

Photos By Raquel C. Bagnol

IF you are one of the beach bums who thinks that a day out is never complete without taking a dip in the warm waters of the sea, this beach is just the perfect place for you.

PauPau beach, located right next to Palms Resort Saipan and across the now-closed La Fiesta Mall in the northern part of Saipan is a haven for beach lovers.
The long, sandy beach provides an ideal setting where families with kids or anybody else can have fun. You can stretch and sunbathe on the sand, snorkel in the crystal clear waters, swim, fish, or just hang around.
As a bonus, trees growing on the beach offer lots of shaded areas where you can bring a beach chair and catch up with your reading. Better yet, you can experience total bliss by hanging a hammock and drifting off to dreamland to the gentle crooning of the waves.
Picnic pavilions and a playground add to the convenience of the beach.
Saipan has so many beaches you can choose from to spend your next day off. You can go to isolated beaches that you can have all to yourself or make you feel shut out from the whole world. You can also go to beaches that provide total adventure.
PauPau beach is one which gives the impression of being some place “away from it all” but it is just a few steps away from the main road.
When you get some time off, drop by PauPau beach and pamper yourself to break the monotony of work.

(Got any interesting place in the CNMI you would like to be featured for Island Explorer? Please email me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Let there be light

Welcome to Saipan…bring your flashlights.

9:20 p.m. I have an hour and 40 minutes before the lights will go out (again? Yes, again and again and again!) and I will have to grope my way around to my bed and summon all my forces to fall asleep. 2 a.m. is a long way off and If you are a nocturnal being like me, you could understand the torture I go through every night. Or until the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. change the schedule next week.

I mean power outages is nothing new in this island. We have tasted power outages at all shifts but this 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. has been my biggest problem so far. It leaves me with no choice but to grope my way toward the bed guided only by the blurry light from my cellphone.

I prefer the darkness of my room because I can not bear to light a candle. It’s been over three months since I suffered the biggest blow in my life but I can’t even look at a lighted candle without breaking down. It just digs up the pain that I had been bottling and forcing to bury inside me. Enough about the subject of candles, tears are threatening to fall.

The continued power outages on Saipan is nothing new and everybody’s suffering from it. Since my two housemates left, I have learned to monitor the load shedding schedule CUC publishes in the paper every Friday. I mean it’s actually useless because CUC never follows its load shedding schedule anyway. The power just goes off anytime.

I was rushing toward the Attorney General’s Office after a press conference at the public safety on Thursday, skirting the puddles of water on the way, but with three minutes left to be on time for an interview with Atty. Ed Buckingham, I was not successful in totally preventing the heels of my sandals from sinking in the muddy portions. I was directed to go straight to a room where Atty. Ed was waiting, and had to hesitate in the doorway.

The room was engulfed in darkness and I was sure I had come to a closet or a darkroom. I was about to back out when a figure turned around. Atty. Ed was working on his laptop using miner’s flashlight attached to his forehead. What a way to work. At the Justice building on Monday, court proceedings were suspended and the hallways were filled with a mix of lawyers, clients and court staff fanning themselves to survive the heat. The court needs at least 50 gallons of gas an hour for the generators to run and the court’s dwindling budget can’t afford to pay for gasoline.

Oppsss, gotta grab some dinner before the lights go out. I don’t fancy groping my way in the kitchen. I've got a flashlight bought for $1 at a garage but I have to buy batteries yet.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

No Parking

Each driver has his own unique way of parking...this is my favorite.

(I passed this car
at the Compact Road on my way to Melekeok in Palau
early last year.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Saipan’s sunken pool

Any trip or stay on Saipan would never be complete without visiting the Grotto, a sunken pool of amazingly azure waters that is connected to the ocean by passages underwater. For divers, the Grotto is one of Saipan’s best spots but non-divers too can enjoy the spectacular views the place has to offer.

Come with me as we visit yet another one of the unique spots this island has to offer.
The first time I visited the Grotto, I was not able to resist the urge to go down the 100 steep steps. A slight rain had made the stairs slippery and I was wearing sandals with heels but I was not about to let the opportunity pass.
Going down takes real effort as you have to hold on to the cement handrails and watch your footing if you have no wish to crash in a heap at the sharp rocks below.

Once you reach the bottom of the staircase, you will be facing yawning caverns that promise worlds of wonder under the water’s surface. Non-divers can enjoy listening to the thunderous crashing of the waves on the rocks, or watch snorkelers having a grand time in the pool.

If it requires effort on your way down, going up requires double effort. I had to rest every five or so steps and listen to my deafening heartbeat while trying to catch my breath.

Above the pool, a view deck provides a perfect setting where you can gaze for hours at the endless blue of the ocean stretched out before you. The view deck has tables and benches where guests can sit, relax and breathe in the salty tang of the ocean breeze.

The Grotto, located north of Saipan is easily accessible. Just drive past the “last command post” and “Banzai Cliff” memorial parks, and watch out for the sign on the road.

The Grotto is one place you must not miss. All you need is a healthy pair of legs (for non-divers), guts and a pair of itchy feet, and some exercise if you don't mind.
I will leave the divers to describe the underwater wonders of the Grotto, or wait until I will have the chance to dive someday. Maybe that would be when I learn how to swim. Ahhhh, maybe in the next 50 years...

CLICK HERE for more photos

(Article originally published at


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chasing butterflies

Thursday was one of those days which buddy Ferdie calls "bokya" at the CNMI Superior court. Nothing much went on, save for trials for small claims and traffic violations. I went out with a clean notebook, meaning I got no stories from there to meet my daily quota.
Waiting for the car to pick me up is one of the worst times I always experience in a day. You stay inside the court you freeze to death with the cold blast from the aircon. You wait outside you suffer from the blistering heat of the sun.

I decided to do a little of both , staying inside for a while, then going out to wait. Junhan and Raymond caught me running after butterflies and trying to capture them with my ever-reliable point and shoot Sony digicam outside the court.
I actually found chasing butterflies much more fun than running after lawyers in the lobby (although some of those serious-looking, attache case-carrying species are worth running after...lolololll) after each trial, snapping fotos of orange-clad defendants in handcuffs, poring over court records and digging up cases, not to mention pestering the clerks to have access to the files.
I envied the butterflies...no daily quota, pressures or deadlines to think of.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I had coffee today (uh-oh!)

TODAY is the fourth day after I tried to kick out coffee from my system and I am winning, or I was winning until this morning when I lost the battle and gave in to the temptation. The clock struck 3:30 a.m. and the world was eerily silent, broken only by the sounds I made as I rapped away on my keyboard, pausing once in a while to sip the scalding black liquid in my favorite mug. An unanticipated power outage (yes we know that’s not news on Saipan) forced me to go to bed at 11 pm last night. I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and jumped out of bed to erase all traces of sleep from my system. A deadline was beating down my neck and this is one battle I could not lose.

AHhh, the sweet aroma of coffee assailed my nostrils as I paused to sniff before each blissful sip. I remember walking toward the refrigerator to down a glass of cold water but my eyes strayed towards the top of the fridge where the coffee paraphernalia sneered at me invitingly.

Before I knew it, I was already pouring a spoonful of ground coffee in the coffee maker. I remember mechanically plugging it in and closing the door of my room to try to blot out musical gurgling sound of coffee dripping into the glass container. The closed door however could not stop the tantalizing smell of coffee from permeating through the room I had to take a deep breath.

The other night was pure torture. I had to swallow my saliva several times as I watched at my companion sip a cup of coffee at Shirley’s while waiting for our dinner. (I can’t mention his name here because we are not supposed to be seen together anywhere, particularly in "enemy" territory …LOL) Knowing me to be a coffee drinker, he was about to order two but I shook my head (oh if he only knew what an effort that action took) and I ordered a glass of water instead. Uhmm, I mean a glass filled with 90 percent ice cubes and 10 percent water.

I tried to look everywhere except on my companion’s cup. My agony was doubled when his cup was refilled a few minutes after. When the waitress offered a third refill, I was tempted to kick him under the table to get it for me. I had to fork ice cubes from my glass and stuff it to my mouth to fight the urge to order coffee. I won the battle that night and attacked my order of spicy chicken wings with a vengeance.

I never meant to get addicted to coffee. I mean I'm not a coffee addict. I drink my coffee without creamer and I don't take my coffee black. Just half a spoonful every- uhmm three times a day. The first thing I do after turning on my computer at the office is to pour a sachet of two-in-one coffee into my mug, head to the water dispenser in the kitchen and presto, i sip coffee as I check emails and other stuff online. By other stuff this includes "fan" mails from who wish to fan the life out of me by their vicious letters for stories that I wrote the previous day. Thanks to coffee I can bear it all.

The decision to stop curb my drinking coffee came when last week when I took a day off and stayed at home. No coffee in the morning. At about noon my body started to sense that something was very wrong, or some part of me was missing. By afternoon, I was fidgeting and sweating and only became "normal" again after I've had a cup of instant coffee.

I have a jar of Nescafe on top of the refrigerator, dozens of sachets of two-in-one coffee (minus the creamer) which I bought in Manila when I went home last May. Underneath a pile of papers in my desk, I had sachets of coffee and another jar of Nescafe behind my CPU.

I bought a pack of tea at San Jose and tried to convince myself that it’s the same with coffee. I drank juice and chomped on ice cubes and stayed away from the kitchen in our office during coffee break and succeeded, for four days.

I know I filled the four-cup coffee maker. I know I would be too weak to resist heating the rest of the coffee when I arrive home tonight. Okay, just this once...and I'll start the battle once again tomorrow.


I won i won i won!!! i was nursing a steaming mug of coffee in my hands this morning and was about to take a sip but then I went to the sink and poured the coffee into the drain. What a waste but then it was a victory.

Last Command Post remembered

DRIVING all the way to Marpi on the north end of Saipan will lead you to several areas that have been mute witnesses to the poignant events of the Second World War, and one of these areas is the Last Command Post.
If you had been on Saipan long enough, you may have taken this spot for granted but everyday, this spot gets a fair share of visitors from all over the world.

Tourists wander around the Last Command Post. At the backdrop is the Suicide Cliff.

Tourists wander around the Last Command Post. At the backdrop is the Suicide Cliff.

Located just along the road, the Last Command Post would have been another ordinary park with the colossal 800-foot Suicide Cliffs towering above and flame trees flowering from April to July each year.
Were it not for the markers and memorials scattered all over the park, visitors wouldn’t know that behind the World War II relics, a light Japanese tank and several guns that had been silenced forever is a tragic past that will forever be a part of the islands.
Records would tell you that the Last Command Post, a rock slab is where the Japanese command held out to the very end.
I and my explorer buddies Mark, Moneth, Junhan and Raymond went up the stairs and in to the inner chamber of the cave. I couldn’t help but shiver as I thought of the people who took shelter in it more than 60 years ago. If the rocks could talk, how interesting their stories would be. They had witnessed the unfolding of the fierce battle and sad events that made up a chapter of the world’s history.
Going into the inner chamber of the cave.

Going into the inner chamber of the cave.

A drizzle started and we had to hurry because we were not planning to get wet.
It was a relief to leave the place which holds so many bitter memories. Just as we were driving away, a busload of tourists arrived, excitedly snapping photos from their cameras despite the drizzle.
Generations have come and gone, but like the rest of the war memorials on Saipan, the relics of the Last Command Post will stay as a reminder of the island’s tragic past.
One of the canon placed near the stairs going to the cave. Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol

One of the canon placed near the stairs going to the cave.