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

Monday, December 21, 2009

CNMI gets over $1.7M estimated ad value in 2009

A view of Garapan as seen from Mt. Tapuchao. Photo by Raqs

THEY came at different times of the year: photographers and writers from, newspapers, broadcasters from radio stations, reporters from television stations, web site representatives, tour operators and travel agencies.

They all share a common goal and that is to visit the sights, feel and see the famous attractions of Saipan, Tinian and Rota and go back to their own places to produce articles and commercials to let the whole world know that the CNMI is a place worth visiting.
The visitors went to the famed locations such as the white sand beaches of Managaha Island, the scenic natural sites of the Grotto, Bird Island, Suicide Cliff and Banzai Cliff, the Korean Peace Memorial on Saipan, to the historical sites on Tinian and Rota. They sampled the optional tours available tours including arts and culture, dinner cruise, diving, eco/outdoor adventure, family activities, fishing, movie theatre, shopping, spa/fitness, sightseeing historical tours, water activities, wedding and honeymoon, and others.
They all experienced the uniqueness that spells the totality of the CNMI, and in return they have done their part in providing exposure to the islands to the rest of the world.
The success of all these fam tours are due to the efforts of the Marianas Visitors Authority through its managing director Perry Tenorio and the island’s tour agencies, hotel and restaurant operators and other sponsors who have worked with MVA to facilitate a smooth stay for the visitors.
From January to December this year, the CNMI has received over $1.7 million value of media exposure on TV, newspapers, magazines, radio and web site promotions. The products of the familiarization tours were targetted at millions of viewers, readers and listeners in the with the aim of attracting them to come and visit the CNMI.
With the visitor arrival figures steadily decreasing over the past years,
Here’s a glimpse of the exposures for this year based on information released by the MVA.


The popular East Asia boy band “TVXQ” was here from Jan. 13-17 to videotape an upcoming music video and SBS TV, one of the three major channels in Korea.


On Feb. 13, MVA hosted a familiarization tour from Asahi News Star, a cable and satellite news channel to introduce Tinian and Saipan as a destination for the senior market. It was also targeted to air on Yahoo! Japan. The estimated exposure value is $132,000.
On Feb.19, a tour group from from Busan, Korea packed in the sights of both Saipan and Rota. The group was composed of 12 tour agents and one representative each from newspaper Busan Ilbo, Saipan World Resort Korea office, Asiana Airlines, and the MVA Korea office.


CNMI was featured on air to 12 million radio listeners in Russia following a familiarization tour from representatives of Pevoe Popularnoe Radio in Moscow. The radio feature is valued at up to $100,000.
On March 13-17, an eight-member production team of the tourism channel “4S Charming” was here to produce 5-minute segments for the month of April. The show was targeted at over half a million viewers in 20 cities in China.
On March 21-26, a writer and photographer from Weekly Shinchou, a magazine reaching nearly 500,000 readers in Japan were here on a fam tour. The estimated value of the coverage is $54,000-$90,000
On March 23-27, reporters from Cosmopolitan, a monthly fashion magazine experienced numerous attractions for a supplement in Cosmopolitan Travel. The estimated value of the coverage is $102,000.


A six-member team from Brutus, a high-class fashion and lifestyle magazine in Japan visited Saipan for coverage introducing Saipan as a famous location for shooting covers. The approximate ad exposure value is $120,000.
Japan’s Body+ magazine, published monthly and reaches 70,000 readers, did a coverage of the January 2009 Winter Festival of Runs on Saipan and came back in April to do another 4-6 page feature with a publicity value of up to $76,000.


A 10-page coverage at an estimate ad exposure value of $45,000 was slated for Korea’s Singles Magazine in the Summer Special Travel Guide featuring destination travel information.
On May 29, the Housewives’ Life, a trend-setting Korean magazine targeting housewives slated four pages of coverage at an estimated exposure value of US$8,000.


Shape Magazine, a major Russian magazine reaching eight million readers was here to do a 6-page feature and an article on the magazine’s website. The estimated value of the article is US$250,000
From June 15-19, a five-member team from Japan’s Monthly Diving magazine was set to feature 10 pages of the CNMI’s year-round diving available sites at an estimated ad value of over $60,000.
Marine Diving, a monthly magazine with a circulation of 170,000 in Japan covered the first Flipper Race held at Managaha on June 20. The estimated exposure value of the article is over $39,000.


On July 3-7, 28 media outlet representatives from Guangzhou, China were here on a fam tour.


Nine media outlets from China were here on a fam tour on Aug. 8, including the Shanghai TV Station with a viewership of over 100 million, website integrated CCTV channel U.CCTV.com, Sina.com, video sharing website Youku.com, travel guidebook Gootrip Magazine, magazine Elite Traveler, newspaper journal The Labor Daily, Metro DM, and flight magazine The Moment. The total estimated value of exposure from this fam tour was over $58,000.


Six Russian media outlets visited CNMI on a 10-day fam tour last Sept. with an estimated ad value of US$458,000.


NS Homeshopping cable station and JAUTOUR of Korea visited the NMI to film a TV commercial advertising travel packages to this tropical resort destination. The one-hour commercial and interactive buying program, set to air on Oct. 31 has an estimated ad exposure value of $40,000.


Writers and photographers from the Chinese Kunming TV Tourist Channel were here to do a coverage set to air this month. The station reaching over one million households which was set to air this month.
The CNMI was slated to receive 15 minutes of prime time TV coverage each week last month on the Yel-Arna TV channel, owned by the Khabar Agency. The coverage was targetted to reach an audience of 13 million potential travelers, with an estimated exposure value of over USD $67,000.
Last month, MVA also hosted two media personnel from Delta Airline’s in-flight magazine SKY. Saipan will be featured in the January/February 2010 issue of SKY, with an estimated total ad value of $65,000.


MVA and the Japan Saipan Travel Association hosted the annual Marianas Tourism Academy 2009 for 56 travel agents and media representatives from major cities across Japan recently attended the annual from Dec. 7-11. The Marianas Tourism Academy aims to give the travel industry affiliates a chance to familiarize themselves with attractions, activities and facilities in the islands.
MVA and the rest of the community hopes that the seeds sown through hosting numerous fam tours will grow and will result to more tourists here in the future.
(This article was first published HERE)

Santa’s going to be broke

GONE are the days when kids look forward to waking up on Christmas morning to find their stockings filled with teddy bears, toy trucks and trains and Barbie dolls.

In fact, Santa Claus may have to fire his elves unless they have gone to graduate school over the past 11 months and took master’s degree classes to keep abreast with the latest trends on children’s wishes.
I haven’t noticed the transition but the trend of children’s wishes has gone high tech. In Friday’s issue of the Marianas Variety, an article came out where second graders from a school posted letters for Santa Claus with their wishes.
Santa has also got to be patient because almost all of the kids are asking things in exchange for being good, or for promising to be good upon delivery of the goods.
Here are excerpts of some of the kid’s letters.
Dear Santa, I want:
…a laptop and a Limo
…a laptop because every time I want to use our computer my sister is online. I also want lots of presents and an i-Pod.
… an i-Pod.
… a laptop and an i-Pod.
… a big computer.
…an X-Box 360 for Christmas.
…a watch for my dad, necklace for me and I want to be rich.
…a SPS and a car and a Happy Christmas.
…a DS and a big nice gift.
…a DS nintendo that can take pictures.
…a DS, color pink.
…a PSP and Ostrich Joshua
…a panda
…one of your presents (laptop)
…a sportscar
…toys, and i-Pod, Wii and PSI and laptop
…a car like a Mustang
…telephone and a computer and a new DSI and Barbie printer
…X-Box again and new games
…a pink i-Pod because I helped Mom and Dad
…a unicorn
…laptop, or DSI, or Wii or new PSP.
…give me a big house and I will be a good girl.
…give me a DSI and a lot of money and a laptop, and I wish I were smart, blond, pretty and white
(Santa don’t forget to bring your beauty and make-over kit)
…to go to the North Pole. Now this is one wish which may require Santa to put up a travel agency.
A couple of kids are more practical and wished for school supplies “because I’m good” and a big bike and a pack of pencils and a desk and a computer and five books “because I have been trying my best to be good.”
And finally, here’s one that would surely make Santa Claus feel wanted.
…I want Santa for Christmas. I would like to see him in person.
I guess Santa can breathe a sigh of relief because this is from a second grader, otherwise if the wish is from an adult he should not relax because he may be presented with a long list of wants and wishes after the courtesies and niceties.
At the base of the 30-foot Christmas tree at the Paseo de Marianas are colored ribbons with wishes written on them in different languages. Here are some to mention a few. I wish:
…for a better life
…to improve in school
…for Dora
… for more jobs
…for a bike and a boyfriend (in that order?)
…for world peace
…for a better future for my son
…for a great voice
…to have money.
And a thousand other wishes more. Santa Claus has some options to continue distributing gifts in the future. He could go to the Legislature to present a budget for next Christmas, write a grant application to the federal government, or retire from service but not here because he may not be getting any retirement benefits just yet.

(This article was first published HERE)

Guitarist, 2 girls donate hair to Locks of Love

Guitarist Badjoe Maestro and Manzanares sisters Macy(left) and Sydney shows their locks of hair
ready for donating to Locks of Love at the Hair Dimensions Saloon.

IT took a few snips for three individuals to bid goodbye to their long hair which will be donated to disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

Guitarist Badjhoe Maestro as well as sisters Sydney and Macy Manzanares had their hair cut at the Hair Dimensions Saloon on Saturday.
Federal court reporter Patricia Garshak encouraged the three to donate their hair to Locks of Love, a public, non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the states and Canada under age 21.
Maestro donated 12 inches of his hair while Sydney and Macy donated 10 inches of hair each.
The girls’ mother, singer Joan Cabrera, said she showed them photos of the children who lost their hair due to medical conditions.
“After seeing the pictures from the Web site, the girls said they are willing to donate their hair,” Cabrera said.
“I’m not sorry that I cut my hair. All my friends have short hair,” 6-year-old Sydney said.
Macy, 7, said that she is happy to donate her hair because “it will grow again.”
Garshak printed out certificates from the Locks of Love Web site and framed them with the girls’ names.
The three hair donors got a lot of support from friends and from the Hair Dimensions staff Vanessa Nabual, Mike Iscat and Rey Belgado who applied the finishing touches to their new haircut.
Garshak placed the cut hair in separate Zip lock bags which will be placed in padded envelop and mailed to Locks of Love in Florida.
Locks of Love uses donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics to help restore the self-esteem and confidence of the children and enable them to face the world.
Anyone can donate hair as long as they follow the guidelines. Colored or permed hair is acceptable. The hair should be clean, dried and bundled in a ponytail or braid before cutting. Hair is needed from men and women, young and old, all colors and races.
Garshak said she is hoping others will follow the examples of Maestro and the Manzanares sisters to give hope to those children who have lost their hair. She is also urging saloons and beauty parlors to donate their services to possible hair donors.
All hair donations must be mailed to Locks of Love at 234 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL 33405. For more information, visit www.locksofhair.org.

(This article and photo were published HERE)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Beauty in antiques

The economic crisis is no excuse not to enjoy the beauty found in things such as antique Fu Dogs & Qi store manager Marlon Regaton holds a Chaktra Tebitan singing bowl.collections and unique works of art.

On Saipan, one place to go to which holds a rare collection of antique objects is the Fu Dogs & Qi (pronounced chi) at the ground floor of the Marianas Business Plaza in Susupe. Step into the store and you will be transported into a totally new world, a world where antiquity and the beauty of art rules.
Paintings from 19th Century Japanese artist Hiroshige and other framed artworks hang on the walls, adding to the quaint atmosphere of the store. A long rack holding Japanese kimonos occupy one portion near the entrance.
Other Asian antiques come from China, Japan, Korea and Tibet. Many things were carried out of China and into Tibet.
Fu Dogs & Qi carries various displays of Asian antiques, art prints, textiles, and more. Check out the most popular products like the Jade/Sterling Silver Pendulum, Chakra Tibetan Singing Bowls, antique Ming Dynasty blue & white porcelain charger, Qing Dynasty bronze figure 3-legged censer, vintage Qing Dynasty 18th Century Amber Dragon Phoenix vase, Breta Matson’s fused glass art, antique China Ming Dynasty Bronze Lotus Buddha incense burner, and a pair of bronze carving Foo Kylin statue.
Here is a store whose shelves display objects containing volumes of history, mute witnesses to events and people of centuries ago.
One set that caught my eyes is a China tea set which store manager Marlon Regaton said dates back to the early 1900s.
“These tea cups and saucers were handpainted and is one of the collector’s items here,” Regaton said.
He added that the store owner, Ashley Moffatt-Uys (Uys is pronouced “ace”) is an art consultant and interior designer who conceptualized Fu Dogs & Qi and made all the selections work together in harmony.
Wandering around the store, I got the rare chance to inspect several pieces of art made from precious metals, brass, bronze, many of which had been buried in the ground for years and years.
I felt stress slowly slipping away as I reverently caressed the beautiful treasures that have survived for several years. It helped me to appreciate the finer things of life even for just for a few moments.
If only the objects can talk, what stories they have to tell!
Moffatt-Uys coined the name Fu Dogs & Qi from Chinese phrases Fu Dogs, which means symbolic guardians of temples, and Qi, which means energy or “life energy that inhabits all things.”
Since they opened in November last year, the antique store has seen a huge number of customers consisting not only of tourists but locals, too.
Fu Dogs and Qi is offering discounts on several items everyday.
“We would like the people to enjoy art and bring these works of art home with them,” Regaton said.
He said that they are waiting for a shipment of beautiful and unique furniture to be added to the store displays very soon.
Still thinking of what to give a loved-one this Christmas? You can drop by Fu Dogs & Qi and pick up something that your loved-one will appreciate.
For more information, visit http://www.fudogsaipan.com or call 670 235-9996.

(This article was first published HERE)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

For your ears only

DO you often ask people to repeat themselves? Do you have to turn up the television louder than is comfortable for others? Do you always assume that most people are mumbling? If you answer yes to these questions, chances are you may be suffering from some signs of hearing loss.

Try stuffing your ears with earplugs to shut all noise for a few minutes. You may enjoy the silence, but when somebody starts to talk to you, you won’t be able to understand because you can’t hear him or her.
Individuals who don’t have hearing problems may take everything for granted, but not everyone is lucky.
Jennifer Ross, a Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist who had been dispensing hearing aids on Guam and the surrounding islands of the Marianas and Micronesia said that hearing loss will affect everyone based on a lot of factors.
Ross had been evaluating hearing and fitting hearing aids for those who have problems in hearing loss for 17 years.

Causes of hearing loss

The most common cause of hearing loss is aging and this will affect almost everyone at some degree if they live long enough. Ross said that the age of onset varies.
Other causes of hearing loss are either from sudden and excessive noise exposure such as from a firearm blast, or fireworks, or from prolonged noise exposure such as occupational noise from airplane engines, power tools, and even loud music over time.
Although she did not provide statistics as to the number of children born with hearing impairments, Ross said she has found a significant number of people in need of better hearing as a result of aging, noise exposure, genetic conditions, or other related medical conditions in Guam and Saipan.
Ross said that people under the age of 18 should initially have their hearing evaluated by an audiologist.
“To the best of my knowledge, there is an audiologist and an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor available on Saipan at CHC, as well as a visiting audiologist from Guam on occasion,” she said.
Ross added that everyone with hearing concerns should have a medical evaluation, preferably performed by an ENT physician who specializes in diseases of the ear.
Ross said that hearing evaluations should be done as a regular general health prevention check-up, annually if you are within the high-risk group for developing hearing loss.
“A high risk group would mean people over the age of 50, people exposed to occupational or recreational noise exposure, people with a family history of hearing loss, or anyone who might suspect hearing loss in themselves, or others close to them,” she said.

Ringing in your ears

“Ringing in the ears” is a condition called tinnitus, and may or may not be related to hearing loss.
“If you have no trouble hearing, but experience ringing sounds in your ears you should consult with a physician, as this may be a sign of a medical condition,” Ross said.
She added that if an individual experiences “ringing in the ears” as well as a hearing loss, and he or she has already had a medical evaluation to rule out a medical condition related to the ringing, then hearing aids may provide some relief by masking the ringing sound they are experiencing.
Ross provides hearing testing for the adult population who have already had a medical examination to rule out medical complications that may be related to their hearing loss.

Hearing instruments

To help people who are suffering from hearing loss problems, Ross dispenses the latest digital technology available in hearing instruments, as well as a full line of assistive listening devices such as television and telephone amplifiers.
She also has available alerting devices for the deaf such as flashing doorbells, flashing telephone ringers, flashing baby crying alerts, and others.
The price range for assistive listening devices and advanced digital hearing aids varies greatly; some insurance provides partial to full coverage.
You may be buried beneath piles of money but if you are deaf or suffer from hearing loss, your wealth will mean nothing.

Test procedure

Ross said that if a hearing test determines that you have hearing loss, and you have been medically cleared from any contributing medical condition that may be causing your hearing loss, then you have to follow the test procedure to have hearing aids:
Ross said that a trial of amplification will be done immediately to determine if hearing aids are beneficial to you. Next, the style of hearing aid will be recommended. In some cases it is a personal choice of cosmetic appeal. Some hearing aids are more discreet than others, meaning less noticeable, but it depends on the degree of hearing loss, the anatomical size of the ear canal, the dexterity of the person wearing the instrument, and other factors.
Third, Ross said that hearing aids are dispensed on a trial basis.
“Hearing aid usage and satisfaction is highly subjective and each person benefits differently, depending on the severity of the hearing loss, the length of time they have had hearing loss, and the conditions in which they will use hearing aids,” Ross said.
Ross visits Saipan to provide hearing care about once every four to six 6 weeks to create more awareness about hearing loss and present remedies available to those who experience this condition.
As an early Christmas gift, she will be here on Friday (Dec. 18) to provide hearing tests at no charge to those who have no insurance.
“Once your hearing is damaged from noise, it is not possible to recover it. Prevention of hearing loss is the best remedy!” Ross said.
In order to determine if you have hearing loss and may benefit from hearing instruments, please schedule an appointment at Marianas Medical Center by calling 234-3925 to 3927.
(This article was first published HERE)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Meet the CNMI-ARRA grant writers

WHETHER it’s well-paved roads, improved water and power supply, additional nutritional assistance programs, housing projects and all other benefits that the CNMI is enjoying — these did not all fall from the skies when everybody was asleep. A lot of work and effort is involved before the funding is released and actually transform into actual projects the residents can benefit from.
As of October 2009, the CNMI has been awarded $69, 010,050 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. There are still lots of CNMI-eligible programs and millions of total funds in ARRA that can be availed of through various grants.
The opportunities are there, but who’s going to tap what potential funding is available, and what the CNMI’s priorities are?

Standing, from left, Christopher F. Fryling, ARRA PIO/IT and communications manager Winfred Camacho, Commerce secretary Michael Ada and John Furey. Seated, from left are Laurie Peterka, ARRA project coordinator Geri Willis and ARRA administrative manager Alfreda P. Camacho.

Grant writers

ARRA project coordinator Geri Willis said that choosing from among the applicants for grant writers was not that simple.
Laurie Peterka, Christopher F. Fryling and John Furey are the three individuals who were chosen from several applicants who applied for the grant writer’s slots advertised by the Department of Commerce in March this year.
Willis said the applicants were asked to submit several pages of proposal with their background, experience, involvement in projects and ability to meet several other requirements.
“The proposals were reviewed and scored before finding out who qualified for as grant writers,” Willis said.
Peterka said that the grant writers’ primary function is to seek various types of funding from the federal and opportunities and provide a report or listing of grant opportunities to various agencies they are assigned to and get instruction from directors of these agencies which are handling the projects.
“Some of the grants we’ve written are now being used in the application process,” Peterka said.
Fryling, who had been involved with federal grants as an architect in Florida said that as grant writers, they have to overcome all hurdles like land certification, regulations, and other issues involved in the research of a project before they can start writing a proposal.
Fryling said that they have to be alert for other potential grants all the time although they may be working on one project at a time.
“For instance we are working on a grant application project for CUC, and we come across a grant for clean diesel. It may not be directly related but it fits with our project so we will work on it,” he said.
For Furey, grant writing is interesting albeit complicated.
“It allows us to be able to address some important needs and all of us are citizens who use power, water and electricity, roads and all services that are expensive,” he said. In short, he said that they help the government identify resources to address these needs so everybody get better services.
These grant writers work as a team to assist those agencies who don’t have writing teams for grants.
Although there are some agencies that do have grant writers, the Department of Commerce can still offer assistance.
“We’re hired to keep our eyes open for potential projects that have the most potential for funding we don’t want to miss anything,” Peterka said.
She added that when they learned that ARRA funding was going to come out, they made a priority list and got everyone of the agencies on the list to contribute a list of primary projects which were narrowed for potential applications which had potential funding in those areas.

Tight time frame

The grant writers have only about two to three weeks window when a funding announcement comes out to work all the details and have everything ready to apply for a particular grant.
“If we didn’t have the projects ready to roll, we would miss the opportunity to get it because it takes weeks of researching before writing a grant,” Peterka said.
A grant writer’s job is critical because a very small word they might have missed in an entire paragraph could change the dynamic of what they are trying to achieve.
The grant writers said that “it’s not as simple as people think otherwise anybody can do and will do it.”
Excellent communication skills, both written and oral is a necessity because if you don’t know how to communicate and take the information you’ve gotten from the agency you are writing the grant for and put it correctly to the funding agency, you won’t get what you’re asking for.
Furey even urged the students to go to school and specialize in grant application writing and research.

Complex job

Department of Commerce secretary Michael Ada said that grant writing is very complex.
“The devil is in the details and the grant writers have to balance the work between looking at what agencies need and at areas most likely inclined to be awarded,” he said.
He added that several agencies like the CUC, DLNR, DPS, Customs and others have several needs but don’t have the time to write grant applications.
“These agencies have projects that are ripe for awards and this is where we come in and help,” Ada said.
“This is a whole new experience for the department. Some of the agencies don’t have grant writers so by creating this position we will be able to maximize the resources,” Ada added.
He said that one of the biggest challenges they face is telling people and making them understand how the applications for grants are being done.
He said that there may be plenty of CNMI-eligible projects for ARRA funding, but certain conditions have to be met before an application is even submitted.
“One thing we have to look for is the conditions of possible grants. For instance a grant is available but we are required to match it with cash, and we don’t have it so we won’t apply for it,” Ada said.
He added that there are also conditions that require a portion should be in loan, or that the government will be obligated by the funding agency to meet certain expectations for a number of years.
“For example, if the Department of Public Safety is going to hire new police officers and they can’t afford to pay the payroll past the grant, theoretically we’re in violation of the grant because if we can’t meet the obligation for the 5-year period, we don’t qualify,” he said.
To sum it up, both Ada and Willis said that the role grant writers play in pursuing possible federal funds is so important because only a few could be awarded grants out of so many applicants.
For opportunities or more information, visit www.cnmiarra.net.
(This article was first published HERE)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Survival tips to minimize weight gain during the holidays

The holiday season is here, and with it comes numerous parties with tons of food that could make Photo by Raquel C. Bagnolone forget his or her diet.

Food plays a vital part of many holidays, family celebrations and cultural traditions.
As the holidays present the perfect time for families and relatives to get together, you could not shake your head to refuse invitations that comes your way. If you don’t learn the meaning of “moderation” but just give in to the temptation of gorging up on all the bounties laid on the table on every party, prepare for the day of reckoning.
You may have not worked out the excess weight you have gained during Thanksgiving, and come January, when all parties are over, you think that all that is left are photos and memories of the feasts you have partaken of but you’re wrong.
You gasp in dismay as you step on the scale and hear groaning, not from you but from the scale. Sounds familiar?
Registered dietician Dianne C. Esplin, the Women, Infants and Children’s Clinic Manager said that you can indulge in the holiday feasts without having to feel guilty afterward, as long as you stick to some rules. Here are some tips Esplin recommends to follow.
*Fill your plate with colorful vegetables and fruits.
*Minimize the sauces, gravies and fried foods.
*Have a green salad with a light dressing, and a large glass of water as a first course to take the edge off of your hunger.
*Don’t deprive yourself of things you like, but have a small serving or “just a bite”.
*Beware of appetizers. You can overdo it on really fast on those fried or creamy tidbits. Have one and savor it.
This may be easier said than done, especially for sweet-toothed individuals and appetizers are usually served in such mouth-watering presentations it’s hard to say no, but just be careful not to overdo it.
The sad part is the excess weight you gain between Thanksgiving and the New Year parties tend to stay. It’s so easy to acquire excess weight but so hard to work them off.
Finally, keep in mind that there are more important things in parties than food. Relax and go around, greet friends you haven’t seen for a while and make new acquaintances.

(This article was first published HERE)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Art expressions

Three different persons, three varying fields of art but they all believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

This belief is what makes leaf painter Ernie David, artist illustrator Greg Bacnis and graphic designer/ illustrator Romy Cal tick as they share the artistic, natural talents they were endowed with.
The regular art exhibits of different organizations provide a venue for these local artists to showcase their artworks and connect with buyers at the same time, and these three artists shared a booth during the annual Holiday bazaar held at the Palms Resort last month.
David pours his talent in painting island scenery, beach views, flowers, birds, fish and other attractions on skinless leaves. His best sellers are the smaller paintings which require days of patience and effort to paint the intricate details to make the painting look as realistic as possible.
Graphic designer/illustrator Romy Cal works with intricate designs to produce island souvenirs. His signature artworks are customized table names. For as low as $6 with a minimum of seven letters, you can order colorful table names made of wood and designed with latte stones or other designs. The table names can be ordered with memo pad and pen holders. You could also order funny quotes instead of having your name.
Artist/illustrator Greg Bacnis is into pastel painting, charcoal and arts. His portraits vibrate with life, and his paintings are the products of commitment and dedication that would make you proud to hang on your walls.
These artists rely on their moods and inspirations to complete a work of art. An artwork could be finished in hours, days, weeks or even months.
David can be contacted at tel. no. 670-235-5474; Bacnis at grebacs_3@yahoo.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and Cal at tel. nos. 234-6278/79, 233-8030 or email him at rmcal@yahoo.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

(This was first published HERE)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Washable moments: Did you wash your hands today?

It could be a handshake from a friend or stranger. It could be from turning numerous door knobs in the office, rest rooms, stores and public buildings, picking up the telephone or pushing elevator buttons. These are just some of the things that your hands do and come into contact with everyday.

What you may not have paid closer attention to is that behind these routines lurk millions of germs that are transmitted from one individual to another. When you come in contact with germs, simply touching your eyes, nose or mouth will spread the infection much faster.
Hand washing is a hygiene practice parents hammer on your tender mind even before you learn how to walk. And remember as kids how we don’t always listen and follow the same instructions everyday? We thought our parents have nothing better to do but nag, nag and nag us to wash our hands.
When we were old enough to go to school, we thought we were free from the constant reminders to wash our hands but we were in for a disappointment because right from day one, hand washing is again taught like it is being a part of the kindergarten curriculum. There is no escape and no graduation because the situation is reversed when you have kids of your own and it is your turn to teach your kids the importance of hand washing.
In a nutshell, hand washing is one practice that everybody should do because it is unquestionably a very simple way and the most important tool to prevent the spread of infection and illnesses.

Hand washing campaign to combat flu virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends frequent hand washing to especially help prevent the spread of the H1N1 flu virus.
The CDC stressed that if people don’t wash their hands as often as possible, the probability of picking up germs from other sources and then infect themselves is great.
“You’re at risk every time you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. In fact, one of the most common ways people catch colds is by rubbing their nose or their eyes after the cold virus has gotten on their hands,” CDC stated.
In the CNMI, the Department of Public Health personnel are going full force in their campaign to combat the spread of the H1N1 flu virus with hand washing as the first step toward prevention.
The Public Health last month reported a slight increase in seasonal flu cases, and they are expecting more cases toward the yearend and up to early next year.
DPH program analyst Roxanne Diaz said that in anticipation, they are going all out campaigning against the flu in all schools. The 5-step flu-WATCH campaign starts with hand washing, Diaz said.
“We could never stress the importance of hand washing enough, not only to kids but for adults to make it a habit,” she said.
Washing your hands is like creating a first line defense against any attack of germs, and everybody needs that defense.

How to wash your hands

Use warm water if it is available and soap to wash your hands.
Make a lather by rubbing your hands together and scrub all surfaces.
Continue scrubbing your hands for 15 to 20 seconds each time. If you need a timer, the CDC recommends that you imagine singing “Happy Birthday” twice and you’re done.
Rinse your hands well under running water.
Use a paper towel or air dryer to dry your hands after washing.
If soap and clean water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand rub or hand sanitizers to clean your hands.

When to wash your hands

As kids graduate into adulthood, they don’t need to be told to wash their hands anymore but come to think of it, how many times do you actually wash your hands in a day? Only when you take a bath or use the washroom? The technique is not to keep count of how many times you wash your hands, but to make it a habit or a routine practice for you and for everyone else in the family, especially:
• Before preparing, cooking or eating
• After using the bathroom
• After cleaning around the house
• After touching animals, even family pets
• Before and after visiting or tending sick family members, friends or relatives
• Before and after treating an open wound or a cut
• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
• After staying outside from working, playing, handling garbage, etc.
• After changing your child’s diapers or after cleaning a child who came from the bathroom.
Never under-estimate the power of hand washing! Clean hands save lives and the few seconds you spend at the sink every now and then could save you trips to the doctor and spare you from spending hundreds of dollars in medical bills. Make that trip to the sink now and start saving your life!
(This article was published HERE)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

People, things, places and events to be thankful for in 2009

Whew, a year has passed and editor Zaldy once again asked us to submit our thank you list for the Thanksgiving issue. There are no major changes in my list last year, save for some new people, events and items to be thankful for. My list is in italics, from #5 to 9.


__________________________ ______________________

THIS is a thankless year — unless you’re an administration official or crony.

Things are certain to get worse and the next local elections are three long years away. But then again, there is more to life than politics and a dying economy. Indeed, amazingly, there is still a lot to be thankful for. Moreover, deadline is approaching and we’ve to put something on this page, so here then is the Variety’s legendary 15th annual Thanksgiving list. The items, as usual, are not necessarily arranged in order of importance.

Praise the Lord and hand us that bottle of Tanduay please.
1) Jobs
2) Paydays
3) The CNMI will have a new governor…in 2015
4) Junhan says “for the bliss each day, I sing my appreciation and shout my gratefulness to our READERS. You are the champion.”
5) Raquel thanks Chikka, YM, e-mail, Facebook and PTI phone cards for bridging the distance from Saipan to Cotabato, to her family for the inspiration to hang on Facebook (again) for keeping her “connected” and for resurrecting high school classmates whom she hasn’t heard from in decades, to everything that keeps her world rolling — Internet, cable TV, remote control, Iconnect’s radio/cellphone, garage sales, e-bay, Google, coffee sachets, turon, halo-halo and ice cubes.
6) The creators of Farm Town, Farmville, Café World, FishVille, Yoville, Roller Coaster Kingdom, Barn Buddy, Bejeweled and other games that keep her up and kicking every night until 5 a.m.
&) She is also grateful to buddies Jeanette, Arnold and Andrew for the unplanned trips, movies, DVD marathon, “chow” times and for all the midnight and past-midnight adventures, Andrew again for the desktop invasions, long-existing friends Bobong Quiñones, Ben T., Jepoi, Rex, Wangyu, Sunstar people, Sir Tony, Davao media, Nazi, Agnes A. and Kristy guapa.
7) Robert for the memories that will always be here
8) Newsroom links Zaldy, Juneh, Junhan, Gemma, Krissy, Richelle, Tess for the “you know,” the art department, Vino for the subscriptions and the rest of the Marianas Variety people for adding “pressure” to the daily pressures.
9) Zak for his floundering attempts to pretend he’s still young and able to bark normally every night, an assurance that the barracks is not that deserted yet. Thank you!
10) Cindy Aldan says: “I’d like to thank God for the blessing of my baby boy. She’s also thankful “for having a supportive family that stood by me: BJ, MOM, DAD, NANAY & TATAY. Thanks to all my close friends: Victoria, Jen, Joey, Edbhy, Jem, and Rose Ann.”
11) Juneh: “First, thank you to my family, my mom, my sisters, for being understanding, to my papa doodles, mommy Rio (for the helping hand and for always cooking banana bread), daddy Sandie, Johnray, Ayi & Weng, to all members of Badminton, to all my friends, playing Farmville, Farmtown, Chef World. Thanks also to all editorial staff Gemma, Raquel, Cindy, Krissy, Andrew, Arnold, Richelle, zd and most especially tulindoy (Junhan), to the Younis family, to my friends outside, Atchie, Chammy, Zyra, RV, and special thanks to Bernice.”
12) Chelletot would want to “Thank Papa J for all the blessings he gave us, Variety management for the opportunity they opened for me, my colleagues, Sir Zaldy for the ‘sungit’ (hehe I’m learning though), kuyas and ates of editorial team, my mommy, daddy, fafa and oasis kulit.”
13) Gemma is “thankful for my family and friends. Thanks too to Radio Australia, AP, AFP, & Kyodo; Bright Maritime Corp.; attorney David Cohen; Human Rights Advocates Elsa Cheung & Wendy Doromal; Northern Marianas Congressman Gregorio Sablan; the Philippine and international media; Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and the Royal Dutch Navy; Betty; Juliet; Aries; Angie; Bhey; Weng; Myla; Alexie; Facebook friends and their friends; Cherrie; Virgie; Junhan; Raquel; Chammi; Tita Lits; Libay; Sallie & Rocelyn; Senate Clerk Doris Bermudes and staff Vicky; House Clerk Evelyn Fleming; Rep. Stanley Torres and staff Jessica & Esther; Speaker Arnold Palacios & Staff; Jojo Dass; LB staff; Laila, Marianas Variety & Staff; DPS PIO Jason Tarkong; former governor PIO Charles Reyes; SAPLR staff Nace, Michelle & Rose; sources, etc.”
14) Tina Sablan and Ed Propst
15) Saipan’s next mayor, Angelo Villagomez
16) Arnold says “thanks YAS for the dental, the BANMI for non-stop leagues, RGA and SGA for the monthly supply of score sheets, the NMI softball community — Chamolinian, Budweiser, Belau for the never-ending tournaments, SBA for the monthly roll-off results and the Saipan MMA family. Thanks also to Papa San of Maganda Utang and FPJ. Thanks to Cris for reformatting my computer. Thanks to attorney Maravilla and congrats to all my former Journal Union colleagues for winning the labor case. Thanks to the Journal Group for speeding up the sale of properties so they can pay us soon. Thanks also to zd.”
17) Ron Hodges, Rabby Syed, Greg Cruz
18) The election victories of Senator Reyes, Rep. Stanley and former Gov. Lang Tenorio
19) Charles P. Reyes Jr., Cinta M. Kaipat, Deanne Siemer, Howard Willens
20) Sen. Frica Pangelinan
21) The HA team
22) zd wants to thank the gang — Uly, Badjhoe, Paul, Patricia G., Ella, Joy, Jacq, Arnold, Andrew, Dia, Raq, Janet, Makoy, Julio, Ka Ed, Talitz, Ka Louie, Sally, Bino, Betong, Greg, Cris, Mike, Tekya, Prolayn, Ernie, Ka Max, Ka Nards, Jonathan Logtu, Jerty, Loids, Ariel and Khalil
23) Bobby Myers, wife and kids
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., Brad D., Jay S.
30) Miguel Dandan, his wonderful grandparents and ate Lisa
31) Whispering Palms School, its principal, teachers, students, parents
32) Miggy’s, Viralicci, Aliviera
33) Flame Tree Terrace
34) Gold’s Gym and its management, staff and patrons
35) Hollywood Theaters
36) In Plain Sight, Burn Notice, Monk, Psych, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, South Park, Reno 911, Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, History Detectives, Community, American Idol, The Office, 30 Rock, White Collar
37) Sarah Palin
38) Diet Pepsi & Coke Zero
39) Hollywood Video
40) Floyd and the Big Beats Band
41) Kevin’s Video
42) Zhen, Galvin & Velma
43) Jigz Barber Shop
44) zd and che say thank you to the Palmtrees, Jason and Mar-Vic, for being incredible hosts on Guahan
45) Ruby Tuesday, Horse & Cow, K-Mart, GPO, Micronesia Mall, the Tumon strip, Guam Fiesta Resort, Denny’s
46) Thank you Lolitsky of Guam!
47) Andrew says: “I wish to thank our good Lord for the continued blessings for my family and for all of us. Also, special mention to the Marianas Variety family. Thanks also to our news sources and would-be news sources who keep our community informed. Happy Thanksgiving to all! CHEERS!!!”
48) Godfather’s Bar
49) Emperador Brandy
50) Up Dharma Down
51) Che says thank you Kazu Nishida
52) Guam Variety editor Mar-Vic, who invented this list 14 years ago, says: thank you that we still have this list after all these years, lol!
53) My boys, nakni and ico, joining me and jason on guam next year
54) My gorgeous husband Jason Palmertree! Eat your hearts out! y’all!
55) Recently shipped old copy of Lin Yutang’s “Pleasures of a Noncomformist” from amazon.com
56) Being over 40 and still weighing under 100
54) Nick Pichay, Beret & John, Jeff Schorr, Pamela Mathis
55) Zaldy wants to thank the Variety’s 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) Manang Lilly’s siomai
58) Watermelon seeds
59) Cherrie Villahermosa of Palau says “thanks to all my friends in saipan: gems, alexie, chummy, andrew, raquel, junhan, juneh tita lits, noemi, teri, norleen, macoy, betong, jonathan, ferdie, cla, zd and the rest of the MV staff!”
60) KSPN’s election day coverage
61) iPod
62) Facebook
63) Friends of the Arts
64) The Joeten-Kiyu Public Library
65) YouTube
66) NPR’s music
67) J’s Restaurant
68) The CNMI held peaceful and orderly elections
69) Ayn Rand
70) Fox News Network
71) H-Mart
72) Best wishes to Aggie and Sebastian!
73) Joeten stores
74) Lucky De Store
75) Red Horse
76) red wine
77) MGD
78) Tanduay Rhum
79) The CNMI’s hardworking public servants
80) The poetry of Mookie Katigbak and Joel Toledo
81) Don DeLillo’s Mao II
82) NMI Humanities Council
83) John Banville’s The Sea
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 rosary
92) sleep
93) waking up
94) Levis
95) cereals
96) cell phones
97) Lipton tea
98) milk
99) Christmas approaches
100) The Variety’s readers and advertisers
(This was published HERE)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yoga for a healthier you

YOU see these groups of women and an increasing number of men before daybreak, after sunset or Certified yoga instructress Susan Baetge doing various yoga positions at Wing Beach. Contributed photosduring lunch break time trooping to the gym for an hour or so of yoga sessions.

These are individuals aged 25 to 67 who faithfully join the sessions each week armed with the goal of attaining total well being through yoga.
Yoga— what it is
Yoga certified instructor Susan Baetge said that yoga is a personal journey that brings you into greater harmony with your body.
She said that yoga is not about competition or a marathon.
“It not successful to try to stretch farther than others in the class, or to try and keep up with those who have been doing yoga longer,” she said.
She said that in yoga, you are getting the benefits as long as you pay attention to your body and challenge it without injuring it, and keeping your breathing.
“I encourage my students to come out of a posture or ease up if they are feeling any discomfort or pain. It’s more important to honor your body, no matter the age, then to try to do a yoga posture perfectly,” Baetge stressed.

How is it done

Yoga combines the breath with movement to create a purification of the mind and the body.
Baetge said that postures are held while focusing on the breath allowing the muscles to lengthen, and the body to open up.
“We work on training the mind to let go of all the daily thoughts, and focus only on the breath during practice bringing about a sense of peace and well being as well as lowering stress,” Baetge said.
She said that individuals who join yoga must wear clothes that are close fitting and are easy to move in so that the instructor can see where the body needs to be adjusted.
The students also use a yoga mat and a towel, and sometimes, props like a strap or belt, a block, or pillow to aid their bodies as they learn to stretch and open up.

No age limits

Yoga is open for all age groups but at her classes at the Palms Resort, Baetge recommends no younger than 14 years old.
“The key to yoga is in listening to your body and only pushing as far as your body wants you to that day,” she said.
“I have students from 23 to 67 years of age in my classes at the Palms Resort,” she added.
Baetge’s main classes are comprised mostly of females 25 – 40 years old but her “gentle classes” usually get ages 30 - 67.
As a preschool –third grade teacher, Baetge also teaches yoga to her students. She hopes to have a “mommy and me” yoga class sometime.
Baetge was trained in the Ashtanga Method but teach to the level and specifications of those in her classes.

Benefits of yoga

Baetge said that yoga is the Sanskrit word for Union. It developed in India over 5,000 years ago.
“There are many forms of yoga but they all focus on breathing, postures, and quieting the mind,” she said.
Yoga, she added, is the union between the mind body and spirit.
She said that yoga increases one’s flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination, and reduces stress, counteracts and depression.
She said that Yogi’s say “there is no disease, mental or physical that yoga can not cure.” She added that yoga is one effective way to make one look younger as it reverses the aging process.
In addition, she stated that yoga is an amazing compliment to any athletic routine, especially running, weight lifting, and all sports as it lengthens the muscles, opens the body up so it can better resist injury in high impact sports, and heal quicker.
Yoga also brings balance needed in sports such as soccer, surfing, kiting, basketball, and other sports, and it is available for all sizes and shapes.
“It can be a wonderful weight loss tool,” she said.

No excuses

Baetge said that one does not have to be flexible to start yoga.
“That is often an excuse I hear. Flexibility is a product of coming to a yoga class, a point of arrival,” she said. She added that she was not a big athlete before yoga.
“I was not a strong person, but yoga has changed my life my not only giving me balance of mind and body and spirit, but developing strength and confidence. I am amazed at how much my practice has changed from not being able to do a position to being able to do one at the next level,” Baetge said.
The key to yoga is to take it on a day by day, moment by moment basis.
“There are no comparisons in a yoga class because we are all made differently - our arms are different lengths, our torsos, our legs. There is no way that we will look exactly like our neighbor in a posture,” she said.
There is also no judgment in a yoga class.
“I am just the guide you are the one who knows how you are feeling physically and emotionally that day,” Baetge said.
She added that sometimes, just getting to the class and sitting on the mat is enough while on some days, you want to go all out and throw in extra postures.
“It is up to you as to what level you practice at. Yoga is a personal journey,” she added.

Yoga schedules

Baetge said she can accommodate up to 20 students in her Wednesday and Saturday morning and evening classes, but only up to 12 students during the lunch breaks.
Baetge said that more yoga enthusiasts come in on Wednesday afternoons, but the lunch break session is fast gaining popularity. Ideally, she said that it would be good to do yoga for three sessions a week.

What to bring?

Please bring with you a yoga mat, hand towel, a larger towel (to aid in adjustments) and a bottle of water. Try not to eat three hours before the class, or only have a light snack of fruit, or yogurt.
Gentle Yoga Lunch hour at the Palms Resort is on Tuesday and Thursday 12 noon. Wednesday evening classes are from 5:15pm - 6:30pm. Saturday schedule is from 9-10:30am. Classes are free for Palms members and $5 for non members.
Baetge also teaches yoga at Golds Gym in Garapan at 8:30 on Monday and Friday morning, and Monday evening at 6:15 pm.

At the Golds Gym, 10 class card is $50. The classes cost $2 for Golds Gym members. She said that Golds Gym is thinking of adding more evening classes as these are very popular.
Baetge is also available for workshops and private lessons, and she can teach yoga for 3-6 year olds. She can also do yoga for small groups or for children at any location. Baetge can be contacted at yogawavesaipan@gmail.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

This article was first published HERE

Monday, November 16, 2009

A look at CNMI’s real estate

This is a photo I took of the ruins of La Fiesta Mall in Tanapag which remains as a mute witness to
Saipan's days of glory. Photo taken from the 15th floor lobby of Palms Resort hotel.

MORE than a decade ago, Saipan was an island bustling with activity. Economy was at its peak, with new buildings and establishments sprouting all over the island. Houses, apartments and commercial buildings were filled and bursting at the seams.

About ten years after, the last of over 30 garment factories closed its doors and ended the era of what can be considered as Saipan’s “glory days.”
People are leaving the island in droves looking for better opportunities in other places, leaving residential and commercial buildings to ruins.
For the past years, “For RENT” signs mushroomed in buildings all over the island, adding glumness to the already bleak economic atmosphere.
Ronnie Hodges, a licensed real estate broker and auctioneer in the commonwealth said that the CNMI has “crumbled to the worst real estate in America, and arguably among the world’s worst, possibly edging out Antarctica for the title.”

Downward factors

Hodges said that the real estate market is considerably worse than five years ago although it’s tough to gauge in such a stagnant market.
“We have worsened economically for a myriad of factors that are well known by everyone here,” Hodges said.

Financing issues

He pointed out that financing issues is one factor, with the local banks taking depositor’s money and reinvesting it in Hawaii and Guam to stimulate their economies with commercial and residential developments.
“Perhaps the banks are jaded with our land alienation laws and history of protectionism,” he said.
Citing an example, Hodges said that when a bank does loan money here, and the borrower doesn’t pay his mortgage, there is a right of redemption.
In other words, this means no one can buy the land to start with, and if they loan money on it, the lending institution will have an incredibly long and expensive ordeal to repossess the property. He added that the lack of accurate appraisal may also be a factor in banks apprehensions about lending. Hodges added that maybe the banks are fed up and have now wised up.

Abundance of junk housing

Hodges said that the islands have a huge glut of junk housing that could be considered somewhere “between cheap and free” and most should be condemned and destroyed.
“We have limited quality housing and most of that is owner occupied and either not for sale, or very expensive,” he said.
On Saipan, Hodges said the ANAKS apartments in Puerto Rico may be the most expensive residential units or condos that offers long term lease between 75k and 250k depending on size and view angle. Residents of these apartments pay a monthly rate somewhere between $1,000 to $1,700, not including power and utilities from $700 to $1,000 but they have the advantages of security, potable water, location, and other amenities.

Risky investments

Hodges said that these factors and more make it difficult to build and make your investment productive as well.
He said that for example, when an individual borrows $200,000 to lease land and build a home, the general formula means his monthly payment is $1,000 per $100,000 borrowed. This means that he would need to rent that house at $2,000 per month to break even for time, trouble, and risk he spent on the investment.
“That is why we have little construction here,” Hodges said.
He added that Article 12, the controversial land ownership issue, is the most sensitive economic obstacle to success.
“Our economy will never improve until it is changed,” he said.

Declining homestead values

Hodges said that another local real estate concern is the steep decline in values in our homestead areas.
He said that wealthy people or affluent tourists generally will not reside in problem areas.
“Between the stray dog problems, crime and poor aesthetic appeal of our impoverished homesteads, the values have gone down,” Hodges said.
He added that the local people who have been penalized by the island’s protectionism are the locals who did the right thing by building nice improvements and maintaining their property. But these improvements suffered because their neighbors built tin shacks and plummeted every property in the areas value.
“Until that is addressed, our homestead residents will suffer from low property values,” Hodges said.

Chance to recover

But Hodges said that although the CNMI’s real estate portrays a bleak picture, there’s still a chance to recover.
“The future is in our own hands, now more than ever before. We have a few advantages – our uniqueness, geographical location, being small, and some degree of autonomy,” Hodges said, adding that some, like Bermuda for instance, have managed those same qualities into unimaginable wealth for their indigenous populace by exploiting their strengths.
He added that those qualities can be explosive but bureaucracy, corruption, and protectionism never create prosperity.
He said that the commonwealth’s strength should be an ability to adapt and change quickly to a rapidly changing world.

(First published HERE)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dining on steak and seafood

fish steak for lunch

THE search for the ultimate yet affordable steak and seafood on Saipan ends at Coco Restaurant, located right in the heart of Garapan.
The Coco Restaurant prides itself on being the only one on island which has a grill right inside the restaurant, and you can’t help but give in to the mouth-watering anticipation seeing the steak, fish or seafood you ordered being charcoal-grilled, juices dripping and cooked to perfection to however you want it ­— either medium rare, done, or well done.

From the outside, Coco Restaurant evokes a homey ambiance that promises a place to dine and melt away your stress at the same time.

medium rare steak

Lunch or dinner starts with a trip to the salad bar which boasts of a wide selection of fresh vegetables, sauces and dressings. At the salad bar, the “eat-all-you-can” rule holds.

As soon as your steak or seafood order is served, you can start digging into it and glory in each bite. The steak is heavenly, and so is the Mahi-Mahi grilled fish.

waiting for their turn at the grill

The last juicy bite of your steak or seafood is not the end of your meal. Cap your lunch or dinner with a cup of coffee or a scoop of ice cream for dessert.

Regular items on the lunch menu include New York steak, tenderloin steak, hamburger steak, local fish, seafood and teppanyaki, steak and lobster, and eat-all-you-can assortment from the salad bar, all ranging from $10 to $15.

dessert--a scoop of ube ice cream

Anniversary promo

For the first time, Coco Restaurant celebrates its anniversary and will treat its clients to huge discounts.

Steak and Seafood Coco Restaurant vice president Takayuki Hirosawa said that starting today (Oct.5) until Dec. 15, which is the restaurant’s 12th anniversary, Coco Restaurant offers a 50 percent discount, or $20 off on its New York Steak and mixed seafood Teppanyaki for dinner special. The orders include salad bar (unlimited), soup, and refillable rice or bread.

The 15-oz. steak is more than enough to fill a hungry stomach, and with sea foods shipped in from Japan, you will get your money’s worth, and more. They also offer a 50 percent discPhoto by Raquel C. Bagnolount on selected beers.

The Coco Restaurant can accommodate 100 persons and has three VIP rooms which seats 30, 12 and six people.

For reservations or more information, please call 670-233-2626, 234-3777, email info@cocosaipan.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit www.cocosaipan.com.

This article was originally published HERE


Visiting this restaurant on a hungry stomach is enough to make you crazy, what with the charcoal grill resembling a firestone permeating delicious smells as the juices of the steak and seafood dribbles and sizzles onto the charcoal. I ordered the fish steak lunch special- grilled mahi-mahi with baked potato and rice. My companions Jeanette, Arnold and Andrew all went for the steak. I got a taste of Andrew's well-done steak just the same by bartering a slice of my mahi-mahi. Very satisfying lunch indeed, if only we had all the time in the world to linger over coffee but then it was 2 p.m. and lunchtime was finished. oh maybe, next time!

Friday, October 2, 2009

A taste of Korea at the Hyatt Regency

DINERS who crave fAn assortment of Korean dishes. Photos by Raquel C. Bagnolor Korean cuisine are in for ten days of a mouth-watering feast as Hyatt Regency Saipan celebrates the Chuseok festival at its Kili Café & Terrace.

To give its diners a taste of authentic Korean cuisine and bring the spirit of “Chuseok”, a Korean thanksgiving celebration here, Hyatt Regency has brought in two chefs from the Hyatt Regency Incheon.

“From Oct. 1 to 10, diners at the Kili Café & Terrace will be treated to a wide selection of authentic Korean buffet prepared by two chefs from Korea,” Hyatt Regency Saipan’s executive chef Gabrielle Colombo said.

Kyoung-Yoon Jeong and Kim Tae Hoon arrived on Saipan on Tuesday and will be staying until Oct. 11.

The two chefs said that the diners can expect a variation of Korean dishes every night.

Colombo said that Hyatt Regency Saipan’s restaurants host various festivals throughout the year, but it has been some years since they brought in chefs from other countries.

“This time, we would like to bring Korea here to make our diners enjoy the true taste of Korean cuisine,” Colombo said.

Joong brings with him six years of experience at the Hyatt Regency Incheon while Kim has been with the hotel for the last four years.

But the two chefs had been assigned in other Hyatt hotels in Thailand, Philippines and other countries before.

Colombo invites the community not to miss dinner times at the Kili Café & Terrace and indulge into the chef’s creations like a spicy Korean Hot Pot, marinated grilled meats and seafood, and traditional dishes like Bulgogi beef stew and Kimchi pancakes.

He said the dining at the Kili Café for the Chuseok festival is a rare experience that cannot be equaled to dining in a Korean restaurant here.

“It’s an eat-all-you-can, drink-all-you-can feast on Korean dishes that you shouldn’t miss, and the food choices are endless,” Colombo said.

Included in the Chuseok festival dinner buffet is a wide selection of appetizers like assorted organic greens with choices of dressing and condiments, Shitake mushrooms muchin, Bulgogi mixed salad, Korean beef tartare, fresh tofu salad, Japchae, glass noodle salad and various kimchi.

The seafood bar carries reef red sashimi, seared bonito tuna, spicy lime dip, green mussel, snow crab, fresh Pusan oyster, fresh river shrimp, lemon wedges, miso bean dip, mignonette, wasaby cocktail sauce and spring onion sauce. The live cooking station offer diners assorted Korean pancakes with dipping sauce and seafood bibimbam rice.

The hot selection bar carries steamed rice with selected beans, braised chicken with spicy vegetables, Angus beef with rib stew with soy sauce, fried squid with chili sauce, and grilled autumn vegetables with marinated garlic. Top off your meal with tempting delights from the dessert bar—a selection of traditional Korean sweets and desserts.

The Chuseok dinner buffet at the Kili Café is open from 6 to 10 p.m. from Oct. 1 to 10 for $35 per person. For reservations and more information, call 234-1234 extension 26.

This article was first published at the Marianas Variety Oct. 2,2009 issue.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Going underwater at Managaha Island

Managaha Island
Photos by Kotaro Tsujino
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale, exhale! C’mon you can do it. Practice breathing through your mouth!
This was the first time I was given breathing lessons and I was finding it hard with the mask on my face, over two pounds weight tied to my waist and an oxygen tank strapped to my back.

Two dive instructors from the Aquaconnections dive shop checked our progress as they gave me and my three office mates Jeanette, Arnold and Andrew a crash course in scuba diving. I had wanted to try diving for a long time but always backed out at the thought that I would be required to learn how to swim first. Photo by Raquel C. Bagnol

There I was, drowsy after a leisurely lunch and dragging my heavy body into the pristine waters of Managaha Island one Saturday afternoon, asking myself if I could really do it.

I had visions of taking Scuba Diving 101 and undergo hours of classroom instruction where we will be introduced into the different diving gear and their uses and be given time to practice wearing them on dry land before being launched into the water. I had tried snorkeling a couple of times in Davao and in Palau but snorkeling was different.

But there we were, doing a few minutes of underwater breathing exercises and before we knew it, our instructors were guiding us deeper beneath the huge waves, holding onto the ropes to stay together.

For first timers, we sure picked up a windy day where strong currents make diving difficult but we didn’t know that yet. We held on to the ropes as lifelines as we edged our way down into the deep. (well, not that deep at 8 feet, but for a non-swimmer like me, it sure was deep!)

Our instructors monitored us, checking if we were doing okay and gauging our breathing by the bubbles we made. We had to give them the "ok" signal with our hands from time to time.

I was exhilarated thinking I was actually scuba diving when suddenly, everything went dark and all I saw were strands of dark floating things covering my mask. I forgot to breathe through my mouth and I then remembered that I was a non-swimmer. What was I doing underwater when I can't even float a meter's distance? Panicking, I flailed my arms and tried to surface. A dive instructor immediately assisted me and pushed me to the surface where huge waves tossed me around. He told me to relax and turned me face up on the water as I took in huge gulps of air. I realized my hair had gone loose and covered my mask but after I fixed my hair, I assured my instructor I was definitely going down again.

I forgot all kinds of fear when we reached our destination. Multi-colored fishes swam toward us and around a bed of corals we couldn’t help but reach out to touch them. Everything was just beautiful.

We stayed down for about 25 minutes before our dive instructors signaled us to go back. It was a first experience which just spurred my interest to go diving again.

Completing our scuba diving experience was photographer and diving instructor Kotaro Tsujino of Underwater Adventures who documented our first attempts at diving. Tsujino said he had been photographing and taking underwater video of divers for several years, including events like underwater weddings. He can be contacted at 670-322-0599 or email him at otanog@pticom.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Our dive instructors from the Aquaconnections were Youme Sharry and Takehiro Fukuya but they have two other instructors—Tohru Narita and Donato Beside. You can visit www.saipan-aquaconnections.com or email them at aquainc@pticom.com for more informationThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Diving at Managaha Island is indeed an experience you would like to do again and again!

To get to Managaha Island, call Tasi Tours & Transportation Inc. at (670) 234-7148, fax (670) 235-7141 or email managahatasi@tasitours.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

This article was first published HERE

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hot & Spicy Wednesday nights at the Palms

IF the craving for something spicy and hot-hot-hot hits you, the place to be is at the PauPau Bar of Palms Resort Saipan on Wednesday nights.

A wide selection of hot & spicy dishes. Photo by Raquel C. Bagnol

A wide selection of hot & spicy dishes.

Last Wednesday, the restaurant launched its “Hot, Hot and Spicy night” theme with a full buffet of the hottest and spiciest dishes you could ever find in the island.

Palms Resort Saipan Executive Sous Chef Habib Akbar said this is the first time they are offering a fusion of Mexican, Mediterranean and Indian cuisine all on Wednesday nights.

“We would like to offer our clients variations in our hot and spicy buffet each time, in addition to the main dishes,” Akbar said.

The best sellers for the night are the fajitas, beef and chicken shawarma, spicy kebab, burritos, tacos, nachos and a wide array of curry dishes and salads.

A wide selection of tempting desserts is available in one section of the PauPau Bar—fresh fruits and cakes and desserts that carry Mexican flavors.

Complete your ‘Hot! Hot! Hot” dinner at the PauPau Bar as you choose from a wide selection of sumptuous dishes and cap your dinner with a choice of bottomless miller draft beer, tequila, or iced tea.

Nothing beats having a hot and spicy eat-all-you-can dinner with the blend of savory spices and herbs permeating the air, attentive waiters and staff garbed in Mexican attire assisting you to your tables, singing chefs serenading you with favorite hits, and a superb sunset at the backdrop.

Akbar said that in the next weeks, they would provide Mexican beats to add to the festive air.

“In the next weeks, customers can expect much improved services as we move toward transforming the whole bar into a Mexican-Mediterranean-Indian setting and provide customers with a satisfyingly unforgettable, hot and spicy dinner,” Akbar said.

Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Perry B. Tenorio said he enjoyed the wonderful food, the great service, the superb setting, and he “would be back for more.”

MVA’s Bruce Bateman shared Tenorio’s zest for the hot spicy night at the PauPau Bar.

“The food is fantastic, the setting fabulous and everything is a blast,” Bateman said.

Assistant Food and Beverage manager Christina Lustre reiterated her earlier statement that for Palms Resort Saipan restaurants, customer satisfaction is the name of the game.

“We are quite surprised with the wonderful turnout of customers for the launching of our Hot Spicy Nights, and for this we again thank the community for supporting us,” Lustre said.

Sunday brunch at Kaenju

True to its commitment of finding ways to satisfy the diversified palates of its clients, Palms Resort Saipan has another treat as Kaenju Restaurant opens its Sunday Brunch on August 30, 2009.

“This is another new feature we are offering to our clients, one that you should not miss and we would like to invite everybody to be with us as we launch Kaenju Restaurant’s teppanyaki Sunday Brunch,” Akbar said. For inquiries and reservations, please call 670-322-3311.

This article was originally published HERE