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

Friday, January 30, 2009

Smiling Cove... Where the best things in life are free

Photo by Raquel C. Bagnol

One of my favorite places on Saipan is this short stretch of dock located at the far end of American Memorial Park, the Smiling Cove Marina.

Tucked at the farthest end of the Smiling Cove is a small park that gives you a perfect 360-degree view of Tanapag, Micro Beach, Managaha Island and the Capitol hills in the distant.
The place, a step just beyond the “Off limits to vehicles” sign issues a silent but irresistible welcome especially for wander-lusty individuals. The place has a mini-lighthouse and well-manicured grasses beneath the shades of pine trees—a perfect spot to sit, watch the activities around you or simply let the time pass by.

I happened to be at the place on one windy day and I have to literally hold on to the tree trunks so as not to be blown away by the winds but it was a refreshing experience, one I would gladly have in exchange for the routine of work any day.
If you want to check the place out, forget getting a coiffure or gel-plastered hair but be prepared to rough it out and breathe in the salty tang of air straight from the ocean.
Not many people frequent the place (it feels like a private dock actually) save for a few who venture out with their fishing poles.
Smiling Cove dock comes alive as sunset draws near, with hordes of tourists transported by buses arrive for sunset cruise trips via Jade Lady 111, Stars and Stripes and other luxury boats.

As a sunset buff, I have stored several gigabytes of photos in my computer of the setting sun with Micro Beach as the backdrop from my favorite location—perched atop a huge cement pole lying on the ground.
I can never get a fill of the place—seeing multi-colored fishes swimming in crystal-clear blue waters, hearing the happy chatter of tourists from the cruise boats, the splash of water as a fisherman throws in his line, fresh air blowing on your face—all these and more which you get to enjoy for free.

This article was originally published HERE

Thursday, January 15, 2009

On top of Tinian’s suicide cliff

My periodic visits to the island of Tinian are always done is a hurry, with no spare time to go around. But not last month because I had a full day to spare and the pleasant company of Rep. Edwin Aldan who volunteered to drive me and my two buddies to visit the historical sites of the island.

Photo by Raquel C. Bagnol

We headed to the southern part and the first place we visited simply took my breath away—the Suicide Cliffs of Tinian. I’ve seen these cliffs from a distance one time when I broke one of the regulations and went out to the deck of the ferry but standing 180 feet above sea level right on top of the cliffs is a different story.
Here a glorious panorama stretches before your eyes—waves rolling on the clearest and the bluest of waters you can imagine, with the cliffs on the side forming a barrier like a protection cove.
Even if I don’t have acrophobia, I can’t stop the tingling feeling in my stomach when I leaned over the cement structure designed as a small lookout. The churning waters below looked hypnotizing yet dangerous. The lookout is just fantastic, the reality of a photographer’s dream.
This is one place you wouldn’t dream of associating with anything unpleasant like death and I wished I didn’t have an idea that from the very place we were standing on, thousands of Japanese committed suicide and jumped to their deaths during the World War 11 in 1944. They considered death a better option than to surrender to the Americans.
The thought alone gave me the shivers although it was broad daylight. I wonder how it would feel to visit the place at night. The place was deserted, but our host told us lots of tourists come to visit the place where they lost their ancestors.

This article was originally published HERE

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Exploring Lake Susupe

THE swift strokes of the paddle competed with the fast ticking of the clock as we tried to catch the sunset in the middle of the water. We were onboard a floating open cottage and were heading toward the other end of the lake, busily clicking away at our cameras.

Photo by Raquel C. Bagnol

Susupe Lake has piqued my curiosity ever since I arrived on this island 11 months ago. We dropped by the place earlier that day, but decided to come back to catch the sunset. We were not disappointed.
Our host, Jesus Guerrero gave us a real treat when he decided to paddle us over to the other side with his two young nephews and regaled us with stories about this treasure of a place which he described as “everybody knows it’s there but not all know where it’s exactly located.”
Susupe Lake is a perfect place to while away the time, fresh air and best of all catch the sunset. You can’t help but hold your breath as the setting sun casts long rays of reds, oranges, yellows and vermillion reflections on the water.
Not as clear as you would expect it, Guerrero said the bottom of the lake is deep and muddy, and their place is the only access to the lake.
Bordered by thick trees all around, the lake is home to hundreds of tilapia (mudfish), birds and ducks.
If you are one of those individuals who stick to the main roads without getting curious as to what lies beyond the forks in the roads, you are missing a lot for these twists and turns on the road sometimes lead you to treasures waiting to be discovered.
To get to the lake, just follow Hagoi Street from the main road in Susupe. It’s at the end of the street.
(This article was first published HERE)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


MyFotoForToday Jan. 7, 2009

These kids slipped into the egg chiller in one of the stores in Saipan unnoticed by their mom who was busy doing last minute shopping on New Year's Eve. And oh, they didn't hatch from eggs.