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

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)