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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

No substitute for a mother’s milk

DID you know that you spend approximately 144 hours during the baby’s first year to prepare a baby’s formula? This includes going to the store to buy formula, finding and washing the feeding bottles and any other chores related to feeding the baby.

Take this scenario:
A piercing wail wakes you up in the wee hours of the morning, ending what little sleep you just got. You stumble sleepily into the kitchen, look for the feeding bottle to prepare a formula for your baby whose cries are starting to wake up the whole household. This is a routine that goes on day and night where you have to drop off whatever you are doing to prepare the formula and feed your baby. If you are not fully awake by then, there is the possibility of putting more formula than you should, or using less water — the baby will suffer.
Now consider this.
You wake up to your baby’s crying at night and you just have to pick him up from the cot, snuggle the baby and feed him from your breast. You both go to sleep and relax during the feeding session and you get time to form a deep bond with each other.
These are two scenarios presented by Cathy Carothers of Every Mother Inc. who was recently on island to train the staff of the Women, Children and Infants program on breastfeeding.

Barriers to breastfeeding

In these modern times, work is one of the challenges that hinders women from breastfeeding their babies exclusively.
“After giving birth, most of today’s mothers are anxious to go back to work to help meet the growing household expenses,” Carothers said.
The world used to be a breastfeeding society, she added, but as more women joined the workforce, more mothers are turning to the use of formula for their babies.
Lack of knowledge on how breastfeeding works and how to go about it is another challenge that healthcare workers face in encouraging more mothers to breastfeed.
If a mother has to go back to work, Carothers said she can extract her milk and save it in the refrigerator.
She said a mother’s milk placed in the freezer has a shelf life of up to one year or from four to eight days if inside the refrigerator. At room temperature, the milk will still be good from eight to 10 hours.
Carothers said even women who have inverted nipples can breastfeed their babies.
“We breastfeed, not nipple feed. It’s just a matter of learning the right technique because the baby will latch onto your breast by instinct,” she said.
Some women, however, are embarrassed to feed their babies in public places.
Generally all women are capable of breastfeeding, except in cases when it is not possible, such as when a mother is HIV positive, or undergoing chemotherapy, Carothers said.
Giving pregnant women the right education and information before the baby arrives is important to make the right choices.

Support system

Carothers said in a survey they conducted, most of the companies and businesses that showed support to nursing moms have less the problems encountered by those companies who don’t show any support at all.
She said the survey shows that businesses can save a lot on medical costs and absenteeism of employees, if they’re allowed to spend a few minutes each day to breastfeed their babies.
“We also found that businesses that support breastfeeding have more loyal, happy and productive workers because their needs are being met,” Carothers added.
She recommends that mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months.
“This is the time when babies need all the nutrients which they can get best from their mothers,” she said.
When the baby reaches six months and above, they start to take in solid food but mothers can breastfeed their babies for as long as they want.
WIC clinic manager Dianne Esplin said the more mothers will breastfeed, the less risk there is for diabetes and obesity.
“When you breastfeed, both and the baby get many benefits. Not only is it convenient for both the mother and the baby but it will create a closer relationship with each other,” she said.
Esplin said being well-informed gives women more options in breastfeeding.
Karen Buettner of the Commonwealth Health Center said the participation of the husbands plays an important part in the breastfeeding process.
“Women, especially first time mothers, have a lot to learn and they need all the help and support they can get, especially from their partners,” Buettner said.
She said breastfeeding is a learning experience, and women with multiple births are becoming more confident with each birth.
WIC nutrition technician Gigi Gomez said women who come to the clinic early in their pregnancy get more help and guidance than those who come later or not at all.
“We make appointments with pregnant women for every trimester so the earlier they come in, the more time we can spend with them in giving them more information in what to do,” she said.
The new food packages distributed by WIC to its clients each month have been redesigned to give pregnant and lactating mothers more attention.
Gomez said exclusive breastfeeding mothers get more food allowance compared to those who do not breastfeed exclusively.
Carothers, Esplin, Buettler and Gomez, all certified lactation consultants, said there is no substitute for a mother’s milk.
This article was first published HERE

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Konflikt at the helm of MMA clothing lines

THE business scenario in the CNMI has turned from bleak to bleaker, with one misfortune hitting the islands one after the other. The demise of the garment industry from over 30 factories to zero, the changes in regulations brought about by the federalization of immigration which has driven residents search for better opportunities elsewhere, and the global crisis which has spared no one.

These and more have caused businesses to close and investors to be on a “wait and see” stance before pouring money into the island.
Doors seem to be closing in from all direction, leaving everyone uncertain of the future.
But not for one individual who succeeded in bringing Saipan to the limelight with his talent in T-shirt designing.
Konflikt, the Saipan-born Mixed Martial Arts clothing company has made it to the third place in the “Top Five MMA clothing brands you don’t know but should” in the online Bleacher Report, the world’s largest network which is powered entirely by fan-generated content.
The other featured designers and Konflikt’s contenders were the Scrappler, Boston Brawler, Crooked Jaw, and Insanity Fightwear.
Konflikt designer Norman Del Rosario said he feels very much honored to be recognized by the Bleacher Report (www.bleacherreport.com) for his designs.
“The power of the internet allows people from all over the world to see the designs and wear the Konflikt brand,” he said.
Nick Colon, senior analyst for the Bleacher Report, said Konflikt MMA is a brand that many MMA clothing fans and other clothing fans in general should take a hard look at the short term future.
“This company’s brand is exceptional, with popular designs such as fleur-de-lis and a quite brutally good-looking font of text,” Colon stated.


Konflikt entered the MMA clothing scene six months ago and immediately caught the eye of MMA fighters and their fans from Saipan as well as those from off-island fighters.
Despite the limited resources, Konflikt have already made its way into the hearts of famous MMA fighters including Mark Munoz, Junie Browning and Philippe Nover who tried the designs of del Rossario.
MMA fighters, fans and enthusiasts will see the latest Konflikt designs as the company breaks into the Ultimate Fighting Championship scene in UFC 109 on Feb. 6, 2010.


Konflikt carries the trademark of Saipan in all its designs.
While working and designing T-shirts for famous MMA fighters in the world, the designer aspire to bring recognition to Saipan and the CNMI by incorporating the place in all the designs he creates.
Every design has its own character, made to match various moods and temperaments.
Konflikt t-shirts stick to one solid color of black, white or red.
Owning and wearing a Konflikt t-shirt has become a status symbol not only for the MMA fighters but for the hundreds of fans.
Konflikt maintains a very limited edition in all the designs they release to the store.
“We want anybody who wears the Konflikt designs that they are unique and not mass produced. Once you miss a design, you cannot see it in the market again because new designs will come out and take its place,” the designer said.
Konflikt MMA clothing portrays the image of always accepting challenges, refusing to play it safe, taking chances, never backing down and putting it all on the line for what you believe in.
Any Konflikt design embodies the heart and soul of those who are into the MMA lifestyle, and dedicated to provide excellence in design and quality at a value that consumers can appreciate.


Konflikt will soon be able to serve clients in three other places such as Hawaii, Ohio, and the Philippines.
Negotiations are ongoing and the designer hopes to proceed with the expansion within this year.
“We want MMA fighters and fans all over the world to have instant access to our brand wherever they are,” the designer said.
Konflikt recently introduced its line of female apparel with new designs coming out every week. Konflikt’s clients are eagerly waiting for the latest additions to its product lines such as shorts, gloves and other accessories.
Konflikt T-shirts are exclusively available at the 670 Rock Steady Shop in Gualo Rai.
For more information, e-mail info@konflikmma.net This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit www.konfliktmma.net.

This article was first published HERE

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Getting in shape fast with BodyPump

WOULD you like to lose fat and shape up your body real fast? Answering yes would require more than nodding your head to this question.
Nothing beats having a well-conditioned and healthy body, but you have to work at it and work at it hard, according to Gloribel Oro Tan, one of the fitness instructors at the Gold’s Gym.

Photo by Raquel C. Bagnol“If you are determined to tone and condition your body, try out BodyPump because it is the fastest way to shape up,” Tan said.
Tan, also an APEX Fitness Professional and Les Mills Certified Group Exercise instructor for both BodyStep and BodyPump said that BodyPump is the best starting point to develop strength as it is more focused on weightlifting.
“BodyPump is a one-hour session to get you in shape and it is both for males and females,” Tan said.
A mix of experienced and beginners comprise a typical class, but everybody can work in rhythm for the whole routine together, Tan said.
BodyPump requires the use of a step platform, a bar and a set of weights. Tan said that beginners should use the light weights first, then after a few classes they can then determine how much weight is right for them.
BodyPump Routine
The one-hour routine includes the warm-up where everybody uses only light weights to get the entire body moving. Next, the students will move on to the slightly bigger weights to develop the legs, chest and back. Development of the triceps, biceps and shoulders follow and this require only slightly bigger weights but as the students get stronger, they can then move on to medium weights.
The students will then move on to the abdominals to help support the core posture, before finally cooling down, a step which is important after a hard workout to stretch one’s muscles.
“The important thing to remember is not to overdo the weights but to work gradually and constantly until a student finds the weight that is right for him or her,” Tan said.
Beginners will usually experience muscle pain and soreness after the first workout but gradually, the body will get used to the exercise.
Tan said that as soon as you have your first session of BodyPump, a maximum of two or three classes a week and a one-day rest in between classes is recommended.
Anybody can do the BodyPump workouts at home, but working with a whole class inspires you to execute the routine along with the others in time with the music and the choreography.
“It’s different when you work alone than when you work with a whole class,” Tan said.
She added that the results of the BodyPump can be felt after about six weeks of continuous workout.
“As you gain more strength, your muscles tones will improve and you will start to notice fat loss,” Tan said.
Other students do back-to-back workout with BodyPump and BodyStep.
“This is a good combination because the BodyWalk is for cardio development,” she said.
Tan said that over the five years she had been teaching BodyPump and BodyStep, she has a good number of faithful students who are regulars in the BodyPump classes.
BodyPump classes are scheduled from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. every Tuesday and Saturday and from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday.
BodyPump students must wear comfortable workout clothes and gym shoes, and bring a drink, towel and the right attitude.
Tan said that non- members of the Gold’s Gym can use the gym facilities in one day and join classes such as BodyPump, BodyStep, Yoga, Spin Bike, Abs, Body Balance, Pilates, Cardio Strength and Tai-Chi for a $10 fee.
“We would like to encourage everybody to join the almost 200 individuals who visit Gold’s Gym to work out everyday, and get better health,” Tan said.
For schedules of the other classes, visit Gold’s Gym at Garapan Central Park, call (670) 233-4000, email goldsgym@saipan.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit www.goldsgym.com/saipanmp. For more information on BodyPump check out www.lesmills.com.
This article was first published HERE

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

CNMI’s 2009 auto sales at a glance

2009 has been a very challenging year for the businesses in the CNMI, and the island’s car dealers are not immune to the difficulties.

The global economic crisis, the mass exodus of residents to the mainland and other countries to look for greener pasture, the onset of federalization and the uncertainty of their immigration status just some of the factors of the steadily decreasing figures in car sales for the past five years.
But the year ended with a positive result as sales for the month of December produced the highest increase for the year.
Statistics based on the monthly reports released by the Commonwealth Auto Dealer’s Association, the island’s three car dealers — Joeten Motors, Microl Corporation and Triple “J” Motors ­— showed total sales of 1,885 units sold in 2005. The figure dropped to 1,352 in 2006, 1,101 in 2007, and 966 in 2008.

Up and down trend in ‘09

For the first quarter of the year, the three dealers sold only a total of 203 brand new cars and this figure indicated a 32.3 percent dip in sales for brand new cars as compared to the sales for the first quarter of 2008 which was 300.
Sales for brand new cars continued to drop in April by 40 percent compared to the same month in 2008. The figures dipped lower in May when sales posted a 45.83 percent decrease.
From June to December, sales figures went on a see-saw trend. In June, the figures went up by 23.53 percent with the three car dealers selling a total of 42 brand new cars compared to the 34 units sold in June of 2008.
The June increase was momentary as a 44.62 percent drop in the July sales took over.
Sales picked up again in August, with the three dealers selling 60 brand new units and posting a 39.53 percent increase. The dealers sold only 43 units in August 2008.
By September, sales again dropped by 8.51 percent but slightly recovered in October with a 5.56 increase.
By November, sales for brand new cars dipped by 34.69 percent, brought about mainly by the impact of the takeover of the U.S. immigration as potential buyers hesitated to purchase automobiles.
But the December sales picked up, posting the highest increase of 72.97 percent for the total 64 brand new cars sold compared to the sales in December 2008.

Summing up

From January to December, the three car dealers sold a total of 469 brand new cars, indicating a 21.18 percent overall decrease compared to the 595 units sold for 2008. The total cars sold last year are broken down into 246 sedans, 59 trucks, 23 vans, and 141 sport utility vehicles.
December brought in the highest number of brand new cars sold this year with 64 units, while May posted the lowest sales with only 26 units sold.
Of the three dealers, Microl Corp. sold the most number of brand new cars which totaled to 200 units, representing a 42.64 percent market share. Joeten Motors followed with 146 units sold and claiming a 31.13 percent market share. Triple “J” Motors’ 123 units sold represented 26.23 percent of the market share.

Popular car models

Toyota is the leading brand of cars sold by the three dealers for 2009. It sold a total of 194 brand new units. Nissan brand followed with 83 units sold, and Mazda came third with 59 units sold. Other brands were Honda — 36, Mitsubishi — 30; Hyundai — 27, Ford — 14, Kia — 13, Suzuki — 7, and Chevrolet — 6.

Used cars, an alternative

As the economy got tougher and the uncertainty got stronger, customers turned to used cars to pay lesser amounts for transportation expenses. The car dealers saw an increase in the sales of used cars.
From 2009, sales for used cars soared and reached a total of 380 units sold, nearly closing the gap with a difference of 89 units to level off with the sales for brand new cars.
Microl Corp. led the dealers in used car sales, selling 145 units during the 11-month period. Joeten Motors came next with 120 units, followed closely by Triple “J” who sold 115 units used cars for the year.
CADA president and Joeten Motors general manager Matthew Deets said that 2009 was a good year for used cars as consumers turn to it as an alternative to paying for brand new cars.
“Sales for used cars had been going up for the past two years,” he said.

Hopes for a better year

Triple “J” Motors general manager Randy Steele said that car sales for Triple “J” had been stable in 2009.
“We think consumers recognize the value in our products during these tough economic times,” Steele said.
He added that the federalization of the immigration in the commonwealth created a big impact.
“A huge number of potential buyers were taken out of the market to purchase an automobile due to their uncertain immigration status,” Steele said.
Deets said he sees 2010 as a stable year for the car dealers.
He said that with the federalization of the local immigration, more federal money and federal projects will be poured here and they are hoping for stability in terms of car sales for the year.
Microl Toyota general manager Doug Brennan said that while CADA was hoping 2009 sales figures remained at least at the same levels as 2008 (or improve), the apparent lack of consumer confidence in the CNMI economic future contributed to a drop in sales.
He said that Microl-Toyota did well.
“Austerity measures instituted over the past several years have allowed us to control operating expenses and remain a strong, viable company,” he said.
Brennan added that initially, the impending move to federalization caused the market to fall off.
“The actual influx of new Federal agencies has created a slight surge in the car market, but we don’t expect the surge to last,” he said.
He added that while they would like to see an improvement in the market, there are still many questions yet to be answered in regards to the future of the CNMI economy.
“We anticipate the passenger vehicle market to remain at about the same level as 2009,” he said.

This article was first published HERE