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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Japanese group lights incense, prays for peace

82-year-old Etatsu Shinjo from Okinawa, Japan had always dreamed of visiting Saipan, but did not get the chance until yesterday.
Members of the Micronesian Repatriation Association pose at the Okinawa Peace Tower in Marpi yesterday just before their peace memorial ceremony. Photo by Raquel C. Bagnol
Members of the Micronesian Repatriation Association pose at the Okinawa Peace Tower in Marpi yesterday just before their peace memorial ceremony. Photo by Raquel C. Bagnol
Shinjo, who joined a group of 86 members of the Micronesian Repatriation Association stopping over here on their way to Guam, wanted to see the place where his cousin, Japanese soldier Tsutaki Shinjo, died during the war.
Most members of the group who join the trip each year were born and grew up on Saipan, but not Shinjo.
“We never recovered the body of my cousin, that’s why I wanted to visit Saipan,” he said.
Shinjo and other members of the Micronesian Repatriation Association lighted incense and offered prayers, fruit, food, water and other beverages in memory of the thousands who lost their lives in the NMI during the war.
Yesterday’s ceremony, at the Tower of Okinawa at the Last Command Post in Marpi, was the group’s 43rd.
Takeaki Oshiro, representative of the Bereaved Family United Association, along with Zenichi Taira, chairman of Micronesian Repatriation Association, and Seiji Nakasone, representative of bereaved families, spoke before the congregation started offering and lighting the incense at the altar.
Last year, a group of 60 conducted the peace ceremony at the same Marpi site.
Today, the group will conduct a peace ceremony at Suicide Cliff on Tinian starting at 10 a.m.
The group will then fly to Guam, their primary destination for the annual pilgrimage. The 86 members of the Micronesian Repatriation Association paid extra for the Saipan and Tinian stopovers.
Pacific Development Inc. has hosted the repatriation group’s pilgrimage for years now.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The other delightful creations at the Certified Angus Beef chefs competition

THIS year’s competition carried the theme “Marianas Beef Stew.” All contestants were required to display only one entrée for judging.
Mariana Resort & Spa chefs won a $500 gift certificate for winning first place in the Chef’s Challenge competition on Saturday evening. Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol
Mariana Resort & Spa chefs won a $500 gift certificate for winning first place in the Chef’s Challenge competition on Saturday evening. Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol
Entrées were judged based on presentation of theme, degree of difficulty, taste, and tenderness/texture.
Second place was Hyatt Regency Saipan’s slow braised Chuck Involtini, taro, raisin, roasted farm tomato, Marianas spices and banana chips. It won a $300 gift pack from Certified Angus Beef. Hyatt executive chef Gabrielle Colombo was assisted by assistant chefs Ricardo Silverstre, Zenn Tomokane, Jo Deleon Guerrero and Vesh Thappa.
Pacific Islands Club placed third and was awarded a $200 gift certificate from Certified Angus Beef. PIC’s executive chef Habib Akbar came up with the entry Kadon Ka’nen Guaka or Island Beef Stew. He was assisted by assistant chefs Joel Linaogo, Keoni Lizama and Vinson Guerrero.
Second place: Hyatt’s entrée —  Slow-Braised Certified Angus Beef.
Second place: Hyatt’s entrée — Slow-Braised Certified Angus Beef.
The other entries were Hafa Adai Beach Hotel’s Marianas Chuck Roll BBQ-Stew Surf & Turf Mango Tango created by executive chef Toshio Obata and assisted by  chefs Samson Tan, Jojo Sioco and Menandro Nicdao.
Fiesta Resort & Spa’s Garapan Stew was prepared by executive chef Yasunori Abe who was assisted by chefs Nestor Duazo, Vicente Montoya and Ronaldo Flores.
Judges for the competition were Alex Sablan, vice president for corporate business development, Tan Holdings; Tan Holdings legal counsel Vincent Seman; Marianas Legal Strategy Group partner Marcia Schultz; Jay Santos of Triple J Saipan Inc.; and Mike Johnson of Deloitte & Touche on Saipan and Palau.

First published HERE

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Online petition to save Pagan gets over 1,400 signatures

OVER 1,400 individuals have signed an online petition  opposing the proposal to turn the volcanic northern island of Pagan into a dump for Japan tsunami debris.
The petition is addressed to Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, Rachel Roque of the Department of Public Lands, Frank Rabauliman of the Division of Environmental Quality, Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos, Legislative Bureau Director Melchor Mendiola, CNMI House Clerk Linda Muna and CNMI Senate Clerk Dolores Bermudes.
According to the petition, “The CNMI is…limited in land and  burying parts of Pagan Island under tons of rubbish from another country is not only environmentally unconscionable but is degrading to the people of the CNMI.”
The petition said the “uniqueness of the CNMI and its culture should be celebrated and protected, not desecrated with a wealthy country’s garbage.”
It said burying portions of the debris from the tsunami that hit Japan in March last year is not only degrading to the people of the CNMI, it also “makes absolutely no sense.”
By signing the online petition, an individual shows that he/she supports protecting Pagan against the potential impact of this type of activity and the potential environmental impacts of leeching chemicals, loose debris, and sedimentation of the reefs and surrounding waters.
“No amount of revenue could possibly be worth the devastating environmental impacts of using Pagan…as a dump,” the petition stated.
A group has also been formed on Facebook where members and visitors can write their opinions and interact with other supporters. As of yesterday, the Facebook group “No to Dumping Trash on Pagan” site had 4,534 members.
For more information, go to http://www.change.org/petitions/don-t-turn-pagan-island-into-a-garbage-dump or  http://savepaganisland.org.

first published HERE

Our Laolao flash mob creates waves at Taste of the Marianas

VISITORS at the Taste of the Marianas at American Memorial Park got a pleasant wave of surprise when several individuals broke into a lively dance near the stage during a short break in the performances on Saturday night.
Our Laolao Campaign flash mob in action at American Memorial Park on Saturday evening. Photo by Raquel C. BagnolOrganized by Our Laolao Campaign, the flash mob stressed the importance of a litter-free Laolao Bay. Necks craned toward the direction of the flash mob as more dancers joined the group in an island-style music mix of Train’s chart topping “Soul Sister,” “Oops!...I Did It Again,” by Britney Spears, and Katy Perry’s “Firework.”
Grabbing the attention of everyone was the mob’s star dancer wrapped in garbage from head to toe. In less than five minutes, the performance was  over.
Often appearing out of nowhere, a flash mob starts with one person, and quickly grows into a crowd of people dancing a choreographed routine, and within minutes, quickly disperses.
The flash mob on Saturday was the latest of the string of activities conducted by the Our Laolao campaign to raise awareness about Laolao Bay’s cultural importance and the need to keep it litter-free and healthy for future generations.
“The flash mob draws attention to the Our Laolao campaign in a fun way and hopefully gets people to stop and think about the places that make Saipan special,” said Emanuel Borja, an environmental engineer with the Division of Environmental Quality and in-house choreographer for the campaign.
“We hear so many environmental messages about protecting the land and seas that sometimes we forget that what we are really trying to preserve is our way of life,” Borja added in his statement.
The flash mob was a result of a week of rehearsals and involved 30 community members from local high schools, government agencies and organizations.
The Our Laolao campaign emphasizes the shared responsibility of protecting Saipan’s precious environmental resources. It also centers on the community stories about Laolao, which are featured on the campaign website, highlighted through outreach activities and local advertising in the media.
The Our Laolao campaign is a collaborative effort between local government agencies and organizations on Saipan led by DEQ, Coastal Resources Management, the Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Conservation Program, and SeaWeb.
For more information, visit the campaign website, OurLaolao.com to learn why Saipan residents are stepping up to protect the bay and to find out how to join the movement.

First  published HERE

Monday, May 21, 2012

Burnett vodka cocktails at Taste of the Marianas

EXCITEMENT filled the air as bartenders from different restaurants and hotels mixed drinks and cocktails within a five-minute time frame in full view of the judges and everyone else.
Photos by Raquel C. BagnolAfter breathtaking showmanship, the bartenders offered their eye-catching, thirst quenching, vodka-flavored concoctions:
Champion Ronnie Guevarra’s “Beat d’ Heat,” is  this year’s winner. It’s a blend of half an ounce of Bacardi rum, one ounce orange Curacao, strawberry puree, mango juice, fresh orange juice and coconut syrup, all blended with ice until smooth and served in a tall glass. “Beat d’ Heat” was served on a bed of grapes and oranges.
Edwardo Flores of GIG Discotheque’s “Fuzzy Peach of Marianas” contains Burnett’s peach vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice and a dash of coconut syrup, garnished with fresh orange and cherry and served in a tropical glass.
Ramil Eustaquio of One Call Inc. presented his “Citrus Cooler” made with Burnett’s citrus vodka, equal parts of lemonade or sweet and sour cranberry juice and club soda. All are poured over ice in a tall glass and garnished with fresh orange.
Jay Santos of Ocean Bar’s “Marianas Blossom” is a blend of Burnett’s vodka, melon liquor, grenadine, sweet and sour and Sprite, and garnished with lime and cherry.
Alexander Mejia of the Hyatt Regency’s “Micronesian Amzomela” is a blend of Burnett’s vodka, triple sec, peach fruit, pine juice, lemonade, a dash of grenadine and a splash of sprite served in a glass and garnished with a slice of pineapple fruit.
Saipan World Resort’s Dindo Ferrer’s Banana de Marianas is served on top of a banana heart.
“Island Dreams,” by Michael Rosal Benavente of Bossano Bar, is a merry mix of Burnett’s mango vodka, pineapple juice and coconut syrup, poured in a glass and garnished with an orange.
As in past years,  restaurants and hotels are expected to include the winning cocktails in their regular menus.
Best-selling cocktail
MangoritaIf you haven’t yet tasted the Mangorita, visit the Northern Marianas Bartenders Association booth at the 2012 Taste of the Marianas and International Beer Garden Festival at American Memorial Park.
Mangorita is a delightful blend of vodka, mango juice, pineapple, Triple Sec and other ingredients.
A non-alcoholic version is also available for those who prefer it without alcohol, and for minors. Mangorita sells for 4 tokens at the NMBA booth.
May 26 is the last night of the Taste of the Marianas, so head straight to the NMBA Booth and be one of the hundreds of those who have tasted this cocktail and who have been coming back for more. 
Published HERE

Monday, May 14, 2012

Variety honors My Mom’s Story winners

Marianas Variety president Laila Y. Boyer reads the names of the 2012 My Mom’s Story contest winners. Photos by Raquel C. Bagnol
WINNERS of the My Mom’s Story 2012 received attractive prizes during the awarding ceremony held at McDonald’s-Middle Road on Friday afternoon.
Marianas Variety president Laila Y. Boyer handed out the prizes and congratulated the six winners from different junior high and high schools on Saipan for coming up with special stories about their mothers.
Variety received numerous entries from students on Saipan, Tinian and Rota and awarded the six best stories.
The winners were  16-year-old Donald Hocket of Saipan Southern High School; Jose Castro, 7th grader of Marianas Baptist Academy; Kassandra Snodgrass, 12th grader, Kagman High School; Fritz Julian Trinidad, 7th grader, Marianas Baptist Academy; Justina Lee, 8th grader, Marianas Baptist Academy; and Alina Ishikawa,  10th grader, Marianas Baptist Academy.
The winners wrote about their “super-moms.”
For the past years, Marianas Variety has been honoring mothers by inviting junior high and high school students to write stories about them.
The annual contest gives the children a chance to get to know their mothers more, appreciate what mothers do for the family, and develop their creative talents and writing skills too.
The winning students, seated, pose with their parents and sponsors after the awarding ceremony at the McDonald’s Saipan Middle Road outlet on Friday afternoon.
The six winning entries were published in the Marianas Variety’s edition on Friday, May 11, and accessible online at http://mvariety.com/special-features/special-events/46343-my-moms-story-2012.php.
This year’s sponsors are McDonald’s Saipan, Hyatt Regency Saipan, Island Florals & Gifts, Rota Mineral Water, Docomo Pacific, Extreme Cuts Salon for Men and Women, Western Sales Trading Company, Taro Sue Store, Happy Market in As Lito and San Antonio Supermarket.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Art from the heart

BROWSING through the various artworks of the items inside the stall of Flower Pot Salas at the recently held Flame Tree Arts Festival, you may think that she is just another one of the artists trying to make some money by selling her products. You are wrong. The intricate craftsmanship that goes into each tiny earring, bracelet, flowers and all other pieces are collector’s items and all priced very affordably.
Salas said that she makes art from the heart, which means every piece of artwork carries a cultural and traditional importance of her origins and of the islands.
An attention grabber at Salas’ booth at the festival was a cream-colored woven mat that served as a covering for one part of the wall. In front of the mat was a maniquin garbed in original Polynesian costumes—the whole works complete with brighly colored feathers.
The mat is no ordinary mat. It is soft and pliant to the touch and Salas said that it was over 300 years old. She said the mat is a family heirloom that has been used in her family for weddings, funerals and other important events.
“It takes about a year to make traditional mats because they are not the commercial type. Much details go into the preparation of the materials until it is woven and finished.
Grass skirts hanging on the wall for sale are not just ordinary grass skirts. Salas said preparing grass skirts require time and effort, talent and skill to gather the barks of trees before they became grass skirts that local dancers use.
The individual flowers that Salas showcased in her booth comes from the barks of trees, or beads for the more modern art. Each one is meticulously prepared and designed by hand. Salas also designs mwarmwar in various designs and colors.
Salas said that each design of the fashion jewelry, costumes and beads tell a story about the origin of the item. An expert can easily tell if a wall decoration has its inspiration from American Samoa, from Micronesia or any Pacific Island.
“It’s not just art. It’s the preservation of culture and tradition in these islands that I want to pass on to the younger generation because that matters,” Salas said.
Salas’ work is showcased during the annual Flame Tree Arts Festival, and at various art exhibits hosted by the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture each year.
She is willing to teach anyone how to make artwork infused with traditional and cultural origins anytime. For classes or organizations or any group who wants to can contact here through the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture at 322-9982/83.