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

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Raquel Bagnol "on the raks" Photography

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

(My Marianas) Cruise stopovers on Saipan

STAKEHOLDERS in the tourism industry are looking forward to the time when the often asked question “Where is Saipan” will be a thing of the past as the Marianas Visitors Authority and other involved agencies go all out to promote not only the CNMI but the whole of Micronesia to the world through Cruises.
Cruise ships that make brief stopovers on Saipan are usually given the traditional island welcome with cultural dancers and given leis when the ship docks at the seaport.  
Judy Torres of the MVA said that as of June 2013, two cruise ships stopped over on Saipan, two cruise ships stopped over in 2012 and five cruise ships made stopovers for the fiscal year 2011.

For 2014, Crystal Cruises is scheduled to make a stopover on Saipan on February 4. Crystal Serenity will leave Los Angeles on an 89-day world tour from January 18 to April 18, 2014. The ship will visit Hawaii, Bali, Africa, Guam before coming here. The ship is expected to dock at the Saipan seaport at 8 am on February 4 and depart at 5 p.m. on the same day to head for Okinawa and Tokyo, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and other countries.

Some of the cruise ships are regular visitors that make one or two stopovers on Saipan every year like the MS Asuka 11 but there are rare visits like the Queen Mary 2 which unfortunately was unable to dock at the Saipan Seaport due to stormy weather. Businesses prepared to welcome over 2,000 visitors for a day but were disappointed but the weather was beyond everyone’s control.  

The CNMI has already carved its niche after being included in forum discussions in various cruise guides like the Cruise Critic where you can read posts from visitors describing the beauty of Saipan and the top sites to visit, as well as basic information on where to go and what to do. Check out http://www.cruisecritic.com to read some of the posts. An overview of Saipan/NMI and Micronesia is also available in the Cruise Away and Clean Cruising websites where readers/cruisers get a wealth of information about the island, and links to how they can book cruises to come here. Visit http://www.cleancruising.com.au/port.asp?port=GUSPN and  http://www.cruiseaway.com.au/cruise-port/saipan_marianas_islands_micronesia.

Postings at these websites describe Saipan and the CNMI as a paradise to escape with magnificent beaches and crystal clear aqua waters, a place with unhurried friendly lifestyle and warm island hospitality. 
Pacific Development Inc. is usually the ground handler for the cruise ships that come in. PDI director Gordon Marciano earlier said that the visitors usually go to visit the World War 11 sites all over the island, go shopping and eat at the restaurants for the day’s stopover.

Tourism industry including the hotels, restaurants, stores and other businesses in the island earlier expressed that they want these cruise ships to stay more than one day on Saipan. Even taxi drivers said that the longer the cruise ships come here, the more money they spend to spur the island’s economy.
The CNMI hopes to attract more cruise ships in the coming years as the MVA has partnered with the Port Authority of Guam, Guam Visitors Bureau and the Micronesia chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association to make up the Micronesian Cruise Association. For more information please call the MVA at 664-3200. 

First published at the Marianas Variety

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

(My Marianas )Promoting the NMI through TV home shopping

TOUR agencies and travel companies are now reaching out to a wide audience that covers all age groups through TV home shopping promotion.
Last year, in conjunction with the Marianas Visitors Authority, the TV Home Shopping Support Program in South Korea launched 12 TV promotions for Saipan, Tinian and Rota, resulting in 8,000 booked packages to the CNMI.

Also in 2012, MVA Korea hosted major network TV programs resulting in a $20,000 exposure value.

Other promotion methods include road shows and seminars, trade shows, familiarization tours, incentive programs during the low season, golf group support programs, sales promotions with travel agents, special interest travel package solutions, co-op promotions with third partners, media visits, E-guidebook and social media marketing.

For the China market, MVA is working with iQiyi.com, a leading independent online video company, to introduce attractive visuals of the CNMI — Saipan, Tinian and Rota — especially for the “romance” market.
First published at Marianas Variety

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cabang- Pilanca Big Bang comedy show a big hit

TWO popular comedians from Hawaii sent a well-packed house rolling in laughter in a two-hour show at the Hibiscus Hall of Fiesta Resort & Spa on Friday evening.
Kaleo Pilanca, one of Hawaii’s funniest comedians and emcees started the ball rolling with his jokes during the first half of the show. Pilanca, voted into the 2005 Top 10 Funniest people Hawaii on Rory Wild’s Count Down Hawaii did not fail to meet the audience’s expectations as he made clean fun jokes about the different races while claiming he is not a racist. 
Mel Cabang or Uncle Mel took the stage for the second half of the show and sent the audience into more laughter as he hit on the visiting navy soldiers from USS Momsen who were at the audience.
A comedian for the past four decades, Cabang made the Filipinos, Chamorro, Japanese, Americans and ‘the black guys’ the brunt of his jokes in the show and called on some navy sailors to participate in his stint. His technique of using a flashlight to seek out particular targets in the audience just sent everyone roaring in laughter.
The Big Bang Comedy Show Blowout Saipan, a Shimbros Production was hosted by the Marianas Pacific Distributors or MarPac as part of a string of activities events leading to the celebration of their 40th anniversary on September 14.
Beer flowed as the audience indulged and became livelier to the delight of the comedians.
Sponsors for the event were Bud Light, Docomo Pacific, Fiesta Resort & Saipan, IP&E and Tan Siu Lin Foundation.
LJ Castro was the event emcee. Marpac just finished the two-day concert with famous Baba-B two weeks ago. More activities are coming up as the main anniversary event draws near. Coming up next is Marpac’s golf tournament. For more information about upcoming events please call Marpac at 234-7113.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Two days of Reggae with Baba B


FANS of Baba B, easily identified as the big man with the small ukulele had a feast of reggae music when their idol rocked the island in a two-day concert last Sunday and Monday at the Pacific Islands Club beachfront in San Antonio.
“I am the biggest man on the beach, but I can get up and dance. There’s no reason for you all not to get up and dance,” Baba B challenged the guests to the second night of the concert. In response to his challenge, males and females from the audience got up and rocked their hips and swayed to the music on the sandy dance floor to the accompaniment of Higher Ground band from Guam.   
The first pair to dance got free copies of Baba B’s latest CD. For the seventh time since 1999, reggae fans in the island were thrilled to welcome back Baba B who promoted his newest album whose contents he himself composed.
Among the songs in the album are All My Life, Rock With You, Should We Cry, Candy, and High. Lucky guests who guessed trivia questions thrown by master of ceremony LJ Castro about Baba B’s newest album got free copies of the CD.
Baba B’s claim to fame with island reggae was in 1997 after he released his debut album “Big Boy in Love.” This was followed by his second album “Local Boy” which was released in 1999. Baba B has a big fan base for reggae not only in Hawaii but in the Pacific islands.
The “Baba B Live on Saipan” was hosted by the Marianas Pacific Distributor as part of a series of activities leading to their 40th anniversary on September 14. Sponsors for the event are Docomo Pacific, Hertz Rent-A-Car, IP&E, and Pacific Islands Club Saipan.
He has also performed in Las Vegas, California, and other states in the mainland in addition to his island home Hawaii.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

(My Marianas) Today’s parade to highlight 68th Liberation Day celebration

Published in the July 7, 2013 issue of Marianas Variety

IT’S here again, that one day in a year where all roads lead to the festivities grounds as the CNMI celebrates another Liberation Day. Follow the beating of the drums and it will lead you to the Civic Center grounds in Susupe today.
Join the thrill (and agony) of trying to find a parking lot and find your space along the road sides as the Liberation Day parade passes by.
Each year for the past decades, the much-anticipated July 4 parade has always been the highlight of the celebration, a crowd-drawer for thousands of locals and visitors to the islands. Government groups and agencies, private organizations showcase their talents and skills in a once-a-year show where you get a taste of everything with an island twist in one setting.
This morning, make your way to the Civic Center in Susupe early as to grab a prime spot to watch over 30 groups and floats join the Liberation Day parade at 10 a.m. from Gualo Rai and all the way to Susupe. Be there and watch the Liberation Day queen with her royal court and their escorts.
Bring your cameras and video cameras to capture and preserve the colorful moments and action as the CNMI pays tribute for the 68th year to those who have risked their lives to protect the country’s freedom.
2013 Liberation Committee chairman Vicente Camacho said during the opening of the 2013 Liberation Day festivities on Saturday evening that ‘freedom does not come free’ and today’s celebration is to instill this sentiment to the community for those who died for the country’s freedom.  
For those of you who didn’t install tents, you can bring beach chairs and umbrellas to watch the parade from any vantage point in the roadsides, or follow the parade as they make their way to the festival grounds for a final showdown in front of the stage set for dignitaries.
Follow the flow and make today a must-not-miss event. Explore the Liberation day festival grounds and get your fill of local food and drinks, or buy trinkets to bring home from the vendor’s stalls that have participated in the event.
See you at the Liberation Day festival parade and grounds today!