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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

(My Marianas) Off to the Street Market

Published in the January 24. 2013 issue of Marianas Variety

IT’S Thursday once again and all roads lead to the Fishing Base where nonstop live entertainment, the widest selections of international cuisine and where crafts and trinkets are available at reasonable prices – the Garapan Street Market.
As early as 5 p.m. you can already buy some food and drinks from the booth owners who start early.
Wander from booth to booth and get your fill of various specialties from Chinese, Thai, Chamorro, Filipino, Korean, and Japanese at prices much lower than they normally offer at their respective restaurants. You can get a full meal like a bento with five or six choices for only $5.
Where else can you find really affordable food with selections so vast and varied it will make your head spin trying to decide what to eat, free entertainment and shopping options all in one place?
Name it and the street market most probably have it—from barbeque, noodles, vegetables, fresh fruit and local produce, fruit shakes, healthy drinks, grilled temptations like fish, beef, chicken or pork, sweet delights like local desserts, 
Tables set at the center of the market begin to fill up at past 5 pm and from then onward, it is like one huge potluck where you get to share tables with friends and strangers, locals and tourists from all parts of the world.
Cultural barriers are laid aside as you all concentrate in enjoying the food and experience the tastes, smells and sounds of Saipan.
At the other side of the market, you can browse through stalls displaying fashion jewelry, shirts and bags, trinkets, crafts and arts and other local produce that you can bring home as souvenirs.
The street market is also where you can find some agencies and organizations holding campaigns or handing out informational brochures about upcoming events, products and services.
Hogging the spotlight at the street market each Thursday is the stage where local bands, singers and dancers perform to entertain the audience.
Here is where you can watch a variety of performers—from groups dancing to the beat of modern tunes, to dancers performing Polynesian, Micronesian or local dances in their colorful island attire to fire dancers juggling lighted torches the delight of the tourists.
The street market is where you can find more cameras clicking and flashing than anywhere else in the island on a Thursday, where you come in hungry and leave full, a place where you can get loads of fun and food.
For more information about what to do and where to go when on Saipan, visit www.mymarianas.com or call 664-3200.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

(My Marianas) Water sports for your pleasure

(Published in the January24, 2013 issue of Marianas Variety)

ASIDE from popular diving in the CNMI, the numerous water sports are among the most popular attractions that lure tourists to come here from all parts of the world.
For a tropical destination surrounded by water, there is so much to do here, even if you don’t want to do anything. Saipan’s beaches are the places where you can sit in the sand or a beach chair and spend the day just staring into the blue waters watching the clouds chasing each other across the vast skies and breathe in the salty sea breeze.
If you get off your comfortable perch, step on the warm waters and start to explore, the possibilities are endless. Numerous sports activities await you—activities that would make you craving for more.
Saipan’s tour agencies offer various water sports like windsurfing, jet skiing, paddle boarding, boat sailing, canoeing, surfing,— name it and you have it here. On a windy day and you will see people from all parts of the world riding the waves windsurfing between the Micro Beach and Managaha, the best place to catch the northwest winds.
If you don’t want to get wet, you still have the option of going underwater and watching the bountiful marine life aboard the submarine and experience the whole thrill.
Five minutes away, Managaha Island waits for anyone who wants to experience the bliss of what it feels to go parasailing and see the Saipan lagoon from over a hundred feet up, plunged into the water up to your neck and tossed back into the skies as the boat pulls you around the lagoon.
Get the thrill of a lifetime on board one of those banana boats you see at the Saipan lagoon which is good for the whole family in the Saipan lagoon anytime on a sunny day. The fun and fear of the banana boat making a sharp twist and you all have to jump into the water adds to the thrill; or the joy of walking underwater for the Aquawalk. Beginning divers can also try the scuba diving at Managaha, get crash courses in diving and go straight into the water for an underwater experience.
For those who wants to go fishing, Saipan has a lot to offer in sports fishing, trolling and deep sea fishing. Get in touch with some of the tour operators who offer these adventures and get into the excitement of reeling in fresh catch from the sea—mahi mahi, tuna, marlin, barracuda, wahoo and other kinds of fish.
All these water sports and more are just additional attraction to the rich historical sites that the CNMI has to offer to visitors.
 The next time you are in Saipan, Tinian or Rota, or if you are here already and haven’t booked any plans, don’t forget to include the CNMI’s beautiful beaches as your playground.
For more information about Saipan, Tinian and Rota attractions, please visit www.mymarianas.com or call the Marianas Visitors Authority at 664-3200.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

(My Marianas) 9th Pika Festival heats up on Tinian

Published in the January 17, 2013 issue of Marianas Variety

THE heat is on as Tinian gears up for the 9th Annual Hot Pepper Festival which will be held at the Kammer Beach on Tinian on February 16 and 17.
As early as this time, the Marianas Visitors Authority is inviting the community to get ready for another hot celebration in honor of the donni sali, Tinian’s popular small but hot potent pepper that is ingenious to the island. Tinian’s hot pepper has become popular and has been making its way to different parts of the world for the past years as more tourists come in and bring them to their various countries.
Be at the Kammer Beach grounds for two days of festive activities that includes cooking competitions featuring the creativity of local chefs who will be using the donni Sali in various recipes; craft sales and live performances that includes cultural dances and the entertainment by Hapi the Clown.
Guests will have a chance to watch the dragon boat competition where the boating skills and endurance of the participants will be tested; and teams battle it out at the beach volleyball tournament.
Prizes are also at stake for winners in the sack race competition, karaoke singing competition where you get surprised and delighted with the hidden talents of your friends and neighbors; booth decorating competition and chacha dancing competition for the different categories. 
The must-not-miss highlight of the Pika Festival each year is the hot pepper eating competition where the public get to watch participants in a hot combat of eating the famous Tinian hot pepper— for the male and female categories; and the umang or hermit crab races which everybody looks forward to—whether you are a participant or a part of the audience.
Last year’s Pika Festival drew a large number of spectators from Saipan, Rota and Guam and other islands that got a chance to sample a wide variety of local dishes and colorful displays of creative decorations made from local and recycled materials for the booths.
Kids also had a grand time with the new entertainment last year which included pig and chicken chasing inside a fenced area and the winners got to bring the pigs and chickens home.
The 9th Annual Tinian Pika Festival promises to be more colorful and festive. Guests get not only the chance to enjoy the sun, sand and sea and the fresh salty tang of the sea breeze but they also get to interact with the local community. 
For more information about the Pika Festival, please call Vida Borja at the Tinian MVA Office at 433-9365 or email vborja@mymarianas.com, Tinian Mayor’s Office at 433-1802 or Frank at the MVA Saipan headquarters at 664-3200/01, or email ftudela@mymarianas.com for inquiries.
For information on how to get to Tinian, please call Freedom Air at 234-8328 or Star Marianas at 433-9998.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

(My Marianas) CNMI braces for three major sporting events up to March

(First published in the January 10, 2013 issue of Marianas Variety )
FOR so many years, the scenic and challenging terrains in the CNMI have drawn athletes from all over the world to join the various sports events held here each year.
In a couple of weeks, Saipan will be welcoming athletes again for another annual signature event the Marianas Visitors Authority will be hosting—the 6th Annual Marianas Coffee Trail Run which will be held on January 26.
The Annual Marianas Coffee Trail Run includes a 15K Trail Run and a 10K short course trail fun run that starts at Micro Beach American Memorial Park, create a loop and will finish at the same place.
Participants of the Annual Marianas Coffee Trail Run which is sponsored by by the Marianas Coffee Company, MVA, KFC Triathlon Club of Japan, Team PDI, and Northern Marianas Athletic will kick off at 6:30 a.m. from American Memorial Park and head toward Mt. Tapochao passing a new course through wild coffee plantation that will go around the highest of Saipan and will finish at Micro Beach.
The Annual Marianas Coffee Trail Run entry fee is $10 for 12 years old and under, and $15 for participants 13 and 18 years of age. The registration packet includes a finisher's T-shirt, Certificate of Participation, and Marianas Coffee.
Top three finishers for both male and female categories for both events will be awarded at the awards banquet which will be held at the Microl Beach, Main Pavilion, starting at 11:30 a.m.
In March, Saipan will be hosting two popular international sporting events—the 12th Annual XTERRA Saipan Championship, and the 24th Annual Tagaman Triathlon.
The XTERRA is an annual event that involves some of the most rugged terrains and jungles of Saipan. The XTERRA Saipan starts with the 1.5 kilometer swim at the Micro Beach in one hour, followed by a 30 kilometer mountain bike ride across jungles and rugged terrain heading to the top of Mt. Tapochao, and finally ends with a 12 kilometer run that takes competitors past historic relics and scenic jungles and views of the island. At stake for the top finishers is a total of $15,200 in cash prizes.
The 24th Annual Tagaman Triathlon begins with a 2 kilometer swim at the Pacific Islands Club, followed by a 60 kilometer bike along the island’s beautiful bike courses, and finishes with a 15 kilometer run along the western lagoon, through the American Memorial Park pathway. Cash prizes for top six male and female finishers and trophies to age group winners.
These are just three of the regular annual sporting events the MVA hosts each year to draw more tourists, and spread the word about the beauty of the CNMI.
Registration forms are now available at the MVA office in Oleai. 
For more information, send inquiries to Ed Diaz of the MVA at ediaz@mymarianas.com or contact number at (670) 664-3210.