September 6, 2018

  Saipan —  What’s the best part of living on a tropical island? Having an air-con, of course.

  Once upon a time, in 1978 to be exact, the island’s primary source of electricity was a 35-year-old power barge called “Impedance.” Commissioned in 1943, it was on “loan” from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at no cost to the NMI. The 300-foot Impedance, alas, suffered from “frequent and prolonged outages due to poor maintenan...

August 7, 2018

 Saipan — The Mariana Islands are right smack in the middle of typhoon alley. According to the Weather Channel, 41 super typhoons were recorded in the area between 2000 and 2014 alone, compared to 12 of similar strength in the Atlantic Basin. Typhoon Soudelor hit Saipan in August 2015. Typhoon season in the islands runs from July to January.

  The first time I experienced the wrath of the Pacific on Saipan was in 1994. Just bef...

July 7, 2018

Saipan — When the CNMI government was inaugurated 40 years ago, its leaders inherited a public sector that was already big — and practically broke. Then-Interior Deputy Undersecretary Barbara Heller, in a report, admitted that the Northern Marianas and the rest of the Trust Territory islands “generally have not progressed toward self-sufficiency over the past 20 to 30 years. If anything they have lost ground in terms of growin...

May 31, 2018

Saipan — During the centennial celebration of Philippine independence, a stateside professor on Guam, a.k.a. party-pooper, wrote an op-ed  which reminded everyone that the Philippines actually became independent on July 4, 1946 not on June 12, 1898.

He’s right. Or wrong.

If you read early-to mid-20th century U.S. books that mentioned Philippine history, and compare them to the history written by Filipinos beginning in...

May 16, 2018

Saipan— In the early and pre-boom days of the Commonwealth of the NMI, Marianas Variety reported that there were “at least five women on Saipan engaged in prostitution, all of whom have a lucrative business operation.”

One of them was a statesider, Cherry, “who looks nearer 27 than 21.”

“After one rapid drink and some price negotiations,” MV reported, Cherry and a client “were headed toward her [hotel] room. A short time later,...

April 8, 2018

Saipan — The U.S. seized the NMI and the other Japanese mandated islands in Micronesia during World War II. They were then administered by the U.S.  Navy and, later, by the Interior Department, through the Trust Territory government.

  In 1968, Father Francis Hazel — Micronesia’s foremost scholar and historian — noted that “despite…serious limitations, there was widespread optimism through the early years of the U.S. administra...

March 16, 2018

   Saipan — In 1965, the U.S. government hired Robert A. Nathan Associates to conduct “the first systematic economic survey” of the former Japanese mandated islands in the Pacific. These were the Marshalls, Palau, Ponape (Pohnpei), Truk (Chuuk), Yap and the NMI. They were then administered by the U.S. through the Trust Territory government whose capital was Saipan.

   At the time, Nathan Associates was one of Washington, D...

February 5, 2018

   Saipan — Before the U.S. invasion of the NMI in 1944, the islands had a booming economy fueled by Japanese investments — and imported labor. By 1940, according to Micronesian historian and scholar, Father Francis X. Hezel, there were about 85,000 Japanese in the NMI and the rest of the Japanese mandated islands (now known as the Freely Associated States). “Eighty percent of the total labor force in the islands was Japa...

January 1, 2018

Saipan— Evolutionary scientists say we are descendants of people whose brains prioritized bad news. Doomsday scenarios fascinate us. No one will read/watch/listen to the news media if they peddle good news only. The most appealing news are always about bad if not catastrophic events.

   In my lifetime, so far, I had been told that the end was near because of: Armageddon as “predicted” by the Bible, thermonuclear war, global coo...

October 31, 2017

   Saipan — Every time there’s news about corruption or corruption allegations involving an NMI government official, someone, locals included, will inevitably “remember” that Magellan called these islands “Ladrones,” the Spanish word for thieves.

  

   But did he?

   Magellan landed not on any of the Northern Mariana Islands but on Guam where the natives made off with a small rowboat of the Spaniards. So, Magellan...

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