Posts by Lyn:

    Filipino American shines as Marianas Baptist Academy wins 16th Academic Challenge Bowl in Saipan

    February 18th, 2018

    The 16th Academic Challenge Bowl champion Marianas Baptist Academy students – Joanah Victoria B. Jimenez, Keith Gester Villasin, Lyndon Digno, Deancy Adriel Y. Chua, teacher and coach Manuel C. Castro Jr., and Sebastian Dearborn L. Bernardo. Photo © Lyn Lirio


    IT IS a back-to-back win for Filipino-American middle schooler led Marianas Baptist Academy as they won the 16th Annual Academic Challenge Bowl, Middle School division held at Saipan Southern High School on Saturday.

    According to MBA Fil-Am teacher and coach Manny Castro, this is the second year in a row that the school bagged the championship and the third time they won. The first was in 2014.

    The MBA team – composed of Fil-Am team captain Joanah Victoria B. Jimenez, Keith Gester Villasin, Lyndon Digno, Deancy Adriel Y. Chua and Sebastian Dearborn L. Bernardo – bested 11 middle schools from public and private.

    The MBA garnered a total score of 845 from 135 questions, covering Mathematics, Science and Technology, Arts and Literature and current events. The academy battled it out with Saipan International School, Grace Christian Academy and Agape Christian School in the second and final round.

    In an interview, Castro thanked God for guiding them and for giving them the perseverance to work hard.

    “Whenever we practice, we pray first. I gave them a lot of materials. I study for myself too and then I imparted [what I learned] to my students,” he said adding “I really push them so hard. Sometimes they always tell me ‘Mr. Castro is too much’. Now I think they see the reward of what we were working for.”

    Castro thanked their pastor and school principal Ramiro Trinidad for supporting them and the students’ parents who provide food for them when they were practicing for the competition.

    Team captain Jimenez thanked Castro for putting all the effort in order to win the competition.

    “After school, we practiced. When we don’t have class, we practiced. Sometimes, even on Saturday, we practiced. It is difficult balancing it with our regular life, but I’m really proud of my team members and our coach for the effort. It paid off,” she said.

    Castro said Jimenez was also the CNMI Math champion.

    Jimenez, who went to the Philippines for Christmas holiday, arrived on Saipan two week before the academic challenge bowl.

    “We practiced while she was still in the Philippines. Only for the last two weeks that she was able to join us. I gave her materials so that she can study while in the Philippines,” Castro said.

    Castro said the next step is the national competition.

    “If the Public School System will support us to compete in the national competition in the States, we will probably go. Last year, that was what happened. I am not assuming, but hopeful that they will support us again.”

    School standing on first round:

    1. Marianas Baptist Academy – 330

    2. Agape Christian School – 305

    3. Saipan International School – 290

    Grace Christian School – 290

    4. Saipan Community School – 255

    5. Mount Carmel School – 225

    6. Northern Marianas International School – 220

    Dandan Middle School – 220

    7. Francisco M. Sablan Middle School – 205

    8. Green Meadows School – 205

    9. Hopwood Middle School – 200

    10. Chacha Ocean View Middle School – 185

    School standing for second and final round:

    1. Marianas Baptist Academy – 845

    2. Saipan International School – 800

    3. Grace Christian Academy – 760

    4. Agape Christian School – 725

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    Trouble continues between air carrier and health provider in Saipan

    February 14th, 2018

    Esther Muña

    THE Star Marianas owes the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation USD$172,932.03 for the unpaid hospital bills of the 10 persons, who were injured in two separate crash incidents in November 2012 and in October the following year.

    Thus claimed CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muña during an interview.

    “We were there for them. We provided services for the patients, their passengers. They say they have the insurance, but we didn’t get paid,” Muña said.

    She was referring to two Star Marianas Air charter planes which figured in accidents in 2012 and 2013.

    In November 2012, a Tinian-bound Star Marianas Air charter flight crashed at the Saipan airport. The incident killed one passenger and four Chinese tourists, the pilot and Filipino guest worker, were critically injured. They were brought to the CHCC for treatment.

    In October 2013, three people were killed and four were injured in a plane crash in the jungles of Mt. Laso. The four survivors, Chinese tourists, were flown to the CHCC for treatment.

    Muña admitted the Star Marianas has been writing to them, saying that CHCC owe them.

    “I know they have written to us, saying ‘you owe us’, but wait a minute, you owe us.”

    She said one of her staff is asking the record from the Star Marianas Air the account of $96,000 they supposedly owed them.

    “We called their accountant to give us me a statement of 96k. We are waiting,” Muña added.

    According to Muña, CHCC handles inter-island medical referrals.

    She further explained that in January 2017, Star Marianas Air wrote a letter to everybody, including CHCC, that they will require upfront payment.

    “The reason they give us is that they were affected by CW cap and their accounting department will be impacted. They will not do bookkeeping anymore because they don’t have bookkeeper. What they want to do is cash basis, so there would be no accounting,” she said.

    “For us, every day I have been signing on travel authorizations. I have been issuing checks because of this memo,” she said, adding “basically, every morning I got TAs for Star Marianas Air because there’s a traveler for inter-island medical referral.”

    “We met with them. We asked them if it is any possibility that you bill us in a week and we pay in a week. They don’t want to do it. We even asked if we could pre-pay, let us put a $10,000 and then draw it down. They don’t want it because, again, it is bookkeeping,” she added.

    Muña has requested the assistance of Sen. Teresita Santos to alleviate the situation. She said despite booking a seat, the Inter Island Medical Recipient travelers can lose their seat to another traveler if that traveler makes a payment before CHCC can.

    “The effect of this condition is that our IIMR patients from Rota are exposed to the risk of losing their critical opportunity for medical travel to Saipan. Given that there is a public accountability process for all government agencies we cannot issue payments simultaneously upon booking a reservation,” she stated in a letter addressed to Santos.

    “Upon booking a reservation, CHCC must perform necessary procedures such as producing a travel authorization and having it approved. CHCC must also then prepare the payment for the travel through CHCC’s financial system, obtain approvals, and then print the check. These procedures are a required of government agencies,” she added.

    “If the provider, in the spirit of healthcare for our families on Rota, would confirm IIMR seats and allow for even a 24-hour period for payment, this would alleviate the issue. One day to receive payment does not seem to be a burden on the provider,” she added.

    Muña said they are doing all of these procedures but Star Marianas put more restrictions, especially when canceling a flight.

    “You have to cancel within 72 hours, if you have to cancel the flight. We are only allowed one rescheduled flight. If we don’t use it, we will lose the money. We will have to buy another ticket. In another company you can have an opportunity to cancel. It is called non refundable but changeable. You can make changes to your flight and you could use that ticket in some ways,” Muña said.

    Muna also said they are only asking to give them time to process the IIMR travel so that the patient will not be bumped off from the flight.
    “It is not about money. We have the money, we have the system in place. It is just an everyday thing and it is costing too much.”

    “Aside paying cash, Star Marianas allows payment system through credit card, or Paypal or company checks. We don’t do cash. We don’t have credit card, we only have company checks,” she added.

    She said they tried to address the situation by using a travel agent, but CHCC is paying expensive tickets for that.

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    Successful job fair for students held in Saipan

    February 13th, 2018

    Americorps Volunteer CNMI coordinator Vicky Nicolas explains to students the responsibilities and benefits of becoming a volunteer. Photo © Lyn Lirio

    OVER 35 private companies and government agencies and more than 70 students in Saipan participated in recently held job fair, under the Public School System’s Cooperative Education program at the Saipan World Resort.

    Acting education commissioner Glenn Muna said the Cooperative Education program’s goal is to help the students develop the skills needed to enter the workforce.

    “Right now, the students are coming with their resume. It gives them the skills of how to market themselves when they are being interviewed,” he said, adding he is happy with the turnout of the event.

    “Many of our business partners are coming back to support the cooperative program,” he said, adding “we hope to see all of our students being hired for internship and giving them the opportunity to actually get the first-hand experience on being employed, knowing the expectations such as reporting to work on time, come to work every day, dressed professionally, responding customer service, all those necessary skills to be successful in the future.

    Eventually everyone is going to the workforce whether to the military or after college. It is our goal in this program to provide the students with that skills,” Muna added.

    According to Brandon S. Nicolas, Public School System program coordinator, they have been conducting job fair twice a year to accommodate more students. The latest fair was held last Thursday.

    “We are hoping to get even more. We will continue to reach to even more students on Saipan, Tinian and Rota. The job fair that we have now is on Saipan and we are hoping to bring it on Tinian and Rota as well,” Nicolas said in an interview.

    According to Nicolas, the program is primarily for juniors and seniors because they are of working age.

    “Other requirement is that they have a 2.0 GPA and good attendance – it is required not just in school but also at work,” he added.

    “They have to have good attendance at school because very large part of training is exposing our students to proper work force behavior and making sure that you are on time for work and don’t missed work schedule. If students cannot commit that schedule in school, they most likely can’t commit at work,” he explained.

    Prior to the job fair, Nicolas said, students were required to take cooperative education class, where they learn basic workforce skills, proper behavior and financial literacy.

    “We are preparing them for the rote of work. So when they come to the cooperative training, they are ready,” he said.

    Jeaniffer H. Cubangbang, Marianas High School’s Cooperative Education and Career Technical Education teacher, said they teach the students in the program how to get employed and be college-ready and career-ready.

    “We are also helping to build sustainability and build capacity within the CNMI, especially we have been so dependent on contract workers and CWs,” she said.

    One of the student-applicants is Jewel Cubangbang, MHS senior students, said this is the third time to participate in the coop job fair.

    “It is a great learning for students like me to really get a job and be flexible in school schedules.”
    Another MHS student Francisco Tuwun said the cooperative training has helped him a lot in improving his personality.

    “I gained new skills. I worked with the companies under the coop training and education program. I gained skills that are necessary to apply for a job.”

    This is the third for Tuwun to participate in the program. As a result, he was able to work at the Pacific Islands Club and the Corral Ocean Point hotels in the past semesters.

    “It made me more enthusiastic and not shy. I learned new vocabulary words. I learned to be more proficient, to be professional. I learned to talk politely. I learned techniques on how to be more organized,” Tuwun, who is graduating this year, said.

    MHS sophomore student Rachel Apritado said this is her first time to participate in the job fair.

    “I was overwhelmed, but I know what to expect because we were taught how to have confidence, especially during the interview. We were also taught the proper way on how to deal with people that we never know before and social skills enhancement,” she said.

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    Fil-Am teen from Saipan got invited to West Point due to outstanding academic credentials

    February 11th, 2018

    Marianas High School sophomore Julia Theresa S. Malate, left, received an early invitation from the U.S. Military Academy. With Malate is MHS teacher Jeaniffer H. Cubangbang. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

    A FIFTEEN-year old Filipina-American from Saipan, Julia Theresa S. Malate, got an early invitation from the West Point Military Academy due to her outstanding academic credentials.

    “Your outstanding high school record has been noticed by the United States Military Academy at West Point. We think you should apply for admission,” stated in a letter sent to Malate.
    U.S. Army Col. Deborah J. McDonald, director of admissions, encouraged Malate to start her application process through the website provided by the USMA.

    “The United States Military Academy has much to offer top students like you,” the letter said.

    The USMA, according to McDonald, is an accredited four- year college consistently ranked among the best colleges in the nation. It provides a fully funded education valued at more than $200,000. The tuition, room and board, health dental care, and a monthly salary are included. It offers more than 35 high-demand majors – from computer science and engineering to psychology and international relations. It trains students to be leaders in all aspects of life and prepares them for success in a guaranteed job as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army after graduation.

    “For West Point, before you start applying, you were supposed to be invited by them. The invitation usually comes at senior year, but I got an early invitation this year to apply,” Malate said in an interview.

    Malate is a sophomore student at MHS.

    “They recommended that I take more advance classes or may be even college classes so that the time I get to West Point, I can just move up to calculus of something higher up,” she said, adding she got the letter of invitation last Jan. 20. Her plan is to finish high school next school year.

    “I plan to apply, hopefully get accepted, pass the fitness test and then I will go West Point.”

    However, Malate said her parents suggested that it would be better if she finish high school in four years, instead of three.

    Malate said she was surprised on the early invitation she got from West Point.

    “I felt shocked because I didn’t know I would get it so early. But then I was really happy because it is my college that I have been dreaming to go to.”

    “I perused West Point at an early stated because I wanted to know the requirements, just being a step ahead early. Yet, when I was asking the admissions some questions, they told to sign my name so they would email me (in the future) to apply,” she said.

    When she told her parents about her invitation, Malate said her parents just looked at her. She said her parents were very supportive of her and her siblings.

    When she told the news to her brother Robert, who is attending Harvard University, he was not surprised, according to Malate.

    “I know that once you apply you will get in,” was Robert’s reply to his sister.

    (Read More:

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    CNMI aeronautics team won the 2018 Pacific Statewide Real World Design Challenge.

    February 10th, 2018

    WINNERS: Members of the CNMI aeronautics team are pictured with Marianas High School Teacher Jeaniffer Cubangbang, at right. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

    THE Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands Aeronautics team won in the 2018 Pacific Statewide Real World Design Challenge.

    Jeaniffer Cubangbang, Marianas High School Cooperative Education and Career Technical Education teacher and STEM adviser, said the team, which is composed of MHS Students, receive official notice on Jan. 23 that they have won the regional competition, beating Guam and American Samoa.

    “So first it goes to the CNMI level, which we won. Then, we compete with Pacific-statewide, participated by students from CNMI, Guam and American Samoa. As of yesterday, we have official notice that we also won the Pacific region, beating Guam. This is our seven consecutive year of winning the island-wide and Pacific statewide,” Cubangbang announced.

    Cubangbang and MHS principal Cherlyn Cabrera and interim education commissioner Glenn Muna recognized the CNMI Aeronautics team Chenoa Bunts-Anderson, Ian Cataluna, Mimi Sakano, Daniel Villarmero, Eun Jun Wang, Gaeun Melody Yang for their achievement.

    Cubangbang said the team will go to Washington, D.C. on April 21 to compete nationally. He added that if they win in the national they will move up to international competition.

    The awarding ceremony was held at the MHS J-014 room on Wednesday morning.

    “We are very proud to present our RWDC winners. MHS continues to produce a lot of winners and we are very proud of them. We want to thank all our coaches and mentors for helping and working with our students,” Muna said.

    Muna, an MHS alumnus, said CNMI has won nationwide competition twice and it is the seventh year that CNMI won the regional competition.

    “Students worked really hard. Many times they stay up all night. I wish them the best and I hope they will bring home the trophy,” he added.

    Cabrera thanked Cubangbang and other teachers who gave support to students and their parents.

    “We don’t see how much support parents give, but they give a lot because they let their students study for hours.”

    She said their students are active in participating in the competition “because they want to stretch themselves and they want to challenge themselves.”

    “We want MHS to be that kind of environment, a place where people challenge themselves academically, challenge themselves to explore science, technology, engineering and math,” she said.

    In an interview with project manager Chenoa Bunts-Anderson and Daniel Villarmero, systems and test engineer; said their project is designing an agricultural drone that would be able to efficiently detect pests and kill those pests through spraying and therefore producing more food and sustaining the population growth.

    “At first we were given a challenge which is to solve a problem in the world. This year the problem was we don’t have enough food. With the rate our population is growing and how much we produced, in 50 years a lot of people will be starving. We wanted to build and design an agricultural drone,” Bunts-Anderson said.

    Bunts-Anderson and Villarmero co-designed the aircraft. They started the project in August last year.

    “We spent a lot of time brainstorming, thinking about how we will come out with this. We reach out to our mentors, we get a lot of expertise, we grow on our knowledge base and then we start designing our aircraft,” Bunts-Anderson said.

    They also deal on writing an 80-page notebook about their project. They also do a 3D CAD model, a computerized 3D version of the actual aircraft and put it in simulation.

    Villarmero said they have to do a lot of calculations to prove that when it is built it can actually do that job. The challenge they encountered was designing the aircraft.

    “We had a design engineer for three years which left last year, Robert Malate. That was the gap that we need to fill in. We did train someone but for some reason he has to leave,” Bunts-Anderson said.

    However, they are excited to go to Washington, D.C. and meet the people who are in the competition.

    The MHS also recognized Anjanette Jewel Cubangbang and Michaela Gatdula for winning the International Thespian Society Tech CNMI-wide competition.

    “They have one more competition to win [regional competition] and they will go to Nebraska,” Cubangbang said.

    The MHS also congratulated Julia Malate. She was given an invitation to apply at Westpoint, a military academy in the U.S. (Read More:

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    Reunited after 102 years of separation

    January 21st, 2018

    Hermann Woitschek arrived on Saipan in 1899. He served the local community as medical aid, post office officer and police force trainer. Photo © Woitschek family

    AFTER 102 years of being separated and decades of search the Cabrera, Cepeda and Woitschek families got together in a grand reunion at the historic Carolinian Utt in Saipan.

    Cynthia C. Pangelinan, one of the great granddaughters of Hermann Woitschek, said they finally found the missing link – the Woitschek family where they all came from.

    About a year ago, Pangelinan said, Erika Woitchek Entenmann contacted her through Facebook asking about her grandfather and other relations.

    “Erika found me first on Facebook. If I remember clearly, she asked if I am a relative of Edward Cabrera, son of August Cabrera. Of course I responded with ‘I am the daughter of Edward and granddaughter of August.’ Then, she introduced herself,” Pangelinan recounted.

    “That’s when I found out that she was the long lost Woitschek family that we were all looking for the longest time,” she said.

    When she got the message from Erika, Pangelinan said she was really shocked.

    “I started sending message to my family on FB. I told them ‘guess what, we finally found the missing link of our Woitschek family of our great grandfather Hermann Woitschek’.”

    Hermann Woitschek with wife Antonia in front of the Saipan administration building. Photo © Woitschek family

    Hermann Woitschek

    Hermann Woitschek, who arrived on Saipan on 1899 as medical assistant to a doctor was sent to the island during the German administration.

    While staying on Saipan, Woitchek married with Soledad Cepeda and had a son Juan Cepeda. They got separated and got together with Antonia Palacios Cabrera, whom he had three children – Asuncion Cabrera – Blanco, Rosa Ema Cabrera – Tudela, and August Cabrera.

    Due to lack of doctor in the local community, Woitschek was the one who tend to sick people. When he arrived here on Saipan, he was also a post officer and trained local people to become police officers. He also established music band in the police troop.

    In 1916, two years after World War I broke, the Japanese arrived and forced the Germans to leave the island. The German’s gunboat left the island with German nationals sans their family. That was the last time Hermann Woitschek saw his wife and his children.

    Pangelinan’s story

    When Pangelinan was a little girl – growing up in the ‘70s, her great grand aunt Nieves Cabrera-Manibusan would always tell stories about their family.

    Nieves was the sister of Pangelinan’s great-grandmother Antonia Palacios Cabrera.

    “She would tell us stories about the German times because my great-grand aunt Nieves lived during the German period. She would always call us during the weekend and would sit us down and tell us stories about great grandpa, Hermann Woitschek,” she said.

    “’You need to know that you have this other family that live in Germany. He is your great grandfather. They called him doctor’ she told us,” Pangelinan said.

    Nieves, according to Pangelinan, started to explain how the local community would refer to their great grandfather as doctor.

    “He was actually a medical aid to the doctor that was sent from Germany to help the people on Saipan and the other island. When the doctor was not available, our great grandfather used to see and tend to people’s medical needs. So the local community started calling him doctor.”

    She said her great grand aunt would tell them stories of how their great grandmother Antonia eventually lived with Woitschek in a house and they raised three kids. One story that she remembered clearly was when the day the German period ended at the Marianas.

    Pangelinan said when the German gunboat came to Saipan. It took all the German citizens, including their great grandfather. Quoting Nieves, Pangelinan also said their great grandmother Antonio was very sad when her husband left.

    “She was taken somewhere the backside of the island, it might be Mt. Tapochao or somewhere high where she can actually see the bay and see the German gunboat sail away,” she said.

    “I asked my Aunt Nieves why she did not follow her husband and take the children with her. At that time, she couldn’t leave with the children, only the German citizens. No locals were allowed to leave the island or to go to the Germany,” Pangelinan was told.

    It was learned from Nieves that Woitschek promised Antonia that he will be back for them.

    “Great grandma would wait for him every day, waiting for him and praying that one day he would come back. But it didn’t happen,” she said.

    “From what I gathered from my great grandma, the WWI broke out and he was drafted and fought for Germany,” she said.

    After the war, Woitschek started a new life with his third wife, Anna Jadeel, a widow. They had a son, Helmut Woitschek, who is father of Erika.

    From left, Basilisa B. Villanueva, Erika Woitschek Entenmenn, Jovita B. Tomokano, and Jose Cepeda. Photo © Lyn Lirio

    Erika Woitschek Entenmann’s story

    When Hermann Woitschek came back to Germany, Europe was still at war.

    “He has to go as medical aid into war in Greece.”

    “During the war, Woitschek had malaria and when he saw that he had no chance to come back after some years, he built a new family. He married a widow who had two daughters from first marriage. They lived in Germany. They had a son, Helmut who is my father,” she said.

    “For sometime I was looking at the internet, I write the name of my grandpa. We found an article because he was a postman, but nothing about his family on Saipan,” she said.

    According to Erika, she read an article about 100 years of German administration on Marianas. It mentioned the name of Woitschek and his family here, including his wife Antonia and their children. She said, their search for family on Saipan started when her grandfather wrote for his retirement. He had to write down what happened to his life.

    “We learned about his life on Saipan. We learned that he had two wives and a total of four children. We started searching for them,” she said.

    Hermann Woitschek died in 1964. When they finally made contact with their other family on Saipan, Erika said they started planning for the trip.

    “It was an amazing experience to be together with a family this big.”

    In Germany, we are only 10 people from my grandfather.

    “Here we have a lot of people who carry the same blood and it touched my heart to see them,” she said, adding that her grandfather tried so hard to search for them.

    Erika said, she had apprehension coming to Saipan as the family on the island might not remember Woitschek anymore because many generations had already passed.

    “But everybody remember him. All the relatives have pictures of our grandpa and everyone knows him,” she said.

    Erika was with her daughter Eva Entenmann when she made a one-week visit on Saipan.

    “We were so emotional. We cried when I first saw my family here. We meet a lot of them. We meet the children of Cepeda and Cabrera where our roots came from,” she added.

    She said her Saipan family does not know why he had to leave and how hard he tried to come back for them, “but because of unfortunate events, he was unable to come back.”

    Erika said the ‘big question mark has cleared up’,” she said.

    “I hope we stay in contact and they visit us in Germany. We now understand why grandpa stayed here and doesn’t want to go home. It’s paradise here,” she said.

    Pangelinan said they have been searching for the missing link – the other Woitschek family.

    “I was very curious as to who they are but we don’t have idea of who they are, what they are, how many of them, how are they are,” she said, adding “I am glad they traveled thousands of miles to see their family.”

    “This is going to be connection for the rest of our lives. We have that connection, the link is finally connected. Hopefully, through her, we can meet the other members of the family,” she said.

    Jose Cepeda, 73, son of Woitschek’s first son Juan Cepeda.

    He was sick and could not walk but he was able to attend the reunion last Saturday. He was very emotional when he met Erika and her daughter.

    “I was very overwhelmed. I know we have family in Germany but I did not know them,” he said.

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    Marianas High School students, including a Fil-Am, among the winners of the Congressional apps making contest

    January 20th, 2018

    Winners of the 2017 Congressional App Challenge Marianas High School senior students Chenoa Bunts- Anderson (left) and Daniel Villarmero. Photo © Lyn Lirio

    MARIANAS senior high school students Chenoa Bunts-Anderson and Daniel Villarmero won the 2017 Congressional App Challenge making them the official Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Island winning representatives for the app making contest.

    According to the winning duo, the Washington D.C. based competition is hosted by the respective members of the Congress for their district. They also said 22 students and 13 app entries competed in the CNMI for the right to represent the islands in the winning circle.

    Bunts-Anderson and Villarmero won with their web-based app “The Student Companion” which gives students a set of tools to help with their studies.
    The tools include a task manager with reminders and a relaxation page that utilizes calming images and soothing music to help students rest during study breaks.

    According Villarmero, one of the apps’ main features is its ability to organize a student’s school tasks in general.

    “In the app, it is separated to homework class, quizzes and tests and extra-curricular, the main three activities that student students usually plan for,” he said.

    Another part of the app, Villarmero added, is “master list”, where students can look back and see what they have done. He added another function of the app is “stress remover” that plays soothing music while showing scenic places.

    “Its main purpose is to help you unwind.”

    The app is a login base that a user will have their own curated panels.
    “They can access it from anywhere – either by phone, laptop, or public computer because it is online.”

    The district competition, now on its third year, took place in July through early November.

    A panel of judges – experts in Computer Science field – judged the entries and announced the winners in December.

    Bunts-Anderson said she found out about the competition sometime several weeks before the deadline.

    “I thought this is an amazing experience for us to get involved for the STEM community because there’s not much opportunity on the island. I knew that it is something that would interest me, so I contacted Daniel and ask him.”

    She said the first thing they decide is what kind of app they wanted to do.

    “I sorted out with the list of the problems that I faced on a daily basis. What kind of app that we could actually create that would be the solutions to our problems.”

    They started developing the ‘The Student Companion’ app in October 1 and completed it and submitted the same on Nov. 1, 2017.

    She said the app is a solution to a problem of not having a good way to organize the schedule and work and also even to calm down students who are stressed from work.

    “Instead of having separate apps to do separate things, we wanted to combine them all into one platform so that is more cohesive. They don’t have to transfer for different apps, they just have to use one,” Villarmero said.

    “We wanted a way for people to have easy access all of the information they need on a daily basis,” Bunts-Anderson said.

    Both students get recognition for winning the competition. They will also get $250 from Amazon. Their app is featured in Cong. Gregorio Kilili Sablan’s website. It will also be featured in House of Representatives in Washington.
    Villarmero said all the winners will get together at the conference on April 13 at the US House of Representatives, where they will have a chance to talk to people from Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

    “We were excited to win this competition and it is a great opportunity for a student like us to get involved,” Bunts-Anderson said.

    According to Villarmero, this challenge “is a good way to test my programming skills because I usually my own personal projects and then push it to the side. With this challenge I was able to focus on my program skills and look to more documentations and manuals. Overall, this challenge helped me sharpened my own skills as programmer.”

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    Quilt artist’s work in display in Saipan’s Joeten-Kiyu Public Library

    January 19th, 2018

    Debbie Winkfield has been quilting for 40 years now. For her, quilting is a connection of memories. Photo © Lyn Lirio

    DEBBIE Winkfield’s Quilt “Coral Kingdom” is an artwork made out of reused and recycled materials. Her under-the-sea themed quilt is now on display at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library.

    In an interview, Winkfield said it was her first time to quilt for public display.

    I do quilt for my kids and grandkids but I never did this one before.”

    She said she only quilt just to use up her scrap fabrics.

    The fabrics that she used for “Coral Kingdom” were mostly donated by her girl friends.

    They gave me fabrics with bright colors. I am happy that we can use it in a way that everybody can enjoy,” she said, adding “I tried to think of what can be used with so many colors and to me it is appropriate because we live on the island, that’s why I picked under the sea theme.”

    For her, quilting is making a connection [of memories]. She used her daughter’s Phonpeian skirt, took out the flowers and include it in the quilt. She also used her aunt’s 1950s dress which she did not throw away.

    It is an art that is not behind the glass.”

    A retired teacher from Saipan Community School, Winkfield worked on the quilt for two months. She started sewing it in August.

    In September, she had to stop because they have to go to the Philippines to seek medical help. She continued the work when she came back in Saipan in November and donated it to the library when she completed it in December.

    She said she was inspired to go on quilting whenever she saw her grandchildren – one and three years old – enjoying seeing many colors.

    Every day, when I was quilting they came in. In fact, when this one [Coral Kingdom] was on the ground, my one-year-old grandchild was stepping on it, he was playing on it. They were excited and I really enjoyed watching them getting excited,” she said.

    Winkfield started sewing when she was in fifth grade. She started quilting 40 years ago.

    My mother sent me to sewing school. I keep all the scraps. I don’t want to throw away so I just saved it,” she said.

    She confessed that she had collected scraps of fabrics since then, which occupied one-full room of her house.

    I told myself I have to do something with it or the fabric will go bad. That’s why I started quilting because I don’t want to throw it away,” she added.

    Winkfield said she doesn’t sell her quilt. She just gave them to her family.

    I have been doing quilting but only for my kids and my friends, only for using up my scrap. It is only the first time I have been doing this [for the library].

    Through her quilt, Winkfield wants to encourage people to reuse and recycle clothes and make something out of it.

    Don’t throw your trash. Respect what you have. You can use it even in small things. No sense in throwing it away. That is why I can’t. It hurts when I throw it away,” she said.

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    Fifteen entries to be judged in Marianas’ 2nd annual Young Authors Writing Competition

    January 18th, 2018

    CNMI First Lady Diann Torres (first from the left) with foundation’s volunteers Samantha Sikayun and Tiana Reyes promoting two published books from young authors. Photo © Lyn Lirio

    THE Common Wealth of Northern Mariana Islands First Lady Diann Torres Foundation received 15 book entries written in Chamorro and five from Carolinian languages in its second annual Young Authors Writing Competition.

    According to first lady Diann Torres, the deadline ended in November. They are now in the process of judging those entries and will soon announce the winners.

    “One of the missions of our foundation is to promote the language and our culture. Our program is to create young authors. I published a book once upon a time in 2007, and so I wanted to produce young authors as well,” Mrs. Torres said in an interview during the well attended celebration of the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library’s 26th anniversary late last year.

    The first contest was launched in February 2016.

    The foundation published the winning books – “Hafa Sinentete-Mu?” by Adora Jay A. San Nicolas and “I Lina la Hu (My Life)” by Coloma Castro.

    Mrs. Torres said they are still in the process of publishing the Carolinian version of the first competition.

    By April, Mrs. Torres hopes that they will launch the winning books of the second competition.

    “When we celebrate the Cultural Month in April, we will have those books ready and published.”

    She said the competition was open to students – elementary, middle school and high schools in Saipan, Tinian and Rota. The book has to be written in local languages with English translation.

    “Unfortunately, we did not get participants from the high school this year again. We reached out to all highs schools and told the principals that we did not get participants in the first time around.

    We were that in the second competition we were able to get their participation, but they were not able to submit anything,” she said.

    “It’s an opportunity for all the kids. If you are an author, you are an author forever. We would like to give that opportunity. It is just unfortunate that we are not getting feedback from schools. But we will try again the third time,” she added.

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    The memory of a fallen American hero remains fresh

    January 17th, 2018

    The late Capt. David Lyon. Image © Lori Lyn Lirio

    MORE than four years after his death, the memory of US Air Force Captain David Lyon is still fresh among American veterans of foreign wars.

    In fact last December 27, members of the Veterans Affairs and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3457 joined the crew of the logistic vessel Capt. David in honoring Capt. Lyon, a logistics officer from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado who was killed in Afghanistan.
    The commemoration of his fourth death anniversary was held at the American Memorial Park.

    In an interview with Capt. David Steiner, he said they held the remembrance ceremony wherever the ship was docked.

    “We are here on the day of death anniversary of Capt. David I. Lyon. There couldn’t be a better place to remember our fallen hero, who is Capt. Lyon,” he said.

    Air Force and Navy officials honored Lyon by naming a positioning vessel after him.

    “To honor Dave’s legacy, and to honor his calling as an Air Force logistician, I can think of no more fitting tribute than to name this motor vessel the (Capt.) David I. Lyon,” then Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said during the official naming ceremony on Jan. 14, 2014 at the Pentagon.

    According to Steiner, the vessel binds the country to the military and acts as a representative of American values. He said the naming ships for heroes, like Capt. Lyon, is keeping alive their legacy and their contribution to the country.

    He also said that Lyon’s death first anniversary was commemorated in Korea.

    “We did the first one in Korea, where the ship was docked at that time. The following year was in Diego Garcia,” he said.

    On the third year, Steiner said they were not able to commemorate his death anniversary because the ship was transiting at sea. He added that they feel it is their duty to honor him as his family has been supportive of the ship and the mission.

    “He is a great American hero. It is a shame that he has to lose his life at such a young age but he did willingly and without hesitation and David is always out front, always leading. He was quite a young man. His wife was also an Air Force captain and they were stationed in Afghanistan.”

    Members of CNMI Veterans Affairs and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3457 join the crew of Capt. Lyon vessel in honoring Capt. David I. Lyon in his fourth death anniversary. Image © Lori Lyn Lirio

    In his statement, executive officer for Military Liaison and Veteran Affairs Oscar Torres said “the ship carries the mission that David Lyon started in life. As an Air Force logistic officer, Capt. Lyon’s primary mission was to ensure the forward deployed war fighters had everything they needed to carry the fight to the enemy.”

    “In this new chapter, the MV David I. Lyon has the same mission. The men and women MV David I. Lyon also carries the spirit of ‘mission accomplishment’, because they routinely, on a day-to-day basis, keep this ship 100 percent ready to ensure the war fighter has everything needed to carry any fight to any enemy. It is a fitting tribute to a young American hero.”

    A 2008 graduate of the Air Force Academy, Lyon joined in the service when the United States and her allies were fully engaged in the war on terror.

    Four years after receiving his commission, he volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan to join the fight. He was deployed in 2013 to support the national mission.

    While serving a year-long deployment in Afghanistan, Capt. Lyon was killed when a vehicle-born improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy.

    He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Purple Heart, and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.

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    The Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Island Museum of History and Culture soon to open

    January 16th, 2018

    CNMI Museum of History and Culture. Image © Saipan Tribune

    TWO years after it was shutdown, the Northern Mariana Islands Museum of History and Culture is close to reopening it again as the repair of the facility is 75 percent complete.

    Thus quipped the museum’s Executive Director Danny Aquino. He also disclosed that the immediate problems that existed prior to his arrival have already been fixed.

    Problems such as roof leaks causing flooding, termite buildup, electrical issues causing poor lighting conditions, lack of functioning air-conditioning systems, lack of running water and functioning toilets resulting poor sanitary conditions, decrepit appearance of the museum and the lack of storage facility have been completed or near completion.

    “When I initially came on board, the museum was in a deplorable state. There was only two staff which consisted of James Macaranas and myself. It was an overwhelming situation that would require an extreme amount of stress, patience, long hours and support,” he said.

    The repair works, according to Aquino, started in June.

    “We worked for months, seven days a week to restore the museum.”
    CNMI Museum received a total of $105,000 from the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation (SNILD) and from Marianas Visitors Authority (MVA) purposely intended for the repair of the building.

    Many of the problems at the facility have been existed for nine years, Aquino said.

    “You cannot even call it a museum; it was a 3,000-square-foot storage that was leaking. It is looking a museum now,” he said.

    A media tour was held on Tuesday. No more leaks or internal flooding in the museum anymore.
    The museum was divided in different eras. Mementos in German time and Japanese time and event Chamorro and Carolinian were separated in different areas.

    The toilets were also repaired as they replaced the old toilet bowls and urinals with new ones.

    “The repairs of the museum roofs, new water lines, bathroom renovations were made possible from a generous grant from the Marianas Visitors Authority and the supplemental money from the Legislature,” he said, adding IT&E donated 12 air- conditioning systems.

    “To save money on displays cases and stands, we worked with what we had by staining and varnishing all existing and functioning display cases and display stands. These display cases were from a donation of T Galleria prior to my employment,” he said.

    Aquino said they are almost done with the repair and is now working on updating the wall displays with large format vinyl and canvases.

    “We recently had one large 4ft. x 8ft. vinyl installed and another 8ft. x 8ft vinyl installed for Georg Fritz and the German Era,” he said.

    “We are confident and hopeful that the residents and tourist will enjoy and like what we have done and where we are heading with regards to the repairs, renovations and future of the museum,” Aquino added.

    No schedule on soft opening of the 19-year-old museum yet, but any individual or group who are interested may contact the museum office at 664-2160 for information.

    “I am confident that we are in the right path to recovery and a stage where the CNMI residents can be proud of their museum. The individuals who have visited the museum in the past will be tremendously shocked with the transformation. To see the surprised faces and positive feedback of individuals says it all. All the hard work was worth it,” he said.

    Aquino said the museum is currently needing a curator and four tour guides.

    “Chairman John Gonzales and our museum board of governors have been equally supportive and surprised and pleased with the transformation of the museum. I want to thank them for approving my contract extension and salary increase of $50,000 which is the salary that was given to my predecessors,” he said.

    Aquino thanked the Legislature members, including Speaker Ralph Demapan, chairman for the SNIL Delegation John Paul Sablan, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Angel Demapan, MVA Managing Director Chris Concepcion for the financial support.

    He also thanked IT&E, Saipan Shipping, Saipan Stevedore, and CMS Trucking for their generous support in form of in-kind contributions.

    “There are also many partners who worked relentlessly behind the scenes to get the museum where it is now and I would like to thank them for everything they have done to help us. I would like to express thanks to the Secretary of Finance, her staff, the Treasury office and her staff for being accommodating and processing our vendor payments in a timely manner,” he said.

    He also extended his appreciation to the Procurement Director Herman Sablan and his staff for processing the purchase requisitions and purchase orders and “for identifying that the museum was in an emergency state when I entered.”

    He said Mayor David Apatang and his operations crew have been a big help.

    “They have been supportive in assisting the museum with the initial ground maintenance, water blasting and debris removal. The Office of the Mayor laid out much of the initial ground work of what had to be done in the museum.”

    “I owe my staff a debt of gratitude for their hard work, sacrifices and commitment to getting every task assigned to them completed. They worked tirelessly trying to get the museum opened. We have worked extra hours, extra days and holidays to get the work and progress continuing,” he added.

    The storage facility has also been addressed as two 20-foot containers from Saipan Shipping and IT&E, which costs of USD$2,200 per container, were donated to them. Saipan Stevedore and CMS trucking also donated transportation and the crane to move the containers inside the museum fence.

    “IT&E through its CEO, General Manager, it’s management team and the Delgado family have been very supportive and instrumental with assisting the museum. We discussed a fundraising program through a scratch card that is still being worked on to hopefully provide a means of generating revenue. I want to thank the public for the patience and support they have given. We prepared this venue of communication to showcase the state of the museum before I entered and after repairs and renovations were completed,” he said.

    “I would like to thank the Governor first and foremost for having the confidence in me and appointing me to this position. The Governor has been on top of the developments and strides we made and is very supportive in addressing any immediate needs or concerns that we present to him,” Aquino said.

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    23-year old Chinese beauty took grand prize of 11th Asian Super Model held in Saipan

    January 15th, 2018

    Yue Han of China, third from left, crowned as the 2017 Asian Super Model. From left, first runners up Ksenia of Russia and Su Suqi of China. From right, second runners up Oh Sebin of Korea, Mili Soni of India and Kelly Yeap of Malaysia. Photo © Lyn Lirio

    TWENTY ONE year old Yue Han of China bested 26 Asian models in the recently-held 11th Asian Super Model at Imperial Pacific Saipan.

    The competition was participated by young aspiring models from Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Uzbekistan.

    The 27 model-contestants competed in four categories: opening show; “Hosa” swimsuit show; national dress show, and Ne-Tiger, China’s top brand, appointed dress show.

    The 10 judges has crowned Yue Han as 2017 Asia Supermodel champion.

    First runners-up are Ksenia of Russia and Su Suqi of China.

    Second runners-up are Mili Soni of India, Oh Sebin of Korea and Kelly Yeap of Malaysia.

    Other awards include: The Best T-Stage Performance: Chen Yihsin of Taiwan

    The Best Body Award: Jo Yeonhee of Korea

    The Best Photogenic Award: Klea Pineda of Philippines

    The Most Potentiality Award: Chenaya Aston of Australia

    The International Friendship Award: Tashi Levett of New Zealand

    Best Asian Super Models Award: Sienna Harvey of Australia; Fengkai Yi of Hong Kong; Wang Yanzhe of Hong Kong; Namuunzul Altangerel of Mongolia; Nantaporn of Thailand; Kristina Azizova of Uzbekistan; Sakai Yuka of Japan; Taniguchi Rio of Japan; Amreet Kaur of Malaysia; and Maria of Russia.

    In an interview with Yue Han, she said she had prayed and worked hard to win the title.

    Yeu Han said she will go back to Beijing to continue her modeling career.

    Mili Soni, 21, one of the second runners-up, said she is currently taking up journalism and worked as model in New Delhi.

    “It feels great to be here. This is my very first time doing a pageant. I was really nervous. I am studying journalism right now but I want to pursue modeling further. I also hope I get to work abroad and explore other market,” she said in an interview.

    Firsova Tatiana, one of the judges, said the competition aims to find good model from other counties.

    “She should have a good face, good hair, good skin, tall and long legged and skinny. They should know how to do many poses that make good picture; cat walk is very important as well,” Tatiana in an interview.

    The 11th Asian Supermodel Contest was hosted by Imperial Pacific International, Marianas Visitors Authority and telecom giant, IT&E.

    MVA Director Chris Concepcion said the 11th Asian Super Model Contest was part of their plan to try to “elevate the experience for tourists and residents as well. We partnered with Imperial Pacific and IT&E to promote Marianas to international media and local media.”

    The event was attended by around 500 people, including politicians and government officials.

    Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the events that the IPI and the MVA were hosting, including the Marianas International Film Festival and the 11th Asian Super Model Contest, were putting the CNMI on the map.

    “Thank you to IPI for the continuous promotion of the islands. Every promotion like this means good for the economy,” the governor said.

    Rep. Angel Demapan said the event is a wonderful opportunity for the CNMI to gain additional exposure. He said bringing the international film festival and the Asian model contest to Saipan was a big plus to the economic activity of CNMI.

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    Popular dramatic movie “Love Kennedy,” premieres in Saipan

    January 14th, 2018

    Image ©

    YVONNE Bennett, one of the actresses at ‘Love, Kennedy’ graced the premiere showing of the film at the Regal Theater on Sunday. She played one of Kennedy’s friends Lexi Velasquez.

    Love, Kennedy is a film based on the life of 16-year-old Kennedy Hansen who is dealing with debilitating Juvenile Batten Disease. The story is about her legacy of love and friendship.
    Bennett, who was here to celebrate Thanksgiving with her parents – Ambrose and Lillian, said she had gone through a long journey before landing a role in the film.

    “It started in Boise, Idaho. After graduation, I looked back and see everything that I have accomplished and the things I want to pursue as well. I want to go into acting. So I did my research, I looked for an agency. I did start taking classes. I took classes for two and a half years before I even landed this role. There’s a lot of training, going to auditions, going to modeling classes. There’s a lot of prep work that I have been doing,” she said in an interview.

    Yvonne Bennett plays Lexi Velasquez in ‘Love, Kennedy.’ Photo © Lyn Lirio

    Bennett said she was invited for audition for ‘Love, Kennedy’ by one of the directors that she worked with in one of her acting workshops.

    “I went to the audition. Two weeks later I was told that I got the part at ‘Love, Kennedy’. It was quite a journey,” she said.

    Bennett said the film was her first movie. She had done commercials and modeling in the past. She confessed that one of her biggest challenge was “to bring the emotions needed in the film.”

    “One of the days it was all of my scenes. I had to film all of the heavy emotions. The challenge is to bring those emotions to do justice for the film. But that was also the most rewarding because having to do it right for the family and is such a joy to know that you told the story right. The fact that they approved it meant more to me than what the producer or the director though. It was their [Hansen] story and they were there,” she said.

    The film was shot in Utah. While filming, she made friends with the Hansen family.

    “They took me under their wings. They became my parents on set. They are really nice and sweet people.”

    On working with production staff, Bennett said she was comfortable working with them.

    “There was a lot of singing, joking. It was a great experience. It is almost not working because you are having such as good time,” she recalled.

    While filming, Bennett confessed that Kennedy’s life became her inspiration.

    “Kennedy – she never let her define who she was. She is an inspiration to me as well. She just created a huge impact to everyone. This is more than just a movie. Through this movie, I made new friends and family out of that.”

    Bennett was born in Guam but raised on Saipan. She graduated high school at Kagman High School. She attended a year at the Northern Marianas College and then transferred to Boise, Idaho and then moved to Utah.

    She is scheduled to shoot a horror movie early next year.

    On becoming an actress Bennett said she knew she wanted to be an actress when she was 11 or 12 years old.

    “I was watching a kid film. At the end the movie, my sisters and I were watching special feature interviewing the kids – sharing their experiences. I asked my parents how to be in the movie. They said I have to work hard and do some acting workshops. I didn’t pursue until college,” she said.
    She continued her education and sports.

    “It was one of the terrifying decisions [to finally pursue her acting.]”

    Gov. Ralph Torres, First lady Diann and family with Yvonne Bennet’s family at the Regal Threater during the premiere showing of Love, Kennedy. Photo © Lyn Lirio

    Bennett’s parents thanked Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, First lady Diann Torres and Women’s Affairs Office for bringing their daughter back home. They said she has been away from home for five years.

    “We are over excited about her. I am that they are pursuing what we taught them – to be themselves and to focus on the goal,” Lillian said.

    “Sky is the limit. Reach for whatever they want in life,” she added.

    Ambrose said he was astounded with her daughter’s achievement but he was not surprised because “we always encourage them to pursue their dreams.”

    About the film In an interview, the governor said the film was good.

    “It was really touching. It makes you really appreciate life. It means a lot when you have kids and you never know what happens in 10 years. Appreciate life and thank God for what you have,” he said, adding he held his tears.

    “I want to thank the Women’s Affairs and Lady Diann Torres foundation for bringing Yvonne back during the holiday.

    “When you have success like this outside, you want to emphasize it, and you want to embrace it. Everybody has dreams, she did step by step. We have her support,” the governor said.

    Lady Diann Torres said Yvonne Bennett’s accomplishment is a message that “dreams do come true.”

    “Even if you come from a small island like Saipan, Tinian or Rota, you can make it big out there.”

    “If you have a dream, try to go out and reach for that. I think that is what Yvonne did. In this case, we need to build self esteem amongst young women. I’m supporting her. She goes out and inspire young people. I think everybody can do that next step to go and went out and think big,” she said.

    For Ms. Marianas Peachy Quitugua said the movie was beautiful and was really touching.

    “Love comes first, positive thinking, just live your life to the fullest even in negative situation,” Quitugua said.

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    PH representative in 11 th Asian Super Model Contest in Saipan, a crowd favorite

    January 12th, 2018

    Klea Pineda with GMA7 talent manager Vic del Rosario. Photo © Lyn Lirio

    KLEA Pineda, one of the contestants at the 11th Asian Super Model Contest, did not get crown but she won the hearts of the audience who watched the competition at the Imperial Pacific Saipan on Saturday.

    The 18-year old Pineda, who won the Best Photogenic award, vied with 26 other Asian young aspiring model. She was the lone representative of the Philippines.

    Back home, Pineda is an actress. She is an exclusive talent for GMA-7, one of the major networks in the Philippines.

    Audience were screaming and applauding whenever they see Pineda doing the catwalk during the competition.

    “It was really a heartwarming to see the support of my fellow Filipino here. It is my first time to join in an international competition,” she said in a later interview.

    Klea Pineda in swimsuit. Photo © Lyn Lirio

    Though she did not get the crown, she said she was still happy knowing that she has many supporters here.

    “It’s okay if I didn’t win. What I am trying to get is an experience – like how to deal with other contestants of different nationalities and what it feels like to be in an international competition,” she said.

    Pineda left for the Philippines a day After the competition.

    She said as soon as gets back home, she will start training for the Bb. Pilipinas.

    Bb. Pilipinas is a beauty pageant competition in the Philippines. Bb. Pilipinas winners will get to represent the Philippines in the Miss Universe, Miss World and other international beauty contests.

    Standing at 5’7, Pineda was able to join the 11th Asian Super Model Contest through invitation.

    GMA-7 talent manager Vic Del Rosario said they got invitation from China Bentley, organizer of the event.

    “We chose Klea and Koreen Medina because they got the height, good posture, and they have the Filipina beauty. They were perfect to represent the Philippines,” he said.

    Pineda has to compete alone because Medina was unable to travel because she lost her passport.

    Del Rosario said it is the fifth time that the Philippines joined in the competition.

    “We joined from 2008 to 2011. This year, we were invited again to join.

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    More than 1,000 students in the Marianas need to update their vaccinations

    January 11th, 2018

    Image ©

    MORE than 1,000 students in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands are not up to date with their immunization as of November.

    This according to CNMI Public Health Immunization Program manager Jeremy Sasamoto who said some 1,038 students need to have their immunization shots.

    “These students will be given two-week notices to get up to date with required immunizations or risk suspension from school until required immunizations are met,” Sasamoto warned.

    He said they will conduct cycle 2 immunization shots in schools in January next year.

    The Public Health Immunization Program is almost done with cycle 1, where they tried to update the vaccinations of about 13,000 students in the CNMI.

    According to Sasamoto, his office is sending out letters to parents, through schools, to inform that their child is not up to date with the required immunizations.

    “It is important that we enforce our public health immunization laws so that our children, and our community as a whole, are protected against multiple vaccine preventable diseases,” Sasamoto said.

    In his letter to parents, Sasamoto also cited Public Law 6-10 which mandates “every parent of a child already enrolled in a Commonwealth school public or nonpublic, whose child’s health records show incomplete immunizations, shall be required to initiate remedial action within two weeks following notifications of the immunization deficiency.”

    Sasamoto admitted that one of the struggles that he has is to raise awareness to educate schools and parents about the law.

    “When I started here, nine years ago, this law was not enforced and there were actually schools that have no idea of the existence of the law,” Sasamoto recalled.

    Nevertheless, Sasamoto added that school vaccinations have really improved in the last three years.

    “But there are still some schools that are not so strict with this and even though they have not have shots, or health certificates, they still enroll them. They shouldn’t do it. It makes it harder on us because later we have to come after them.”

    If a student has had all the immunization shots, the Public Health will issue health certificate that would be valid for one year, Sasamoto said.

    He also said all children shall have all vaccinations or immunizations, including but not limited to diphtheria; pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella, and hepatitis B.

    In citing the same law, Sasamoto noted that the continued noncompliance of completing required immunizations and tuberculin test within the three-month period after provisional entry into school, the parents shall be subject to punishment by fine not to exceed USD$100.

    “Unfortunately, some students are not really taking advantage of the free immunization. A lot of the older ones [students in middle schools and high schools], when they read the letter they just throw it away and it never reached home,” he said.

    Sasamoto explained that they are actively doing immunizations, especially in schools, because “it takes only one person to start an outbreak. The school setting – air-conditioned, close room—that is just asking for it.”

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    Magic Camp in Saipan, a success

    January 10th, 2018

    Leon Etienne and his assistant Chelsea LaCongo with his students at the JKPL.

    JOETEN-KIYU Public Library’s three-day Magic Camp featuring award-winning illusionist Leon Etienne was a success as 100 children on Saipan participated in the event.

    According to JKPL technical services librarian Beth Demapan, a total of 200 children and teenagers – 100 on Saipan, 50 on both Tinian and Rota – registered for the magic workshop.

    The Magic Camp on Saipan was held at the JKPL on Dec. 27 to 29 while the Tinian Public Library hosted the event last week.

    Demapan said the schedule for the event at Antonio C. Atalig Memorial Library on Rota will be announced soon.

    In an interview with Etienne, said held several magic workshops in New York, his hometown.

    “I have done it all over the world, actually. Being a part of Saipan community now, I’ve got involved in all the community activities. I wanted to give back to the local kids and community, so I approached the librarians who I worked over the summer to do the book mobile and do magic shows all over the island and we decided to come up with this – Magic Camp – for the Christmas break,” he said.

    Etienne appeared as finalist on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” “The Tonight show with Jimmy Fallon,” as a winner on the CW’s “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” “Masters of Illusion,” and SYFY Channel’s “Wizard Wars.”

    The magic workshop was attended by children as young as seven years and as old as 18 years old.

    “We did a great job,” Etienne said, referring to the children who learned magic tricks during the workshop.

    “We just did a public show at the library. I am proud of them, they are so good. I told them to keep practicing and keep having fun.”

    Etienne, who has a bachelor’s degree in business, said he started doing magic trick since he was 12.

    “I was grounded by my mother and was bored so I started reading a magic book. Just through reading that is how I discovered magic.” He also said he has been doing magic for 21 years now.

    “The most rewarding is looking at people’s faces – the look that people give and the applause to,” he added.

    Etienne advised the ‘young magicians’ to use the local library as a resource to learn from magic books.

    “Practice every day. Practice it in front of your family and friends. Once they say it is good, go out and do it for people in public and you will be awesome and you are off to great start,” he added.

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    Art works depicting Japanese era on the Marianas on show

    January 9th, 2018

    Three of Eijita Itakura’s twelve paintings that depict the lifestyle on Saipan during the Japanese era. Photo © Lori Lyn Lirio

    THE Sugar King Foundation has donated to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands 12 paintings that depicted the life on Saipan during the Japanese administration when sugarcane industry was still booming.

    Keiichiro Saeki, Sugar King Foundation president, led last week’s opening of the Sugar King Era Art Exhibit at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library.

    The art works of Eijita Itakura will be at the JKPL for the entire month and will be transferred to the Northern Mariana Island Museum of History and Culture afterwards.

    The paintings, according to Itakura, were products of his childhood memories and some of the period photos provided by the Sugar King Foundation.

    “Four years ago at a Nanyo Kohatsu party, I was asked by Saeki to draw some old paintings,” said Itakura, who was born at a hospital in Garapan in 19333. The hospital is now the NMI Museum of the History and Culture.

    The party was held annually for a group of people who were part of the factory of sugarcane and refined sugar in the Mariana Islands.

    “My father was a teacher at Japanese elementary school. He was transferred at Rota elementary school. Then we moved to the island of Yap for three years and then lastly to Tinian,” Itakura said, adding he was only 10 years old when they moved to Japan.

    The octogenarian painter said he accepted Saeki’s request to record the memories of Saipan during the Sugar King era. He said Saeki provided him some photos – in black and white – and started painting the sceneries of Saipan and Tinian and the people who worked at the sugarcane factory.

    “I hope the paintings help the present and future generation of the Mariana Islands to study the great history of this land,” he said during the unveiling of the paintings.

    Itakura said he started painting when he was 50 years.

    Youichi Nuiizeki, Sugar King Foundation secretary/treasurer, said they wanted to donate something to the CNMI.

    “We wanted something to remember the old days and these pictures sugarcane industry, at that time, was one of the biggest industries on the island.”

    He said Itakura was suitable to make the paintings “because he has the memories of the old days.

    There were pictures, but no colors at that time, but these colors were from his memories.”
    Seaki, whose grandfather was Haruji Matsue – also known as the Sugar King, said he was asked by some officials of the NMI museum to assist in collecting exhibits.

    “I donated albums and personal belongings of Matsue to the museum. I have also translated several books to English edited by my grandfather.”

    He said he asked Itakura, an amateur artist, to paint some of the old days.

    “Having lived here as a child and his passion as a painter have motivated him to take on the challenging task. The result are 12 paintings depicting the Sugar King Era in the Marianas.”

    “I hope that these paintings will always be a part of the important memories of the long lasting relations between CNMI and Japan,” Saeki said.

    Saeki thanked the JKPL director Erlinda C. Naputi and her staff for their assistance in organizing and hosting the exhibit.

    Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter said “the paintings are important as it provide us with the perspective of life during that period from someone who lived here as a child.”

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    Commonwealth of Northern Mariana should say NO to gaming — Japanese consul

    January 8th, 2018

    Image ©

    JAPANESE Consul Kinji Shinoda said the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands should not rely solely on gaming industry, saying it is not a “productive industry.”

    Shinoda, who was one of the guests at the opening of the Sugar King-Era Arts Exhibit at Joeten-Kiyu Public Library last Tuesday, said gaming industry cannot make the CNMI progressive.

    “I always tell local people that production is most important to the Northern Marianas Islands (NMI) for its development,” he said.

    The consul then cited the economic growth brought about by sugarcane when the NMI were still under the Japanese administration.

    Since 1919, Shinoda said Japanese business and investment – most particularly the Sugar King – made local progress in the NMI.

    “Also in the 1980s, a lot of Japanese investors came here. The CNMI government made local revenue because of Japanese investments,” he said.

    “You cannot make any progress by gaming. Gaming is just entertainment. Even if you make a lot of revenue from gaming industry, money will still be gone in the future,” he added.

    Shinoda said the NMI and Japan’s history proved that production industry make the islands stable. He then suggested that the CNMI has to create a product to export and earn money.

    Shinoda also said that the chamber of commerce and the Northern Marianas College should make a study in regards to the potential products that the NMI should produce and, eventually, export.

    “CNMI should consider that by themselves and find out what is the best industry for them – maybe farming, agriculture or fishery or IT industry,” he said.

    The consul also congratulated the Sugar King Foundation and painter Eijita Itakura for the donations they made to the NMI.

    “The paintings are very interesting exhibition. They were reminders that CNMI history is part of the Japanese history, but younger generations don’t know much about that,” he said.


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    Fil-Am from Saipan chosen by Harvard U to attend National Collegiate Research Conference

    January 8th, 2018

    Dhale Posadas. Image © Lori Lyn Lirio

    FORMER student of Saipan Southern High School Dhale Posadas was selected by Harvard College Undergraduate Research Association to attend the three-day National Collegiate Research Conference beginning January 18.

    “The application process this year was extremely competitive as we received a large number of impressive applications from many talented and highly qualified individuals, and our executive board and faculty review committee faced the difficult challenge of selecting fewer than 250 undergraduates across the United States and several countries. Your acceptance speaks to your outstanding accomplishments and potential as an aspiring scholar and researcher,” stated in a letter sent to Posadas by HCURA.

    The NCRC is the largest student-run research conference in the United States.

    Posadas, whose parents are of Filipino descent, is currently attending Portland State University, majoring in Biology. She is now in her senior year and will be graduating in June 2018.

    To be selected in the NCRC, Posadas said she had to go through the process by applying and submitting the abstract of her research and she has to write an essay.

    “To attend NCRC is such an honor. When I found out I was selected, I was a little shaky while having dinner with some friends. I lost my appetite to eat due to the excitement and emotions that were running through me. I also could not sleep well the night I found out because it felt so unreal,” she said.

    She also applied as a plenary speaker but no confirmation yet from HCURA. Only eight students will be selected for this.

    “Not everyone from our tiny little island is given this opportunity, so it is something I am very proud yet humble of. Science has always been a strong subject of mine. I did not even know that doing research in college existed because I was not exposed to it when I was in high-school. I hope to inspire students in our island that opportunities like these are very possible through hard work and determination,” she added.

    Posadas, who graduated at the SSHS in 2014 and top 8 in her class, said getting an invitation from NCRC is important to her “because I get represent my institution, women scientists and most importantly, my home.”

    “Due to isolation of our island, opportunities like these aren’t easily accessible,” she added.

    At the conference, Posadas will be presenting her research work titled ‘Odd versus Even: Medium-chain triglyceride absorption in patients with long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorders.’

    “It means the burning of fat,” she explained.

    She is currently doing her internship at Oregon Health and Sciences University under Dr. Melanie Gillingham’s lab, where she started working on fatty-acid oxidation research.

    “I chose this lab because I was very interested in diabetes. My dad is diabetic and so was my grandma. I did the nursing program in high-school at Saipan Southern and I was very exposed to diabetics. I grew up around diabetics, so I know diabetes is a big issue and other non-communicable diseases are in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), which makes this topic even more important to me,” she said.

    After high school, Posadas attended the Northern Marianas College in 2014.

    “I’ve always wanted to major in Biology but that was not an option at NMC. I decided to try Criminal Justice but after a semester I realized that it wasn’t for me,” she said in an interview.

    Through NMC, a program called Build EXITO BUILD EXITO or Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity Enhanced Cross-Disciplinary Infrastructure Training at Oregon was introduced. She applied and was accepted.

    Build EXITO is an undergraduate research training program funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

    “Because of this program I was able to fly out of Saipan in 2015 and attend Portland State University,” she said, adding students under the program get tuition remission and monthly stipends for their time doing hands-on research.

    She was required to do 100 hours of research per quarter.

    Since August 2016, Posadas have been doing research for a total of 400 hours.

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    Saipan based Fil Ams won top and 2nd prize in Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen contests

    January 6th, 2018

    Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen contest winners. From left, Mariano Fajardo, Victoria Dela Cruz, Matthew Berline, Katherine Mersai, Danahlei Rodriguz, and Brad Ruszala. Image © Lori Lyn Lirio

    VETERANS of Foreign Wars Post 3457 on Tuesday recognized six students for winning the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen contests for its Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands chapter.

    This year’s theme is “American History: Our Hope for the Future.”

    Established in the 1947, the VFW formed up women auxiliary, composed of wives and espouses of the veterans. They came up with the scholarship program, which aims to promote a sense of patriotism among the youth.

    The winners for the Voice of Democracy or VOD contest, a three to five-minute audio essay contest which sought the participation of students from 9th grade to 10th grade, were: 1st place – Fil Am Kelvin Wolf of Marianas High School. He won USD$150.

    Second place went to another Fil-Am, Victoria Dela Cruz of Marianas High School. She won USD$100.

    Winners for the Patriot’s Pen or PP, an essay contest for middle school students that write essay not more than 350 words, were: 1st place – Danahlei Rodriguez of ChaCha Middle School. She won USD$150.

    Second placer is Mylan Goodwin of Saipan International School. She won USD $100 while third place went to Matthew Berline of Saipan International School. He won USD$75.

    The VFW Post 3457 also recognized Katherine Mersai, teacher from William S. Reyes Elementary School, for instilling patriotism among the students.

    Mersai will get USD$1,000 and her school will also get the same amount. She will be going to Washington, DC to represent the CNMI and the Asia-Pacific region to compete with 52 other States.

    Mariano Fajardo, co-chairman of VFW’s scholarship program, said students who won in the contests will have a chance to get the top prize USD$30,000 scholarship fund for the VOD and USD$5,000 for PP. He explained that students who won in the CNMI will have to compete first to Asia Pacific region, comprised of eight districts, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, Taiwan, Philippines, Guam and CNMI.

    First, the winners here will we take it to Guam because it is a part of District 6. Our winners will compete with their winners. Whoever takes over the district will move up to the department where you will be competed with other six districts,” he said.

    Fajardo said the VFW reached out to students when the school started.

    We reached out to every school and we pass out all these essay entry forms. We set the deadline on Nov.1.”

    The top winner for the region will be announced in March.

    Winners will go to Washington DC for national competition.

    Expenses are all paid for and same with the teacher,” he said.

    This is the first we have a teacher from Saipan to represent us to go to Washington DC in March. Most of the time, it was always from Korea and Japan.”

    In an interview, Mersai said she was nominated by her principal Naomi Nishimura.

    I’ve been teaching for eight years. I was nominated by our principal and our leadership coach. They send in my nomination. Im the only one in the CNMI. From there, my application went all the way to the Philippines and I won the overall district – Asia Pacific district,” she said.

    During her nomination, Mersai said they list down all the things she has been doing as a teacher.

    I do a lot of community service. I plan a lot of field trips for the students. My grade level team always plan [projects or activities] to make sure that we go to American Memorial Park to see the veterans. I didn’t think that would make a big difference, but it actually make the kids be more appreciative of what we have today,” she said, adding she is teaching second grade students.

    Victoria Dela Cruz said she was motivated to join the VOD contest because her teachers gave them extra credit for it.

    But I did the Patriots Pen last year, so why not do the VOD this year,” she said, adding she did not expect to win because when she submitted her entry before the deadline, she never heard from the VFW.

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    Talented magician and a Fil-Am grabbed the top spots in CNMI Got talent contest

    January 4th, 2018

    Neil Fama, grand prize winner of 2017 CNMI Got Talent. Image © Lori Lyn Lirio.

    A TALENTED young magician last week clinched the top prize in the 7th Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Got Talent contest.

    Northern Mariana College student Neil Fama, who delighted the audience with his magic tricks, made his family proud after winning the contest which was held at at the Royal Taga in World Resort. He won a total cash prize of USD$4,000 – USD$2,500 for winning the grand prize and USD$1,500 for Governor’s Choice award.

    It is Fama’s second time to join and win in the Bridge Capital-sponsored competition.

    “Three years ago, I joined with the glee club. We won first place. Tonight was my first time going solo,” he said.

    During the talent contest, Fama showcased his magic tricks.

    “It takes a lot of practice. I have been doing this for a year – studying magic trick books, online tutorials, advice from magicians.”

    He thanked Leon Etienne, magician at the Sand Castle, for teaching and sharing to him some magic tricks.

    “We met two months ago and he has been training me since. A handful of those tricks that I performed in the contest I learned from him.”

    Taking up business course at the NMC, Fama said he would invest part of his cash prize to buying materials that he could be used for future magic gigs.

    “I will put some of the money for my college and for my family.”

    Fil-Am Karen Lagunay. Image © Lori Lyn Lirio

    Fil-Am Karen Lagunay, of Tinian, took home a total of USD$2,000 – USD$1,500 for being the first runner up and $500 for Best in Tinian.

    Lawrence Tubera, who has been competing for the third time, is this year’s second runner up. He won USD $1,000.

    Third runner up is the The Band Nearby. They got USD$750.

    Fourth runner up is Joel Fruit. He got USD$500.

    Bridge Capital Chief Executive Officer John Baldwin said they have been doing talent shows for years.

    “We learned that we never know what you find and the talent here tonight is as its finest. It is exciting seeing young people doing amazing things.”

    Bridge Capital vice president Shawn Scott said: “who would think in a small place like the CNMI you have this much talent. It just amazes me that it is getting better and better every year.”

    They both encouraged those who did not win to keep joining the talent competition.

    In an earlier interview, Bridge Capital chief operating officer Tucker Baldwin said the purpose of holding such event is to encourage and to promote talent in the CNMI. He said the Bridge Capital is helping local artists, especially the winners of the CNMI Got Talent to get public exposure by inviting them to perform in the events.

    In between performances, Bridge Capital also raffled off prizes including 60 inches Samsing Smart TV, 40 inches Series Samsung Smart TV, GoPro Here 5 with 45 accessories, Apple iPad, 2017 Apple Macbook, electric skateboard, iPhone 8, and cash prizes.

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    Kids of Asian ancestry dominated a prestigious literary contest in Saipan

    January 3rd, 2018

    JKPL’s 2nd Annual Saipan Dreams Fan Fiction winners and participants — from left, Gericho Conge of Dandan Middle School, Anhkiet Huynh of Kagman High School, Fei Fei Lei of Hopwood Middle School and Kuli Sablan of Cha Cha Ocenview Middle School. Nicole Villagomez of Francisco M. Sablan Middle School, not in photo. Image © Lori Lyn Lirio

    HOPWOOD Middle School student Fei Fei Lei won the Second Annual Saipan Dreams Fan Fiction Contest sponsored by the Joeten Kiyu-Public Library.

    The awarding ceremony was held at the JKPL on Friday.

    During the interview for this article, it was learned that Lei submitted her collection of short stories about the three little girls and their adventures.

    Lei, who likes reading books and writing stories, received USD$100 as grand prize and a trophy.

    “I had fun. I like reading books, especially fiction,” said Lei, whose last book she read was Little Women.

    Anhkeit Huynh, 9th grader from Kagman High School, is the first runner up. He received USD $75 from JKPL. He said he will join again next year because he wanted to get the championship.

    “The next time I get into competition, I will make sure that I want to try harder and do better than this year,” he said.

    Huynh said he only learned about the competition a few days before the deadline.

    “I had no idea that this is happening. It was announce to us in school, a few days before the deadline. I just took whatever time I had to finish writing the fan fiction” he said.

    Huynh’s entry is about his ending version of Nijiro Days, one of his favorite anime shows.

    “This is my version of ending. It’s like when you watch a show and it doesn’t have a satisfying ending to it, you feel like you can create something as good as it is already,” he said.

    Nijiro Days, according to Huynh, is a romance anime based on a teenager trying to go through life in high school.

    Second runner up is Kuli Sablan from Cha Cha Ocean View Middle School. She received a USD$50 cash prize.

    Sablan also won the People’s Choice Award.

    “I was never into writing,” Sablan said, adding that winning in the Saipan Dreams Fan Fiction Contest “motivates me to write more.”

    Sablan said she got inspiration from the Smurfs movie.

    “It is based on Smurfs. Instead of saying that they are blue creatures, I gave my characters animal-life figure and human traits. It took me more than an hour to write that,” she said.

    One of the judges, First lady Dian Torres said the competition is a great opportunity for the students.

    “They have shown amazing characteristics and they are awesome. Their creativity is out of this world. I was reading one of them and [told myself] this the kind of movie that my kids want to watch,” she said.

    She said she was surprised on how the young writers come up with such stories.

    “Living in an island like this, they have great imagination to write something great like this. I encourage everybody to take the opportunity,” Torres added.

    According to Beth Demapan, JKPL technical services librarian, the library has teamed up with author Katrian Manning, who was also one of the judges. Other judges were Daisy Demapan of the Public Information Officer of the Governor’s Office, Rosalinda Ulloa, JKPL Children Librarian and Bob Coldeen of KSPN.

    Demapan said the grand prize winner will have the opportunity to work with the author.

    In a statement released by Manning, she said the Second Annual Saipan Dreams theme was about fan fiction contest.

    “Why fan fiction? Because it is fun, and we all have our favorite fandoms,” Manning said.

    “Writing a fiction will improve your writing and communication skills. Then, there is the fact that writing is therapeutic.”

    For the competition, Demapan said only five students participated and submitted their entries. They are: Fei Fei Lei of Hopwood Middle School, Anhkiet Huynh of Kagman High School, Kuli Sablan of ChaCha Oceanview Middle School, Gericho Conge of Dandan Middle School and Nicole Villagomez of Francisco M. Sablan Middle School.

    “What a true gift it is to be able to share your story, as well as listen to the stories of others. You only fail if you decided not to write. Since we have five courageous participants, they are all successes just for stepping out of their comfort zones to be a part of this enjoyable competition,” Manning said.

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    All public HS in the Mariana islands got the coveted top honors in Junior ROTC program evaluation

    January 2nd, 2018

    CNMI JROTC cadets in drill formation. Image ©

    ALL Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands five public high schools get the Honor Unit with Distinction in a series of evaluation on Junior Reserved Officers Training Course Program of Accreditation held this month.

    Lt. Col. Ramon Ichihara, Marianas High School senior army instructor, in an interview, said Saipan Southern High School, Kagman High School, Tinian High School, Rota High School and MHS got Gold Star rating, meaning all of them got a score of 95 percent and up in the JPA evaluation.

    “MHS got 97.5 percent, the highest score among the Public School System five schools,” Ichihara said.

    He also said the SSHS got 95 percent; KHS, 96 percent; Tinian HS, 97.3 percent; Rota HS, 95 percent.

    “In general, that means we are beyond the standard of what the JROTC is requiring us,” Ichihara noted.

    For the Dolphin battalion, Ichihara explained that the score means they exceeded the standards.

    “Even from the last accreditation, we went beyond and work a little harder.”

    He said the students were serious in preparing for the JPA evaluation as they stayed late to work on their presentation and the documentation.

    “We ate dinner together – like a family – and we worked together.”

    During the accreditation activity, the Dolphin battalion got a perfect score or 100 percent on Unit Report, In-Ranks, and Instructor Portfolio and Interview. The JPA also focused on the instructor’s portfolio.

    Ichihara said that the evaluation centered on making sure that the instructors are meeting the requirements, getting professional development, going beyond what the lesson plan requires, working with technology, coordinating with other teachers in the school.

    As far as number of cadets is concerned, Ichihara said the number of students enrolled in the program has dropped.

    “The drop is because they decreased the number of periods – last year we have five periods, today we only have four periods. But MHS still have the largest population in JROTC among the five high schools.”

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    A documentary film about the Mariana people launched to end historical lies

    November 13th, 2017

    Rlene Santos Steffy addresses the Rotary Club of Guam. Image ©

    IN A bid to end the spread of biased or make believe events, ethnographer and oral historian Rlene Santos Steffy said iTinaotao Marianas, a documentary film about the peopling of Marianas, should be used by public and private schools in educating the children of the Marianas so “that they will be grounded in the knowledge of their own history.”

    According to Steffy, she got tired of individuals that were making things up as they went along which made her doubt what she was reading in the newspaper, listening to on the radio or what she is watching on television regarding historical situations pertaining to the Mariana Islands.

    “I also saw a lot of slant, bias or make believe of presenting historical events and got tired of hearing it. I wanted to hear rational explanations for what happened,” she said.

    Steffy explained that this also motivated her to interview the individuals who research history, geography, language, culture, archaeology and religion, government operations, business, cultural art and economics as she now noticed “the absence of any comprehensive and collective works – like iTinaotao Marianas.”

    Steffy said the whole process began for her as an education and enrichment effort to all aspects of the peopling of the Marianas.

    “For many years, I have watched the arrival of scholars from other places come to Guam or the NMI to present their research and findings about the history of the Mariana Islands, and I would contact them to interview. They agreed and I’d conduct in-depth interviews. It wasn’t one or two but all the historical events that occurred in the Marianas and Micronesia that I was interested in.”

    “It appeared to me that there may even have been a concerted effort to ‘fantasize, create and actually justify or in some cases even diminish the crimes committed in the past in the name of progress, justifying the means to an end, as in the case of Catholicism,” according to Steffy.

    The iTinaotao Marianas program has professional and qualified scholars addressing the rich history of the Marianas. Steffy said.

    “They (the public and students) will be better informed and able to engage in a meaningful conversation with whomever it is that wants to discuss the history of the Marianas with them—with full confidence that what they have learned is backed up by years of research, and flushed out in conversation with other scholars on the subject,” Steffy assured.

    “I am confident that once a person spends time watching and listening to the half-hour episodes, they will never be deer-eyed and confused about the history of the Marianas again,” she added.

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    Chamorro and Carolinian cultures now better understood

    October 14th, 2017

    LAST month’s Third Marianas History Conference was a success.

    Thus said Northern Marianas Humanities Council Executive Director Scott Russell as he disclosed that nearly 300 participants attended the conference which was aimed to further understand facts about Chamorro and Carolinian cultures. 

    The conference featured 36 different presentations – including three keynote speech – of original research that covers a wide range of topics spanning nearly four millennia.

    We have a great turn out. We had overflow crowds at Hibiscus Hall of the Fiesta Resort. We started close to 300. We are happy to see the number of people that came, even though it was Friday and Saturday and there were competing events,” Russell said.

    Unlike most academic events, Council’s board chair Frankie M. Eliptico, said the Sept. 1 and 2, Marianas History Conference included both scholars and avocational researchers who presented the many stories of archipelago from a variety of viewpoints.

    Among the attendees was Bureau of Education board member Herman Deleon Guerrero, who said conference was useful to Public School System teachers because it provided supplemental information for their lesson plan.

    Our teachers are teaching NMI history and Chamorro and Carolinian cultures. They need to understand some of the historical facts and they can learn new information that they can help in the classrooms. There have not much material in the area and this is an opportunity to hear first-hand experience from people that have done research,” Deleon Guerrero said.

    I am hoping that someday somebody would do a presentation about the influence of Filipinos in the community – going back to the Spanish time – because they have a lot of Chamorro-Filipino blood here in the CNMI. It is part of their history. How did the Filipinos help the community throughout the years? I would like to see a presentation of that,” the BOE officials said when asked what other topics that he wants included in the future conference.

    Japanese Consul Kinji Shinoda said all the presentations were interesting.

    I am especially interested in the keynote speech of Dr. Laura M. Torres Souder. She is suggesting what kind of mentality you should have, and you should keep and you should revitalize. You should have your own identity. It is important for CNMI to keep and revitalized their culture.”

    Municipal Council LJ Castro said it was his second time to attend the conference sponsored by the Council.

    I was at the conference five years ago and it was here at the same location. From then to now, it shows that there are a lot of topics that are important to both Chamorro and Carolinian history and to the CNMI in general.”
    Castro said the presentations helped bring all of what happened in the past to be able to come up with a solution. It also helped get a better insight to individual. He added that all members of the municipal council have attended the conference.

    We are all very passionate about culture and history. It is important for us to be here and listen to what scholars and the presenters have to say. The issues that affect the Marianas affect us all together as a whole. Since we are on islands that evolved in ever changing time it is important that we all come together and have discussions and listen to what is to be said.”

    The keynote speakers include Dr. Laura M. Torres Souder, who talked about indigenous revisionism.

    Sauder is the president and chief executive officer of Chicago-based Souder, Betances and Associates, Inc. she is the author of Daughters of the Island: Contemporary Chamorro Organizers of Guam, was co-editor of Chamorro Self-Determination, as well as numerous research papers and technical reports.

    Spanish author and historian Dr. Carlos Madrid, who is the director of Instituto Cervantes de Manila, discussed about a close look at Chamorro-Spanish Luis de Torres, a second in command in the government of the Mariana Islands.

    For his part, Julian Aguon, founder and visionary behind Blue Ocean Law – a boutique international law firm that services clients throughout Oceania, discussed about legal mischief in the Marianas.


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