Posts by Lyn:

    CHCC unveils completion of new standard-compliant pharmacy renovation

    September 18th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    IN A bid to comply with the new standard set by the United States Pharmacopeial Convention 797 and to make its pharmacological service efficient, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation has renovated its pharmacy department and announced its completion.

    With the focus on complying with the new standard, which will take effect on December 2019, the first phase of the project, the outpatient pharmacy, was officially opened on January this year.

    CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muña, in a recent interview, recalled that they started renovating the inpatient pharmacy when the funding came after the opening of the outpatient pharmacy.

    CHCC-Public Health Emergency Preparedness director Warren Villagomez, for his part, said the renovation has upgraded the clean room – the area of the inpatient pharmacy where IV or intravenous solutions are prepared.

    The in-patient pharmacy is much bigger now, Muña noted, adding it took them six months to complete the renovation.

    “We have to find the right contractor, who actually knows what they are doing and who deals with healthcare facility projects.”

    She, however, clarified that it is not a new facility.

    “We are actually trying to fit a new system, new walls. We have to make sure the shipment items perfectly fit so they can be installed easily.”

    She added the testing of the equipment and the modular clean room were tested in July.

    “We require the testing to make sure that it works and there’s no infection.”

    The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been surveying the CHCC annually. In the past, the CMS has not cited the pharmacy because it is still compliant to the federal standard, said Muña.

    But she added that they decided to prioritize the renovation of the pharmacy department to be able to meet the new standards which will be implemented next year.

    Inpatient’s sterilize compounding space. Photo by Lyn Lirio

    U.S.P. 797 standard describes the guidelines, procedures and compliance requirements for compounding sterile preparations and sets the standards for sterile preparations compounding.

    “When the new standard takes effect, we want to make sure that we continuously to be compliant. We are expecting a survey soon from the CMS. One of the requirements of the survey is that you meet the requirements of the new regulations,” Muña said.

    Pharmacy manager Rodylyn Bacani said the inpatient pharmacy was located in a small room beside the operating room.

    “Both departments – inpatient and outpatient – are now in one location. Our staff is working on both departments. It is more convenient now and efficient,”she said.

    She said it is important to renovate and update the inpatient pharmacy because that is where they basically process all pharmaceutical needs for the hospital and for all the departments, especially for admitted patients.

    “We are the one preparing, making sure that we give the right medication and right doses. We also provide for Tinian and Rota health centers. We also do chemotherapy for cancer patients, that is why it is very important for us to have hazardous IV room that we have now so that our pharmacist who prepared the chemotherapywould be protected from [chemical] harm,” Bacani added.

    Staff pharmacist Kim Runge said the renovation of the inpatient pharmacy “will make a difference in quality healthcare that we will be able to provide to people of the CNMI.”

    The renovation was accomplished in part through supplemental appropriations from Saipan Local Law 20-19 which appropriates US$200,000 for the CHCC.

    The inpatient pharmacy services include: compounding of chemotherapy and/or biological for cancer patients and other sterile products; compounding sterile IV antibiotics and eye drops; daily clinical monitoring program for optimum drug treatment; overseeing the Antibiotic Stewardship Program;maintaining pharmaceutical inventory for emergency preparedness.


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    Northern Marianas Trades Institute seeks collaboration with Philippines’ TESDA

    September 16th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    THE Northern Marianas Trades Institute is looking to collaborate with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA, one of the biggest technical institutes in the Philippines.

    NMTI human resources officer Frank Rebauliman said he, board vice chair Joseph Torres and director Herman B. Cabrera and House Speaker Ralph Demapan flew to Manila last Aug. 13 and met with TESDA officials.

    NMTI Chief Executive Officer Agnes McPhetres asked the NMTI representatives to make inquires on TESDA curriculum and seek instructors in the areas of welding, carpentry, plumbing and machinist.

    “We need those people who are trained to teach. The people we hired here are workers and we are training them to teach. But I would really like to see teachers or instructors with teaching experience,” McPhetres said.

    She added the NMTI is willing to process their papers and bring them to Saipan to teach in the trade school. Rebauliman said they hope to explore the possibilities of exchanging technical assistance and resources through forging a memorandum of agreement with TESDA.

    “It is all exploratory at this point. We don’t have any particular courses that we are focusing. We want to know exactly what their curriculum is. We want to go in there with open mind but understanding that we do have certain needs here,” Rebauliman said in an interview.

    McPhetres said she sees the possible forging of MOA with TESDA as something that can help improve the institution.

    “We are hoping to emulate what they have, especially the instructors. We are always on the lookout for instructors. This is the prime opportunity to go there and possibly having some instructors come over here and spend some time to teach.”


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    “WELL-balanced teachers lead to well-balanced students” — CNMI Superior Court Associate judge

    September 9th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim Tenorio. Photo by

    “WELL-balanced teachers lead to well-balanced students.”

    Thus said Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim Tenorio during the recent CNMI Public School System’s kickoff rally for the school year 2018-19 at the Marianas High School Gym.

    “Practice self care. I can’t stress enough the importance of it, especially as educators,” Tenorio, as the event’s keynote speaker, advised the teachers to practice self care.

    Being a teacher, the judge said, is one of the hardest jobs because they are dealing with kids. The lady magistrate also recognized the big role being played by the teachers in the lives of the students.

    “You have a room full of kids and are required to teach one subject to different students at different learning levels, which means that you tailor that subject to each student’s level. You deal with their issues at home when necessary. You mediate fights between classmates. You have to keep up with their generational culture and so much more.”

    Once again, she told the teachers to “step back, breath and take care of yourself.”

    She said teachers probably suffer a lot of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

    “I was at a training for judges and one of the topics discussed was PTSD. We all know PTSD, but I had never heard it described the way the presenter described it. He said PTSD is the result of a person observing a traumatic situation… observing the traumatic situation and not being able to do anything about it. Feeling helpless!” she said.

    Teachers, according to the judge, see some students not focusing on studies, or constantly get in trouble because they are either being bullied at school or abused at home.

    “These are just a couple examples of many other traumas you experience as teachers. So please practice self care.”

    In dealing with children, the courts and the PSS have parallel partnerships. She said there are some students who face struggles and come in contact with the courts for either child custody, battles, neglect, abuse, divorce, wardships and others issues.

    “I do what I do and you do what you do. In the end, it complements, intersects, and hopefully it is what works best for the student. I make decisions on how a family will function. You guide and support that student,” said the judge, who admitted that she was agonizing when she make decisions affecting children.

    In every case, she looked at every angle and appreciated the reports, testimonies, arguments she received. Her decision is guided by the law and the standard of what is in the best interest of the child.

    The mutual support of educators and the court, according to the judge, would make a difference in the student’s life.


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    There is a gap between healthcare and ordinary folks in Saipan

    September 8th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    UCLA graduate Abigail Dimaano spent over 900 hours as an intern at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Dimaano is leaving for Los Angeles this week to pursue her education in healthcare. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

    THERE is an existing gap between ordinary folks and healthcare in Saipan, according a Fil-Am intern of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

    Abigail Dimaano made this observation during her internship at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC). She said her observation confirmed her desire to want to pursue either medicine or take physician assistance program in the future.

    Dimaano explained that her love for the island and her concern for the people’s health motivated her to take an internship at the CHCC.

    “I knew I always wanted to come back here because I grew up here. I knew that eventually I wanted to work here and specifically wanted to work in healthcare,” Dimaano said in an interview.

    Dimaano, 22, received her degree in Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of California, Los Angles in 2017.

    “After school, I came here. I started my internship at CHCC in Sept. 2017,” Dimaano said, adding she did over 900 hours of volunteer work for the hypertension project led by CHCC’s Corporate Quality and Performance Management or CQPM.

    “I spend half of my time in the office – reviewing, summarizing and presenting the data to our team. Other half of the time was actually in the community conducting the blood pressure screening,” she said. They would go to stores like Joeten Supermarket or Twins Supermarket to set up table and screen people who would want to get their blood pressure.

    “In between my undergrad and my further education, I was going to have a gap year. I wanted to spend my gap year here on Saipan because my parents are here, I grew up here. I knew that I wanted to work here in the future. I like Saipan and the community and I wanted to come back,” she said.

    She said her internship at the CHCC was a good experience for her because she got the opportunity to get out in the community and interview people.

    “Some of these people have never really seen a doctor or some of these are uninsured or have no status. To talk to people as sort of first line of healthcare that they see, it was really good to get involved and tell people where to get help and educate them about the blood pressure.”

    “Being in school is different. It is interesting to be in school and learning these things through books. But it is more interesting to get a hands-on experience. So for me it is valuable to be out in the field, in the community,” she said.

    “Coming back here is giving me a picture of where would I be working. It gave me the confirmation what I want to pursue and where I invest all my time and energy. I like working here and the community and I like medicine,” she said.
    During her internship, Dimaano said she noticed a gap with the screening that they conduct and the clinic. Most often, she said the blood pressure and blood sugar screening was conducted either in public health or any community organization.

    “They hand people these numbers that tell them their blood pressure or blood sugar but there would no coordination to the healthcare providers like doctors. There is really a gap between seeing people in the community and connecting them to a doctor which is the ultimate goal – to get unhealthy people to be seen by doctors and get them a regular care so they could treat their problem. That is one of the problems we address in our project.”

    Dimaano is leaving for Los Angeles this week to pursue her education in healthcare.


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    Saipan’s only school for the behaviorally and academically challenged has reached its population limit

    September 3rd, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Image ©

    SAIPAN’s only school for the behaviorally and academically challenged could take in no more students.

    This after the Da’ok Academy Principal Eric Evangelista disclosed that the academy has already reached its maximum population of 50 students which were referred to the academy by the Marianas High School, Kagman High School and Saipan Southern High School.

    “These are students who are on the borderline of almost dropping out of school. Our job is to intervene, help them and guide them to pull themselves up,” Evangelista said.

    In an interview, the principal said not everyone can enroll at the academy.

    “There is referral process that comes from the classroom teacher, school counselor and school administration. They would recommend and give us the referral list. The referral list will consist of the student’s profile, and we will sit down with the students. We will interview the student with the parents. Once the interview is complete, the interview committee will make a decision of acceptance of the students.”

    The Da’ok Academy can only accommodate a maximum of 50 full-time students. It is among the many schools under the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island Public School System.

    Last year, there were 42 enrollees but it went down to 30 at the end of the school year.

    “Because of our physical school size, the school population is only limited to certain numbers,” he said, adding “we want to make sure that we are able to provide the alternative education setting for students.”
    For Da’ok Academy, alternative education is different from the main school.

    Evangelista said they focused on the “BASE” need of students.

    “BASE is Behavior, Academics, Social and Emotional factors of the students. Those are the four components that we look within our school. Once we take the student’s profile and we take the interview with all those information, we aligned the BASE information – does the student more assistance in behavior, or academics or social and emotional factors?” he said.

    “Most people think that school is academics only. It is not just academics. We look at the student as a whole. We look at behavior, what challenge do they face? Do they struggle in class? We looked at social and emotional factor, are they communicating the right way? Are they able to self managed themselves in regards to dealing with other people?” the principal added.

    Evangelista said the increasing enrollment of Da’ok Academy means higher students who need intervention.

    “The need is high. Our biggest task is to make sure that these students stay on track. We have to figure out ways to positively reinforced them to come to school. We need to find ways to motivate them and inspire them to make them want to go to school.”

    Da’ok Academy’s mission is to provide alternative educational setting to students who need guidance and assistant in developing their behavioral, academic, social and emotional foundational skills to be college and career ready for life, Evangelista said.


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    The oldest Christian school in Saipan shuts down temporarily

    September 1st, 2018

    AFTER 34 years of serving the Mariana islands, the Marianas Baptist Academy, the oldest Christian school on Saipan, has shut down its operation for the school year 2018-19 due to its dwindling population.

    The school’s empty classrooms confirmed that the MBA ceased its operation at least for this school year and no staff was present at the premises.

    Lea Alfred, one of the school’s board members, said they are set to hold a meeting and will issue a statement to the media afterwards.

    MBA principal and Marianas Baptist Church Pastor Ramiro H. Trinidad, who is now teaching Math, Chemistry and Biology at Agape Christian School, refused to be interviewed.

    In school year 2017-2018, the MBA had more than 40 students enrolled. The MBA can accommodate about 90 students.

    A source told this writer that this school year, only half of students came back to enroll. The source added that some of their Korean students did not come back to the island and some transferred to public school.

    The same source said the shutdown was only temporary and they are still planning to reopen. It was learned that the Marianas Baptist Church has leased the land until 2032 “with the option to extend.”

    Marianas Baptist Academy’s empty hallway. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    The MBA was established in 1984 through a resolution of Marianas Baptist Church meeting in a regular business session.

    The academy received its first three-year charter to operate in the CNMI on Aug. 27, 1984.
    Since then, the MBA had been offering co-educational, Christian, college-preparatory, secondary school to grades through 12.

    One of the goals of the academy was to provide strong academic program that would assure the graduates entrance into the institution of higher learning of their choice. Since its establishment, MBA had been known for excelling in the state- and national-level academic competitions. Their recent achievements include representing the CNMI to the 2018 National Junior Academic Challenge in Orlando, Florida where they finished Top 6 in the event.

    In 2017, they also represented the CNMI in the same competition.

    For two years in a row, the MBA ruled the annual Academic Challenge Bowl Middle School Division. Hence, they get to represent the CNMI in the national competition in 2017 and 2018.

    (Read More:

    The MBA team received a silver medal for placing second in the Mathcourt competition in April.

    In 2017, then seventh-grade Joanah Victoria Jimenez won the National Geographic Bee Pacific regional competition. This made her qualified in the national championship level. She represented the CNMI and the Pacific region in the national competition held in Washington, D.C. in May of the same year.

    The academy is an integral part of the ministry of Marianas Baptist Church, located on Dandan.


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    Law supporting cultural experts proposed in Saipan.

    August 31st, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Roman Tudela Jr. Photo by The Guam Daily Post

    A LAW exempting from business license fees individuals who educate others, especially the younger generations of Chamorros and Carolinians, about the local culture was passed before the local Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Island legislature.

    This was learned after the Indigenous Affairs Office Resident Executive Roman Tudela Jr. expressed support for House Bill 20-180 which aims to provide exemption to individuals who educate others and the younger generation of the Chamorro and/or Carolinian cultures’ customs, history and traditions and for other purposes.

    He said the bill, if passed, will further maximize the utilization of the elderly who have vast knowledge in Chamorro and Carolinian culture.

    Introduced by Speaker Ralph Demapan, H.B. 20-180 is expected to pass and become law.

    According to Tudela the IAO and the Carolinian Affairs Office have taken initiatives in exerting efforts to promote the indigenous cultures by hosting conferences, workshops, summer camps, and others.

    “We approached Speaker Demapan to see if they can waive the requirement, at least for the procurement purposes, of these people who are knowledgeable of our customs and traditions,” he said.

    Tudela explained that the procurement regulation policy requires the government offices that any individual they hire for professional service must have business license.

    “The IAO, CAO’s awareness programs are culturally-related and we only have few people that we can tap. They cannot get a business license because we do not get their services on a regular basis.”

    “Sometimes we only get them for consultation and we tried to extract information from them. Requiring them to have a business license would be very difficult for us and for these people – most of them are elderly but have vast knowledge in our culture.”

    He said these elderly people still carry a lot of knowledge the younger generations do not know.

    “They are willing to teach us, share with us and show us our tradition. We would like to, at least, compensate them for making the information available I have to pay this incentives for them to share their knowledge.”

    “They are cultural practitioners that do not have business license. Our office needs these people. In the absence of a business license, they are unable to take part in assisting to promote and prolong the values that embody the Chamorro and Carolinian cultures.”


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    From malls to cannabis industry, CNMI student leaders talked about their plans for Saipan

    August 29th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Twenty-four students from public and private schools participated in the 2018 Youth Leadership Cohort. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    STUDENT leaders from Saipan have recently expressed their concern over their people’s welfare after noting the cloud of uncertainty over the horizon.

    This after 24 student leaders who participated in the 2018 Youth Leadership Cohort, where they were taught leadership skills and learned step-by-step framework in achieving their goals, were given recognition by the leadership cohort organizers.

    During the recognition ceremony at the American Memorial Park threatre on August 3, the students, who were divided in five groups, presented issues in the community and offer solutions.

    Kagman High School STUCO officers De Faustina Camacho, Dianne Torres, Alanna Romolor, Kyle San Nicolas and Goddhy Taitingfong said they wanted to build a Veterans Center.

    They observed that many of the youth in the CNMI enlist in the military service but have no specific plans after their contracts, and that military members who have returned may possibly need assistance in future living conditions.

    “This can be a potential critical issue if we don’t address it now as many of the youth enlist into the military,” Camacho said.

    The center, the KHS student leaders said, will be build for veterans, service members and their family members who seek support for their needs. This will prevent the CNMI from having more veterans, service members or their families at risk of homelessness or health issues.

    On the other hand, student leaders from Saipan Southern High School Elaiza Suarez, Tommie Sablan, Mazie Manalang, Patricia Atalig, Champ Sabangan and Andre Taitingfong wanted to build mall on Saipan to create more job opportunities, attract more tourists, and it will serve as cheaper alternative to T Galleria.

    They believed that building a mall can benefit both the economy and the communities by giving people more jobs, affordable goods and increase tourist attraction.

    “If a mall were to be built on island, we would have a potential boost in the economy.”

    Meanwhile, Marcky Masilungan and Wilgene Lieto, of Grace Christian Academy, and Dayna Macaranas, of Mount Carmel School, wanted to create a marijuana dispensary that will assist in developing a cannabis industry in the CNMI.

    “With this cannabis industry, the CNMI will benefit economically, scientifically, environmentally, and medically.”

    The group emphasized that they do not endorse marijuana to youth, but what they presented was a business plan for possible marijuana dispensary for medical purposes.

    For their part, Angela Barbo, John Bucayo and Esther Huh of Marianas High School and Talia Trianni, of Grace Christian Academy, discussed the obesity in the CNMI.

    They noted the World Health Organization/Pacific Region research indicating that 40 percent of the Pacific Island’s region’s population has been diagnosed with non-communicable disease, notably cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension. These diseases account for three quarters of all deaths across the Pacific archipelago and 40 to 60 percent of the total health-care expenditure.

    The student leaders wanted to create a program that can specifically help people who are obese or overweight by partnering with clinics and gyms and other agencies that can hold events like walkathons and other island-wide health events.

    GCA’s Sheena Varias and Tiah Camacho, of SSHS, Carl Garon, of MHS, and Justine Calayo wanted to help students who are struggling or wanting to improve their academic performance through peer and instructor assistance though Students Engaging in Academics and Learning program.

    The group recognized that some students in the CNMI are struggling academically due to limited learning support centers for student, limited interaction with an instructor and limited time to study.

    Their goal is to educate the next generation and enrich each student’s knowledge and abilities.

    Commonwealth of Northern Mariana island Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, during the recognition ceremony, told the youth leaders that everyone excelled at different pace, different topic/subject and different issues.

    “Each and every one of you can make an impact. Always advocate leadership. Know that everyone is watching you and everyone is waiting for you to step up and we will be here to support you,” the governor said.

    CNMI Rep. Angel Demapan lauded the students for their presentations.

    “I was impressed. They were not the usual topics that teenagers talked about. They put a lot of time and effort to research on those very critical topics.”

    “Hearing those presentations really help us, public servant, to formulate our plan and solidify what are the proposals for those particular areas. To hear it from the perspective of junior and senior high school students bring a breath of fresh air. A lot of those things are active discussion on the table,” Demapan said.


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    Betel Nut chewing highest infractions at Kagman HS in Saipan

    August 28th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Betel Nuts. Image by

    CHEWING Betel Nut is an addiction among a number of Kagman High School students.

    Thus said KHS Principal Leila Staffler after noting that the most infraction committed by her students is Betel Nut chewing.

    “I have been paying attention to the numbers and looking at our discipline data, chewing Betel Nut is what students get in trouble for the most,” said Staffler, who has been the KHS principal since 2008.

    She said it is very challenging for educators because they are not just dealing with the student’s behavior, but their addiction as well.

    “It is very hard to balance the need to focus on instruction, when you also have to deal with the student’s deeper need when it comes to their habit or addiction.”

    The KHS, according to Staffler, has been working with the Commonwealth Cancer Association and has been reaching out to Public Health to do presentations on oral cancer at schools.

    “They have been coming year after year, but presentations don’t just do it. We need more than that. They need so much support to change the habits,” Staffler said in an interview.

    After the presentations, she said they would do surveys to students to find out from them at what age did they start chewing Betel Nut and who or what encouraged them to try it.

    “Our data showed that kids started in middle school and upper elementary age. They start back early. That’s when they started introduced to the habit,” she said.

    KHS student Britney Takai, who participated in the 2018 Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons or STEP-UP program, made a research on the correlation of chewing betel nut to oral cancer on Saipan.

    In her findings, Betel Nut chewing infractions mostly started in middle school.

    The chart she prepared showed that between the school years 2014-15, middle school students were ahead of high school students in terms of Betel Nut chewing infractions.

    In the school year 2015-16, high school dominated the chart by 74 percent; and 62 percent in the SY 2016-17.

    Staffler said the school tried to reach out the tobacco cessation programs that could offer assistance and outreach to students under the age of 18. She said students below 18 were not allowed to participate in most cessation programs.

    The other option that they tried to do for discipline, according to Staffler, was giving the students a research project about Betel Nut and oral cancer with 10 pictures that they could share with their peers.

    “Instead of suspending them – which they don’t learn from that – we give them research project. Did it do anything? Honestly, I don’t know if it changed their behavior because they still got in trouble for chewing betel nut the following year. Maybe it made them more aware. They need more than that to quit the habit. They need a cessation program that will help them,” Staffler said.


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    Carolinian culture being intensively promoted

    August 27th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    TO further promote the Carolinian culture, the Carolinian Affairs Office, through the Administration for Native Americans or ANA grant, hosted five cultural promotion programs.

    According to CAO project director Paul Ythemar, the program, which was started in January, was already attended by 400 people.

    “The project’s is to promote Carolinian culture. We have a three-year outline for the program. For this year, our focus is on arts and crafts,” Ythema said in an interview.

    On January, they offered mwaar making where 25 people attended the class while February was bead making. Most attendees were youth and about 25 participated in the three-day event.

    “For the women’s month, which is March, we offered coconut oil making. About 20 young and old women went to Carolinian Utt for the class,” he said.

    They conducted a class about canoe on the same month and 10 attended.

    For the month of April, a total of 150 students attended the ukulele class.
    Ythemar said they had six instructors that went to Garapan Elementary School, Oleai Elementary School and Hopwood Middles School to teach ukulele.

    “We had two classes in each school. We conducted ukulele class three times a week,” he said.

    For the month of June and July, the CAO partnered with four other agencies – Department of Youth Services, Food and Nutrition Services, Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture and Refaluwasch Advisory Council – and held three culture-centered summer programs. Almost 200 children participated in the three-week summer camp.

    “In the summer camp, we taught the children Carolinian song and dance. They also learned how to weave, how to make mwaar and how to make bead necklaces and bracelets,” he said.

    Ythemar said not all who participated were Carolinians.

    “Most of our attendees were Carolinians, but we welcomed the participation of other people from different ethnic,” he said.
    Ythemar said they will be offering lava-lava classes either on August or September.

    “It is hard to find an instructor on this because not so many people know how to use a loom. Those who know how to make lava lava are mostly old people,” he said.

    He also said, under the grant, by the end of three years there should be 200 Carolinians that will be taught and learned their culture.
    The Administration for Native Americans, under the US Department of Health and Human Services, awarded US$441,815 to the CAO.


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    Virus wanted to kill beetles in Saipan

    August 25th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Rhino beetle. Image by USDA APHIS

    UNIVERSITY of Guam scientists are exploring the possibility of introducing virus to coconut rhinoceros beetle population to control its growth on Rota, Guam, Hawaii and other Pacific islands.

    In an interview with UOG entomologist Ross Miller during the 35th Agricultural Fair held at the Civic Center in Susupe early this month, he said the UOG sent CRB specialist and entomologist Aubrey Moore in Asia to look for diseases or virus that can kill the rhino beetle, which have been infesting the coconut trees on Guam and Hawaii for years.

    “In Guam, the rhino beetle is there to stay. There is no solution for it at the moment. We are going around Asia looking for diseases that we can bring back to Guam that would kill the beetle. Once we find that, we will bring that as well Rota,” Miller said.

    Rhino beetles have been infesting Guam for almost eight years now, according to Miller. He said they have lost 25 percent of coconut trees. Another 30 to 40 percent have been attacked and damaged.

    “It is possible that we could lose maybe 80 to 90 percent of the coconuts,” Miller said.

    He added some small islands, like Palau, have lost 100 percent of their coconuts.

    “It happened after World War II. They have these beetles for a long time. The Philippines has them. It is

    common throughout the Pacific.”

    In Rota, the rhino beetle has established its colony in old copra plantation down by the Wedding Cake hill in the southern part of the island.

    “The workers have tried to cut all the trees that are infested. It cut down many of those trees and destroyed them with the idea of eradicating the beetle. There are still beetle flying around there and it is not clear whether or not they eradicated it or not. It is really hard to eradicate an insect once it established its domain,” Miller said.

    Earlier, Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Anthony Benavente reported they are close to eradicating the coconut rhino beetle, which have been festering the coconut plantation in October 2017.

    Miller advised the people on Rota to be vigilant on the possible new infestations.

    “It is really hard to eradicate it. Once the beetles are out, they are very hard to find because they can fly for miles. It could be that they control the infestation in a coconut plantation but it could be that the beetles have gotten away from that. They will have to be very vigilant for many years to make sure that the beetle has not spread,” he said.

    The long-term solution, according to Miller, is to find a viral control agent such as fungus or virus that would kill the beetle.

    Miller expressed confidence that introducing a virus to the colony would work very well, “except that we have not found the virus.”

    “In Asia, there is a virus somewhere that will kill the beetle. We just haven’t found it yet. That is the only solution for rhino beetle,” Miller added.

    “The idea is to find the disease, release it. It spread naturally as the beetle will spread it among themselves. It will kill the beetles. It doesn’t get rid of them but it puts the populations down really low. So they are not the problem anymore. That is the goal.”

    The rhino beetle they found in Guam, Hawaii and Rota are immune to every eradication process they did.

    “We tried everything and nothing works. We have to find a new disease that will control the beetle on these islands,” Miller said.

    The UOG has sent its Agriculture and Natural Resources assistant professor and entomologist Aubrey Moore in the Philippines and will travel in Taiwan in a quest to look for viruses.

    “He is working with virus expert from new Zealand to isolate the strains of virus that would kill the beetle. So far, they have not found anything. They keep on looking. They have to keep looking. They are very confident that there is a disease out there that will work – a virus that will be virulent. That is really the only option,” Miller said.


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    CNMI students came back with outstanding results from National Speech and Debate in Florida

    August 21st, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    CNMI NJSDA team.

    THE CNMI teams who competed in the National Speech and Debate Association in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida returned with outstanding results, as two of them finished in Top 5 and three made it to the Top 15 of the junior and senior divisions.

    In the Junior division, Western Pacific Region Director Harold Easton said Elaine Fernandez and Jonathan Wolf made it to the knock-out or breaking rounds.

    Fernandez reached finals and finished fifth in Story Telling. Wolf, who did the Humorous Interpretation, also earned a fifth place in the nation. Vladimir Palma, who did Dramatic Interpretation, was in semifinals and finished 8th in the nation.

    The other quarter finalists or in Top 25 were:

    Jonathan and Lars Wolf – Duo Interpretation

    Jonathan Wolf – Poetry Reading

    Vladimir Palma landed in the Top 30 for his Prose Reading.

    In the Senior division, Kate Ishida and Elizabeth Rose Jones made it to breaking rounds. Out of 420 students who competed in the Poetry Reading, Ishida finished 12th, placing her in the top 7 percent. Jones, who competed with 285 students in Expository Speech, made it to quarter finals and finished 15th..

    The other team members who made it to breaking rounds:

    Impromptu Speech – Shea Hartig (top 17 percent); Elijah Joshua Pajarillaga (top 40 percent) Prose Reading – Su Min Melody Woo (top 36 percent) Elizabeth Rose Jones (top 60 percent); Esther Park (top 60 percent); Poetry Reading -Shea Hartig (top 38 percent); Nina Valdisimo (top 60 percent); Jell Melchor (top 60 percent); Story Telling – Nina Valdisimo (top 40 percent); Jeremiah Fernandez (top 40 percent) Shea Hartig came close to breaking rounds with an excellent run in Lincold-Douglas Debate, Easton said.

    “These teams did an exceptional job rising to higher levels in the competition with a huge number of competitors,” Easton stated.

    In an email, brothers Jonathan and Lars Wolf thanked Easton for helping them prepare to the national competition.

    “He ran our [regional] competition similar to the national competition. It had prepared me for rigorous rounds after rounds, and these rounds determined who moved on to the Top 24, then the semis and finals,” Lars said.

    A first-time participant at the national NJSDA, Lars described the competition as tough.

    “Our CNMI team was prepared and we all practiced and did our best.”

    He added he will share his experience with his fellow students to help them better prepare when [local] competition starts in the next school year.

    Jonathan Wolf had been competing in the NJSDA for three years. This would be his last participation in the NJSDA.

    “As I say goodbye to middle school, I am grateful and humbled that I was always able to bring home trophies and plaques for our islands. It may be something small, but I am proud of it because I was able to bring happiness to our island and to those who have supported me,” he said.

    “High school is a different level of difficulty and I pray that I will make it as far as I did in middle school. I thank Mr. Easton, PSS and the federal program for continuing this program which enhances our public speaking abilities,” he added.

    Aside from the competition, the teams took advantage of educational and social opportunities, Easton said.

    “As time allowed, both teams visited sites to learn about the ecological issues and Space Age Technology Florida is known for. They also made contact with colleges and universities that reach out to speech and debate students and met and socialized with students from around the nation and around the world,” he said.

    The Junior Team members were: Patreisha Concillado (FMS), Elaine Fernandez (FMS), Dane Hodges (SIS), Cevina Huang (SIS), Juliet Innocencio (DDMS), Vivien Liu (HMS), Jill Mallari (MCS), Vladimir and Edgardo Palma (HMS), Christian Pamintuan (GMS), Oceana and Issa Teigita (DDMS), Lars Wolf (DDMS), and Jonathan Wolf (DDMS).

    The Junior team was Coached by Criselda Aldan (MCS), Cary Bertoncini (SIS), Lorelisa Espiritu (GMS), Maria Mettao (FMS), Victoria Nishida (HMS), and Kristine Wolf (DDMS).

    The Senior team members were Jeremiah and NeamiahFernandz (SSHS), Shea Hartig (SIS), Kate Ishida (MHS), Elizabeth Rose Jones (KHS), Jeff Melchor (MCS), Esther Park (MHS), Elijah Joshua Pajarillaga (GCA), Emma Timmons (MHS), Nina Valdisimo (KHS), Lanz Jabez Victoria (GCA), Kelvin Wolf (MHS), Su Min (Melody) Woo (GCA), and Joseph Zhang (MHS).


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    CNMI Thespian team brought honors home

    August 17th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Contributed photo

    SEVENTEEN students from the CNMI Team earned superior medals in the recently-concluded International Thespian Festival held in Lincoln, Nebraska.

    Western Pacific Director Harold Easton said the team returned from their participation in the ITF, which took place on June 25-30, with outstanding result. He also said the festival was attended by 4,000 students.

    “There were students who earned superior medals in the National Individual Events or NIES along with four perfect scores and there was also an outstanding success in the college auditions by our 11th graders,” Easton said in a statement.

    The Junior Thespian Team overall results in the NIES:

    Jonathan and Lars Wolf – Duet Acting – Superior medals

    Juliet Inocencio – Solo Musical Theatre – Excellent Rating

    Edgardo and Vladimir Palma – Duet Musical – Excellent Rating

    Christine Munar – Monologue – Excellent Rating

    The Senior Thespian Technical Team overall results:

    Louise Li – Theatre Marketing – Superior medal

    Julia Malate – Costume Design – Superior Medal

    Ruoxiang (John) Lu – Scenic Design – Excellent Rating

    Kaye Ann Obando – Short Film-Animation – Excellent Rating

    Michaela Gatdula and Anjenette Jewel Cubangbang– Short Film – Documentary – Excellent Rating

    Casey Huliganga and Lance Elayda– Short Film – Good Rating

    The Senior Thespian Performance Team overall results:

    Elizabeth Rose Jones – Solo Musical Theatre – Superior Medal

    Miguel Aninon, Roland Balajadia, Angela Barbo, Eden Conner, Jefferson Cunanan, Donna Galvez, Lesly Ibarra, Leonard Manuel, James Reyes, Charley Sablan, Clarisse Torio, Rinisa Tores -Group Musical – Superior Medals

    Su Min (Melody) Woo – Monologue – Excellent Rating

    Deirdre Rosete and Kasandra Villegas – Duet Acting – Excellent Rating

    Chole Salvosa and Kelvin Wolf – Duet Acting – Excellent Rating

    “To achieve these results, our CNMI Thespian Team members had to present their skills in their particular theatrical performance along with hundreds of other Festival participants,” Easton added.

    He said both Junior and Senior Team members performed in productions in Festival Got Talent presentations.

    “The Senior Team’s theatrical production was part of the Chapter Select Showcase, an invitation only event.”

    Moreover, according to Easton, the senior thespians performed as part of the Chapter Select Showcase presentations at the Howell Theatre, a 400-seat traditional style theater venue.

    “It should be noted that this is an invitation only event.”

    The production was the “The Internet is Distract – Oh Look, A Kitten” by Ian McWethy. It was directed by KHS Coach Joy Jones. Public Relations and Tech support were provided by the CNMI Senior Thespian Tech Team members under the direction of MHS Coach Jonel Alepuyo.

    “The production was enthusiastically received by the sellout crowd. The group received a Trophy as recognition of their production,” Easton said.

    The junior thespians performed as part of the Freestyle Theatre presentations.

    The event was held in the Johnny Carson Theater, a Black Box Theater seating 250. The production was entitled “Lunch” by Shawn Northrip and was directed by DDMS Coach Kristine Wolf. Public Relations and Tech support were provided by the CNMI Senior Thespian Tech Team members.

    “Our Junior Thespians did a fantastic job. The juniors are not given special preference. They have to rise to the occasion, and they did,” Easton commented.

    The group musical performers also received a trophy after battling with other groups in the Festival Got Talent at the Johnny Carson Theatre.

    In an interview, Inocencio described this year ITF as amazing.

    “I got to experience everything – from what it felt like to compete in the festival to experiencing amazing classes and watching so many plays.”

    She said the best part of her experience was getting to watch the plays that schools put together every night.

    “I got to see so many plays, and I felt so many emotions – from sad, to happy, to angry.”

    According to Salvosa the ITF experience is a great exposure to the world of theater. Wolf and Cunanan both agreed the ITF provided good workshops which fueled their passion.

    “It is an incredible experience with awesome people who inspire you with talent from all over the country,” Obando said.

    #Thespian, #CNMI

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    Classical musicians held a concert for children in Saipan

    August 16th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Korean musicians, from left, Gun Hyung Nam, Chang Woo Sohn, Jukang Lee, and Seokwon Lee. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    DOUBLE-BASS player Chang Woo Sohn recently fulfilled his promise to come back on Saipan and held a mini concert at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library’s children’s room to the delight of his young audience.

    This time, Sohn brought with him violinists Gun Hyung Nam and Jukang Lee and cellist Seokwon Lee.

    When Sohn did a post-Valentine mini concert in February, he promised the audience that he will be back on summer and will bring more musicians.

    “Last time I was here. People get to listen to double-bass music. It was not really fun and enjoyable. But now, I brought more musicians so people can listen to different music from different instruments. He said they all came here free of charge. We paid for our own tickets and accommodations.”

    “It is expensive to bring good musicians from other country to the island. We are doing this because we want to share our music and they want to share what they learned from the university,” Sohn said.

    The audience of the July 20 event was composed mostly of children.

    Sohn said he enjoyed the reception from the children.

    “They are lively. They are easy to please.”

    He added the musicians enjoyed promoting music and introducing musical instruments to children.

    “They want to focus on volunteering by bringing music in other places, such as Saipan.”

    According to JKPL technical services librarian Beth Demapan, “Libraries rock” is this year’s theme, which aims to promote music literacy in the community.

    “We were not privileged because we are on small island and we did not get to see all these classical musicians come here. This is to expose them to music. It is different from seeing it in YouTube. It is one thing to watch, see and experience it first-hand,” Demapan said in an earlier interview.

    Sohn is a university professor at Kookmin University in South Korea.


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    Guam Memorial Hospital’s loss of accreditation is no cause of concern for CNMI residents — lawmaker

    August 15th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    CNMI Senator Teresita Santos. Image by

    A COMMONWEALTH of Northern Mariana Islands lawmaker said local residents need not worry about the loss of accreditation by the Guam Memorial Hospital.

    Thus said Senator Teresita Santos as she noted that the GMH’s recent lost of accreditation from the Joint Commission has no impact to CNMI patient referrals as the hospital has not been terminated by CMS or Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    GMH, after review from the commission’s surveyor team in August 2017 and follow-up onsite survey in January, was denied accreditation by the Joint Commission, citing 40 issues that that “found to be out of compliance.”

    “It is indeed sad that Guam Memorial Hospital, the hospital that serves majority of our CNMI referrals, has recently lost its accreditation,” she said.

    The senator said funding plays a critical factor in ensuring delivery of quality healthcare, services and programs.
    “We cannot expect a high standard of health care with the absence of adequate funding.”

    However, she expressed confidence that without the JGS accreditation, “GMH will continue to maintain high standard in delivering patients’ care and in a safe environment as it has always done.”

    JGS, according to CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muña is an approved CMS surveyor.

    “One can be CMS certified and not be Joint Commission accredited. If an organization opts for Joint Commission certification, like GMH, once they are accredited, they are also deemed as compliant with CMS,” Muña said.

    She further explained that when a hospital loses accreditation from the Joint Commission, the CMS will conduct its own survey before handing a termination status.

    “From what I’ve read, they have not been terminated by CMS.”

    CHCC, according to Muña, was not in Joint Commission.

    “CMS certifies the territories already. An eligible hospital has an option to apply for Joint Commission accreditation and pay a significant fee. CHCC did discuss such an option with CMS and we are satisfied that at this time, we only need the CMS certification.”

    However, she said hospital that has certification from CMS and/or the Joint Commission assures the patients that when they are treated it follows the standards of care as required by the certification agencies – including upholding patient safety and providing health quality.


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    Fossil fuel free Okeanos Marianas successfully returned to Saipan after 25 grueling days on the open sea

    August 14th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Captain Cecilio Raiukiulipiy leads the Okeanos Marianas crew in a 25-day voyage, visiting different islands from Chuuk and Yap. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    AFTER 25 days of voyage into the open sea, the Okeanos Marianas successfully returned to Saipan on July 24, it was learned today.

    Canoe Federation chairman Rey Tebuteb said there were 15 people on board when they left on June 29. The journey was headed by Captain Cecilio Raiukiulipiy.

    According to Tebuteb, they encountered two weather disturbances that delayed their journey on different islands.
    Okeanos Marianas sailed to different islands of Chuuk and Yap, including Gaferut, West Fayu, Satawal, Paluwat and Pulusuk, before heading to their final destination – Tinian.

    In an interview, Tebuteb said the voyage was significant because the Okeanos Marianas sailed without using the fuel for the entire journey.

    “Okeanos sailed without using the fuel for the entire voyage. It ran on a 100 percent fossil-fuel free, using only coconut oil engine, solar and wind. Soon it will run on hydro – getting energy from the wave,” Tebuteb added.

    The group first landed on July 4 at Gaferut. It took them 20 hours to reach Pikelot island on July 5 and arrived on Satawal on July 6. They departed Satawal on July 12 and on their way to Polowat.

    “Satawal gave us lots of love and lots of challenges. It was a learning experience and time for growth. We all came out stronger and more resilient. We overcame each obstacle given to us but because of this, the people’s love and caring made the experience not only manageable, but rewarding and pleasant. Satawal is truly a magical island. Thank you for the opportunity to see and experience this island. For some, it was a return home. For others, it was finding their home and roots. Yet for others, it was a first time experience with the hopes to return and learn more,” Andrea Carr, one of the navigators of Okeanos Marianas, said in her report.

    From Polowat, the group started to sail on July 15 going to Pulusuk. On July 20, the group left Pulusuk on a stormy weather all through the morning.

    “The crew are all in good spirits, though soaked through,” Carr said.

    They navigated all the way to Tinian and arrived there on July 22 and met with Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas.

    Among the crew was Raiukiulipiy’s nephew Evelinjoel Olopai, 19. He said it was his first time to ride the Okeanos Marianas.

    “I learned how to navigate using the stars. My uncle Cecilio discouraged me to rely on the GPS for direction and taught me how to use stars instead.”

    He said looking at the stars is more accurate in navigating at the open sea, adding that the GPS is confusing.

    “But using the stars, you can see if your boat is heading to a direction where you want it. He told me to choose one star as my guide and concentrate on it. It can tell you if are moving too much to the left or too much to the right,” Olopai said.


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    Lack of transportation hampers learning of CNMI students

    August 13th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Kagman High School principal Leila Staffler. Image © LinkedIn

    THE lack of transportation is one of the biggest barriers the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands students are facing to access and participate in the programs to improve their learning, Kagman High School Principal Leila Staffler said.

    In a recent interview, Staffler thanked the Northern Marianas Trades Institute for providing the school a 15-seater van that would transport their students from KHS to NMTI.

    “This van will break many barriers that our students are facing,” she said, adding “with this van we will be able to guarantee students’ access and attendance to not just NMTI but all PSS programs.”

    She said the Kagman students, in particular, have transportation issue.

    “Our students have a large distance to travel in order for them to attend the programs. We do have the largest zone areas from the whole north side to the east side and our students must travel the farthest and the longest everyday to get their education,” Staffler said.

    With the availability of the transportation that would bring them to the NMTI, she expected that more students will avail of the courses that the trade school is offering for high school students.

    “We have been communicating and collaborating with NMTI all throughout the summer. We are doubling our enrollment in NMTI programs because we will be able to bring kids directly to the classes,” she added.

    In the previous school years, Staffler said they only have 30 students per semester attending the NMTI courses.

    “This year, we are anticipating that we will have up to 60 students participating.”

    “We will have a full course of hospitality on campus. The van will be used to transport the students to the hands-on courses like auto mechanic, construction, electronics, plumbing and others,” she said.

    In the past year, KHS students have limited options as the school has not facility to offer the hands-on courses.

    “With the van, our kids can go to NMTI and get to experience these hands-on experiential, project-based learning activities.”

    The NMTI on Tuesday turned over the two vans. The third vehicle will be transferred at a later date, according to NMTI Facebook post.

    The vans will be used by students from Kagman High School, Saipan Southern High School and Marianas High School.


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    Promising hs student researchers from Saipan identified and praised by medical experts

    August 12th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    High school students from PSS and private school shortly after presenting their research projects to medical experts at the Memorial Park Theatre. In this photos, the students poses with NHI-NIDDK’s STEP-UP project directors Dr. Lawrence Agodoa and Dr. George Hui with PSS STEP-UP coordinators Asap Ogumoro and Annette Pladevega, Associate Commissioner Jackie Quitugua and research mentors. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    SIX underrepresented high school students from Saipan showed promise in their medical researches that a ranking health official recently encouraged them to live their passion and continue their medical research and lead the effort against diseases in the islands.

    Minority Health Research Coordination director Dr. Lawrence Agodoa said praised the six high school students – De Faustina Camacho, of Kagman High School; Ian Cataluna, of Marianas High School; Tina Choi, of Marianas Baptist Academy; Jeni Costales, of Dr. Rita H. Inos Jr./Sr. High School; Natalie Montano, of Saipan Southern High School; and Britney Takai, Kagman High School – as he urged them to continue their passion in medical research.

    The six students all participated in the 2018 Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons or STEP-UP program where they embarked on an eight-week research projects after which they presented the same to medical experts.

    Drs. Agodoa and George Hui, program coordinator of the Pacific STEP-UP were on Saipan to hear the presentations, give constructive criticism and give suggestions to improve further the students’ work.

    STEP UP is a component of the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The program provides short-term opportunities and training for high school and undergraduate students from racial/ethnic groups underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research fields as well as from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    Ian Cataluna, who was mentored by Roy Adsit – a Biology and Chemistry teacher at Saipan Southern High School, worked on the effect of food consumption on electrocardiogram response (EKG) in young adults. The research aimed at getting further insight of the effect of certain tasks, such as eating, on the ECG and would aid in the identification of health behavioral patterns.

    De Faustina Camacho was mentored by Public Health/HIV/STD Resource and Treatment manager John Moreno and Public Health Director Margarita Aldan. Her worked focused on Gonococcal Isolate Surveillance Project. The research’s goal was trying to determine if gonorrhea, the second most reported disease in the U.S. and the CNMI, show a resistance to the treatment in at least 15 percent.

    Jeni Costales worked on the common eradication techniques used in the Pacific Islands for coconut rhinoceros beetle. She was mentored by Mark Manglona, technician coordinator for CRB, and Joseph Atalig, quarantine supervisor at the Department of Lands and Natural Resources.

    In her research, Tina Choi tried to investigate the effect of air conditioning on radon, a radioactive noble gas that can easily seep into buildings. Excessive radon level can lead to lung cancer. Choi’s mentors were Captain Derek Chambers of Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, and Austin Flores of the Northern Marianas College.

    Natalie Montano was mentored by DLNR’s Joseph K. Ruak and Jessy R. Hapdei. For her research, Montano tried to determine the relationship between the depth of the nest and the hatching success rate of green sea turtle on Saipan, Tinian and Rota.

    Britney Takai was mentored by Amber Mendiola, of Public Health/ Diabetes Prevention and Control Program; Bradwell Batallones, and Margarita Aldan, of Public Health. Takai’s research is related on

    areca nut or betel nut and its correlation to oral cancer. Her study focused on determining the level of readiness that the community members and leadership possessed in regards to betel nut use with tobacco and lime among high school students between 14-18 years old. Her objective was to create an action plan, depending on the level of readiness, to combat the issue.

    In an interview, Dr. Agodoa said all high students’ research projects were all good.

    “It is dealing with islands issues and problems and this is what we would like to see,” he said, adding “the CNMI and the Pacific Islands are bringing a different dimension to what they are trying to get the kids see problems in the community and how to use research to solve some of these problems.”

    He also said STEP UP project is one of the ways to entice the students to consider going medical research and try to solve community health issues.

    “Severe diseases affect underrepresented communities. Diabetes is one of the most problem issued that we have to deal with and yet we don’t have researchers to these communities that’s why we are getting down to these students to appeal to them to consider going to the medical research,” he said.

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    CNMI scholars aiming high

    August 10th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Million Dollar Scholars.From left, Jessa Camacho, Allison Arellano, Josepha Cabrera and Viron Tenorio at the MYPros fundraising mixer on July 27. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio.

    THE first batch of Million Dollar Scholars is not content with just finishing college as its members are aiming to pursue post collegiate courses after finishing their undergraduate studies college two years from now.

    This was learned following a brief interview with Josepha Cabrera, Allison Arellano, Jessa Camacho and Viron Tenorio, the first cohort of Gerard Van Gils’ Million Dollar Scholars In the coming school year, the scholars will be in third year, getting closer to their college diploma.
    Tenorio said he was debating whether to come back and serve the community for two years and help pay off his SHEFA and CNMI scholarships or continue to study and get a master’s degree.

    “I am still thinking whether to keep it going while still in school and then after it is done I will come back,” said Tenorio, who is majoring in criminal justice and digital forensic at Dixie State University.

    Arellano is majoring in integrated studies with emphasis in communication and management at Dixie State University.

    “I love Saipan and I want to come back. Obviously, all people are getting bachelor’s degree now and all people are coming back on the island.”

    She said the competition is getting tight.

    “I was thinking if I get my master’s degree, the competition will be better at my end.”

    Cabrera, who got a 10-year Gates Millenium scholar in 2016, said she will definitely continue her education and get master’s degree.

    “After that, I want to go ahead and continue and get a Ph.D. I got funds for 10 years [from Gates Millennium scholarship] and I would like to take advantage of it and use up all 10 years of it,” said Cabrera, who is double majoring in business with concentration in finance and economics.

    Camacho is attending Central Washington University and is majoring in Information Technology with specialization in cyber security and web development design.

    “After college, I am not coming back yet. I am planning to take one to two years at Microsoft, probably doing web development and learning more about cyber security and then probably get another year to get my master’s degree and hopefully come back to the island.”

    They all admitted they have struggled during their first year in the U.S. mainland but they focused more on getting a bachelor’s degree.

    Cabrera said it was really a challenge going to the U.S. for college.

    “It was a challenge to adjust to the weather, to adjust to the food. We were all homesick.”

    She added the college preparation that the MDS provided to them boosted up her confidence.

    “What we did at MDS, we tried to group all of the students by bringing them in cohorts to each university. Being a majority here on the island becoming a minority on the mainland that was a big struggle but overall you get used to it and find your own support group,” Arellano added.

    Through the MDS, Tenorio was able to get scholarships and applying for college.

    “I really didn’t know how to do all of that. But through MDS, the entire class is doing it and we helped each other prepare for college.”

    To the MDS members, who will be going to college, Tenorio advised the students to never give up.

    “Don’t let failure discourage you in any form. If you fail a class, continue. Find the course that really interest you.”
    Cabrea, Arellano, Camacho and Tenorio are on the island for their summer break.


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    CNMI Department of Public Health officials join Gay Pride celebration

    August 9th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Paper Dolls in their colorful costumes. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    CELEBRATING equality and their uniqueness, members of the local LGBT community recently hosted the first-ever Gay Pride in Saipan.

    Event organizer Sharmaine Casquero said the July 29 celebration, which was held at the GIG Discotheque, was a success as she announced that they will do it yearly.

    Initially, she said, the show was meant to raise funds for the Saipan Music and Dance Studio or SMADS’ 16 dancers who will be competing in Hip Hop International competition in Phoenix, Arizona on Aug. 3 to 11.

    “Three days before the show, the Department of Public Health’s HIV/STD division approached the group and expressed its intention to join in the celebration while extending services to the community,” SMADS president Ester Sablan said.

    Casquero said 13 members of Paper Dolls performed that night. Some of them danced, did the lip sync, and did the catwalk showcasing their colorful costumes.

    In joining the Gay Pride event, CHCC’s Communicable Disease manager John Moreno said they joined the event because it was a celebration of the LGBT community and it was a fundraising for the youth – SMADS dancers.

    “These are two special populations that we DPH’s HIV/STD prevention program are always looking to communicate with because they are especially vulnerable to HIV and STD,” he said.

    He added their presence at the GIG was their way of expressing support to these two group population.

    Moreno and his group has set up a small table at the disco bar, where they handed out brochures containing information about STD and HIV. They were also giving away T-shirts while at the same time, giving away condoms and lubricants to promote safe sex.

    “As I mentioned earlier during the opening of the show, ‘no glove, no love’ because condom is very effective in preventing the transmission of HIV and STD,” he said in an interview.

    Morales added they also conducted HIV testing.

    “The result took only 20 minutes. We know that it is a party and it is a celebration and people are maybe concerned that the result is not what they are expecting, but they have an option to either get the results tonight after 20 minutes or they can call us at the office the following day so that they continue with celebration without worrying about the result,” Moreno said.

    All throughout the celebration, he said, there were almost 10 people who get tested for HIV.

    “Some people are very open and there are some who are a little nervous because it is their first time or they haven’t had their test before. We tried to put them at ease. We told them we are here to support them no matter what,” he added.

    Moreno thanked the Paper Dolls and the organizer of the Gay Pride event for allowing them to celebrate with the LGBT community.

    “We want to be seen, as part of Public Health, that we are concerned about this special community. We want to help fight the stigma,”

    Moreno said, adding stigma and discrimination in the community isolate people, “it leads depression. It leads isolation and also leads to health disparity.”

    The Public Health is here. We want to make sure that we celebrate with fun. We want to make sure that we celebrate healthy,” Moreno said.


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    90 percent of STEP-UP participants in CNMI pursue science and health career

    August 8th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Dr. Lawrence Agadoa. Photo from National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases – NIH

    THE innovative and highly experimental Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons program is a continuing success.

    According to Minority Health Research Coordination director Dr. Lawrence Agodoa, about 85 to 90 percent of the students who participated in the Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons or STEP-UP have pursued science-and health-related courses in college.

    Under the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases or NIH-NIDDK, STEP-UP program was first established in 1995. The target participants are high school and undergraduate students from racial/ethnic groups underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research fields and from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    The program gives opportunities to underrepresented students a short-term research experience.

    “We did preliminary analysis, 80 percent of students who participated in the program completed college and about 85 to 90 percent of these students stayed in science,” Dr. Agodoa said in an interview.

    “This is the kind of result we want to see.”

    He hopes that in a few years he would see many of these students pursue their Ph.D. and lead research about the diseases on the islands.

    “We wanted to see them stay on research field, but many of them gravitate to medicine which is okay because the community needs doctors as well,” he added.

    He said the program’s goal is to reduce and eliminate health disparities, expand research education and training opportunities for underrepresented minority scientists, and provide information to racial and minority groups about treatment, prevention, and self- management of diseases.

    “These are the reasons why we started this program at stateside.”

    The program was extended to the Pacific region in 2007.

    According to Asap Ogumoro, PSS’ Science program coordinator, a total of 37 high school students participated in the program since it was introduced in the CNMI in 2011. He said the students are selected by a review committee form the NIDDK and the University of Hawaii from applicants from private and public high schools.

    “They were assigned with experienced mentors to work on their research projects. The mentors are science teachers from local high schools, federal and local government agencies, as well as faculty from the Northern Marianas College,” Ogumoro said.

    According to Dr. Agodoa, the NIH is in full support of the students interested in science and health research.

    “We will make funds available for them to go as far as they want to go. They will decide how far they want to go and we will support them. We only ask to come back and help their community,” he said.


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    Summer camp to keep teenagers from bad habits held in Saipan

    July 29th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    William S. Reyes Elementary School counselor Rebecca J. Flores teaching life skills lesson to fifth grade students at the second week of summer camp program. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    TO ween teenagers away from bad habits and behaviors that put them at risk, the William S. Reyes Elementary School in Saipan recently held a summer camp program that focuses on teaching children life skills.

    About 60 students – composed of third, fourth and fifth graders from WSR participated. The facilitators are counselors and teachers, who took eight-hour online Botvin Life Skills course.

    According to WSR principal Naomi Nishimura, the Life skills program was funded through a grant from the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and the Substance Prevention Services of the Community Guidance Center. The program is being coordinated by Achieve, a private, non-profit organization committed to promoting healthy lifestyle and social emotional wellness.

    One of the facilitators Rebecca J. Flores, WSR counselor, said the summer program aims to promote healthy alternatives through activities designed to help youth resist social pressures to smoke, drink alcohol, and use of drugs.

    The program’s curriculum also include lessons to develop self-esteem, self-mastery, and self-confidence; effectively cope with social anxiety; increase knowledge of the immediate and long-term consequences of substance abuse; and enhance cognitive and behavior competency to reduce and prevent a variety of health risk behaviors.

    Nishimura said this is the first time they implemented the program in three grade levels.

    “We are trying to build a community of students that will stay away from unwanted behavior and keep them away from that influence. We are piloting this program in hopes somehow we can incorporate it in our yearly activities,” the principal said.

    The 15-day summer camp started on June 11.

    The program, Nishimura said, was first presented last school year to fifth graders.

    Flores said there were 29 fifth graders who completed the eight sessions of the life skills curriculum. She taught the lessons twice weekly in a span of five weeks.

    “The Botvin Life Skills Training is an evidence-based substance abuse and violence prevention program used in schools and communities throughout the U.S. and in 39 countries around the world. LST has been extensively tested and prove to reduce tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use by as much as 80 percent. It is effective when implemented with different delivery formats, when taught by different providers, and when delivered to different populations. It also works with elementary school, middle school, and high school students. Long-term follow-up studies show that it produces prevention effects that are durable and long-lasting,” Flores said in a later statement.

    Nishimura said the group of students who will undergo in this program will be tracked year by year all the way to Hopwood Middle School – WSR’s co- recipient in the grant which has the same program for its students.

    “So we will be able to collect data and see where we will be at with this program.”


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    Technical trade workers honored in Saipan

    July 28th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    NMTI awardees with NMTI board members. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    THE Northern Marianas Trades Institute, on its recent third annual gala, recognized five individuals and a business organization for their contribution to the technical trades.

    Aside from the holding the recognition gala this year, the NMTI also introduced the Robert H. Jones award, which gives recognition to students of the culinary arts. The award was created to honor an individual who displayed that “anything is possible if you put your mind to it and dedication into the matter.”

    The new award first went to Manju Pandey.

    “She understands the harsh reality of running a business in the CNMI. She took the challenge of learning and practices it at Java Joes,” Lareina Camacho, mistress of the ceremony, said as she introduced the first ever recipient of the Robert H. Jones award.
    Mandey was among the 30 students who finished culinary arts training early this year at the

    During the award ceremony, Robert H. Jones, chairman of the board of Triple J Enterprises, congratulated McPhetres and the NMTI staff.

    “It’s been a pleasure to work alongside Agnes and NMTI to reinvest in my employees, ” he said as he credits his employees for his successes and the reason for such an award,

    “I have the best group of employees who back me up 100 percent and it’s because of them, my team who I attribute the award.”

    “I’ve seen the ups and downs of our economy and the challenges about securing a work force qualified to do the job, and we are never going to get the problem solved unless we train our local people to do the job long term,” Jones said.

    Meanwhile, the traditional Jose Tenorio award was given to the Associated Insurance Underwriters of the Pacific Inc. as distinguished benefactor of the year.

    “Your philanthropic acts have greatly increased the institute’s ability to provide quality vocational education,” stated in the plaque received by the association.

    This year’s Jose Tenorio award recipient is… – it is for this reason his company’s award.

    Associate Jose Manahane Delos Reyes was recognized as the trailblazer in trades. He received the Vicente S. Sablan Award which celebrates an individual’s lifelong accomplishments and commitment to the expansion of trade.
    Delos Reyes’ accomplishment was considered inspirational by the NMTI.

    Delos Reyes, who trained at the Central Intelligence Naval Unit, developed interest in automotive technology among local people.

    “People would bring their cars to Delos Reyes to fix. He would worked on them after work and on weekends. He had so many people coming over to fix their cars that even brought in their neighbor to help him. He is one of those individual who develop local interest in automotive technology,” said Glen Hunter, the master of the ceremony.

    For the construction trade, Breanna Humphries received the Tun Donicio award for always welcoming a challenged and learning various crafts such as electrical, carpentry and welding.

    Archibald Ajoste received the Jose C. Ayuyu award. He is considered this year’s NMTI accomplished alumnus in hotel and restaurant industries.

    It was learned that Ajoste, prior to attending NMTI, he has been working at the Kanoa Resort.
    During the duration of his training at the institute, he immediately landed a job as food and beverage supervisor at the resort.

    The Anthony Pellegrino award, which recognizes the student’s personal accomplishment, went to Earl John Bordon.

    After attending the culinary arts program, Bordon immediately worked at Hyatt Regency Saipan.

    “After working a little over a year, he particularly found interest in the area of pastry. His supervisor encouraged him to pursue his dream by applying to culinary school in London,” Camacho said.

    Bordon is now in London, attending pastry training at the Cordon Bleu.

    During the gala, Joeten Enterprises donated US$3,000 and IT&E gave US$5,000 checks to the

    This year, the NMTI was able to raise a net fund US$30,000.

    “Tonight’s annual gala culminates in our collective celebration of success over the past year,” NMTI chairman John Gonzales said.

    The accomplishments of the institute, he said, were proof that “we are doing something great, meaningfully productive.”

    “We remain steadfast and unwavering in our mission of transforming our community through technical trades education.”

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    Twenty three million Americans are recovering from alcohol and drug addition

    July 26th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

     Faces and Voices Recovery Exectuive Director Patty McCarthy Metcalf. Image ©

    ABOUT 23 million Americans are in long term recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.

    According to Faces and Voices of Recovery executive director Patty McCarthy Metcalf, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island should be part of this community as there are also recovering alcohol and drug dependents in the islands.

    “You have people here in CNMI that are also living in recovery but don’t even talk about it. We want people to be not ashamed and come out in their recovery,” Metcalf, who was on Saipan to give training and technical assistance to the Blue Ribbon Action Team and the Community Guidance Center staff, said.

    At the same time, Metcalf expressed support for the Blue Ribbon Action Team and its structure in giving support to people with alcohol, drug-abuse or mental-health problems.

    The Faces and Voices Recovery is a national organization that unites people around the country, the mainland, as well as on the island to be part of the recovery movement and to advocate and share their stories about what they have accomplished. The group educates people in recovery, Metcalf said.

    “Through Faces and Voices Recovery, they get their families back – not losing their children to child welfare system and they rebuild family,” she said.

    “We see an individual using drugs and alcohol. They become dependent on that and they isolate themselves. They damaged their relationship with family members, they lose their job, or they might go to prison.”

    The problem is they become isolated and harder for them to regain their places as community members, once they take down that path,” she said.

    Another difficulty, according to Metcalf, is the lack of coordination of resources and public awareness around the states and even on the islands. She said there is still stigma and discrimination from the people.

    “If public thinks that if people who have alcohol or drug problem are bad people then that is really shaming of people who have a disease. They need help.”

    Metcalf noted that “there are a lot of people in recovery.” She also said “they are peers to one another that they can help one another who have struggles with the same challenges. The most important thing is they could share each other with the successes of their recovery.”

    The organization, which was established in 2001, was founded by people who are on recovery and their family members.

    “We are putting faces and voices of recovery. They have been doing something for the community. We are helping to strengthen them and give them a voice in Congress to get funding for the organization, so they can provide pure recovery support services and recovery drug court and emergency department,” Metcalf said.


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    CNMI Governor and First Lady honored by the Pohnpei community

    July 25th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Gov. Ralph Torres and first lady Diann at the Sakau ceremony. The king bestowed upon them the title of lukhan sau sap and luhk pein. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    GOV. Ralph DLG Torres and first lady Diann Torres were recently honored by the Pohnpei community who bestowed on them the Lukhan sau sap and Luhk pein titles through Nan Mwarki Kerbet Hebel during the sakau ceremony held at the Garapan Central Park.

    The Pohnpei community hosted the ceremony in honor of the King and Queen Rihna Une Abraham, who were then participating in the week-long Pacific Islands Bilingual Bicultural Association or PIBBA conference.

    PIBBA International President Frances Mary Sablan, walked the spectators through the sakau ceremony.

    “It is a ritual that is done when the nan mwarki or king and queen when they arrived to any place especially in Pohnpei,” she said, “because they are here for PIBBA’s conference they brought their sakau here.”

    “These sakau roots were brought in from Pohnpei. We don’t have them here, we only have the powder. They have to bring in the real stuff,” she added.

    Made from the root of kava plant, sakau is a thick, mud-like drink served in Pohnpei and other Pacific areas.

    The ceremony started with a prayer and followed by the laying of roots on the rock – a large, flat slab stone. Each of the four men, dressed in koahl or traditional grass skirt, wielded with fist-size stone and pounded the roots.

    Each pound produced musical sound. When the roots became powder, it then wrapped in wet hibiscus bark. The hibiscus bark was twisted and squeezed and a slimy, thick concoction dripped to the coconut shell, which served as the glass.

    “The first drip has to be for the king. Before consuming it, his entourage – sitting below him – need to look at it first and investigate it to make sure that it is consumable by the king. He [king] gets the first drink of the sakau and other royalty members can partake after the king,” Sablan said.

    The second serving of sakau was given to the queen. Another serving was given to the governor. The first lady did not partake.

    The local leaders were also called, consuming the sakau in front of the king.

    “They also called up other community leaders one at a time to pay homage to the royalty and at the same time partake of the ceremonial drink,” Sablan explained.

    Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog, Mayor David Apatang, former Lt. Gov. Diego Benavente, and CPA board member Roman Tudela Jr. also drank the sakau.

    Before the ceremony started, a big swine was killed. It was then roasted and divided to the members of the community.

    Pohnpeian women rendered two songs for the royalty, followed by offering of gifts to the king and queen.


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