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    Carolinian Affairs Office, Rivers Pictures to produce Carolinian language and culture show

    July 17th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    IN an attempt to preserve their culture, the Carolinian Affairs Office will collaborate with Rivers Pictures to do an educational and cultural series about the local language and culture.

    CAO Executive Assistant John I. Tagabuel said the production on ‘Akkabwung Mwaleiyasch Refaluwasch’ or Learning our Carolinian Language will start in August.

    Rivers Pictures created and produced ‘Ketungu Chamorro’ or Let’s Learn Chamorro – a 10- part series of educational and cultural show. The show was launched on June 16 and the episodes for season can now be accessed on YouTube and Rivers Pictures Facebook page.

    Tagabuel said they are already selecting instructors for each episode.

    In an earlier interview, Valentian Rivera of Rivers Pictures said he agreed to work with the CAO and they will soon start formulating and planning of what to feature each episode.

    “We agreed to do this with the CAO because we didn’t want to do just one indigenous language and culture. We want both Chamorro and Carolinian to have educational show available on the internet,” Rivera said.

    Tagabuel said they plan on having 10 episodes in the first series, where viewers can learn the basic like counting, identifying colors and objects.

    “We will also teach them simple phrases that can be used in everyday conversation,” Tagabuel said, adding he is targeting the children as his audience.

    “Hopefully, in the near future we will announce it [the show]. It will help the kids learn more about the language.”
    He said many children, especially of Carolinian heritage, do understand the language but barely speak it.

    “We are targeting them as our main audience to make sure that the language will not die.”

    He said their challenge would be looking for Carolinian instructors as there are only few teachers who can speak the language.

    “We have limited teachers who can speak Carolinian. The last time, I inquired with the PSS (Public School System) – to work with the language certification – they have less than 10 Carolinian teachers,” Tagabuel said.

    On Saipan, Tagabuel said there are only 2,000 to 3,000 Carolinians.

    “Not all Carolinian speaks the language. Some of them understand but do not know how to speak it.”

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    GES Science teacher Peter Loken to receive Presidential award

    July 16th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Peter Loken.

    DUE to his outstanding contributions in teaching or mentoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM, a science teacher from the Garapan Elementary School in Saipan will received the highest award the government could bestow a science and math teacher.

    Science teacher Peter Loken is among the 140 teachers and mentors who will receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) in Washington D.C..

    Loken, who has been teaching in CNMI for a decade, is the 10th PAEMST recipient from the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands since the warding body was established in 1983.

    It was from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) website that the names of this year’s PAEMST recipients were announced.

    PAEMST program director Nafeesa Owens said each awardee will receive a citation signed by President Trump and a US$10,000 award from NSF. The awardees will also travel to Washington, DC, for an awards ceremony.

    According to Loken, Public School Research and Evaluation program coordinator Annette Pladevega nominated him in 2015.

    “She nominated me for this award after she observed a science lesson I gave during her visit to Garapan Elementary School with the Office of Curriculum Instruction,” Loken said in an email to this writer.

    After his nomination, Loken has to complete a three-part application process.

    “The first step made sure I met all the requirements of the award. The second part was a series of essays about my teaching philosophy and style. The last part consisted of a 40-minute video of a classroom lesson, an explanation of the lesson and any materials I created for this lesson,” he stated.

    Loken said his application was evaluated at the State level by a committee based five Dimensions of Outstanding Teaching: mastery of mathematics or science content appropriate for the grade level taught; use of instructional methods and strategies that are appropriate for students in the class and that support student learning; effective use of student assessments to evaluate, monitor, and improve student learning; reflective practice and life-long learning to improve teaching and student learning; and leadership in education outside the classroom. His application was then sent to a committee formed by the NSF for review.

    Loken said the committee who evaluated his application consisted of prominent scientists and science educators.

    “It is a true honor to win this award and represent the CNMI in this capacity. It is humbling to win such an award when I see all the great teachers at my school and in our district. I would like to thank my wife for helping me in this and everything I do,” said Loken.

    PAEMST is the highest award kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics and science, including computer science, teachers can receive from the U.S. government. The award alternates years between kindergarten to sixth grade and seventh to 12th grade teachers.

    This year, on the award’s 35th anniversary, kindergarten to sixth grade teachers will be honored.


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    Northern Marianas Trades Institute Chief Executive Officer Agnes McPhetres is Rotary’s 2018 Citizen of the Year.

    July 15th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    NMTI Agnes McPhetres. Image ©

    THE Rotary Club of Saipan named Northern Marianas Trades Institute Chief Executive Officer Agnes McPhetres as 2018 Citizen of the Year.

    In a phone interview with Rotary’s Double Past President Curtis Danco, he said McPhetres was awarded during the club’s induction of officers and directors at Aqua Resort on June 30.

    “She has established herself as pioneer of education. She brought education to the highest level and she continues to do that even in retirement. She continues to serve the education system and very knowledgeable with all her experience,” Danco said of McPhetres.

    Each year, the club’s council of past presidents selects the Citizen of the Year from a list of nominees.

    “When she was nominated, it was unanimous that she would be recognized as Citizen of the Year. She got great vision. She is very resourceful,” Danco said, adding “education continues to be important in the community and it showed in what she is doing in the NMTI.”

    McPhetres is also an active member of the Rotary Club of Saipan. Danco said it was not a requirement to be a member of the club to be able to get such award.

    “A lot of our Citizen of the Year awardees were not members of the Rotary. You just have to be an outstanding individual in our community and recognized by your peers,” he added.

    “Agnes McPhetres deserved that honor. She was very humble when accepting it. She continues to work hard to the program that she represents and we just appreciate what she has done in the community,” Danco said.

    McPhetres advocated education to the CNMI youth as she believed that institutions of higher education across America serve as the economic driving force for their respective communities.

    McPhetres dedicated most of her life to the education of students throughout the Pacific Islands as she served in different positions including classroom teacher from 1956 to 1967 at Mt. Carmel School on Saipan; principal of St. Cecilia’s School in Moen, Chuuk from 1971-1972; executive director of the State Vocational Advisory Council from 1972-1973 for the Trust Territory government; and assistant director of education for the Department of Education under the Trust Territory government from 1974- 1977.

    In 1979 to 1983, she served as the CNMI’s associate superintendent of schools. From 1983 to 1999, McPhetres served as the first president of the Northern Marianas College. Through her leadership, McPhetres and her team were able to get the newly founded NMC accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in June 1985.

    After retiring from NMC, McPhetres came back and accepted the role as CEO of the NMTI with the aim of training local people with trades skills to address the CNMI’s problem of work shortages.

    In getting the award, NMTI Continuing Education and Workforce Development Director Ross Manglona said “it was a proud day for us at NMTI because it demonstrates that our leader carries herself in the community with utmost prestige and is always willing to help our community. [the award given by the Rotary club] speaks volume of her leadership.”


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    CNMI to revive latte stone curving

    July 14th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    A latte stone in Latte Stone Park, Hagåtña, Guam. Image ©

    THE Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Indigenous Affairs Office is set on promoting and producing latte stone curving in a bid to revive this tradition in the islands.

    This was learned after the CNMI-IAO said they are now reaching out with carver instructors in Guam in an attempt to start a latte curving program in the islands.

    IAO Resident Director Roman Tudela Jr. said they recently met with Dr. Kelly Marsh, cultural and historical consultant and University of Guam adjunct professor, and carving instructor Eva Cruz to talk about the possible collaboration.

    “There are some people in Guam that are teaching carving to the kids. This is something that we want to do here in the future,” Tudela said.

    Dr. Marsh is coming up with a book about the latte stones, carving and quarrying, Tudela said. He added that the information on her book will play important role in the program that they will be setting up.

    “Dr. Kelly Marsh has done a lot of studies on latte stones. She has done a lot of studies all over the Marianas,” Tudela noted, adding that they do not have a lot of information about the significance of latte stone carving and the texture of other stones in the Marianas that can be used for carving.

    “Before embarking on the program, we want good, solid information on what we will be teaching. I don’t want to teach that I don’t have full information of,” he said, noting further that they will rely on Dr. Kelly’s information.

    During the meeting at his office, Tudela said he brought Cruz to three latte sites in Saipan – at Laolao Kattan, Chacha and Unai Bapot. If collaboration will push through, Cruz would initiate the carving instruction.

    “In the meeting, I asked for their help in trying to revive the cultural activities, including latte stone carving. I also extended our office to them should they want to get more information about us,” he said.

    “Hopefully, this would start the exchanging of information. Dr. Kelly gave me the heads up of the book. She will be providing that book that will serve our guide to review materials and other information in the carving and quarrying,” Tudela said.


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    Disability sports fest postponed

    July 13th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    (File photo) CNMI First Lady Diann Torres. Photo © Lyn Lirio

    DUE to bad weather, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Disability Sports Festival, the first sports event in the islands intended for people with physical and mental disability, is postponed until further notice.

    The announcement was made by CNMI-Public School System Sports Director Nick Gross in an interview with the press.

    “Due to inclement weather and the elevated risk associated in this kind of weather, the organizing committee decided to postpone the event,” Gross, who is also the chairman of the organizing committee, said.

    The CNMI Disability Sports Festival, organized by multi agencies led by Lady Diann Torres Foundation, was supposed to take place on July 6 and 7 at the Marianas High School.

    Gross said they were expecting 70 participants from Saipan, Tinian and Rota in the first-ever people disability sports events. He also said the organizing committee will meet to identify the best dates to reschedule the sports fest.

    “With Micro Games coming up and the opening of the school, we need to sit down and look and identify an appropriate weekend that we can move forward with the festival,” he said, adding they will not cancel the event.

    “I am 100 percent sure it will push through. Nobody expected this and we didn’t have a good plan in place for the inclement weather,” Gross explained.

    In an earlier interview, first lady Diann Torres said this will be the first time that the CNMI will have sports fest for people with disability.

    “We had that in the 80s. We call it Special Olympics but it died out,” she said.

    She added part of the funds for the event came from the Office of the Grants Management.

    She said they have reached out to different agencies such as the PSS and disability partners – autism group and those dealing with disabilities – to bring their client and have them participate.

    “The event will give people with special needs a chance to demonstrate their athletic abilities,” she said.


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    NMI Museum soon to be more accessible

    July 12th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    IN A bid to make the Northern Mariana Islands Museum History of Culture more accessible to the public soon, a plan to put up an overpass that will connect the museum grounds to the nearby Sugar King Park is now “on the table.”

    Museum Executive Director Danny Aquino said Saipan Mayor David Apatang and his office are in charge of the plan and the design of the walkway.

    “We are trying to incorporate the Sugar King Park together with the museum grounds to have one big cultural festival show. It will happen sometime in August,” Aquino said in an earlier interview.

    “We are trying to secure funding for a walkway, or the overpass that passes through the Sugar King Park – that is how we are going to incorporate cultural presentations for the public,” he said, adding “it is dangerous to have people walking across the street.”

    The museum has not officially been in operation but it is open to guests and students who want to visit the building.

    The landscaping job on the museum ground is currently ongoing.

    When it is done, Aquino said they will establish a Chamorro and Carolinian Cultural Center within the grounds in order to generate revenue for the museum. They will put up 15 huts for vendors, who will sell local Chamorro and Carolinian products.

    Aquino said the cultural center to be put up will be different from the Thursday night Street Market, saying they will strictly focus on Chamorro and Carolinian products. He also disclosed that the board will meet on the admission rates in the museum as they plan to put fences at the entire perimeter of the museum.

    “This is to protect the huts from vandalism.”


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    CNMI-PSS met with industry partners and educational institutions to prepare student’s career pathways.

    July 11th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Image ©

    IN A bid to expand the student’s career pathways, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Public School System recently held a career technical conference which brought together stakeholders and educational institutions.

    The participants, who attended the conference at Taga Hall in World Resort, include those in the arts and communication business, healthcare services, educational institutions, government and public administration.

    Jessica Taylor, CNMI Career and Technical Education program director, said the conference focused more on discussions on career pathways for the students. Moreover, she said they have been tackling career pathways since 2000 with industry partners.

    “But the difference of this meeting is we are going to continue to meet, maybe twice a year, and really work on those pathways in the curriculum [to integrate 21st century skills] to ensure that when our students graduate, they will be able to gain entry level employment, if possible, or even go to college and get into a credit-bearing course,” Taylor explained.

    “We have pathways and we want to build more of them. We want to expand and we want to engage our business and secondary partners even more to make it so much better.”

    When it comes to pathways, Taylor said the PSS curriculum needs the input from industry partners for career and technical education.

    “We want to make sure that our standards are also aligned with the standard of industry so that we will be able to teach the skills that the students need. We are also hoping that when they do graduate from high school, they will be able to earn industry-recognized credential or certifications. So when they leave our schools, they have something under their belt,” she said.

    Furthermore, she said, the CTE program focused on the workforce and readiness of the students.

    “CTE is a major part of the solution to national economic and workforce problem. It is about our future and the workforce and the readiness of our kids and it is about producing children that are going to be ready to contribute to our society,” she said, adding “it is critical, it is not only about our students, it is also about the resources that we can share, the resources that we can leverage so that we cannot duplicate services. It is important that we collaborate and we work that we all aligned and we ensure that our kids have those skills.”

    Taylor hopes to develop advisory committee that would expand pathways, skills integrating in the curriculum and oversee its enactment.

    One of the participants was CHCC CEO Esther Muña, who expressed support on the collaboration to map out a career path for the students.

    “I emphasized the need of involving our policy makers in this discussion as there needs to be more resources and investment provided,” she said.

    In health care field, Muña said there are numerous skills that can be applied.

    “I examined a book of electrical engineering that was on display and I was pleased to see that on the index they discussed biomedical engineering – a needed skill in the hospital. That’s just an example where health is introduced in a more generalized field. That introduction, however, can bring interest to a student who is still trying to figure out their future career,” she said.

    “The individuals at the meeting know and recognize the challenges and I have so much respect for all of them. It is obvious that we know the problems affecting our students and we have our individual ways to resolve them. Now imagine coming together and combining all our efforts. The impact will be great for the CNMI,” Muña said.


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    More art program for CNMI residents coming soon

    July 10th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Image by

    THE National Endowment for Arts has reinstated the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture’s eligibility to apply for state partnership for grants after.

    Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter said the NEA informed them that the Arts Council is now eligible to apply after the federal grantor reviewed and accepted the end- of-year Final Descriptive Report or FDR for the Fiscal Year 13 partnership agreement and list of other items they submitted.

    “As part of the preparation for grant application, we are going to be scheduling public hearings to gauge what areas are important to the community, and talk about some of the ideas we have for a re-envisioning of the CCAC and how it will address community arts programs under this grant,” Hunter said, adding their deadline for application is on Sept. 28.

    According to Hunter, the NEA suspended the Arts Council’s eligibility for applying grants through January 2018.

    “This happened due to the mismanagement of their grant, which included not facilitating the projects noted in the application, purchasing items that were unallowable or required permission that was not received, having little to no documentation/reports on sub-grant projects, and not providing the end-of-year grant report. This was a big deal at the time, as the Inspector General for the NEA and auditors working for them visited the CNMI to investigate the matter and whose investigation ultimately lead to the CCAC losing the NEA grant,” Hunter explained.

    It was the second time that CCAC lost NEA grant. In 2007, the grantor declared the Arts Council ineligible for seven years.

    “There were more serious charges because of perpetual mishandling and misspending. It was a serious loss of grant,” he said.

    According to Hunter, the Arts Council had a year-long calendar arts workshop in school, workshops in the evening and arts exhibits “which did not happened for the last few years because we lost it.” He said the Arts Council had been receiving about US$300,000 grants from NEA and the same amount matched by the local government.

    Should they get the grant, they will receive funding for the CCAC on October 2019 and the Arts Council will have more than half a million dollar for their arts programs.

    In order not to botch their eligibility again, Hunter said they are looking at following a model akin to Humanities Council, where they do a few of their signature programs and the rest of the projects are carried out through sub-grants.

    “We are looking at having few major activities we might coordinate for ourselves and the rest of the money will be put out to sub-grants or community grant application,” he said.

    He said the 2016 suspension of their eligibility was due to mismanagement.

    “We used to have an annual calendar of activities where we used all our staff to carry it out . The staff were breaking their back from implementing the projects and were not able to focus on all the administrative work like evaluating the programs, preparing documentation, quarterly report or year- end report,” he said.

    He said under the new model, they will focus more on evaluating the project and documentation to make sure that the money is spent properly.

    “We will carry out the grant that is not complex as it used to be. We will look at the model the Humanities Council is doing so we won’t have to report on 100-some activities,” he said.

    He explained the intricacy on carrying out a project under the federal grant.

    “When we do an activity, we have to report on the stapler that we bought, papers, pencils and every materials used. Unlike in sub-grant, we will only report on the amount that we will give to the sub- grantee and not give a meticulous report which is very hard to do. We will redesign it and we will manage the program much simpler.”


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    Vegetables now a regular part of the menu in Saipan’s middle and high school canteens

    July 9th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Photo by

    SALAD bars are now available in middle and high school canteen to promote health via the consumption of veggies among teenagers in Saipan.

    This was learned after the Commonwealth of northern Mariana Islands Public School System-Food and Nutrition Service said it started putting up salad bars in middle and high schools in Saipan.

    PSS nutritionist and registered dietitian Kaisa Anderson said they started serving two entrée of salad in Kagman High School, Saipan Southern High School, Francisco M. Sablan Middle School, Chacha Ocean View Middle School, Dandan Middle School and Tanapag Middle School since February.

    She said they will start putting up salad bar in Marianas High School next school when they open their new cafeteria.

    Kaisa Anderson. Image ©

    “It was very popular,” Anderson said of the students’ reception to the new addition to the menu.

    For the next school year, salad will be served twice a week. There will be variety of vegetables that students can create their own salad.

    “We recently had plans on having three entrees on salad bars. It turns out that it is a lot of work for the vendors…we kept it to two options two times a week,” Anderson said.

    According to Anderson, the FNS is currently undertaking nutrition education program which promotes fruits and vegetables.

    “They have been very successful.”

    They started the program from head start to kinder and next school year, they will include elementary students up to second grade.

    “Every single week they get exposed to fruits and vegetable featured of the month. Our teachers have given us great feedback and we are doing what we can to educate the children and their parents about why local fruits and vegetables good for them,” Anderson said.

    She said they started the nutrition education to young kids “so they can develop a better eating habit. When they get older they have been exposed and they are used to have fruits and vegetables on their diet.”

    She said the menus [including health food] started to change in the last four years.

    “It is new for the kids to have fruits and vegetables in their breakfast and lunch. We need to be patient for them to learn and develop a taste for it,” she added.

    (Related reading:


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    Diabetes situation in Saipan “quite serious” – CNMI Public Health official

    July 8th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Diabetes complications affected organs. Diabetes affects nerves, kidneys, eyes, vessels, heart, brain and skin. Round info graphic. Image by

    THE diabetes situation in the Commonwealth of northern Marianas is “quite serious.”

    Thus said Public Health’s Medical Director Dr. Phuong Luu during an interview where she also emphasized that managing that debilitating disease is also the patient’s responsibility.

    “One out of five adults in the CNMI was diagnosed with diabetes,” Dr. Luu said, citing the 2016 Hybrid Survey conducted by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for guidance of Non-Communicable Disease Bureau.
    Luu said the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation and the Public Health have been adopting the chronic care model to better manage the health condition of people with diabetes. She said the chronic care model emphasized on team-based care.

    “It means the treatment, the healthcare and managing diabetes should not just rely on doctors.”

    “Fifty percent of the effort is not actually from the doctors, fifty percent of effort or even more should come from the patient,” she said, adding that patients should take personal responsibility to better manage their health.

    Under the team-based care approach, Dr. Luu said all clinicians have current information about patient status.

    In this way, they have easier time to track down or monitor their patients’ self-health management.

    For this kind of model, she said, their challenge is communication.

    “We are at CHCC and our patients need to see eye doctor in a different clinic. How would I know if my patient does go for eye exam? We have to make sure that there is actually communication so that we are aware of what is happening. We involved other team members – the nurses, the community health workers, the patient navigator, to really assess the patient and doing all components that is necessary for diabetes management,” she said.


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    The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Public School System is financially sound

    July 7th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Image ©

    THE Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Public School System is in a sound financial footing.

    According to Burger, Comer, Magliari LLC (BCM) accounting partner David Burger, the PSS has strong financial statement for FY2016-2017.

    In his recent presentation at the Board of Education, Burger said the increase in supplemental appropriations from the CNMI government and federal grants helped the PSS achieved such status. The PSS, for FY 2016-2017, received supplemental appropriations of US$10 million. It allowed the PSS to spend more on constructions of facilities.

    “CNMI government appropriations and federal grants were up and that helped everything,” Burger said in an interview.

    “They spent mostly on student and support services and they still have cash,” he said.

    The PSS does not have loans, Burger noted, and the only liability they have is compensated absences which is annual leave and sick leave of about US$3 million. He also observed that the PSS has been current on payment with the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. (CUC).

    In the past years, the PSS had accumulated money of about US$8 million.

    Burger said the PSS had an appropriation that allowed them to clear their CUC balance.

    BCM has a three-year contract with the PSS to do auditing. This is their final year.

    In an interview with BOE Chairwoman MaryLou S. Ada, she said they were very careful in spending the money.

    “We have come a long way, especially with the receivables of travel.”

    She said they have to write off travels, especially the ones that were not obligated.

    “They [PSS] were closing their travel authorizations sometimes because that was the big problem before.”
    They found out that there were 30 to 40 travels done in the past.

    “It is now down to five,” she said, adding that the travels they canceled were all minors and not obligatory.

    Ada said the PSS has US$76 million current assets and its liability is $3 million.

    “In essence, our financial position is very strong. We can go out and borrow money. The federal government or grant agency will say we are really managing our money. It is a clean audit,” she said.

    It also helped when the federal grantor allowed them to carry over [the balance] the next fiscal year, she said, adding that they also received a total federal grant of US$48.9 million for food services, JROTC, special education.


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    SAIPAN’s Board of Education threatens to sue CNMI

    July 5th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Image ©

    SAIPAN’s Board of Education threatens to file a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands should Speaker Ralph Demapan and the members of the local legislature fail to take part in filing the certified question on or before the end of this month.

    The board has been contemplating on filing certified question to the Supreme Court in order to get clarification of what constitute ‘general funds’ within the entire government and address what the Public School System is entitled to in the revenues of the Commonwealth.

    The Constitution mandates that the Public School System (PSS) will get a minimum of 25 percent appropriation of the general revenue of the government.

    PSS legal counsel Tiberius Mocanu said the board has two routes – file a certified question or file a lawsuit against the CNMI government.

    “The question of filing is up to you,” Mocanu told the board members.

    “A lawsuit is different from certified question. We are filing it against the CNMI government, the governor and the members of the legislature saying you owe us money. The outcome of that is forcing them to certified question,” Mocanu said.

    Earlier, BOE member Herman Guerrero said they could not submit the certified question because none would take the opposite position.

    According to Guerrero, Demapan agreed to take part in the certified question and the same is currently being reviewed by the legal team.

    Guerrero added that Demapan is planning to file a house resolution in regards to certified question. The board decided to give Demapan until July 31 and if there is no movement on the part of the members of the legislature, the lawsuit will be filed.

    In giving ultimatum to the legislature, Guerrero said delaying the filing of either certified question or lawsuit will not solve anything and it is just compounding the problem.

    “The board already approved to go to certified question. The fact that administration has not kept what they owe us. We need to move ahead. It is not the question of either good or bad. It is a question of resolving, once and for all, what the PSS is entitled so we can have clear guidance from the court. It does not make you a bad person. We have been talking for this for a number of years. At least let the court decide once and for all,” Guerrero said, adding the government owes them about US$9 million.

    Mocanu said the PSS goal is not for the governor or members of the legislature to agree on the 25 percent of overall budget. He said the decision from the Supreme Court will serve as guidance for the future government on what the exactly the PSS is allowed to have.

    “The goal is sue the government to force them to certified question, so Supreme Court can decide.”


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    CNMI and other Medicare card holders will be now protected from scammers

    July 4th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    New Medicare card. Image ©

    COMMONWEALTH of Northern Mariana Islands and other medicare card holders from Hawaii and the US mainland will now be protected from scams as the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS has started distributing new scam and fraud-proof Medicare cards to their members.

    According to Nicole Black, CMS Seattle regional office press secretary, said they started mailing the new cards to CNMI, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and the American territories of American Samoa and Guam.

    “Everyone with Medicare in these states and territories should receive their new card by the end of the month and can begin using it right away,” Black said.

    She said key features of the Medicare card, include helping people with Medicare detect and avoid identity theft, scams and fraud.

    “It provides updates on the roll out process so people with Medicare can check the status of when they will receive their new card,” Black said.

    She added Social Security numbers have been replaced with new identifying numbers.

    “Social Security numbers are no longer on the new Medicare card to protect people with Medicare from identity theft and fraud.”

    Black, at the same time, reminded the public that the Medicare card is free and CMS is not authorizing anyone to call its members to ask personal information, such as Social Security number, bank information, or to pay for the new Medicare card. She added there are no changes to Medicare benefits.

    “Once you receive the New Medicare card, you should destroy your old Medicare card by shredding or cutting it up with scissors.”

    People with Medicare can sign up for email notifications on when the new cards will be mailed to their area by going to


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    CNMI Blue Ribbon Action Team brings back recovery support to community

    July 3rd, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Peerlink leader project coordinator Robyn Priest discusses training and technical assistance with Community Guidance Center staff in their office at TSL Building in Garapan. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

    THE Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island Blue Ribbon Action Team will renew its assistance to troubled people.

    This was learned after the CNMI, through the support of the Community Guidance Center, announced that it is bringing back recovery support to the community with clear action plans to assist people who have alcohol or drug abuse and mental health problem.

    The Blue Ribbon campaign was first established in May 2017.

    Team members are representatives from different entities – faith community, the Division of Public Health, CGC, Superior Court’s Drug Court program, HOPE Recovery Center, Division of Youth Services and other community providers.

    Herb Sablan, CGC Substance Abuse Treatment supervisor and Blue Ribbon team lead coordinator, said the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA, under the BRSS TACS project or Bringing Recovery Support to Scale Technical Assistance Strategy project, has provided them training and technical assistance.

    The four-day training and technical assistance, which started on Monday and ended on Thursday, was facilitated by Faces and Voices of Recovery executive director Patty McCarthy Metcalf and Peerlink leader project coordinator Robyn Priest.

    The BRSS TACS project provides training and technical assistance to and technical assistance to states, territories and tribal communities to improved the work that they are doing in their jurisdiction around substance used and mental health care.

    Voices of Recovery and Peerlink are both entities based in the mainland that promote recovery.

    “We will come out with a memorandum of understanding between our representing organizations wherein we will have a shared vision to move forward,” he said.

    Through technical assistance extended to the Blue Ribbon team, Sablan said they can now easily identify the target priorities.

    “How do we continue to maintain individuals or families in the different services that we provide and how do we keep them at the forefront as we do this together?”

    He said the Blue Ribbon will continue to work as a team.

    “In the stateside, different organizations are doing their own thing. It is kind of scattered and nobody is communicating. But we are trying to work it in the CNMI that all the different members,” he added.

    “We need technical assistance and training so that we are well-informed of the different areas of what we need to plan for, implement services or even having an understanding of how do we bring services here on our island so we can address our people’s needs on drug and alcohol issues, which is now being known as substance use disorder and mental health condition,” he said.

    “Last is how do we continue to move forward and plan forward so we can help people in recovery from whatever it is – whether it is mental health, drug and alcohol-continue to pursue long-term recovery and maintain their wellness and health. It is a lot of work.”

    In an interview, Metcalf said she has faith in the Blue Ribbon team because they involved various communities to work towards making recovery from alcohol and drug addiction and mental health condition.

    “They have a way to find support in their communities for their challenges for alcohol or drugs or mental health challenges.”

    She noted that the CNMI has a lot of strength.

    “They have the community that cares and it is in their vision and mission of their function as organization to help people. That is a big strength and a good starting point.”

    Metcalf said the Blue Ribbon team has come up with three goals to make CNMI more recovery-oriented: to strengthen that partnership amongst the community action team; Identify and what their training and technical assistance needs are to do even better; and to build their recovery community organization up here so people in the recovery and their family members can be part of the solution by providing peer support.


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    CHCC to still seek permanent status for its nurses

    July 2nd, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    (File photo) CHCC CEO Esther Muna Photo ©

    COMMONWEALTH Healthcare Corporation Chief Executive Officer Esther Muña said the CHCC will continue to secure improved status for its nurses and hospital staff even after the CNMI Workforce Act has passed the hurdle in the U.S. Congress.

    During the proclamation signing of the CNMI Nurses Week, Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres reported that the U.S. Congress passed the H.R. 5956 or CNMI Workforce Act. He said it is now forwarded to the Senate while expressing hope that for the next couple weeks, it will be enacted into law.

    In an interview, Muña said the application for employment-based visa and H1B visa for the hospital staff is ongoing and will continue. She welcomed the passage of the workforce bill.

    The CHCC, according to Muña, is using both pathways –EB visas and CW permits.

    “CW permits are unstable and the EB visas take a while, but we need both. It means we are one step in to giving stable status for the hospital staff,” she said.

    She also said most of the hospital staff’s CW permits are expiring on Sept. 30.

    “If they don’t have this, they will have to leave.”

    Earlier, Muña said CW petitions for 111 nurses, including nurse managers and supervisors were not approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS.

    The CHCC has filed petitions for its 167 employees’ CW permits.

    Read More:

    About 145 employees are healthcare professional workers. Out of 167, only 19 employees were approved. Two staff were approved in CHCC corporate quality; three laboratory staff; two in control quality; four in dialysis section; five pharmacists; one ultrasound sonographer; one radiologists; one nurse in Rota.

    She said the CHCC has been working on transitioning nurses with CW permits to EB2 status.

    “It is just unfortunate that the financial situation at the CHCC and the struggle of the CMS accreditation were causing the delay of applying the EB visas for the staff,” she said.

    Muña has been communicating with the staff and updating them of the support the CHCC is doing.

    “Now that we are in a better situation, [securing improved status for our nurses] is one of our top priorities. It has always been our desire to get them permanent status in the CNMI,” she said.

    She said the passage of the H.R. 5956 gave the nurses a reassurance.

    “It is important for them because they are providing patient care and you want them to be in the positive mood to be able to know that they shouldn’t have to be worrying about their status when they are taking care of the patient,” she added.

    Susan De Vera has been for 28 years and this is her home. She is also getting process of improved status.

    “It is always unfortunate that it is about the financial, and it costs money and because many challenges.”


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    DoCoMo Pacific donates US$50K to CHCC

    June 30th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Docomo Pacific presents $50,000 check to the CHCC. Also in photo, Gov. Ralph Torres, Rep. Ivan Blanco. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    DOCOMO Pacific, a telecommunications company, donated US$50,000 to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation for developing and maintaining an Electronic Health Records system for patient care in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

    DoCoMo Pacific-CNMI General Manager Dino Manning said last June 6 donation is the first installment of the US$250,000 total donation pledged by the company to the CHCC.

    “We will be presenting a check to CHCC every year for five years.”

    According to CHCC Chief Executive Esther Muña, the donation will help develop a reliable health records system that will easily share with off-island specialists the treatment history, test results, and other medical information of patients from Saipan, Tinian and Rota.

    “I thank Docomo Pacific for presenting us this significant contribution for our electronic health record system,” she said, adding that one of the biggest challenges that they have is ensuring that they have a system that works.

    “We have invested a lot of money in helping the IT department. They need tools to make sure that we do our patient care services,” Muña said.

    Internal Medicine doctor David S. Grauman stressed the importance of functioning IT.

    “If something happens to IT system, we won’t know what’s wrong for the last five years. If one item goes down, we cannot deliver healthcare.”

    Manning said the Docomo Pacific’s donation is the beginning of the private-public partnership which was forged during the time of the late Gov. Eloy Inos.

    “He said when a CT scan or X-ray done for the patient, sometimes it takes overnight for it to be transmitted because of the connectivity issues or sometimes they just timed out and the image will not be transmitted. This is the example of the late governor had brought up,” Manning recalled.

    He said the limited availability and high cost of undersea cable bandwidth meant that doctors who tried to send large digital files like MRI scans to off-island experts frequently had to wait several hours – if it worked at all.

    Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres, meanwhile, thanked Docomo Pacific “for the partnership with the hospital with their continued contribution of electronic health record system, something that is needed for a long time.”


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    Play to combat suicide and other teen problems staged in Saipan

    June 29th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    The cast of the “Choices.” Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    “CHOICES”, an improvisation-based play, which recently took center stage at the American Memorial Park, was touching, timely and moving, according to Friends of the Art president Susan Fishman-Tudor.

    Fishman-Tudor went to see the play on its first night of showing last June 8. She said the characterization and the [plot] element felt very real.

    Directed by Barbara Sher, “Choices” highlighted various teen relationship issues –with their parents; teachers; relationship with their boyfriend or girlfriend; and their surrounding or culture.

    “What’s good about the play is they offer situations and they have resolutions. That was a good thing – being able to know that they have choices. It reminds everybody when you get stuck in your own little though process – the cycle of anxiety – you have choices,” Fishman-Tudor said, adding the acting was wonderful.

    Ken Kroot, FOA member, said the play was hard to watch actually.

    “It is difficult to watch because they are portraying people in pain.”

    Sher said the play was not scripted.

    “The dialogue is very real because it is the kids’ and their problems.”

    She said some of the actors do not have the first-hand experience on the scenario they acted on, “you will see the glimpse of what they feel about the certain negative situation because they see it happen to their friends and someone they know.”

    One of the actors, Chenoa Bunts-Anderson, said they have to dig really deep to portray the characters.

    Choices presented teen relationship issues, including students performance in school and relationship with teacher/s. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    “We didn’t write the script. We were really honest [with the dialogue]. Some people brought their personal issues in the play. It is very personal to deal with the issue and you want to bring justice to it,” Bunts-Anderson said.

    Tifanny Cayading, who played a daughter who has dysfunctional family, said her real life was far from the character she played, but she got inspiration “through reading stories of other people who talk about their families.”

    Kelvin Wolf, who played a jealous and insecure boyfriend, admitted he has not experience in relationship problem. He said, what he presented was input from everybody involved in the play.

    “We all come together to give us the idea to create every scenes.”

    For Emma Timmons, the most challenging situations a teenager has to deal with are pressure from society and family.

    “I think that is where a lot of teen problems come from and that is where a lot of trouble begins,” she said, adding these are not easy to discuss with.

    But Timmons reminded that everybody has choices.

    “The biggest thing we did was talking. It is easier from stage. But in real life, communicating is one of the best ways to work things out and if you keep everything bottled up, eventually it will overwhelm you and you have to let it out. You have to talk to somebody.”

    As for the play, Seranicia Amirez said the improve-based play was both challenging and convenient.

    “It is a challenge to keep it going [the dialogue], but because it is improv you have more freedom how far you should go and how far you should take it.”

    All actors – Seranicia Amirez, Chenoa Bunts-Anderson, Tifanny Cayading, Ainah Chargualaf, Jodie Gottwald, Esther Huh, Jerrid Igisaiar, Marielle Sambilay, Emma Timmons and KelvinWolf – are all students of Marianas High School.

    “Choices” is sponsored by the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Program, under the Community Guidance Center, which focuses on supporting life among CNMI youth who have may attempted suicide or have or are currently having suicidal ideation by providing.

    The GLS Youth Suicide Prevention Program’s mission is to reduce incidence of suicide behaviors among CNMI youth and young adults and increase access to appropriate prevention and intervention services through counseling and teaching coping skills to the youth and their families.

    This program is located in the Alexander Building on Beach Road, Oleai.

    For more information, please contact the GLS Youth Suicide Prevention Program by calling 664-LIVE, 664-LOVE, or 664-HOPE.


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    Saipanese joined the International March for the Ocean

    June 28th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Organizers of the M40 or March for the Oceans Genzo Gonzales and Kaya Rasa, kneeling in front, join the community members who participated in the event. Photo © Lori Lyn Lirio

    SAIPAN joined the historic day for the seas early this month as its folks from all ages joined the International March for the Ocean.

    About 80 individuals – all wearing blue shirts – joined the June 9, march started at 7 a.m. at Guma Sakman in Susupe and ended at Atkins Kroll intersection an hour or so later.

    The 3k walk was organized by 16-year-old Genzo Gonzales and 12-year-old Kaya Rasa, who received the 2018 seal of Heirs to our Oceans.

    According to Gonzales, the march was dedicated to World Oceans Day, which was celebrated on June 8.

    “We strongly take part in this activity because Chamorro and Carolinians are seafaring people. We look strongly to the ocean as our way of life – we live from it, we fish from it, we eat from it.”

    Rasa said the march was meant to bring a message of support to the ocean.

    “We would like to pass down the message for everyone to be aware of what is happening to our island, our ocean and just to keep it clean,” she said.

    The duo said they plan to make this event an annual thing.

    Gonzales said there should be more events where youth can gather together and talk about the things they wanted to change.

    “It is good to have youth get involved by leading in gatherings of different events and activities so that we can come out and help our ocean.”

    “I hope to achieve island-wide awareness of taking more care, honor and pride in our oceans and to instill a passion and love to our young generations for our oceans because they will inherit the responsibility to care for it,” Gonzales said.

    Gonzales and Rasa had been the recipient of the 2018 seal of the Heirs to the Ocean.

    The former heir was Yarawe Ythemar. He represented the CNMI in the International Summer Camp in Palau in 2017.

    Gonzales and Rasa will be this year’s CNMI representatives for the summer camp also in Palau on June 17 to July 1.
    Roberta Guerrero, MINA executive director Roberta Guerrero thanked Gonzales and Rasa for taking the lead in organizing the environmental event.

    “They reached out to us for support and we are very honor to be a part of it. They are the next generation of our community leader here.”


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    Summer camp to preserve Carolinian culture held.

    June 27th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Children doing the bead work, one of the skills they are learning during the three-week summer camp hosted by the Carolinian Affairs Office. Photo © Lori Lyn Lirio

    IN a bid to preserve the Carolinian culture, the Carolinian Affairs Office hosted a culture center summer camp for children.

    A total of 69 kids participated in the program, according to CAO Cultural Program Coordinator Del Lieto. He said two accommodate all of the participants, two summer camp sites – Carolinian Utt and Kagman Community Center – were setup. The program, which started last June 11, will end on Friday.

    Lieto noted that all of the participants, children aged 6 to 12 years old, were interested to learn the Carolinian culture and language. He added that the children will also be taught bead making, weaving, mwaar making, traditional dance and sing in Carolinian.

    “Our main target is to impart them our culture and teach them our language. Our goal is for our youth to learn Carolinian language and culture, and when they grow up they have a little something from their culture. We want them to understand who they are where they came from,” CAO executive assistant John Tagabuel said.

    Moreover, he said their target participants are Carolinian kids but many children of different nationalities – Filipino, Chinese and Korean – enrolled and attended the summer camp. This is the second year that the CAO hosted a summer camp.

    In 2017, 55 children participated in the summer camp, where children learned Carolinian songs, identify colors and count in Carolinian language.

    Tagabuel said they provide different activities to blend the language in a fun way. This year, he said the CAO partnered with the Division of Youth Services, Arts Council and Women’s Affairs Office.

    Marianas High School Refaluwasch Club members also volunteered to teach children the traditional dance.

    Staff from CAO and Arts Council served as instructors for the activities. The Public School System-Food and Nutrition Service provide free breakfast and lunch for the children.

    According to an open source website, the Caroline islands or the Carolines are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end.

    Historically, this area was also called Nuevas Filipinas or New Philippines as they were part of the Spanish east Indies and governed from Manila in the Philippines.


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    The Pacific Chronic Disease Council calls on health care specialist to focus on border line diabetics to win the war against diabetes.

    June 26th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    PCDC advisor Dr. Nia Aitaoto at the four-day collaborative-learning session in Hibiscus, Fiesta Resort on Tuesday. She is with Bishop Ryan Jimenez. Photo © Lori Lyn Lirio

    “TO win the war on diabetes, focus should be given to people who are borderline diabetic.”

    Thus said Pacific Chronic Disease Council advisor Dr. Nia Aitaoto during an interview. She said health care partners should give equal focus on people who are on the ‘borderline’ of diabetes.

    In the medical field, Aitaoto said the term ‘pre-diabetes’ or on the ‘borderline’ are the people who are at risk of getting diabetes.

    “They are the people whose blood sugar levels are not high enough to have diabetes but are high enough to getting close to it. If you don’t do anything at that point, they will eventually become diabetic.”

    Aitaoto was among the attendees of the four-day collaborative-learning session, which discussions focused on diabetes as the Western Pacific Region has 37 percent of the total worldwide cases of diabetes. She said the PCDC and healthcare partners are looking at managing diabetes but they have a long way to go.

    “What we want to focus right now is pre-diabetes. Why are we fighting diabetes once you get diabetes? What about those people who don’t get diabetes but are getting close,” Aitaoto said.

    She said the PCDC are focusing on that group in order to prevent the increase of diabetes cases.

    “The focus now is to look at people who don’t have diabetes but are close to getting it. If we get people not to get diabetes, the number will go down. If we keep on fighting after you got diabetes you will lose the fight. We need to do the fight before the diabetes,” Aitaoto said.

    She noted that in the entire Pacific region, there are only three sites that already started the diabetes prevention program, they are Ibae on Marshall Islands, Kosrae and Chuuk of Federated States of Micronesia.

    Aitaoto said these sites have special program where they enrolled people, who have pre-diabetes, and put them in lifestyle change with lifestyle coach who will guide them every step of the way in order not to “crossover” to the diabetes side.

    Aitaoto said other U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands are set to put the same program.

    “In order for us to win the battle in diabetes, it does not only mean helping people who already have diabetes managed their disease but to stop people who are close to getting there and make sure to stay on the other side,” she said.

    “Help the entire community to eat healthier and encouraged them to have an active lifestyle is the overall big picture on how we can win the fight,” she added.

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    Roman Catholic Church in Saipan to focus on health and wellness of its parishioners

    June 25th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Bishop Ryan Jimenez. Image ©

    ASIDE from the traditional faith formation, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chalan Kanoa led by its Filipino-American Bishop Ryan Jimenez will focus, among others, on promoting health and wellness lifestyle among its parishioners.

    Bishop Jimenez said the parish priests made a preparation for the pastoral plan, identifying its priorities for the next five years. He said aside from faith formation, they have health components that would entail physical activities and lifestyle changes, adding that the churches started opening up its facilities for physical activities.

    “We recently did a walkathon, where many youths attended the event,” he said.

    Two parishes – San Antonio and San Roque – organized Zumba workout for its people.

    “We have social halls in all parishes and they are using it for that activity.”

    The bishop said another component is the nutrition policy, which he said is more challenging.

    Ten years ago, Bishop Tomas Camacho implemented a rule discouraging the host to prepare or provide food during the nine-day rosary when there is death.

    “The custom is to pray the nine days rosary in the church. He put a policy of no more food to serve, because after the rosary people would just go to social hall and eat – a full meal. Aside from the fact that it is expensive, it is a burden to the family and not healthy,” he said.

    Bishop Jimenez added the focus became the preparation of the food rather than praying.

    “It has been too long and we wanted to do something as a follow up to that. We are revisiting our nutrition policy,” he said.

    The next target, according to the bishop, is to look at fiestas. He noted that the food served in fiestas are usually meat and no vegetables.

    “We are encouraging our parishioners to give people healthy options. Serve food with salad and not all meat.

    Sometimes it is the way you put on the table. The salad should be placed in a strategic location and not all the way to the end when you have so many in your plate,” he said.

    The bishop said the church is taking an initiative to promote healthy lifestyle in the church.

    “Majority of the funerals we do have caused by non-communicable disease, such as diabetes. There are things that can be controlled. For us, we believe that life is a gift from God and how we can be good stewards of God-given gifts of health and all of that. Scripture tells us that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. How can you serve the Lord if you are not healthy?” he asked.

    Bishop Jimenez is a native of Dumaguete City. A graduate of San Jose Seminary in Quezon City, he studied philosophy at the Ateneo de Manila University and went on to complete his studies in the United States at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, where he successfully attained his masters degree in 2003.


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    CNMI Governor Ralph D.L.G. Torres pleads guilty to “not taking care of his health.”

    June 24th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    CNMI Governor Ralph Torres Photo ©

    COMMONWEALTH of Northern Mariana Islands Governor Ralph D.L.G. Torres recently pleaded guilty “of not taking care of his health,” it was only learned yesterday.

    According to reports, Torres made his plea last as June 15 when he signed a proclamation designating June 17-23, 2018 as Men’s Health Week. His admission of guilt and proclamation signing was witnessed by members of the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services and Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority.

    “How many in this room has gone out to check your health or has done testing for heart disease, cancer, or diabetes in the last six months or for the last two years?” the governor asked the more than 20 men present at the CHCC conference room, where the proclamation signing was held.

    Only four men raised their hands in reply to the governor’s inquiry.

    “I think we are all guilty in terms of taking care of our health. I am guilty as well. I should start taking care of my health, then I can encourage everyone else,” he said, adding “it is important to take care of our health because at the end of the day it is our family that will get hurt if we leave earlier.”

    Public Health director Margaret Aldan said it is their first time to do the Men’s Health Week.

    “We will start promotion of healthy habits among men,” Aldan said, adding that the activities during Men’s Health Week will focus on educating the community on a broad range of men’s health issues, including heart disease, diabetes and prostate, testicular and colon cancer.

    The proclamation stated that the non-communicable disease such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are the leading cause of death for men in the CNMI.

    Mother and Child Health Bureau administrator Heather Pangelinan said the proclamation is a jump start for the initiatives in trying to connect members of the community, including men, to preventative health services, health screening and information for healthy lifestyle.

    She said these steps will contribute to community reduction in the number of non-communicable disease cases in the CNMI.

    “This week is a reminder for them to take a step to be healthier and they don’t have to do it alone. Whether it is your husband, dad, or brother, we can all support each other to take healthy steps to keep our body healthier and live longer and ultimately to have a healthy CNMI community,” Pangelinan said.

    The National Men’s Health Network worked with US Congress to develop National Men’s Health Week as a special campaign to help educate men, boys and their families about the importance of positive health attitudes and preventative health practices.

    “Educating the public and health care providers about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and early detection of male health problems will result in the reduction of mortality. Men who are educated about the value of preventative health will be more likely to participate in health screenings,” stated in the proclamation.

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    Another Filipino-American becomes the valedictorian of her batch in Saipan

    June 22nd, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Interim Commissioner of Education Glenn Muña with student awardees Bethany Toni Limes Taitano, No’elani Kioko Manibusan Romolor, Princess Rikki Dela Cruz Lacson, Kaiana Darlene Fitial Piteg and Ely Joseph De Guzman Taitano. Photo © Lori Lyn Lirio

    FILIPINO Americans continue grabbing the top academic honors in Saipan this time in Chacha Ocean View Middle School.

    This was learned as COVMS recently promoted 77 middle schoolers to high school during a simple ceremony at the school’s cafeteria.

    COVMS Principal Martha Kintol said the Class of 2018 selected the theme: “Plant the seeds of your dreams, and grow the tree of your future.”

    The teachers and the staff here at the school have done a wonderful job in giving you that seed,” Kintol said, referring to the knowledge imparted to the students.

    She said the theme is fitting for the promotees as she reminded them that Chacha Ocean View Middle School students are proud lancherus or farmers.

    Farmers are hard workers,” she said.

    You have to know what you want to plant and you need to know why you want to plant that seed. A farmer tends to that seed to ensure that it will grow.”

    Farmers know that seasons change. There will be drought season and there will be season that is bountiful,” she added.

    In exiting the middle school and moving on to high school, Kintol told the students that there will be seasons of challenges and seasons of fortune.

    When you are in the season of challenges, remember, you always have a choice to pick yourself up. she said.

    Always remind yourself that it is only a season of challenge and I am going to move forward.”

    In his congratulatory remarks, Acting Associate Commissioner for Administrative Services Eric M. Magofna said all the things that they learned in school are the seeds. 

    How much attention and care you give to these seeds, would determine how big you will grow. How big your future will be.”

    In the same ceremony, Fil-Am Valedictorian Princess Rikki Dela Cruz Lacson was given the Board of Education Academic Excellence Award, while Kaiana Darlene Fitial Piter received Commissioner of Education Excellence Award.

    In her valedictory address, Lacson thanked her teachers who motivated her and pushed her to go further in her studies. She also thanked her parents for teaching her that “intelligence is nothing without personality.”

    Lacson, in concluding her short speech, shared to the promotees her favorite quote from Martin Luther King Jr. who said “the function of education is to teach one intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character is the true goal of education.”

    Class salutatorian Kaiana Darlene Fitial Piteg thanked her family and friends for sticking by her side and helped her up when she stumbled through tough times.

    To my parents, thank you for painting a positive picture of the reality of life and for pushing my limits to strive for excellence in all possible aspects,” she said.

    Bringing what they learned from Chacha Ocean View Middle School, Piteg encouraged her fellow students to “bring positive change and make our mark in the world. We are remarkable, unique and gifted individuals with so much talent to offer the world around us. We started strong, let us continue to be stronger.”

    The student awardees:

    Princess Rikki Dela Cruz – Math, Social Studies, Language Arts, Woodshop, Chamorro, Business Math and Computer Application

    Bethany Toni Limes Taitano – Science

    No’elani Kioko Manibusan Romolor – Physical Education

    Ely Joseph De Guzman Taitano – Leadership Award


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    Filipino Americans continue their quest for academic honors in Saipan

    June 19th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    HMS Valedictorian Mary Joyce Espinosa with the Board of Education Academic Excellence Award. Photo © Lori Lyn Lirio

    FILIPINO Americans continue to grab the top academic honors in Saipan, this time at the Hopwood Middle School.

    This was learned after HMS promoted 303 middle schoolers (8th grade) to high school (9th grade) next grade last June 1.

    Principal Rizalina Liwag said these students have succeeded and completed their educational journey in the middle school and are now ready for high school.

    “Students, I challenge you to make a meaningful contribution to the schools [that you will be attending] by showing that you will continue your journey to the high school level and to college level and that you will never give up,” Liwag said.

    “Your determination and perseverance are two elements for your success,” she added.

    In addressing the students, Board of Education Chairwoman MaryLou S. Ada said high school is bigger than middle school.

    “Just be yourself and don’t go with the flow,” she advised them.

    The BOE head said high school has more responsibility and more things to learn. She added that the next four years will be a preparation of what life they wanted to choose – attending college, go to technical education or join the workforce.

    “You work and study hard. Listen to what others are telling you – parents, counselors, teachers and mentors,” she said.

    Valedictorian Mary Joyce Espinosa admitted that she had a hard time balancing school work and other activities.

    “The stress of trying to balance school work and activities in and out of the school was really hard to manage but I realize now that all the hard work and effort leads up to today. Today is the day where we are able to say that we are finally promoting to high school. I feel so happy and blessed to be a part of the HMD to have the opportunity to learn from all my teachers,” she said.

    Like many students, she experienced hardships on studying for exam or finishing special projects and facing strict teachers at the 8th grade.

    She said the support of her parents, teachers and friends helped her to withstand the challenges in the school.

    Students awards:

    Mary Joyce Espinosa, valedictorian, Board of Education Academic Excellence Award

    Daniel Marcel Bercilla, Vivien Liu, salutatorian (tie) – Commissioner of Education Academic Excellence Award

    Vladimir Radge Palma – Principal Leadership Award

    Kiana Villagomez Aldan – Top Female Athlete

    Jaydee Esteban Jose – Top Male Athlete

    Best in subject award:

    Kevin Valencia – Math

    Vivien Liu – English Language Arts

    Vladimir Radge Palma – Science

    Vivien Liu – Social Studies

    Jaibelle Nelminda – Leadership Corps.

    Paulyn Joyce – Physical Education

    Vivien Liu – Computer Literacy

    Jaibelle Nelmida – Agriculture

    Nicole Ann Villagomez – CCLHS

    Kristina Achas – Math

    Ailynn Galvan – English Language Arts

    Adriana Tamparong – Science

    Ailynn Galvan – Social Studies

    Rochelle Faustino – Leadership Corps.

    Arisa Custodio – Physical Education

    Mary Joyce Espinosa – Computer Literacy

    David Ahn – Agriculture

    Mary Joyce Espinosa – CCLHS


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    A Filipino American grab the top academic honor as she led the middle school graduates of Saipan’s FMSMS

    June 18th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Francisco M. Sablan Middle School salutarorian Camia Janae Aguon Sablan and valedictorian Mariechrist Castro. Photo © Lori Lyn Lirio

    LED by their Filipino American valedictorian, 97 8th grade students of the Francisco M. Sablan Middle School has been promoted to 9th grade during its 4th annual promotional ceremony recently held at Royal Taga Ballroom World Resort.

    Principal James Sablan introduced the Class of 2018 promotees, who he said have brought honor and accomplishment to the school.

    “Among this group of students are champions of Thespian competition, champions of National Junior Speech and Debate,” he said.

    Sablan added they have a Spelling champion – a second placer overall during the regional competition; a first winners if the Poetry and Choral Reading Competition in the UOH Chamorro Language competition.

    He went on to boast students who participated in Jr. Mock Trial wherein some of them were recognized as best defense lawyers and best witness.

    “Focus on your dreams and ride the waves to success,” Sablan told the students.

    “Your focus should always be your dream but as you continue on this journey, you will experience obstacles along the ways. These obstacles will help you achieve your focus – you will remember your friendships – the friends the made you cry, the friends that had your back, the friends that tells the worst jokes and stories, but above all your remember that your friends have provided you the courage to ride the waves of life to success,” was Sablan’s parting words to the students.

    Valedictorian Mariechrist Castro said all the 97 promotees are ready for new encounters in high school.

    “I would like to wish everyone the best of our last four years of school. Just remember that it never gets easier, just get better.”

    Salutatorian Camia Jane Aguon Sablan, meanwhile, recounted that the last three years “have been a pretty wavy ride for all of us, but no matter how hard it got, we managed to work harder and harder each time and put in as much effort as we could into our work.”

    During the ceremony, Board of Education chairwoman MaryLou S. Ada told the students that high school is the last stop to college and to whatever career they will choose.

    But before going to college, Ada gave three advice on how to survive high school: “Get up every morning and tell yourself ‘it is another beautiful day’ because it makes you go on and gives you energy,” she said, adding “you should surround yourself with positive people.”

    “Do an act of kindness everyday – whether to your friends, classmates or to your teacher; and live today as if tomorrow will never come,” she said.

    “In August, you will go to high school and you will be making new friends,” she said.

    “Make the best of that day, everyday. Do an act of kindness. It connects everything because it helps you to practice self control, discipline and helps you to put have a perspective about what you want to do in life and help you organize and focus and think about what you really want to do,” Ada said.

    Students who received awards:

    Board of Education Award: Marichrist Castro

    Commissioner of Education Award: Camai Janae Aguon Sablan

    English Language Arts: Mariechrist Castro

    Math – Mariechrist Castro

    Science – Patriesha Concillado

    Social Studies – Mariechrist Castro

    Carolinian Language Heritage: Daviann Saito

    Chamorro Language Heritage: Camayah A. Sablan

    Computer Science: Nathanette Blas, Paulette Borja, Destiny

    Camacho, Mariechrist Castro and Nathan Sablan

    Leadership Excellence Award: Camia Janae Aguon Sablan

    Outstanding Cadet Leadership Award: Maria Ayuyu and Emigrace Vinuya Napu

    Spirit Award: John Paul Nimer

    Student Leadership Award: Brinae Jessilyn Maratita Cruz

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