Monday, October 30, 2006

Beautify CNMI in the News

Beautify CNMI! was mentioned three separate times in today's papers. The tribune ran an article about the Suicide Cliff cleanup on Friday and also reprinted a press release about the Christmas Decoration contest at the Paseo de Marianas.

The Variety also ran an article about the Suicide Cliff cleanup. They don't really have a great archive system, so I'll just repost it:

Marianas Variety, Monday, October 30, 2006

Japanese volunteers clean up peace memorial
By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor
Variety Features Editor

PAYING homage to those who perished here during World War II and preserving the memorial that honors them, volunteers, including visitors from Japan, braved the rainy weather and cleaned up the site on Friday.

Some 33 volunteers led by Pacific Eagle’s Willie and Ayako Matsumoto conducted a cleanup of the Peace Memorial at Suicide Cliff in Marpi.

According to Pacific Eagle Enterprises Inc. vice president Aya Matsumoto, preparation for this activity began two weeks ago when she spoke with some young Japanese who were offering their services to help do something for the CNMI.

Matsumoto said, “I brought up the idea to the young Japanese to start the cleanup of the memorial sites. With the tourism industry vital to the islands, we would like to support the Marianas Visitors Authority (through this cleanup).”

Matsumoto said that she first thought of the activity when she received a letter from a senior citizen who helped build the monument and who came with the Japanese imperial couple during their historic Saipan visit last year. Matsumoto said she understood how difficult it was then to get funding to support such an endeavor and she understood where the letter sender was coming from. She said they were undertaking the activity for him as well.

Beautify CNMI!’s Angelo Villagomez expressed his gratitude to the Japanese-led volunteers who initiated the cleanup. Villagomez said, “I heard the couple from Pacific Eagle was doing a cleanup and if they were doing the cleanup, I wanted to support them.” Villagomez said that he appreciated their efforts in beautifying the island through the cleanup.

“It is really refreshing to see people taking the initiative to go out and improve the island without Beautify CNMI! telling them to do it and we would like to see more of this endeavor where people go out and clean up,” Villagomez said.

Armed with their brushes, grass cutter, and water hoses, the Matsumoto couple along with PDI general manager Yoichi Matsumura led 15 Japanese, and worked hand in hand with 15 other people from the Marianas Visitors Authority, Historic Preservation Office, and Beautify CNMI!

Jerry Facey, who was on Saipan when the monument was erected, marveled at how the monument has survived the ages “fairly well.” He said that there used to be “a big brass bowl” at the center, but “the monument still looks pretty much the same as it did the first time I saw it.”

At the base of that brass bowl was some stagnant greasy liquid which the volunteers and Historic Preservation’s Genevieve Cabrera discovered during Friday’s cleanup. Cabrera hailed the efforts of the volunteers in cleaning and preserving the monument and she will be sending the liquid to the Division of Environmental Quality for testing.

From 1 p.m. up to 4 p.m., there was no letup for the volunteers who brought generators and a water tank to accomplish their goal of cleaning the monument. Rain or shine, Pacific Eagle volunteers Ramil Huyoa and Noy Opena continued cleaning the Buddha icon and the cross of the monument.

Matsumoto said that it was their group’s first time to conduct such an activity and they are planning to do it more frequently.

For Matsumoto, cleaning up the Peace Memorial is just the beginning.

Among the Japanese who participated in last Friday’s cleanup activity, aside from the Matsumoto couple and PDI’s Matsumura were Jyunji Yoneda, Hideki Honda, Eigo Komatsu, MVA’s Hiroko Tenorio and Henry Sasaki, Hafa Adai Magazine’s Toshiaki Kobayashi, Akemi Ishikawa, Naboko Ishida, Kate Ishida, Shinji Yokota, Mayuki Kebukawa, Maimi Shimizu, Sachi Kuwahara, Osamu Komatsu, and Tadashi Mine.

Completing the list of 33 volunteers were Jerry Facey, HPO’s Cabrera, Beautify CNMI!’s Villagomez, MVA’s John Palacios and Ed Diaz, Pacific Eagle’s Jessie Camba, Ramil Huyoa, Noy OpeƱa, Kyle Kaipat, Simion Lisua, Bill Pangelinan, Mike Iguel, Ray Sablan, Peter Santos, and Manny Bras.

Pacific Eagle Enterprises, which has been in existence since 1987, is a partner of MVA in developing the tourism industry’s Japanese market.

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