Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mongolian BBQ Night

Aqua Resort has an ongoing fundraiser for Beautify CNMI! at their Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday buffets.

Wednesday night is Mongolian BBQ night. Locals who enjoy the buffet will receive a 10% discount. Aqua Resort has pledged to then donate an additional 10% to Mariana Islands Nature Alliance (MINA) in support of Beautify CNMI! activities.

Not only will you have the chance to eat some of the best food in Saipan while enjoying bottomless draft beer, but you will get to do so while donating to a worthy environmental cause.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Aye Yai Yai! Paging Mr. Roland Quitugua!

How did we get from this...

... to this?

Well, I'm certainly no expert, but the Tree Care and Tree Trimming Workshop that Beautify CNMI! and RC&D co-sponsored taught me where to look first for the problem and this is what I found...

Our Ace Instructor, Mr. Roland Quitugua of RC&D Guam, was right when he said that bushcutters (as wonderful as they are on weed) are the biggest menace to plants. Here are some devastating effects of this tool wreaked upon these once thriving daok trees that Beautify CNMI! volunteers planted at the Grotto last year.

This highlights the importance of continuing our training in workshops such as that which was recently conducted by Roland Quitugua and which was attended by Beautify CNMI!'s coalition partners RC&D, CUC, DPW, DLNR Forestry and Parks and Rec., and my (Rep. Kaipat's) Office.

Education and awareness are crucial to our ability to avoid repeating these same mistakes that tend to undermine our efforts to help make this a much better place to live and visit. I know that the fellas who took the recent workshop do get it and see the importance of teamwork. Let's get everyone else on board, shall we?

Some event cancellations due to VOLCANIC HAZE

Cough, cough, cough.

Hafa Adai Everyone,

First things first, there were three cleanups over the weekend:

The Port Operators & Users Committee cleaned up the W-2 Highway from Bank of Hawaii to Shell Puerto Rico & Industrial Dr. on Friday while Palu Potu cleaned up Tun Kioshi Rd. and the Garapan Ad Hoc Committee cleaned up, well, Garapan, on Saturday. Thank you everyone who participated!


I hope that the students on this mailing list are enjoying their days off from school this week. When I was growing up in Massachusetts we used to have Snow Days; here on Saipan we have Volcano Days! How cool is that?

Well, not so cool if you are trying to plan OUTDOOR volunteer activities.

Except for the NMDOA/JSTA cleanup of Obyan Beach on Saturday, all of the Beautify CNMI! cleanups have been canceled this weekend. Division of Environmental Quality WILL NOT be cleaning Bird Island Beach and Saipan Southern High School National Honor Society will not be cleaning Koblerville on Saturday and Friends of the Mariana Island WILL NOT be cleaning Garapan on Sunday. The canceled events will be rescheduled.

Just to clarify, the Obyan Beach cleanup has not been canceled. If you would like to participate, please meet NMDOA/JSTA at the Obyan Beach parking lot at 9 AM. I will send out another email if it is canceled, but until further notice, the cleanup is still scheduled as planned.

Thanks and have a great week!


P.S. Anyone interested in a dive after (or before) Saturday's cleanup of Obyan?

February 15 General Meeting

Thank you, Ruth for taking notes!

Beautify CNMI!
Minutes of General Membership Meeting, February 15, 2007

David Bell of Bali Steel introduced himself. He called attention to the Green Island Alliance, a Pacific Islands Regional Recycling Network funded by the U.S. EPA, and allied with the United Nations Environmental Program. More information on this organization can be found at

Steve Hiney, chair of the Solid Waste committee, reported that the draft regulations are being reviewed for curbside trash pick-up in conjunction with the DEQ village beautification campaign. Implementation of the scrap auto project is now expected to begin at the same time as the March summit meeting of Micronesia leaders. An understanding has been developed between SamCor, DEQ and Bali Steel for the project.

Angelo reported for the Restoration Committee that the tree-trimming training program had been very successful, but that the bad news is the arborist found that most of the CNMI flame trees need replacing within the next 5-10 years or they could all be lost to the next typhoon. He said a long term re-planting program should be started immediately - planting new flame trees between the existing ones so that as the old trees are taken down, there will be new ones to replace them.

Gonzalo Santos from Indigenous Affairs explained that his interest at the moment was in the cultivation and preservation of medicinal plants and in sharing information about them. A conference on the topic is to be held on Rota.

Angelo reported that the paperwork required to begin re-painting the lighthouse on Navy Hill is underway - clearance is required from both HPO and DPL.

He announced that MVA has donated $10,000 to Beautify CNMI! and it has been used to purchase gloves and bags for the weekly clean-ups.

The report by the Legislation committee was deferred due to the absence of the Chairman.

Katie Busenkell announced that the first meeting of her committee on Animal Welfare will be held at the Cafe at the Park at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 22. Among topics to be discussed: the animal shelter, education for responsible ownership, a clinic for animal sterilization.

Angelo also reported that a new Micronesian Challenge subcommittee has been formed; co-chairs are Fran Castro and Angelo.

Steve Tilley spoke about the Zoning Board's recent articles in the paper, and the list he is building of village meetings and persons who would help facilitate them. A summary report of the village meetings is scheduled for May. The expected product for the round of village meetings is a report consisting of a half-page "summary" for each village that would list the problems, issues and recommendations identified by participants. Local participation is critical to the success of these meetings, he said. Following the village meetings, a draft zoning plan will be drawn up incorporating all the findings. The draft will be published as a newspaper insert in order to make it widely available. As now envisioned, all village meetings will be held at the Susupe multi-purpose center since equivalent facilities in the villages were difficult to arrange.

Angelo raised a question about the newly-announced plans to proceed with the construction of the cross-island and Talofofo highway projects, and how they fit into the land-use and zoning plans being prepared by the Zoning Board. It was suggested that the design plan for roads should be obtained from DPL.

Discussions after the meeting had adjourned included Representative Absalon Waki's comments on the ad hoc Garapan committee, which is concerned about keeping the Paseo area clean and well-lighted as well as calling on all area businessmen (and women!).

He also suggested that BC issue a statement in regard to its concerns over the proposed road plans.

Also included were comments by Representative Cinta Kaipat regarding the highly successful Kagman clean-up project, and the plans to conduct a certification ceremony for attendees at the tree-trimming class. The Beautify virus/infection is alive and well in Kagman, she reported. She also expressed thanks to MVA for its contribution - she said the trash bags purchased were from a local factory , Jin Yong's Plastics, that re-cycles plastic bags. The factory is located behind Chalan Kanoa school.

Dave Bell said the CNMI's re-cycling of plastic bags is unique to the Pacific - no one else is doing that.

Concern was expressed at the few litter citations that have been issued. Cinta suggested having the governor send out a memo to all agencies with litter officers urging them to enforce the litter-ticket program.

This is NOT Effective Conservation

I wonder what ever happened to the tour operators who did this?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Kagman Community Cleanup Meeting

I (Office of Rep. Cinta Kaipat) attended a meeting with DPW and Kagman Komunidat on Thursday, February 22, concerning the massive Kagman Community Cleanup that my office helped coordinate the week before. I invited Steve Hiney, who graciously arranged for the large garbage bins to be donated for the cleanup. FYI, the Recycling Committee, Junk and Litter Committees are now consolidated into one committee called the Solid Waste Committee. Steve chairs this Solid Waste Committee for Beautify CNMI!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Animal Welfare Committee Kick-Off Meeting

Katie at HomeHello, Friends!

I'd like to introduce you all to Katie Busenkell, the chair of the Animal Welfare Committee -- Beautify CNMI!'s newest committee, which held its first meeting last Thursday, February 22. Katie will be posting notes from the meeting later on. Folks, we've got a good group of friends who are part of this Animal Welfare Committee. Anyone else who wants to join this Committee is welcome!Meanwhile, here are some pictures. By the way, although he does not appear in any of these photos, Dr. Ike Dela Cruz was also at the meeting and his participation was much, much appreciated! Thanks for being a member of this Committee, Doc!


Saturday, February 24, 2007

If Everyone Listened.....

Some people think I'm crazy teaching middle school. Some think I'm either a saint or a masochist for liking what I do. Some days I wonder myself. I'm definitely not a saint and although I have a relatively high threshold for pain, I don't spend 40 hours a week with 13 year olds because I enjoy being tortured. I teach because I believe education, particularly public education is the foundation of an open society and democracy. I teach middle school because the students are just beginning to form opinions and take stock of the events and circumstances that either allow them to feel connected and valued by a community or disenfranchised and worthless. My students are working on projects for the Micronesia Challenge. I set up a blog for the students to express their thoughts and share their ideas and projects. Its called Student Action For a Viable Environment. Except for the environmental club students, all other students on my team (200 8th graders) sign in under one user name (hilitai). So unless they sign their name in the post, I don't know who it is. This doesn't really matter, but one of my students posted a music video by Nickleback called "If Everyone Cared". I cried when I watched it. My mystery student heard a song and listened. He saw a video and paid attention. He gets it! Wouldn't it be nice if everyone did care? Click on the link above and see for yourself.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Is anyone bleeding?

The Micronesia Challenge seeks to "Effectively Conserve 30% of our near shore resources and 20% of our forest resources by 2020." A huge part of "Effective Conservation" is educating our children about our environment, especially on coral reefs, watersheds, and how the two are related in the CNMI and the rest of Micronesia.

The Mariana Islands Nature Alliance and the Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council, the two leading environmental non-profits in the CNMI, have been leading groups of local students on field trips to the Laulau Watershed for the last several months.

You can add 27 students and 2 teachers to the list of people that have been on the Angelo Villagomez Death March, um, I mean, Laulau Watershed Revegetation Project Field Trip.

The 6th grade students at Tanapag Elementary are learning about the environment. Their teacher, Miss Eileen Babauta, contacted me to see if I could either come into the class or show the kids where I work. Last week they had someone from the Division of Environmental Quality come into their classroom to talk about nonpoint source pollution. Today they got to climb up on a mountain (that's right, I work on a mountain!) to get a first hand look at nonpoint source. Exciting, I know!

I took the kids to the top of Mt. Laulau and they were able to point out the different sources of pollution leaching into Laulau Bay. They noticed things like agriculture, roads, houses, and golf courses in Kagman, San Vicente, and Dan Dan.

Any kid who goes on one of my field trips is responsible for learning one thing; they have to be able to repeat this simple mantra:

"What we do on the land can affect our marine environment."

Even though I make them repeat it no less than 30 times, it is really easy to get the kids excited about saying this mantra. Before we step onto the trail to start the hike, I lay out some rules about safety and having fun. Then I tell them that they only have to learn one thing on the field trip. This always gets them excited because kids like being told that they're not learning (even when they really are).

After I tell them the mantra, I ask one of the kids to repeat it back to me. There is always some hesitation on the kids' part, and sometimes it takes a couple of tries, but the first student to get it right wins a pack of Mentos (that's candy for those of you who don't remember those Mentos commercials from the 1990's).

When they see that answering a question wins them candy, all hesitation on the part of the kids goes away for the rest of the field trip.

This was the rowdiest bunch of kids I've taken on a field trip so far this year. My nephew, Edmund Villagomez, was their teacher last year. They figured this out in the first few minutes of our hike, which made us all instant friends. They even started calling me Mr. V and Mr. Villa-gorgeous...because that is what they call Edmund.

The thorns were really bad on this trip. I mean really bad. Really, really bad. Once the field trip was over and we were back on the bus I asked if anyone was bleeding.

I think pretty much everyone, including the teachers, raised their hands! Bleeding and still smiling?!?! Another successful field trip!

If you would like to experience the thorns and blistering heat at the Laulau Watershed Revegetation Project, please schedule a field trip with Angelo Villagomez at the Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council office, 236-0894, or his cellphone, 483-1078, or via email

Welcome Troops To Teachers!

Beautify CNMI!'s now-famous "beauty virus infection" strikes again!

Almost a week ago, last Friday, the 16th, I spoke to the Troops To Teachers Group, which had indicated to me that they were interested in joining Beautify CNMI! For those who don't know, the Troops To Teachers Program allows our returning soldiers to work on completing their college education with a degree in education. Our Troops have been spending time in the classrooms as students as well as assistant teachers. Here are some pictures of me talking to some of the Troops about their prospective project in collaboration with Beatify CNMI, my office (Rep. Cinta Kaipat's Office), and the Energy Office.

The Troops To Teachers Program's Director here in the CNMI is Geri Willis, the sweet lady in the green dress. Thanks to Geri for her vision and heart! Roman Benavente, one of the original four Troops To Teachers participants along with Fred Camacho, informed me that the Troops To Teachers Group wanted to join Beautify CNMI! Of course, I immediately said "WELCOME!" I'm always happy to hear that the "beauty virus infection" is alive and well! :)

Shortly before my invitation to come speak with the Troops, Linda Torres of the Energy Office contacted my office and requested some manpower assistance for a particular project she had. After a meeting, Linda informed me that she had been running a program to assist the elderly and indigents in our community lower their energy consumption by as much as 30% by having their roofs waterblasted and painted with this special paint (can't remember what it's called now). Well, now you know that got my attention! In addition to the waterblasting and roof painting, Linda said they also needed assistance replacing doors where needed.

I thought, hmmm....this project is going to require a SPECIAL group from the Beautify CNMI! Partners Coalition. Anyone guess which Special Group this might be? Yep! That's right! If these brave young men and women can survive the fierce streets of Baghdad, surely they can climb a roof to waterblast and paint it! THANKS, YOU GUYS & GALS!!! THANKS, Ger!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Somebody will have to translate Aya-san's new website into English so that I understand ISA CNMI & Pacific Eagle's Challenge.


This is the third Japanese language website to broadcast the Beautify CNMI! message (or is it infection?) to the Japanese tourist market and to the local Japanese community.

Aya-san, Junji-san, and Ichiro-san...THANK YOU!

Smells Like FMI Spirit!

This past Sunday (FMI) Friends of the Mariana Islands were at it again hosting their 5th cleanup on South Laulau Beach. About thirty early morning risers volunteered and helped remove 580 lbs of beach litter. It was horrifying to see so much illegally dumped trash on the roadside and on the beach. Here are some pictures of our clean up and interesting finds.

Sunday mornings in Saipan are beautiful and shouldn't be wasted by sleeping in. FMI encourages the community of Saipan to stay active. Come out to make new friends, exercise, and help keep Saipan beautiful.

I Just wanted to thank our participants for coming out: Rep. Cinta Kaipat's Office, Kaipat Family, ISA-CNMI, Friends of the Mariana Islands (FMI), Community members Ian Catlett, Jesse Sablan, Bruzzese-Bader Family (Lynne, Don, Coleman, Sofia, and Jesse), SDA Church.

Just a reminder...

Aqua Resort Promotion...that the MINA/Beautify CNMI promotion is ongoing at Aqua Resort. Locals who enjoy the Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday buffets will receive a 10% discount on their meal and Aqua Resort will donate an additional 10% to MINA to support Beautify CNMI! activities.

The buffets feature bottomless Miller Lite draft beer and champagne and some of the best food in Saipan. Eat, drink, and help Beautify the CNMI!

Just another weekend

With the sheer volume of Beautify CNMI! activities going on every week, it is getting cumbersome keeping up with this website by myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the new Beautify CNMI! contributors Cinta, Bree, Bev, Walt, and Steve for helping me post pictures and tell our stories.

Event #1:

Cinta has already published a post detailing Saturday's cleanup of Koblerville. Her office and the Board of Parole were at it again. Great work!

Event #2:

Friends of the Mariana Islands (website coming soon!) also hosted a cleanup on Saturday. They removed 3000 lbs of litter from Isa Drive between the Botanical Gardens and San Vicente Elementary School. Holy cow! Thank you!

Event #3:

Also on Saturday, Mariana Islands Nature Alliance hosted their monthly cleanup of Wing Beach. The 15 volunteers from MINA, ISA CNMI, and Ecosaipan scoured the beach for tiny bits of plastic and glass littering the beach.

Beautify CNMI WIng BeachSome of the volunteers found a rusted out engine on the beach. It was much too heavy to move, so we left it where we found it. Here are a few more pictures:

Wing Beach SaipanWing Beach SaipanThe MINA adoption of Wing Beach has been the shining star of the Beautify CNMI Adopt-a-Spot program. Not only is MINA picking up trash every other month, but they are also paying for regular trash pickup at the beach, planting native tree species, keeping the grass along the road cut, and removing invasion vines (while under the supervision of CNMI Forestry, of course).

Wing Beach SaipanIn the span of less than a year, MINA has turned Wing Beach into the cleanest beach in Micronesia (feel free to use that MVA). Thank you MINA for coordinating this great cleanup, ISA CNMI and Ecosaipan for providing volunteers (and for promoting our activities on your Japanese language websites), and special thanks to Brad Doerr for hauling our trash.

Event #4:

Beautify CNMI! made it to the shores of Tinian over the weekend! PSS and NMC teacher Bree Reynolds led a group of Tinian NMC students on their first beach cleanup. She reported on her weekend activities on this post. Thank you Bree and thank you NMC students!

Event #5:

Friends of the Mariana Islands hosted their fifth consecutive cleanup of Laulau Beach on Sunday. They had volunteers from Rep. Kaipat's Office and the SDA Dental Clinic. They removed 580 lbs of beach litter. Thank you, Everybody!

Event #6:

Department of Public Safety Crime Prevention Unit led some of their Law Enforement Explorer Program and Junior Police Officer students on a cleanup of Coral Ocean Point Beach. I was supposed to participate in this cleanup, but I missed it because they changed the time without telling me! The kids wanted to go swimming in the afternoon, so they did the cleanup in the morning! As I drove up, they were already loading the pickup truck with bags and bags of garbage. Thank you to the officers, the students, and their teachers from Hopwood JHS and Koblerville ES.

Event #7:

On Sunday morning, Mike Tripp and several divers participated in a cleanup of the water surrounding the Garapan Fishing Base. This was the least favorite thing I have done since I moved to Saipan in April. The water over there is NASTY. Garbage has been piling up there since WWII. Don't beleive me? When was the last time you saw a Schlitz Malt Liquor can or a Sprite glass bottle:

Underwater Garbage SaipanUnderwater Cleanup GearThis event was the first Micronesia Challenge event for Beautify CNMI! It will be the first of many.

Again, thank you to every single person that is helping to make these islands a better place to live and visit. Your work is not going unnoticed.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Waste on Tinian

Tinian Sunset

Tinian Snorkel

Tinian Sea Urchin

This past weekend, I went to Tinian to conduct some marine biology labs with the NMC students who are taking Marine Biology 103 on-line. We did some snorkeling to identify various sea creatures and we did a beach clean up as part of their special project for the course. The students initially chose to create a community education project to increase recycling on Tinian in the hopes that this would reduce waste on the beaches. As we did our cleanup they quickly realized that recyclable objects were not making up the bulk of the litter. Their bags were quickly filled with styrofoam plates, plastic utensils, food wrappers, diapers and styrofoam containers. None of the items in the bags can be recycled. We had a long discussion about what they could do to reduce the litter on the beach. Now the students need to figure out how to change the behavior of people bbqing on the beach.

The college set up recycling bins at the Pepper Festival and collected a lot of cans. Someone stole the cans in the middle of the night. Cans were conspicuously absent from the beach as well. We also found large, tangled bundles of wire insultion. The copper wire had been stripped, most likely illegally.

We had one other lesson in the negative impact of humans on the environment. While snorkeling and bbqing at El Sereno Beach, Doug stepped in human waste. Someone, most likely too drunk and lazy to walk away from the palapalas and beach, took a dump right next to where we were grilling our food. Now I learned to squat in the bushes when I was a kid and I don't know about people here, but I was taught to go away from where others would be hanging out and eating and I was taught to bury it and not go within 200 feet of water. People shitting in a picnic area near a beach is part of the same problem that leads an individual to dump all of their household waste in the bushes next to an elementary school, or someone to dump used motor oil on the ground, or someone to just toss their cigarette butt onto the ground or students in my 8th grade class to spit betel nut into my classroom sinks.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

February 2007 Koblerville Substation Cleanup

Since August 2006, our Parole Volunteers have done a great job teaming up with Rep. Cinta Kaipat's Office, her family, and other community members to maintain this adopted area. The following pictures show the most recent cleanup that took place today, Saturday, February 17, 2007. Kudos to our Parole Volunteers, and most especially to Chief Lee Guerrero and staff of the Parole Office, for another fantastic job of clearing the substation. Not only did they clean the substation, but they also cleared roads and intersections overgrown with foliage that posed safety hazards to motorists and pedestrians. Great job, everyone! Thanks also to Rep. Cinta Kaipat's Office and family members for their participation.

This is what the Koblerville substation looked like when Beautify CNMI! first tackled it in August 2006.