1. “Marianas Stories” host, Catherine, had to re-upload the MLK interview video for technical reasons. Please like/love/share/comment again at the new link location! Thanks!
NEW LINK LOCATION ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/670humanities/videos/473130970051332/
MLK Day special! Catherine Perry of the Northern Marianas Humanties Council asked me to share a few of my thoughts about civil rights, human rights, my travel experiences, life in America and life in the CNMI from a non-American, Jamaican on Saipan’s perspective on Martin Luther King Jr day in the US and its relevance to life in the CNMI! Watch and share on Facebook:
“It was a dark and stormy night…” Oops, wrong opening line. (Sorry, Snoopy.) Ahem. It was a bright and sunny day, and the Holland America cruise ship, Maasdam, was scheduleed to dock at the port on the island of Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on Sunday, Sept 8, 2019.
As an island consultant, I’m occasionally asked to provide information on the islands to visitors.
This time, my photographer, Ding, and I showed up at 7am to be sure that THIS time, the ship would, indeed, dock. (Yeah, that’s a whole other story for another time!)
With that little detail confirmed, we headed back to the airport to pick up the vans for our arriving guests.
While awaiting the paperwork, world renown author, ethnographer, oral historian and “birder,” Rlene Santos Steffy, arrives from Guam. I had the pleasure of meeting Rlene on Guam during my recent Guam Writers Workshop Learn more at : http://guamwriters.com/
The paperwork is completed, vans are assigned, drivers are briefed, microphones are checked, signs are posted in the windshields….time for a convoy!
Once at the dock, guests begin exiting the ship after passing through US Customs, and we load up the vans. Two of my guests, Lorrin and Nina Lee, are on a three month tour (see Lorrinlee.com), and were the first of my guests to sign up way back in March!
We head out to our first stop: American Memorial Park.
Answer: One of the largest war time structures on the island: the Bomb Magazine at As Lito airfield.
By this time, the “Saipan in a Day” adventure is officially ended. Robert and Gary have departed and taken our visitors back to the dock, However, a smaller group of WWII buffs are treated to a special private collection of relics and artifacts from the Japanese era and Battle of Saipan.
“As the sun sank slowly over the horizon…” Oops, sorry, wrong epilogue…Wait! That one fits! As the sun sank slowly over the Saipan horizon, Maasdam pulled away from the dock, and sailed off into the sunset on its way to Guam!
“We’ll catch you on the flip flop This here’s the Rubber Duck on the side We gone – Bye Bye!”
Thanks to everyone who made this tour special and run smoothly!
Hope you don’t mind. I’m just testing out my “autopost” plug-in on my Jamaican in China blog. Through this feature, I can post to my blog (as I’m doing now), and it automatically posts to one or more of my Facebook pages. (So, if you’re reading this in your Facebook feed, that should mean it worked!) I’ll just share a few shots taken around Saipan recently!
Fellow author Lindsay, the ladies of Healing Stone, and me!
John Castro and me while, Satawal canoe maker toils in background
Konstantin from Ukraine takes a shot of Forbidden Island
Eber and Jay from the US mainland explore Fabian Indalecio’s unique Battle of Saipan/WWII relic collection
Fabian educates visitors to the island
Where on earth are you likely to see a convoy of pink Mustangs??? If you answered “Saipan,” you’d be correct! (the road to Banzai Cliff)
It was exceptionally clear day last weekend, and you could see the outline of Farallon de Medinilla from Suicide Cliff at the north end of the island! Can you see it?
Just a few shots of my life on Saipan! Enjoy the update!
UPDATE 1: Oh, speaking of updates, did I mention I turned down a book deal recently? Why, you ask? Well, the publisher made the fatal mistake of….. Read the full story here in either of Saipan’s newspapers:
One of the great things about my life on Saipan is the broad cross section of unique personalities I have a chance to meet and spend time with!
Earlier this year, Michelle and John got to experience Saipan’s history with a ride in an actual WWII jeep courtesy of local resident, Juan Villagomez. John’s father worked on the Manhattan Project during the war, so he wanted to get up close and personal with Saipan’s and Tinian’s history!
Michelle, John, Juan and Luise Villagomez, Alexandra (front), and me!
I also had a chance to hang out recently with Konstantin Symonenko from Ukraine….
Konstantin discovers the mystery of Forbidden Island
Konstantin, among other accomplishments, has the distinction of being the first Ukrainian to have visited all the countries in the world! It’s an accomplishment that was verified and documented as blogged about on his http://konstantin.travel website:
John and me….A Sattawal navigator works in the background
Another guest, Neal P., has visited 297 of the 327 destinations recognized by The Traveler’s Century Club (TCC)! Saipan was his 298th and he’ll hit 300 soon and be part of the Diamond club! Congrats, Neal!
Neal got to experience authentic Chamorro and island style cuisine at JC Cafe on Tinian…
at the Street Market on Saipan….
Red rice at the Street Market
…and at Twenty-Two Rams (Owners of the restaurant are brother Michael Salas and cousin Ed Cepeda.)
Lunch at Twenty-Two Rams. Located in the CDA complex in Oleai at the old Boka Boka restaurant location.
Delgadina Matagolai, Manning Salas, and Mom Sophia M. Salas. (Michael and Ed not shown) “Thanks for stopping by our family restaurant!”--Manning
(Caught your attention, didn’t it?) Another brief photo installment in the “This man has got entirely too much time on his hands” file for those who said they haven’t heard from the Jamaican in China (and on Saipan) in a while!
Here on Saipan, I’ve discovered a new genus and family of mammal I’ve christened the Marianas pole cat.
Wandering kitten seeks refuge in a post-typhoon, not-yet-erected concrete pole in the village of Susupe
The Garment Factory Era on Saipan lasted from Oct 14, 1983 to Jan 15, 2009. It employed approximately 20,000 workers and brought in revenues of close to 1 billion dollars in taxes and fees.
I’m about to upload a series of Youtube videos with some of my personal pics and videos of remembrances of what life was like on the island at that time–including times spent hanging out with the factory girls (and guys) from when I arrived on Saipan in 2006 to the last closure, and beyond!
And if you weren’t aware, I wrote a book about that era (Chicken Feathers & Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan with former factory worker, Chun Yu Wang)–that remains the only firsthand account of what life was like for factory workers during that time– and that has been used in three universities stateside in either “Textiles” or “Women’s Studies” courses, and has been excerpted in a French textbook in a section on “The American Dream,” and has over 160 reviews on Amazon!)
So, without further delay, here’s episode 1 of the “Remembering the Garment Factory Era” series:
Here’s the latest of four, featuring Ward and Kimie, who came from Japan with a particular interest in learning more about Amelia Earhart’s connection to the island! They got a special treat and private audience with a Saipan celebrity as part of their adventure!
At the request of a mainland-based Army Officer, historian and militaria collector one of whose current projects is collecting sand from historical WWII sites, I collect sand from the historic Battle of Saipan landing beach known as Yellow Beach (San Antonio Beach). Don’t worry, I’ve gotten the okay from the Division of Coastal Resources Management and Fish & Wildlife that the “no take” policy only applies to Marine Protected Areas and other specific conservation spots.
I was recently interviewed by Bob Coldeen of KSPN2 News here on Saipan about the upcoming writers’ workshop on Tinian! The interview starts at 13:30, but check out the entire newscast to get a taste of life and media in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands!
A few months ago, I gave some producers from the China Travel Channel a tour of the island. Just got an email from Alex with a gift! Using some of the shots of us together, they created a short promotional video I can use to reach more of the Chinese tourists Saipan is attracting!
Back on sunny Saipan after a stint in New York, so here’s a bit of catch-up! Saipan author, Riza Oledan-Ramos and I just recently published a book entitled Drinking Seawater: of storms and survival. It is Riza’s account of her experience during Typhoon Soudelor that hit Saipan on August 2-3, 2015. At one point, during the height of the storm, she and her entire family had to flee their apartment and were outside in the 150-mph winds! It’s an amazing story!
After a recent recognition ceremony at the Governor’s conference room on Capitol Hill, Saipan Tribune reporter, Jon Perez interviewed Riza and me about the book and gave a great review
Sharing my reasons for co-writing/editing with Riza (photos by Ferdinand Ramos)
Riza explains passages in the book while co-author and coach Walt looks on
Author being interviewed
Interviewing Ferdinand, Riza’s husband and Soudelor co-survivor
Congratulations to Riza on a great read! Thanks to Jon Perez for a great review in the Tribune. Thanks also to Zaldy Dandan, editor of the Marianas Variety, for his pre-publication input and his great editorial review in the Variety.