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 https://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!
It’s always been my belief that Saipan has the as yet unmined potential to be one of the healthiest places on Earth! Think about this. We have the cleanest air in the United States. We’ve been documented by the Guinness Book of World Record as having the “most equable temperature in the world,” We’ve got Malunggay growing on every street corner and backyard. There are noni fruit trees growing at tourist sites and all around. During the summer months, the streets are paved with mangoes! You can consume coconuts year round, enjoy sunshine as much as you desire! The fact that it is NOT known as such is merely due to a lack of the appropriate marketing of the island’s health-promoting virtues!
Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to interact with new arrivals on island some of whom have read my Saipan Living Relocation Guide before they made the move to live here. Consequently, I’ve gotten questions about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle if you’re a vegan, vegetarian, raw foodist or generally health-conscious resident.
So, as fate would have it, there’ve been quite a few newcomers who with to eat healthy. So, I put the call out to a few folks on my mailing list, and we all got together over the weekend at Kanoa Resort to share shopping tips, lifestyle advice, online resources and more—creating (or, more accurately, “reviving”) a support group for vegans on Saipan!
So, let this gathering be recognized as the first official meeting of what I call the “Ageless 101” group on Saipan! We discussed a few ideas for future gatherings–food preparation demonstrations, pot luck dinners, reviving the buyer’s group I had started a few years ago and more!
If you’re here on island and wish to be notified of the next meeting, as well as be able to communicate with other members, sign up to the Ageless 101 Googlegroup at https://groups.google.com/d/forum/ageless101
And if you’d like to see my videos on sprouting, making your own sugar-free, fish-free kimchee Walt’s Way, view my YOUTUBE CHANNEL at: https://www.youtube.com/agelessadept
My original plan was to use the contributed funds to get gift certificates for two nights at a hotel so Randy and others in his situation might enjoy a semblance of “normal” living. However, now that incoming airline flights have resumed, the hotels here on Saipan are booked solid. Therefore, I gave Randy the option of a certificate for future use, or cash.
So, today, thanks to your generous contributions I was able to give him a gift of $250! Here’s a quick video of him receiving it and his thanks to those who contributed! Shows you don’t have to be a megacorporation or millionaire philanthropist to help others. There are still hundreds more we can help with contributions of any size to encourage them to stay strong….CNMI strong.
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.
“We cannot chase him away. Where will he go?”
Randy’s Typhoon Yutu Story
It was four days after Typhoon Yutu tore through the islands of Saipan and Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and Joeten Supermarket in Susupe, Saipan had just re-opened to the public, and so, it would be the first time I would resume my morning routine of checking the shelves for fruits and vegetables.
I approached the worker dutifully stocking the shelves in the produce department of Joeten Supermarket. His name is Randy Vicente. Originally from Cavite, Philippines, Randy has had only this one employer in his twenty-five years on the island. And, in all the years I’ve lived on Saipan and shopped there, Randy has always been quite friendly, always offering a bubbly “Good morning, Mr. Walt!” offering information on upcoming sales, asking if there was anything he could help with, and making this mundane experience quite pleasant. Today was no different in that regard. However, I could tell something was different. The area around his eyes had the telltale darkness and showed the strain of someone who hadn’t slept in days.
“So, what’s your situation?” I asked him.
“Oh, me? I’m homeless!” he replied, and despite the direness of what he had just said, he delivered it with the same bubbliness and smile as if he were greeting me on a normal day. “My roof is gone, and my apartment is destroyed,” he added.
“So..So, where are you staying?”
“Nowhere,” he replied. “For the past four nights, I’ve been sleeping in the front lobby of World Resort.”
(In this video, I asked Randy if the hotel staff and security gave him a hard time while he was in the lobby. He said no, but he overheard them saying “I cannot chase him away…where will he go?”)
“Did you try sleeping in a shelter?” I suggested.
“What shelter?” he asked.
I had heard from another worker that Saipan Community Church had a shelter. I told Randy about it, and he confirmed that he, too, had heard about it just that same morning, and would be giving it a try that evening after work.
“What about your stuff?” I asked.
“Oh, it’s still there.”
“You mean in the apartment?”
During the storm, as Yutu’s Category Five winds increased in intensity, Randy realized his apartment would likely not withstand the pounding and so he sought refuge and rode out the storm in the Nauru Building close by. He returned to find his room destroyed.
It saddened me to realize that here he was showing up for work for his 6am to 1pm shift, as he’d done for 25 years, spending precious daylight hours unloading boxes, stocking shelves and helping customers, while his own personal belongings were sitting in a roofless single room with only three and a half walls exposed to the elements, and with nowhere to return to shower and get a good night’s sleep. I thought about the indignity and mental strain of sitting in a hotel lobby hour after hour, night after night, while hotel staff and security guards passed by knowing you weren’t a guest.
The thought also crossed my mind that what was needed was some sort of free storage facility for typhoon victims.
With no tourists arriving these days, many of the hotels are offering a local rate of about $70-$80/night. It’s a small thing, but I’d like to provide Randy–and anyone among the hundreds who are living in tents or in their cars– a few nights in a hotel to regain some semblance of normalcy and dignity, and to replace some of their damaged, water-soaked belongings. Electricity, running hot and cold water, a bathtub, a clean, soft bed, the privacy of a toilet–one that flushes and is not shared by dozens of other individuals–these are a few of the “luxuries” you take for granted, that would make a world of difference for victims of Typhoon Yutu three weeks after the storm, even if it’s only for two nights. Your donations will offer such a gift to Randy, and others, to encourage them to stay strong….CNMI strong. As usual, I’ll film the disbursements so you can see how your contributions are actually impacting real people’s lives. https://www.gofundme.com/cnmistrong
I had the honor of presenting long-time Saipan, CNMI, resident, Manny S. Vitug with a check for $500–a show of support from some of my previous tour clients–to help with the recovery of his business and life after the devastation of Category 5 Super Typhoon Yutu. Thanks to Ward S., Carl M., Laurie H., Al Z., Dean F., Ronald M., and Stacey Spencer-Willoughby.
News of the gift appeared in today’s (Wed Nov 14, 2018) Saipan Tribune, thanks to editor, Jayvee Vallejera: https://www.saipantribune.com/index.php/for-want-of-a-mechanic/
HEARTBREAKING: Manny’s Typhoon Yutu Story pt 1– (“For Want of a Mechanic…”)
Manny’s Typhoon Yutu Story pt 2– (“For Want of a Mechanic…”)
Manny tells his story part 2:
“FOR WANT OF A MECHANIC…”
How even a small donation to one person can uplift an entire community!
You may recall this proverb: For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost. For want of a message the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
If you’re wondering how your individual contribution–large or small– can help, consider that proverb, and consider this: Over its years in business, an affordable auto repair shop with a generous, empathetic owner can help thousands of individuals stay mobile, keep working, earn a paycheck, support their families and avoid becoming destitute.
For 31 years, Manny Vitug has lived in the CNMI where he has owned and operated a community-focused auto repair shop (ELS Auto) business. He’s been known to undercharge people for his services. Some have had their cars repaired “on credit” and paid him back when they’re back on their feet and able. For some looking to make a purchase of a used car, he’ll often assess a vehicle’s road-worthiness just as a courtesy at no charge.
Now, however, after years of helping people in this way “on credit,” after growing a business on two islands, employing others, securing a nest egg for his retirement as well as a legacy for his children, Manny, in his own greatest time of need, has been told he “doesn’t qualify” for assistance or loans because he doesn’t have this thing the banks call a “credit history.” I want to show Manny that there are other sorts of credit histories–Karmic credit histories, if you will–that can come to his aid.
The success (or failure) of a business can have a domino effect on many others who are not directly connected to it. Manny has employees, tenants, family members and customers whose lives, livelihoods, futures and fates are intimately and intricately connected to his.
Who knows, if you or someone you love ever visits Saipan or Tinian on vacation or to relocate, it might be through Manny’s or his son’s repair work that your tour guide’s vehicle is able to provide a reliable and memorable experience of these beautiful islands.
Yes, it’s all connected…from nail to kingdom.
When it comes to telling the story of Saipan’s recovery after being hit by Super Typhoon Yutu–the strongest typhoon EVER to hit the Marianas, the SECOND strongest to hit the United States (mainland AND territories) EVER, and the THIRD most intense in terms of pressure (EVER), let’s not allow ourselves to write or say:
“For want of a mechanic, the future was lost…”
Manny is the first of several individuals I wish to help through the “Be Strong, CNMI Strong” disaster relief campaign.
Listen to Manny tell his story, view scenes of the devastation,
and show your support (and if you can’t support, then please “share”) at https://www.gofundme.com/cnmistrong
Walt F.J. Goodridge
CNMIStrong GoFundMe Campaign Administrator
Scenes from the actual storm and aftermath, why I started this personalized campaign, who it will help,and a plea for your support. I’ll be filming the disbursement of funds so you can see where and to whom your money actually goes!
If you can’t support at the moment, then please share, like and help spread the word! Be Strong! CNMI Strong!