When the going gets tough, charitable organizations, schools, and other members of the community know that they could count on Bridge Capital LLC. The company donated a total of almost $60,000 this year to 43 entities, almost half or 21 of them getting their checks on Friday morning during a ceremony on Capital Hill. Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos witnessed the pre-Christmas donations at a packed governor's conference room.
Some six hours later, Bridge Capital held its second “Saipan Got Talent” competition that highlighted its 2012 Christmas party at Pacific Islands Club in San Antonio. Twelve-year-old violinist Allan Tudela bagged the grand prize once again, followed by singing sensation John Darag.
Bridge Capital principal and chief executive officer John K. Baldwin, during Friday morning's ceremony, said they got the most number of requests for donations this year compared to previous periods and this could well be an indication of how financially tough it is in the CNMI. He said it was hard to decide which entities to help so their list was much longer this year than in prior years.
Bridge Capital is an international investment banking and asset management company headquartered on Saipan.
Of the 21 entities that received donations from Bridge Capital on Friday, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.'s Hemodialysis Center and the First Lady's Vision Foundation got the biggest amount of $5,000 each. It was also the first time for Bridge Capital to give to CHC's Hemodialysis Center, represented during the ceremony by CHC chief executive officer Juan N. Babauta.
Bridge Capital also donated to the following entities on Friday: Salvation Army's Soup Kitchen, Saipan Little League Baseball, Rota Little League Association, Tinian Little League Association, Autism Society of the CNMI, NMI Football Association, Commonwealth Cancer Association, Center for Independent Living, Rota High School for its school supplies, Beautify CNMI!, NMI Council for the Humanities, Marianas High School, NMI Crime Stoppers, Tinian High School, Turtle Advocate and Guardian Society or TAGS, Pet Assistance and Welfare Services or PAWS, Mariana Islands Nature Alliance, Karidat, and Friends of the Arts.
Throughout the year, Bridge Capital donated to 22 other entities including the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture with $10,000 and American Red Cross with $5,000.
Joining Baldwin in the check presentation were Bridge Capital co-manager Shawn Scott and other company officials and staff.
Bridge Capital has been a supporter of charitable organizations and groups, including those that promote and preserve art, music, and literature.
'Saipan Got Talent'
Highlighting Bridge Capital's 2012 Christmas party on Friday night at Pacific Islands Club was the second “Saipan Got Talent” competition, which drew 17 groups and individuals that showcased a variety of talents from playing the violin, cello, and piano to dancing, singing, and even playing the yoyo.
Tudela, 12, bagged once again the top prize with his piece, Tarantula.
“I feel happy,” Tudela, a music student at Do Re Mi Music School, told reporters shortly after the talent show wrapped up.
His music teacher, Ao Zhang, president of Do Re Mi Music School, said Tudela has big dreams of becoming a world-renowned violinist. Tudela, a seventh grader at Agape Christian School, has been joining and winning music competitions in and outside the CNMI.
Singer John Ronald Darag again bagged the second prize with his rendition of This is the Moment.
Lt. Gov. Inos was once again on the five-member panel of judges.
The other winners included Marianas High School's Rhythm and Harmony Glee Club, Passion dance group, pianist Doo Yong Lee, singing and guitar duo Lily Musicseed, Nathan Skitties Palacios with his breakdancing, violinist Zhen Yu Su, and violinist Colin Fruit.
Other participants included pianist Cloency Chua, singer Matthew Lopez, singer Veronika Lisua, yoyo player Julius Barro, whose act also included a formal proposal to a woman to be his girlfriend, cellist Hae Lin Kim, drums player JR Cadua, singer Christine Musni, and an acoustic band led by Abel Pellegrino.
All the 17 participants went home with cash prizes each.
Baldwin said next year's “Saipan Got Talent” would have a Christmas theme and invited talents to participate once again.
Bridge Capital also raffled off several prizes for guests, and treated them to a sumptuous PIC dinner buffet.