By THOMAS MANGLONA II
Mother Nature had a ball last Saturday night, with the 2nd Green Gala drawing more than 200 people to the Hibiscus Hall of the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan and fundraising host Marianas Islands Nature Alliance selling an estimated $12,000 worth of tickets.
Echoing the sentiments of many of those who attended this second edition of the Green Gala, Ed Propst said the event is a “wonderful evening for a wonderful cause.”
“I came to this event to support our environmental heroes,” Propst said. “Kudos to MINA for hosting one of the best events of the year.”
According to MINA executive director Sam Sablan, tickets were sold out two days prior to the event but they have yet to come up with a definite dollar figure that includes money collected from donations by their major sponsors and the two auctions that were held the same night.
MINA’s first Green Gala in 2012 raised $40,000 in cash and in-kind contributions.
“Like many, many other non-profit agencies out there we are struggling but are trying hard. We are driven by the commitment of our volunteers to make sure that we continue as an agency,” said MINA board chair Frankie Elliptico in his remarks.
Elliptcio shared that since the formation of MINA in 2005 the non-profit organization now has more than a hundred members and even more volunteers.
“It is because of these members and volunteers that our projects become successful,” he added
Some of MINA’s projects include the Obyan Rehabilitation Project, the Teacher Environmental Camp, the Marine Debris Prevention, Tasi Watch Project, and the Adopt-A-Bin Project.
Ivan Ilmov, owner of Saipan Island Bath and Ceramics and a Rotary Club member, said that he chose to support the Green Gala because it’s his way of contributing to the environment as a businessperson.
“A lot of my friends who live on island support this gala. So I am here to support it as well,” Ilmov added.
Ilmov shared that he has been a part of many environmental awareness campaigns and events with the Rotary Club and hopes that more people take even the smallest steps toward the betterment of the islands’ environment.
The evening also featured a Trash-in-Fashion show that modeled outfits made from materials that most people would consider trash: soda tabs, plastic bags, and even phone cards.
Environmental Green Awards
For its second year, MINA recognized one individual, school, and business that demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the environment over the past years.
The Environmental Champion Award, an individual award, was awarded to Marcelina Max Aguon.
Aguon has volunteered his time since 2002 by collecting trash at the Sugar Dock and Aquarius beach areas seven times a week.
“I volunteer to make our island beautiful for tourists and for the children’s future CNMI,” he said.
In 2008 Aguon received the Environmental Steward award from Beautify CNMI and in 2009 a CNMI House resolution was passed commending his accomplishments.
Aguon has also worked diligently to plant over 50 trees along Saipan’s shores.
Saipan Southern High School received the Environmental Heroes Award, which is given to a school whose dedication is echoed through its students and the work they do to protect Saipan’s natural resources. The school has done several beach cleanups and has participated in environmental programs in collaboration with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Coral Reef Management, and Division of Environmental Quality.
The high school was also recognized for its green farming initiative on its campus, where students grow food with a minimum impact on the environment and people’s wallets.
They have also been involved in MINA’s pavilion refurbishment project, “No need Bag” project and “How Long Trash Lasts” public information program.
Joeten Enterprises received the Green Business of the Year award. The award recognizes a business that acknowledges the island’s environmental issues and incorporates a “green business culture” through its entire organization.
This year alone, Joeten Enterprises required all of its companies install LED lights.
Joeten also went the extra mile in reducing its ecological footprint on the environment when it started installing solar panels at all of its retail outlets. This is seen in Joeten’s Kagman store where its energy costs decreased by 50 percent due to solar power.
Joeten Enterprises continues to work very closely with MINA with hopes of launching a massive public information and education program that brings awareness to the effects of plastic bags on the environment.
The enterprise has been doing its part to reduce the use of plastic bags when MINA donated over 10,000 reusable bags four years ago for its customers.