With the sand passing through the hourglass, the Micronesian Games Organizing Committee convened in the conference room of the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium to discuss the current state of its efforts with chairwoman Daisy Villagomez on Monday night.
After meeting for more than two hours, there was still an air of uncertainty as to whether or not the CNMI will host the 2006 Micronesian Games as planned despite the resounding pledge committee members to pull out all of the stops to fulfill Saipan’s duty to the local athletes and spectators.
Villagomez listened to impassioned pleas from individuals like Rose Igitol, who said that the industrial spirit of the local people can make anything happen.
“We haven’t had the Games since 1990, and I think it’s time that we bring it back here. The excitement is there, and the athletes have been training, and at this point in time I can’t see us dropping it. In the past, we’ve been fundraising, and fundraising, and fundraising so that our athletes can compete off-island. This is our opportunity to have the Games at home and we won’t have to do as much fundraising. I would like to have the Games. There are so many people out there who are ready to come out and support and cheer. Please, let the governor know that we want the Games and that we don’t have to have that much. We can do what we can with what we have, and I’m sure that once you get all of the committee chairs in place, then we can move on and move along,” Igitol said.
The major factor in the decision-making process remains the money, and just how the local economy can support the Micro Games in its current state. Originally pegged at $750,000, NMASA president Michael White said the figure was actually pulled from the dollar amount that Palau spent in preparations for the 2005 South Pacific Mini Games held last summer.
Event coordinators already know that the committee will recoup $600,000 of their expenditures from the member nations in the form of their per diem. The task at hand for the committee members now seems to be clear—to find out how to pull off the Games for less than that amount.
According to Villagomez, former CPA consultant Rex Palacios was invited to the meeting to help planners develop a strategy for working with the local business community to raise funds.
“He was recommended by the governor and Brian Reyes to come in and see where the committee is at and see what we can do with the private sectors, so his background and expertise are welcomed…I’ve had several inquiries by certain private sectors that Mr. Palacios is aware of..,” she said.
After hearing Palacios speak of what is needed, the committee members unanimously voted him in as the new chairman of the financial committee—an appointment he graciously accepted.
Bob Coldeen, one of the members of the 1990 Micronesian Games committee, said that he believes that the CNMI can host the event based upon his experience working with the community with large-scale events in the past.
“There was a whole lot of optimism and there was a whole lot of volunteer spirit, and so the Games were able to be accomplished without a whole lot of money but with a whole lot of time invested… I say it could happen. I’m sure it could happen. I know that I speak on behalf of baseball, but it does not take a whole lot of money,” he said.
Coldeen said that baseball is just about all ready to have the Games today and that other than a few repairs to Francisco M. Palacios Baseball Field, the CNMI is all set to playball.
“We have a beautiful field and just need some baseballs. We’ll have volunteer umpires and volunteer scorekeepers. The field is ready to go. The field itself is first rate. We don’t have a grandstand, but we didn’t have a grandstand in 1990. We didn’t have a grandstand for the Mobil Games and there were more than 1,000 people here and it was a huge success…after the lights are fixed, the field is ready to host the tournament,” he said.
Another key factor is that some of the committee members remain either disinterested or incapable of accomplishing their assigned tasks. Rather than dwell on their dereliction of duties, the organizers agreed to find the people that will make the Micro Games their priority.
As a remedy to that, Frances Sablan was also welcomed to the committee to help the organizers reel in volunteers for the Games, and she pledged her complete support to the effort.
Rather than discuss the implausibility for Saipan, one by one, the committee members came together to figure out how to host the Games on home turf this summer.
While pleased with the rise in spirits, Villagomez said that she was still displeased with the current status of the efforts, and said that she is scheduled to report to the governor “the state where the committee is at the moment and their process for preparing for the Micro Games.”
“Unfortunately, key committee chair persons have not been participating, so in this essence, the actual status of key areas kind of leads us to wonder if we are able to continue to host the Micro Games. At the same time I see that there is a plea for the Games to continue and that people are willing to come forth and do their part to have the Micro Games proceed here in June. With taking all of that into consideration, it’s a matter of waiting for these reports and trying to make that decision this week.
It’s a tough position to come in where things have already have been committed, and hoping to have seen more progress than where the committee is at considering the magnitude of the event and the timeframe that we’ve been given. Minus elections and minus transition, those things should have continued to go on since, as mentioned, that the majority of the individuals are not government employees,” she said.