Food: Center of culture

We live on an island where food is central to our culture. It is the first thing we offer a visitor as a gesture of goodwill. It is the meal of unity we find at the family dinner table daily. It gives us renewed strength to reset buttons, meeting new challenges.

Though a believer in rugged individualism, I equally understand that such principle needs a break to rein in empathy for those who, despite their honest efforts, are stuck in the swamp of poverty. I have had my share of hunger in poverty and so I’ve not only met the beast, I lived it more than 50 years ago.

Launch pad: Of course, there are those who’ve used the various forms of assistance temporarily. I’ve seen some who’ve successfully exited their conditions after completing and securing rock solid college education.

So assistance or freebies isn’t necessarily the feeding ground for dependency. It has served a useful purpose as launch pads for a brighter and meaningful future. I’ve seen how this has worked successfully for some of our own people.

Having walked the deep valleys of poverty, I know what it’s like going to school with faucet water for breakfast and lunch. I know the depth of hunger and helplessness for I have literally lived it.

The punishing pain in my tummy and dizziness isn’t fitting tools negotiating hunger while struggling to listen to my teacher. Not ready to sacrifice the fate and wellbeing of children in need of healthy nutrition. Therefore, my principle takes the back seat!

And the economy being in shambles, we should thank Kilili for finding more money for food stamps. His effort would feed some 2,709 families throughout the holiday season. Si yuus maase, Kilili!

Fishing? We do net fishing, corral fishing, spear fishing, and offshore fishing. But there’s the Sisyphean (repetitious) form of local fishing that is as fascinating as it is humiliating. But we do it anyway until we begin questioning our own awareness.

It’s fishing for a teeny fish called “dohdu” underneath large rocks inside the reef. The nice thing about it, though, is that it gives you that sense of superficial stature as a real fisherman. Love the act where we don goggles, spear guns and fins to chase after a sea dwarf. Unless one uses a net the trip is usually empty. But we repeat the same feat, if only to feed our ego!

It’s a near perfect metaphor when mirrored against politicians here. Their myopic view is limited to tiny fish, fearful of big game beyond the reef. Interesting how they’ve created their own inhibitive view as to ignore issues of substance. Eh, call me the next time you want to chase dohdu, yeah?

Quizzing: My friend Magoo was all smiles, saying he hates fitting the shoes of incumbents on both sides of the street on the hill.

“Each is looking worried sick at the landscape for next year (2018), wary they did nothing to help our people improve their quality of life”, he pointed out.

“With 14,000-plus employees stuck and suffocating under poverty income level and below, how do you justify re-election?” he asked.

“While they threw a piece of meatless bone or 5 percent to civil servants, they quickly filled their pockets with the 80 percent increase in their salaries,” he pointed out.

“Five percent while throwing over 56-percent increase in hospital fees?” he asked. “The 5 percent is a laughable amount when there’s the quick turnaround, forcing some 56-percent increase in hospital fees against struggling and hardworking people.”

These hot button issues would make the trip to the campaign trail a disconcerting visit. The pounding of the heavy waves or narrative of dissatisfaction from the villagers awaits them. Should be an interesting discussion against their polished and illustrious “Do-Nothing” trophy.

Suspect confidence among the troops grants the superficial feeling that the Arc of Victory is yours once again. But the narrative that is now a mouthwash in the villages should begin appearing on your radar screen. As fact and fiction is segregated, you’d begin seeing that the goal post in the Arc of Victory has been moved beyond your reach. Big problem, braddah!

Endurance: As the elected elite party up with their new salary increase of some $31,600 in a single stroke, civil servants would make do with a huge piece of bone from the abusive pockets of Da Boysis.

The resiliency and quietude, though, is difficult to assume as acceptance. No señor! Don’t take people as complete fools. We know our issues and equally know how you’ve filled your pockets while ignoring the needs of hardworking folks on these isles.

Your irrelevant gamesmanship is the very thing that would sink your canoe! We know that one plus one is two. What formula did you use to arrive at 80?

Pests: Fruit flies have rendered permanent fruit trees here basically useless. Now the rhino beetle has begun its devastating destruction on Rota.

This needs a more aggressive approach to block its spread NMI-wide, especially the rhino beetle. Imagine the destruction of our tree of life—coconut—being eaten to oblivion, rendering it useless. Plus it’s the tree so closely associated to an island.

I know DNLR has stepped up to the plate, reviewing the situation on Rota. But this requires the governors of both jurisdictions to meet and see what paradigms could be taken jointly to prevent any further spread of destructive pests.

It may be a difficult imposing requisite measures but if necessity dictates it then all must understand what’s at stake.

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John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.

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