NAP once more


It was a confirmation of my man ‘amko forgetfulness when I was reminded that I was not receiving $82 but $86 worth of food stamps. I was a day late for the second pick up. Being elderly helped; care providers were friendly; they served with a smile.

I had hope that after the third draw, NAP would be no more than a pleasant memory to me. Well, I did not recuperate as fast, so I asked my social worker to extend my drawing privilege to another two quarters. We might not need to draw the sixth month, too, as my friends and kin alike asked us to be prudent and plan on the sixth draw anyway, to insure a smooth transition between assistance and the resumption of sufficient income.

We do not expect a rapid transformation of our fortune from penury today to luxury tomorrow. In fact, it might take a while to get to the point where I can freely breathe, or, at least, be relaxed while heavily breathing.

The island has not quite recovered from Soudelor, and I noticed that the office of the Principal at Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School is still on the stage of the school cafeteria rather than the comfort of a reconstructed administration building.

The PSS BoE building will have to wait for the budget to catch up with the required materials to calm down Soudelor’s fury. The board meets at Capitol Hill meanwhile, even as the CNMI government tries very had to repair public conveyances since there is no shortage of infused emergency funds into the main system. With the abundance of CWs on construction and the sufficient number of public and private projects to absorb the workers, it looks like we are still way behind in the recuperating effort after the storm.

Repairing a broken water pipe alone on the incline coming down from NMC on Msgr. Guerrero to the lagoon has created gridlock during rush hour, and even with portable evening lights installed, the work and the slowdown signs on the road remains. All told, the CNMI government can only account for 80 percent accomplishment of goals they had hoped to get done by December 2015.

Living in the Pacific, I have long ago learned to go by coconut time: when it is ripe, it will fall! We are not creatures of Europe that insist on accomplishing goals on “time.” The “when” might be important to the bankers but the roles we play and where we do them are just as important to Oriental friends.

Time as the elliptical movement of the sun against the constellations, measured first by the Egyptians and adopted by the Romans and the Greeks, formalized by Pope Gregory in our current calendar in the 16th century, revised from the Julian calendar developed at the turn of the millennium anno domini, all focused on the sun’s trek in the sky, and notably the four seasons of the northern hemisphere but unintelligible in the dry and wet seasons of the tropics.

The moon says more where we are at in the East; I did pause for the solar eclipse March 9 but the clouds hovered over the island and the darkness was not as pronounced as it might have been were the eclipse total and foreboding. Sinosphere goes with the lunar time; like the Jewish Passover, the moon determines time; the New Year of the Orient also goes with the moon. The mandate of heaven follows the lunar cycle rather than that of the sun.

The Oriental Zodiac follows the characters of animals acting like humans (except the illusory Dragon), or as the West projected human characteristics to Zeus, the animal Zodiac are also noted for their human qualities and behavior.

While none of the foregoing directly relates to our NAP draw, it shows our confidence towards sufficiency knowing that the system is in place where we can call on public services to meet our temporary needs.

On the other hand, our European brainwashing makes it clear to me that dependency on a public service for a long time is detrimental not only to our immediate mental health but more importantly, to the integrity of the public programs themselves. If we rely on them without understanding that it is within our purview to know that coconut gets ripe and falls, then we miss out on the services’ quality and develop dependency.

Anyway, after the third draw, we saw the possibility of long-term work with the Public School System. To be sure, I will be munching my oatmeal with first graders at PSS but what better way to keep the brain cells active than to pit one’s wit and sense of humor with those just starting to learn in a classroom setting?

We intend to let student realize that they started learning before they were born and continues ‘till they die. The academic nature to regimented sheltered instructions can stifle creativity but we intend to learn how our curriculum folks accelerate the reading-writing skills of our learners, and get students to learn how to learn.

So, whether we take a fourth draw or wait ‘till after the sixth, I intend to earn enough to pay taxes and keep NAP in being, but the assistance should no longer be my call, and I intend to keep it that way!

Jaime R. Vergara | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Jaime Vergara previously taught at SVES in the CNMI. A peripatetic pedagogue, he last taught in China but makes Honolulu, Shenyang, and Saipan home. He can be reached at

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