Salute to Dave Peter


The last song Dave sang publicly was a beautiful rendition of May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You before sailing into the sunset. I understand he sang it with his sister Emmy, another very talented singer from a family of natural musicians.

Dave employed a unique blend of music using ukulele and slackey guitar or traditional instruments that give real affinity to the melodic essence and simplicity of island music. In fact, he succeeded in this respect and you can never mistake his signature sound in the music he’s recorded over the last 40 years. He set the unique monumental sound with his group, Rematau.

He was a natural in every sense of the word. When we sail away past the reef we could hear the echo of his music from the hills of these pearly isles. He reminds us to hurry back to the side of calm and tranquility of our island home. This is the strength of his melodic island music.

I usually listen to him whenever I yearn to head home once more to real island melodies. I always enjoy the smooth ring of slackey guitar and the unique tenor ukulele in his arrangements. I don’t particularly enjoy hasty adaptations by others that turn local music into a busy factory of translation in the work of others. Nah!

My friend is a local music icon with a great sense of humor. Be that as it may, I will best remember him with two songs he sang with another friend: For Your Love by Peaches and Herb and Yesterday by the four lads from Liverpool. Their superbly compatible voices had these songs so perfectly harmonized as duets with the Royals in the mid-’60s. That was the peak of our stint as musicians a long time ago at the dining room of the once famous Saipan Hotel on Navy Hill.

It was a journey that brought us close to joining Bob Hope with his USO show in Vietnam in 1968. It would have been a unique experience that included playing side-by-side with Les Brown and the orchestra. But we broke up the week we were to have signed the contract. To this day I still can’t figure out what derailed the entire plan. What a waste!

Yes, Dave, in your journey beyond the rainbow it’s our turn to sing, “May the good Lord bless and keep you” too braddah. Let our tears be sprayed in the immaculate white clouds of paradise to freshen the tropical breeze in the heavens as you ascend to join others on the other side of everlasting peace and tranquility. Si Yuus Maase yan ghilisow for the fond memories of yesteryears and the legacy you leave behind for posterity. Our prayers, ghilisow, adios yan Si Yuus Maase`. Si JR.

Our interim fiscal posture

The FY 2016 budget didn’t give any politician leapfrog advantage in any form or fashion. The idea to use it to upstage re-election bids soundly crashed even before take off—a comically approved package with salary raises that skip others while failing to fund the rest, not to mention constitutional violations. I suppose “haste” is a legislative wisdom.

Nonetheless, the action, however hasty, grabbed the attention of private and public sector employees who have to endure skyrocketing costs from health to real estate loans over the last 14 years, if not, more.

The salary and wage stagnancy (no increase for 14 long years) had public sector employees salivating for some form of help, any help! Unfortunately, there’s nothing up that alley.

Enduring cost: When health premiums went up, most everybody had to endure switch in health providers to the federally funded Medicaid, wrestle with added cost in health deductibles, basic goods, while still paying for the first family home, real estate insurance and family car and auto insurance plus other family obligations. Cost of family obligations went up, salaries remained the same.

You quiz how families have endured the hellish punishment all over. Personally, I failed to see with real clarity how families have ably navigated the rough seas of horrendous increase in cost while their income remains the same.

Or has our culture of communal sharing the hidden savior in family survival today? While food stamps may be viewed as a program that creates irrevocable dependency, how do you navigate feeding your family when leadership simply failed providing decent jobs that would allow you to bring home the bacon, so to speak? Nah! It’s a good program where none from home is available. Do you disagree?

The double whammy disaster has forced the NMI to begin anew from the very start. It means a huge drawback in revenue generation, though there’s a quick instant projection of reasonable revenue generation sustainability in the “mirror, mirror, on the wall.” With a superbly “depressed” economy could we afford any form of salary increase? Or would not this step prove to be more fiscally chaotic?

Crunching numbers: To illustrate a point, let’s take 80 percent of the projected $145 million in revenues that pans out to around $116 million. It leaves some $29 million for everything. Now give some $5.8 million for salary increases and you have a balance of some $23 million. CUC, CHC and PSS need nothing less than $150 million to survive the fiscal year. Do you see why an increase would be very risky?

It’s fitting to be a fiscal conservative, wary of the fragility, sensitivity and volatility of island economies. Reason? Revenue wild swing is as reliably erratic as the weather. Sure, it’s good to repeat, “let’s live within our means.” But what if we can’t even generate the basic amount to carry the day? This is the point all island governments must deal with in perpetuity! Ominous economic clouds constantly looming toward us. Thus the need to be mindful of spending habits.

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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