Sea of Discontent

The ill wind of unbridled change and the accompanying deteriorating effects in the quality of life on the islands has become an issue of serious discontent among our people in the villages. The simple folks know something’s not right, an intuitive sentiment that merits sober discussion, if only to put things in perspective.

What’s known as “temperamental” growth may have generated minimal revenues touted as economic improvement and as a result it gave a 42-percent salary increase across the board. But how do you mirror this as factually truthful when some 13,000-plus employees are earning poverty level income and below?

In other words, the simple folks are supposed to be recipients of such improvement but at day’s end, it isn’t found in the family purse beyond the pages of the newspaper. It’s simple: break down the so-called “economic improvement” to see whether it has realistically improved the buying power of villagers.

While temperamental growth may help politicos fan the fire of a highly superficial economy, it’s good to retreat to see if such suspect tidings have reached families throughout the CNMI. It’s an issue that deals with family wellbeing so far removed from spouts of growth that is grandly missing. It hasn’t improved the buying power of families for basic needs. Did you get that, pal?

Have we finally settled land compensation? Isn’t this a tale of fiscal inadequacy?

There emerges the “Sea of Discontent” that has inundated the islands with the fatal drowning water of hardship in every corner. It’s one difficult path to navigate when towering waves of dissatisfaction head to shore. At day’s end I quiz: Is disorientation the apparent hallmark of our future?

Assessment: Former chief justice Jose Dela Cruz shared his view of the journey of the CNMI over the last 40 years. It isn’t very encouraging; a view I fully share for obvious reasons. We’ve allowed paradise to head down the path of self-destruction. Must slam the brakes!

Foremost is the self-inflicted election and appointment of people who aren’t necessarily qualified for the posts they now occupy. I also sense a grand scheme of nepotism all over government departments and agencies. I should be able to secure the names and publish it in the near term.

How sad too the shift in representation from folks who live in villages to those who wine and dine around Garapan nightly. It’s a new political fad where business friends come first over the poor folks who elected you into office. We’ll get to your names for publication soon.

Like former chief justice Jose Dela Cruz asserted, one would have to be blind not to see the elitist politics of filthy local politicians. Yes, it is understood the mad scramble to ignore your people in favor of serving as lapdogs of business associates.

Humiliating how quickly you abandon your commitment to improve the livelihood of the people you represent. Representation has morphed into a lame query, “How far do you want me to jump, sir?”

I also share his assertion that the quality of leadership has gone south. With skills limited to the wherewithal of a redundant receptionist, how is the elected and appointed elite supposed to understand the huge shift to policymaking requiring serious credentials?

Issues: The NMI Constitution limits the use of Mañagaha Island for cultural and recreational purposes. But it has been leased to tour companies for profit. Sure, it is making money but where in specific constitutional provision did it say it could be leased?

A lot of issues have been rammed down our throats even in open violation of constitutional dictates. Isn’t it time we pull this mess up and begin questioning decisions made, including the lease of Mañagaha when its use is limited to cultural and recreational purposes? Or am I reading Article XIV, Section 2 wrong?

Revisionist: Dr. Laura M. Torres Souder, a history professor at the University of Guam, challenged participants recently to write history that is based on the indigenous experience. It’s a pertinent suggestion that we must embrace with the conviction that we tell our stories ourselves.

If history is an impression of the writer, what grand opportunity it is to support the timely recommendation to revise misgivings how foreign writers have inflicted injustice to our cultural traditions. To illustrate a point, an islander professor of history addressed how European writers have depicted the hula dance for purposes of luring visitors to Hawaii. No one ever explained the spiritual aspect of hula.

To ignore direct role revising historical misperception is to acquiesce allowing dispossession to sink even further beyond recognition. Haunani Kay Trask, professor of Hawaiian Studies, fittingly related, “To be Hawaiian, or Hawaiian at heart,” is not a cultural construction, not an ethical choice; rather, it is a matter of genealogy that 200 years of colonization (in this case, Americanization) has failed to eradicate.

Here at home, we’ve read about our culture in history books penned by a drunken sailor aboard Magellan’s ship. With a glass of whiskey at sunset at the bow he looked inland and wrote of islanders’ savagery running naked, among others. We have the word “clothes” in Chamorro and though “thoo” (loincloth it may be) our ancestors weren’t naked. He never realistically saw the issue through our prism beyond embellishing his misperception. We’re victims of his embellishment!

Refalawasch family picnic: The Refalawasch Association would hold a family picnic this Sunday at the Minachom Atdau pavilion from 9am to 3pm, according to its president, Ambrosio Ogumoro. It’s an opportunity to revive real Refalawasch fellowship and unity among Carolinians here. The occasion would feature a keynote speaker followed by lunch and entertainment for young and old. If you have time make it a point to join the group.

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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