The end of an era and the start of a new one

Posted on Jul 12 2019

End of an era…

Raise your hand if you have never been to Managaha. Hey you, back in the back, put your hand down. I saw you at the Chief Aghurubw memorial celebration on Managaha last year. Sure, you have spent a few memorable days basking in the sun, walking the shady paths, snorkeling in the world’s No. 1 snorkel site, riding the banana boats and eating lunch at the food buffet up by the gift shop. Maybe you tied your small boat up to a buoy just offshore, with your tunes wafting you off to sleep as the waves gently rocked you. Maybe you rode the free-to-locals shuttle boat out to our beautiful little island a mile and a half offshore. As a kid you remember looking way up and waving to the lifeguard in the big yellow chair. As an adult you watched your own kids splashing in the roped off swimming area. You can smell the smoke of those many family beachside BBQ’s under the clean, neat pala palas, the smooth white sand squishing between your toes, taking a picture up by the big canon. Maybe you even camped out there.

You enjoyed the clean, well-organized small developed area and you enjoyed the clean well-groomed natural environment of the rest of that small island. You have Japanese company Tasi Tours to thank for those memories and experiences. Left by itself it would be a weed-choked overgrown spot eroding back into the lagoon instead of the paths being raked and every trace of litter being taken cared of by its long-term caretaker, Tasi Tours. I owe them a big thank you. You likely owe them one too. For sure, the CNMI tourism industry owes Tasi Tours management and staff a huge thank you for decades of tender loving care of our jewel in the lagoon, Managaha.

…and a new start

U-Top Investment is a joint venture of China-based U-Tour Group Co. Ltd., and CNMI-based Top Development Inc. or TDI. While they haven’t signed the Department of Public Lands lease yet, they are the presumptive new exclusive concessionaire for Managaha Island and have been officially notified as such by DPL.

We can only hope that they will love it and treat it as well as their multi-decade predecessor. I am confident they will let rational self-interest induce them to do the right thing, the first-class thing with the management and execution of their new concession. You’ll be seeing a lot of us local residents pretty often. You’ll be the frontline representing CNMI tourism to nearly every visitor that shows up on Saipan. U-Top, please make us as proud of you as we are of our jewel in the lagoon, Managaha Island. Thanks.

Mayor Dave un-tires

Mayor Dave has done the right thing by getting rid of the painted tires, the used plastic planters and the cut-in-half water bottles that were adorning our island’s “landscaping.” Nice job redirecting your crews to plant those beautiful flowers in the ground where they belong, Mayor. The traffic islands and roadside displays look great now. I also see a lot more and a lot more frequent landscape maintenance going on and that makes our beautiful island look a lot better than before. Our visitors see beautiful flowers and many well-maintained landscaped areas now. That makes them want to come back. Thanks!

It is also nice to see the collaboration between Mayor Dave and MVA to keep up several of the major road intersection “mini-gardens.” These kind of projects require the money that is due by law to MVA to be paid to them by the central government’s Finance Department. Without funding they are weed-ridden eyesores instead of beautiful little gardens. Kudos to both the Mayor and MVA for cooperating on this project. Finally, we hope that you don’t re-tire from your job as Mayor anytime soon, Mayor Dave.

In addition to the SMO, the Parks and Rec department and DPW also help maintain our roadsides and traffic islands. Those of us lucky enough to live here will be doing our part to help keep things clean and neat. There are ongoing beach cleanups and many other organized events set up to help keep our islands clean. Most important is our own individual responsibility not to litter.

Excerpts from Marie Castro’s book

Born on Saipan, Marie Castro has written an excellent short book recounting the highlights of Amelia Earhart’s time on Saipan as recounted by local resident eyewitnesses and by U.S. military witnesses. These excerpts from Marie Castro: My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy are reprinted here with permission from the author:

In 1962 Joaquina M. Cabrera was interviewed by [author Fred] Goerner. “Mrs. Joaquina M. Cabrera brought us closer to the woman held at the Kobayashi Royokan [Hotel] than any other witness,” Goerner wrote. 

At the Cabrera home in Chalan Kanoa, Goerner and several others, including Fr. Arnold Bendowske and Sylvan Conover, and Ross Game, editor of the Napa (California) Register and longtime Goerner confidant “crowded into the front room…and listened to her halting recital.” Joaquina described her job as that of a laundress for the Japanese guests and prisoners kept there:

“One day when I came to work, they were there…a white lady and man. The police never left them. The lady wore a man’s clothes when she first came. I was given her clothes to clean. I remember pants and a jacket. It was leather or heavy cloth, so I did not wash it. I rubbed it clean. The man I saw only once. I did not wash his clothes. His head was hurt and covered with a bandage, and he sometimes needed help to move. The police took him to another place and he did not come back. The lady was thin and very tired.

Every day more Japanese came to talk with her. She never smiled to them but did to me. She did not speak our language, but I know she thanked me. She was a sweet, gentle lady. I think the police sometimes hurt her. She had bruises and one time her arm was hurt. …Then, one day…police said she was dead of disease.” [Dysentery, most likely.]


Next week I will cover part of an intriguing and most interesting chapter in Marie Castro’s book called “The American GI witnesses on Saipan” in which a number of military personnel give accounts of her airplane, personal effects, and of Amelia and Fred Noonan here on Saipan. These accounts come from many military sources from privates and even from generals and admirals. I was amazed to read about this and I think you will be interested too.

“Minds are like flowers; they open only when the time is right.”
—Stephen Richards

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.”
—Luther Burbank

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