Tuesday, July 17, 2007

112. The CNMI (and Guam) in D.C.

I visited Washington, D.C. for 10 days in early July.

Each year, Guam and the CNMI cooperate together and host a ceremony and reception around July 10th. Technically, the purpose is to commemorate Guam's liberation. They had an early morning wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and a changing of the guards. I missed that (not being a morning person. I would have had to catch the metro-train by 7:30 AM to make it on time. Not while I'm on vacation!) So I missed that portion of the CNMI/Guam event in D.C.

And then on July July 11, there was an evening reception at the Cannon Office Building.

Madeline Bordallo acted as emcee, while Pete A. said a few words and greeted dignitaries. It was a very happening event. More than a dozen Representatives from the House came by. David Cohen was there, as was Alan Staymen. My daughter, niece and I attended at the invitation of Francisco Taitano, who is now at the Marianas Desk at the Department of Interior. His wife, Vicki (my former co-worker), was there, too, but lost to me in the crush. The crowd was mostly Guamanians, although there were some Saipanese also on hand (like the Saures clan, relocated to D.C.). And of course, there were a large number of young interns and other political staffers.

Although the acoustics were terrible, there was a running commentary from Mrs. Bordallo, introducing all the muckety-mucks as they showed up. And there was other entertainment, too. There was a short film of WWII in the Pacific. Very similar to what you can see at the Memorial Park museum in Saipan.

And there was island dancing. My daughter was disappointed that Guam brought a troupe of young dancers, but Saipan did not. (She would have loved to be among the performers.)

Of course, there was food. My niece said the food was not as good as at home, although it looked familiar--red rice, titiyas, chicken kelaguen, pancit, cucumber coco.

They marine band played a few songs, and we all stood for the U.S. national anthem, the Guam anthem and the Marianas anthem (cut short-no Carolinian version-to accommodate the schedule), followed by a flag ceremony. And then we continued standing because it was that kind of reception.

The Guam Visitors' Bureau provided small shopping bags filled with a poster, brochures about visiting Guam, and a cool Micronesia decal. Again, the CNMI had nothing.

It seemed that the CNMI was a poor step-child in the whole proceeding. I think we can do better, should do better, must do better. We should jump on every possible occasion to promote our islands, showing them to their best advantage.

And it would be enormously helpful if we had a voting delegate in D.C.


Bruce A. Bateman said...

Hopefully our new on-site PR group will take care of some 'positive image' items as you suggest. It would be a refreshing change from the constant negative drumming we get from the Stayman/Miller camps.

Thanks for posting a synopsis.

Saipan Writer said...

It's funny you would say that. Who is our "on-site PR" group?

If you mean the lobbyist we're paying, I have little faith. We need a voting delegate--and for some unfortunate reason, our past governor, Froilan, had the CNMI government pay huge sums to PREVENT this from happening. I fear our current governor is doing the same.

The benefit of a voting delegate is that other elected leaders, like all those congressmen who came to the reception, suddenly take notice. They need to play nice with someone who votes. They can't just sit back and condemn.

And Stayman and Miller aren't negative about the CNMI per se, they're just down on some bad things that have happened here. We should be down on those bad things, too.

I WANT FEDERALIZATION! I think the CNMI is ready for it. I think we can swim in the federal waters and do well, better than we've done on our own, in our own little pool in the Pacific.

For example, we were co-hosts of this reception, but the CNMI didn't appear to be doing anything. Pete A. was there, smiling, working the crowd. But all of the congressmen addressed Madeline Bordallo, the voting delegate for Guam, and overlooked Pete A. I don't think it's his fault. But he doesn't count, we don't count, because we can't vote.

And I think it's a shame we're paying a lobbyist to argue against federalization. Federalization isn't just an increase in the minimum wage (which we desperately need). It's not just control over immigration (which we have sadly abused). It's being able to have a voting delegate. THAT'S WHAT OUR LOBBYIST SHOULD BE ARGUING.

Because I'm not alone. I'm not the only CNMI resident who wants federalization. There might even be more of us than there are of those who oppose it. We want to be heard, effectively, and live up to the standards of the U.S., because the CNMI is a wonderful place, and should be considered proudly as a part of the U.S.