Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, September 11th

I See The Light
Cultural differences
I was biking and stopped by Tanapag Beach over the weekend and saw a group of swimmers out for some exercise as a group. Twenty or so were swimming and about 10 were cheering them on and acting as moral support from the sidelines back at the beach hut. I sat and chatted with them while my son frolicked with some of their kids in the shallow waters normally utilized by my friends and neighbors from the beautiful village of Tanapag.

The conversation came around to trash on the beach when my son found an old flashlight battery on the sand. The beachside rooters were quick to condemn the tossing of broken glass and these batteries out on the beach and in the water and indicated their disgust at such behavior. Some noted that it seemed to be a lost cause trying to instill a sense of value in the cleanliness of ‘those people’s own and only resource’.

As we spoke, I couldn’t help noticing that the group of swimmers, mostly mainlanders, but a somewhat mixed group including only one or two local folks blithely swam up to the living reef just off the beach. Instead of swimming around it they climbed up and all twenty of them walked across the reef stomping the corals and smashing the delicate sea life as they went. Unbeknownst to them they were also taking a pretty big risk as there are many stone fish that dwell on that reef and to step on one brings unbelievable pain and suffering to an adult and possibly even death to a child. They were lucky. None stepped on a poisonous fish, none were cut seriously by the corals on the swim out or on their way back where their entire group once again trudged right across the reef. The sea life was probably not quite so lucky.

I learned some lessons from this. I think each of us living here can learn from others living here that have different cultural backgrounds.

I am not endorsing litter as a way to improve our ocean resources. I am not implying that swimming for your health is bad. I’m not trying to say that the ‘rooters’ mentioned above are racial bigots. I am not trying to say that the swimmers went out there with the intent to destroy part of that living coral reef. They are good folks just out for fun and some good exercise.

What I am trying to point out is that there are cultural differences among the good folks living here on Saipan and we can benefit from them. We can learn from each other and we can continue to coexist in peaceful harmony with respect for the land and the water and the cultures of the people who have lived here for hundreds, even thousands of years.

I have lived in Tanapag for several years and don’t think I have ever seen any of my Carolinian or Chamorro friends and neighbors walk on that reef. Come to think of it I have never seen any of them throw their trash on the beach either, but there is sure some litter there from time to time so someone is tossing it. Whoever you are, please stop. (I’m betting they are not Tanapaguvians).

The local Carolinian fishermen see the lagoon as a resource. A place to find food to eat and a place to bring their family to recreate and to renew their kindred spirit with the sea and the land. Haoles tend to see the lagoon as a resource for personal recreation and by extension as a tourist industry draw, or as an ecological resource. Both views can be correct, but only so long as we all protect the resource and use it wisely.

I’m headed for the beach!
* * * *
The Light House

Last week it was suggested that a casino could be opened and its profits used to provide funds for electric power and water production throughout the CNMI. If the ‘Casinos on Saipan’ election initiative is passed by the voters this coming November, one of the casinos granted permission to operate under the new licensing program could have it’s proceeds go mainly to that dedicated program.

As I understand it the one and only license will be granted to a locally owned corporation such as occurs in most Native American gaming venues Stateside. The licensee then grants permission to various groups to operate, build and/or develop multiple casinos in new or existing 200 plus room hotels.

Just think if one of those casinos granted permission to operate was owned by the companies and families who use electric power and water. It could be operated by a management company hired for that purpose and staffed by those same local power users. The result could be free power and water for all the residents and businesses of the CNMI. Jobs would be generated, pride reinstilled in our infrastructure and a cutting edge precedent set for smaller communities around the world to take matters into their own hands and let others pay for their utilities and have a good time while doing so.

It could be called the Light House Hotel and Casino. It could become a shining beacon (did he really say that?) for responsible energy use and conservation practices. A modest convention center could be built to attract groups from like minded communities to come and see our way of using the gaming business to power our homes and offices, our industry and government buildings, and our small businesses.

This could work.
* * * *

Speaking of lighthouses
Angelo Villagomez, spurred on by an envelope full of small change donated by some school children, spearheaded a crew of 50 or so multicultural volunteers to paint the Japanese era lighthouse on Navy Hill over the weekend. Thanks!

I visit there from time to time for the view and the sense of history and am always bummed out by the ever increasing layer of graffiti on the walls. These people have started the process to correct that and make it look nice again. The brigade of volunteers used paint supplied by a donation to Beautify CNMI by the Marianas Visitors Authority. Thanks to both of those groups too! The job is about half done. Please join the volunteers who will finish the job a couple of weeks from now.
* * * *
More next week about the Casino Initiative and how it might affect us if it passes.

Quote of the week: To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less
important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves. –Aldous Huxley, novelist (1894-1963)


Boni said...

Growing up in my family, we were always required to stay behind and clean up after ourselves. We went everywhere, the beach, the yard, the park with trash bags and cleaning supplies.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

I got the same treatment, Boni, growing up in, on and around the water in Florida. If I was foolish enough to throw anything on the ground, picking it back up would be the fun part, after my Dad got done "explaining" it to me.

I think most kids grow up nowdays with those lessons. As usual it is a small minority of people that make a mess for others to clean up. Trash or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Gimme me a break! If they are at the Tanapag beach area the reef is too far for them to reach by foot. If they are swimming just off the beach, there is no living coral - it is all rocks. Yes, there is sea life but not much, if any, living coral. Finally, if they were "stomping the corals" then they would have had to had on shoes so why worry about the "deadly" stone fish. Got to be a better use of ink and paper for the trib.

Anonymous said...

Stomping the corals and smashing the delicate sea life??? I was there and you could not be more wrong with the information that you wrote! The Saipan Tribune should look for someone who is an attribute to our islands than someone who tries to kiss the rear ends of us locals. AND there were more 'locals' on the swim than you noted. Yes, this is our island and you seem too foolish about your 'expertise' on our beaches. Sound racist? Just imitating the tone of your usless and ignorant information. 'Know it alls' like you really do need to GET A LIFE!

Bruce A. Bateman said...

As usual, the ones doing the damage don't have the balls to post with their identities.

Anon #1 has obviously never swam over the close reef at high tide and seen that there are plenty of corals and lots of sea life there.

Nony, aka chicken shit #2, feels insulted that someone called him, and his cohorts on the ridiculous act of walking across the reef en masse like a herd of lemmings. Whether you are a local or a frigging Martian, slogging across the reef with your hiking buddies is wrong. If you want to swim, swim. If you want to hike, go to the woods.

Rick Northen said...

Bruce, I would guess by the time of your reply that you have jsut closed the bar. Interesting state of mind to reply I would think. Replied anonymous because the option was available and because some people have too much free time to play with these silly blogs and I didn't want to have to go back and forth like I am now doing - last time though.

I have dove and snorkeled the site you are so familiar with?? probably 100 times more than the number of drinks you had tonight. No reef there, only rocks. Some sea life though as I mentioned in my first response. For your 2nd reply - the young kids just wanted to practice there swimming and it was low tide. They had to walk to a suitable depth to swim AND they were walking on sand and rock(NO REEF). Again you have way too much free time to pick on some young kids that want to practice swimming at Tanapag beach.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Thanks Rick for replying in person.

I too have snorkled and swum that section many times. The first section is mostly sand until the water deepens at the 'channel'. Then it shallows and goes up on a reef, yes, reef. There are corals and all manner of other sea creatures growing on that reef. Yes a lot of it is rock and long dead coral but that is how reefs are composed.

There is a clear and swimmable channel around the south side of that reef and into an oblique deeper water slough that leads out to the Sea Walker Boat the swimmers went to. There is no need, even at low tide to walk across that section of inner reef.

Some were youngsters, many were adults. Whoever was leading should know the difference.

Come on over and we'll go snorkle that section when the tide is up. There are some great spots out there and especially the section out toward the Sea Walker.

Meanwhile, it is a simple matter to choose "other" and put in your name when responding to these blog posts instead of going through the whole registration process if that is too time consuming.

Lastly, not a thing wrong with swimming practice at Tanapag Beach or anywhere else for that matter. There is something wrong with teaching these kids and their adult counterparts that walking on a reef is the way to get the best swimming results...or that walking on the reef is a reasonable action at any time. I say it is not. Swim across or if the water is too shallow, swim around.

Anonymous said...

This is Nony, aka chicken shit #2 (as you referred to me) So what if I was TAGA himself?? Or the KING of the Sea... What does it matter, who I am?? I do not feel the need to post my identity. I am NOT the one with the identity crisis!
Also, I was not, nor were my 'cohorts' a part of that swim! So, we were not "walking across the reef en masse like a herd of lemmings" like you accused us of doing. Nor were the swimmers! You were too quick to draw negative conclusions... We all saw it happen from the other side of the beach and the consensus among us 'locals' was that it was great to see a number of our young do something positive with their Saturday morning instead of spending their time indoors watching tv! What really gets me is that you seem not to promote the positive, but live and dwell on the false negative (Your most recent accuasions of "the kids being taught that walking on the reef is the way to get the best swimming results" are outrageous and absurd)!
Move on man!
P.S. I have said my piece, I am done. ANONYMOUS

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Dear KING of the sea: The positive point that seems to elude you here is that the reef out there is an incubator that nurtures sea life that we all enjoy and need to sustain human life here directly or indirectly.

Those 20 people sure didn't destroy the reef or even do significant damage with 40 foot falls times however may steps it took to cross that 150 feet of reef times two crossings.

But if they had swum around instead of walking as their leaders showed them, for sure no damage would have been done.

I don't know how many thousands, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people swim in the waters off Saipan each year, but if we can keep some of them from further damaging our lagoon and our reef systems that will be a positive thing indeed.

Finally, I agree with you that for the few kids that were there, and for the youth and adults in that group as well, all were better off spending a morning in exercise and in enjoying the sea instead of playing video games or watching TV as you posited.

Thanks for reading Sour Grapes and thanks for reminding me that positives outweigh negatives.

I'm done too.