Thursday, June 25, 2009

Long Live the King

I am sad to hear that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson has passed away at 50 years of age. There are no details yet about his death, but I just feel really bummed that an icon of the music era that I grew up in passed away at such a young age. Sure there were questions and controversies surrounding his life, but I can never forget being amazed by his talent as a singer, dancer and songwriter.

Long Live the King! Rest in peace, MJ. Thank you.

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Mystery Solved

Have you ever seen this painting?Chances are slim unless you frequent the laboratory or the dialysis unit at the Commonwealth Health Center. I've often wondered about this painting because of the curious rock formation jutting as the focal point of the picture. Where is this place? Is it a real place or is it made up? If it is a real place on Saipan, how come I haven't seen it? If it is made up, why paint such a curious formation? No one I asked at the hospital could give me any answers about the curious painting.

I've had the bug to go hiking this past Sunday because I wasn't able to go hiking with my church family to Forbidden Island. Hayden Luke turned a year old and he had his party on the same day. So, Sunday morning I was ready for an adventure.

I asked Laurina and DJ if they wanted to go exploring in some place new. The mother and son team is always ready to go so, we grabbed some breakfast, packed some fruits, snacks and some drinks for a full day of hiking. Here's the pair making their way down a steep descent in the trail to Old Man by the Sea.
The false rattan (Flagellaria indica) were in bloom.
So were the Sea hibiscus or what the locals call Pago (Hibiscus tiliaceus)
The mature flowers of Pago are orange-pink while the younger are bright yellow. The leaf litter had yellow petals strewn here and there that looked as if previous hikers went down the trail puling them off and discarding them.
I need a tropical fungi guidebook, but I've seen these white ones before and they are usually attached to rotting wood.
The Sumac or (Aidia cochinchinensis) were also displaying their pretty and fragrant blooms.

When we finally made it down to the beach, the tide was really low. Buenas, Old Man!

The sea seemed somewhat calm due to the negative tide, but always be careful at this part of the beach and beyond the reef flat. The currents are dangerous and the waves are unpredictable.
We went through this hole...
Headed for the boulders on the north side of the beach...
Squeezed in between the rocks...

Finally reached the "wall"!
After testing the rope and assessing the difficulty level of the climb, it was gut check time for both Laurie and DJ. After praying for safety, the two struggled with whether or not this was a climb they would want to risk. I positioned myself as best as I could to assist midway the top. DJ tried first but after the first 6 feet, he got scared because it was really high and quite sheer. I thought that I would have to go on alone on this one, but after a minute or two, he psyched himself into trying again. He even assured his mom by saying, "Just clear your mind, mom. Embrace the darkness." Laurina and I had a good laugh.
Laurina is also very afraid of heights which worried me. The two did well though and were all smiles when they got to the top. I made them look down the wall and told them that they need to mentally prepare themselves for the climb down later. After a few minutes of following a trail, we finally reached our destination.
Welcome to Saipan's Second Grotto!
The Second Grotto is a collapsed limestone cavern. You can hear the sea surging in and out even though you couldn't see the water from above. There were some nice stalagmites, stalactites, drip and flowstones, and even a pair of White-tailed Tropic birds (Phaethon lepturus) nesting within. The Chamorro name is Fagpi-apa'ka or Fakpe. They were clearly warning us to stay away with their calls that soundeds like keee-keee-krrt-krrt-krrt. Their extra long central tail feather always amazes me!
It was amazing to see the huge hole that used to be a cave really. This was a good opportunity to talk stories with DJ about his interest in rocks, gems and geology.
Can you see her at the bottom right of this picture? This place is huge! It reminded me of the huge sink hole close to the Hilton Hotel on Guam that my friend Brian and I used to visit.Time to climb out! After a drink and snack break, it was time to go. The two were too tired to look for the cave entrance that would lead us 20 feet into the cavern so we just spent time exploring the outside and looked at the awesome vista.
The view from the outside. Aha! This is what made it click! The mystery!

This is a view of a possible underwater access to the Second Grotto. There is evidence of cliff fishing here which is pretty sad because people leave their trash where they fish. Pick up after yourselves, messy people!
Can you see the Haggan (green sea turtle). It was taking in gulps of air directly under the cavern roof!

The seaside view.
Caveman DJ at one of the interesting holes cliffside.

After the viewing, it was time to climb out.I can see the back of the head of the Old Man now!
After this hike, it was hot and we had the urge to go swimming so we decided to go to Tanke Beach, Kagman. We will save that adventure for another story.

Monday morning came and I just had to look at the painting again at CHC. The mystery of the painting was solved!
I hope you enjoyed talking stories once again. Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Monday, June 1, 2009

MMAC: Themes & Painting

The annual Marianas March Against Cancer came about again on Friday, May 22 through Saturday, May 23. My friend Sean blogged about this year's event but could not post any pictures because he forgot his camera. Thanks to Tenta for the pictures within this post.

Ed and I were given the task to come up with a theme for our group. I didn't think that that involved the actual making of the tent decorations but it did give me a chance to pick up a paintbrush and paint. I've got to admit that I am pretty rusty.
We picked the theme Heroes and played with what that word means to people. Super heroes are popular in movies right now, as well as the the T.V. series. When it comes to cancer though, anyone can do something and be a hero. So we played with the idea that a family member can be a hero to someone that is suffering; a child can tell an adult that smoking isn't good for their health; doctors, nurses, and social workers can be heroes; a cancer survivor is a hero. So people liked the idea and bought into it, but in all honesty, I am just always looking for an excuse to dress up as a hero character! There was a lot of art to be done and I have to give props the people who contributed to the effort.
The idea for the boards that were to be displayed at the front of our MMAC tent was to put silhouettes of people interspersed with familiar hero figures.
Here's Tenta giving it a go with the painting.

Here's Aling giving it a go. Looks like the black silhouettes are almost done on this board.Ed is more usually comfortable with a microphone and guitar in hand but he openly explored the visual arts side of his creativity here.

There was freehand painting as well as stenciling. Ed's face mask started looking like a yarmulke after a while. Was it the paint vapours or something else?
Final touches by Jeremy. Aling insisted that we have his favorite super hero character, Spiderman. I thought it was a pretty cool idea to have him in an acrobatic pose and wearing casuals.The boards finally finito!

De coup de grĂ¢ce! I thought it would be funny to have this logo, and insisted that we needed to have it to tie the theme all together. Turned out nice huh?

Load up and off you go to the MMAC!
Carrying the boards during the parade. We also made these "sound bubbles" playing off the "PoW!" and "Ka-Boom!" graphics from comic books. Our lovely ladies: Sheena, Dianne, Tenta and Margaret!

Here's Manang America! I really wanted more people to dress up. I came as Reed Richards since my Thor costume did not make it in time.

Holding up Mjolnir, our baton: that's Kilili having his turn as the Cap after his mom.

The event was a success. This was a small opportunity to get back into drawing and painting, so I think I will commit some time filling up a couple of canvases during my free time. Kudos to everyone who helped to make this a fun and satisfying event! See you next year!

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber