Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A response to Mr. Propst

Letters to the Editor Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ai adai, Mr. Propst, you almost wrote a novel about Taotao Tano. Slow down, control that temper or you might just do a No. 2 in your pants. Anyway, I finally had some time to respond to you out of my busy pressing schedule. I normally don’t waste my time on nonproductive issues, but I thought I'd give you a response. You may not realize this but a common, ordinary, uneducated person such as myself really got you going. Now who's uneducated? You see, Ed, the thinking process of a common ordinary person will never be comparable to an educated person such as yourself for we are far more advanced. I read your novel and it's pretty sad that a kid like you who grew up in the CNMI and is supposedly educated completely went the opposite direction without further studies or research. It's almost as if you were in a battle waving a white flag, not knowing that the war had ended weeks ago.

The letters we had sent out were meant to distract you and your so-called blogger group, and we had the last laugh when you fell into our covert operation. You see, Ed, we believe that it is you that needs some educating because while you were busy writing a novel on Taotao Tano, we where hammering Wendy Doromal through the back doors of Washington, along with her instigators. This entire federal battle is not about the nonresident guest workers; it's about the political agenda behind the instigators involved in coercing innocent people into believing something that was only benefiting themselves in the end.

Did it ever occur to you that the nonresident workers had co-existed in harmony with our local people in our homeland for many years, some of us are godparents to their children, or Kumaries and Kumparies or in-laws? But when the DEKADA, Human Dignity and other foreign organizations surfaced, they created so much animosities, dissensions and divisions in our community. Did it ever occur to you that if we knew what was going on sooner and Taotao Tano had been born earlier, we would have all sat down and discussed these issues? Did ever occur to you that maybe we could have helped each other in many ways to improve everyone's standard of living here in our homeland? Instead we were all silent, entrusting our elected leaders that they were doing their jobs for years. Today, all of us including the nonresidents are left cleaning up the trash our leaders and their business associates left behind and as a matter fact some of them are still in office as we speak.

Mr. Propst, the United Nations is made up of different people from different nations and countries and they all come in circle to discuss major and detrimental issues affecting mankind and somehow they manage to conclude by a majority to deliver a sound stable solution as one people. As president of Taotao Tano I have no animosities against anyone in our homeland for we are all humans and we do not live in a perfect world and no one is perfect. It's all about the moral principle of this instigated and conspired fast-tracked federal legislation that concerns Taotao Tano the most. Do not be so gullible, Ed. Stop, look, listen and learn, because knowledge is power.

Gregorio Cruz Jr.
Taotao Tano CNMI Inc.

Thursday, February 7, 2008



Thursday February 7, 2008
Letters to the Editor
Friday, February 08, 2008

Stop the lies

I recently received an e-mail from Taotao Tano's Action Group, one which was as disturbing as it was contradictory. The e-mail states that HR 3079 “intends to deport ALL labor contract workers currently residing in the CNMI with no exceptions. This in itself is discriminatory. Our group here in the U.S. is working together with other advocacies that are opposing the bill. These groups will attack the bill specifically because it threatens the rights of immigrants’ rights.”

In the very next paragraph, Taotao Tano states “In the long term, the locals will eventually lose their voting powers and therefore the indigenous majority that control the government will lose it to the hands of non-indigenous U.S citizens.”

Hmmm, let me get this straight. According to Taotao Tano, we will have no contract workers in the CNMI, yet locals will lose their voting powers to non-U.S. indigenous citizens. Does this mean that the CNMI will be invaded and dominated by a foreign country in the near future? After all, Taotao Tano stated HR 3079 will “get rid of ALL labor contract workers.” If the CNMI no longer has any contract workers, how exactly will locals suddenly “lose their voting powers” and become a minority?

Sadly, the letter gets even more twisted. Taotao Tano goes on to say that once HR 3079 is signed into law, “We will eventually be forced to pay property tax.” The U.S. Federal Government is going to force us to pay property taxes? Taotao Tano, pot fabot, show me where HR 3079 affirms that we will eventually be forced to pay property taxes. This is either a boldfaced lie or a desperate attempt to build opposition to HR 3079, or a combination of both. The way I see it, if you are going to spread lies about HR 3079, why stop there? I say, go for the gold! Here are some other fabrications I would like to offer to Taotao Tano to use at their discretion:

- HR 3079 will cause cancer. Yes my friends, if HR 3079 is signed into law, the U.S. will put fluoridated water in our water supply! Forget the fact fluoride is considered to be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. Our Taotao Tano team of scientists have recently concluded that fluoride kills! Biba tooth decay!

- HR 3079 will take your land! Yes chelu, HR 3079 won't stop at enforcing local property taxes. The U.S. feds are bent on taking the very land you own and turning it into cotton farms! Our Taotao Tano covert ops that are entrenched deep in the CIA's headquarters have found conclusive evidence that the U.S. wants all locals to work on cotton farms. What is worse is that they will pay only $3.55 an hour! Biba cheap land and cheap property value!

- HR 3079 will destroy our economy! Yes kumaire, if our immigration and wages are federalized, our economy will collapse! Just look at our neighbor island of Guam! Their immigration is federalized, and Guam has no tourist or military industry and they can't find any investors! Guam is dirt poor compared to the CNMI! Just look at how underdeveloped Guam's Tumon Bay is. I'm sure Guam wishes they had our jewel of the Pacific, the enchanting Paseo de Marianas! Biba $3.55 an hour for the next 20 years!

Believe it or not, Taotao Tano's e-mail gets even more unsettling. Their e-mail had a bunch of attachment letters addressed to different U.S. senators opposing HR 3079. What made me cringe was that the letter was ripped off from a Guam indigenous rights group! It was originally written and addressed to “Friends of Guam's rights to water.” What Taotao Tano did was they took the letter and made a bunch of changes and dressed it up as their own. Sadly though, they forgot to do one very important function in Microsoft Word: accept changes. All the changes Taotao Tano made to this Guam-based letter appear on the right side of the letter because they were tracking changes in MS Word and failed to simply accept these changes. How embarrassing. Taotao Tano, Northern Marianas College offers community courses in MS Word. You might want to call them and enroll in one of their classes. I am sure U.S. Sen. Biden's staff had a good laugh. I didn't though. I actually felt sad-sad that some people are distorting facts and using guerrilla tactics to thwart the inevitable. With all the “thousands” of people in Taotao Tano, why couldn't they muster a decent proofreader who would have at least made sure that they accepted the changes in MS Word before sending the letters out? Here's the MS Word Tip of the Week: Click on F1 for Microsoft Help whenever you are in doubt. If you don't know what F1 is, you should probably take a computer class as soon as possible.

With all of the problems facing us today, I honestly believe the CNMI's greatest problem is not CUC, CHC, or HR 3079. Our greatest problem right now is ignorance. When I say ignorance, I am not referring those who lack a college degree or education. I have uncles and aunties here who didn't receive a college degree but have great wisdom. I speak of ignorance as being unaware of what is really going on, or a lack of knowledge on important issues affecting us today. Here are some issues where I feel ignorance affects better judgment here in the CNMI:

- Minimum wage. It is pure ignorance on the part of people who believe raising our minimum wage will destroy our economy, yet shut their pie holes when CUC's rates were doubled within the blink of an eye. Any owner who can't run a business because of a gradual (yes, it is gradual) increase of the minimum wage should not be in business in the first place. A higher minimum wage means less dependence on our sacred government for jobs and more money being circulated in our cash-deprived local economy. A person making $7 an hour will more likely spend more than a person who is making only $3.55 an hour. I still scratch my head and wonder how a person can support a family making $3.55 an hour. To all the business owners and government leaders wanting to keep the minimum wage, ask yourself this question: Could you support your family making $3.55 an hour? I don't think so. You cannot stimulate an economy on meager slave labor wages. If our government raises the minimum wage, reduces the number of government jobs, and creates a leaner, more efficient government, our economy will certainly rebound.

- CUC. It is ignorance that reigns supreme when people believe cutting CUC employees' salaries will put a dent in the CUC crisis. I beg this administration and all our leaders to spare CUC's employees. If you want to cut costs, eliminate CUC's special consultants who obviously haven't done much for our power problems. Why would you penalize a frontline person at CUC who makes a small salary and has to put up with verbal abuse from irate customers on a daily basis? Are our CUC linesmen and cashiers to blame for CUC's problems? What would happen if every employee at CUC decided to go on strike? Let's avert this from happening and make sure that no regular employee of CUC gets a salary cut. CUC's frontline employees are no more to blame for our utility crisis than we are. They are just regular employees doing their jobs, working day in and day out so they can pay their bills and put food on the table for their kids. Cutting a person's salary by 20 percent when some of them are making only $11,000 a year does nothing but hurt families.

- Federalization. It is ignorance on the part of those who spew radical, anti-U.S. rhetoric and blame everything on America. Ignorant leaders will curse the United States and accuse Uncle Sam of trying to turn our beloved CNMI into a banana republic, yet gladly accept hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid in building our great Commonwealth. I was flabbergasted when I overheard a person say that things were better under the Japanese administration. Excuse me? Was there a Chamorro or Carolinian Governor in charge during the Japanese occupation? Were the indigenous people in charge of the government during the Japanese occupation, or were they mostly farmhands and hard laborers? About a year ago, my grandfather, the late Henry Sablan Pangelinan, spoke to me extensively about some of the atrocities committed by the Japanese. He witnessed this firsthand on numerous occasions on Saipan and Guam. He was thankful that the United States liberated the CNMI. He was a wise man, one whom I respected and loved dearly, and he was also an American patriot. While I believe we should embrace and hold on to the important aspects of our indigenous cultures, we cannot forget that we are more than U.S. passport holders-we are Americans! We talk about the importance of respect all the time, but are we paying any homage to the United States? Do we honestly believe the United States would want to decimate our economy? Would it really be in the best interests of the United States to have everyone in the CNMI on welfare? Only fools and conspiracy theorists would believe such anti-American propaganda. One argument that HR 3079 opponents have trouble explaining is why other U.S. territories have a stronger, more robust economy than the CNMI does, in spite of their federal immigration and wages. Why does Guam continue to attract more tourists and investors than the CNMI? Perhaps federalization of immigration isn't so bad after all. Perhaps federalization will bring a sense of stability, which in turn will attract more investors, who will work on bringing in more tourists-a possible domino effect of great things to come!

- CHC and Health. Sadly, ignorance can also cause health problems. When people with health problems continue to eat the sweetest or saltiest, fattiest foods, smoke two packs a day, drink a six-pack of beer after work, and fail to get any exercise other than the brisk run they take into a convenient mart to buy more cigarettes while leaving the car running, they are putting a strain not only on their bodies, but also on CHC and our medical referral program. While we can't avoid all diseases, such as some forms of cancer and certain hereditary diseases, we can certainly work at making better decisions regarding our health. If we all listen to our good doctors and health professionals and eat healthy more often, quit smoking, stop drinking excessively, and exercise a few days a week, we can easily reduce the number of visits to CHC. To gain more funding for CHC, why don't we impose a higher cigarette tax? Wait, scratch that. Too many of our government leaders smoke, and we wouldn't want to hurt their pocketbook. How about a higher alcohol tax? Scratch that. That would make it hard to hold huge campaign rallies. So I guess the only thing we can really do is to take action and work toward achieving optimal health. By the way, I want to thank the hard-working doctors, nurses, and staff at CHC. They are grossly under-staffed, not under-qualified. One thing we must all remember is that our doctors at CHC are not miracle workers and they do the very best they can, given the circumstances. Thank you CHC for taking care of my daughter when she had a febrile seizure and for calming me when I thought she was dying. Thank you for treating my nephew when he had a collapsed lung and for nursing him back to good health. Thank you for working double shifts and long hours, yet still managing to be comforting and kind, even managing to smile. To our ER doctors and Dr. Braig and the rest of the CHC family, Dangkulu na si yu'us ma'ase, yan Olomwaay!

I want Taotao Tatao to know that I have no ill feelings toward them, but I do disagree with many of the hurtful things they have been saying. Furthermore, I have no axe to grind with Greg Cruz, as I called him on Christmas Day to wish him and his family a Merry Christmas. I also asked him if we could have lunch or get together to discuss our differences. The invitation remains open.

I sincerely hope that we all take some time to educate ourselves on the current problems affecting the CNMI. Perhaps then will we start to see some light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. We have beautiful islands, kind and loving people, and an economy that can prosper if the right decisions are made and government laws and regulations are actually enforced. We have some great leaders in office right now, and I expect great change to take place in the near future. But change begins with each and every one of us. We can hold on to the status quo, or we can stand tall and speak out against corruption and poor decision-making that has so often benefited the elite few instead of the overall majority. I can never be Taotao Tano, because unfortunately my blood is not from this land I have called home for 33 years. But my heart and soul belong to this land and to its people, and that is far more important than any actual bloodline. While only a select group of people may become Taotao Tano, every one of us living in the CNMI is entitled to become a part of Taotao Marianas. Biba Taotao Marianas!

May God bless the CNMI.

Ed Propst
Familian Haolepino
Garapan, Saipan

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Children of guest workers hold placards along Beach Road during Friday’s unity march which started at Kilili Beach and ended at American Memorial Park’s amphitheater. Photo by Mark Peñaranda



Chamber’s Guerrero: New labor law bad for business
By By M. Deposa Variety News Staff Saipan Chamber of Commerce Juan T. Guerrero gestures during an interview with Variety at his office on Friday. Photo by Mark Peñaranda

THE president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce says they have no official position on the new labor law, but admits that its implementation will be bad for the business community.
Former Sen. Juan T. Guerrero on Friday said the businesses are particularly unhappy with P.L. 15-108’s provisions requiring the periodic exit of guest workers and restricting transfers.
He said the chamber may reiterate the concerns it expressed when the law was still a bill.
“It is not very conducive for the business community because it has provisions that will certainly impact small and large businesses,” Guerrero said.
He said the new law is also “unclear about many what’s and where’s.”
Guerrero said that as soon as the other members of the chamber submit their comments, they will come up with a unified position regarding P.L. 15-108.
He said they are currently reviewing the implementing regulations.
“The six-month exit and the non-transfer provisions are the things that we’re not too happy about,” Guerrero said. “We recognize the effort of the Legislature to push the business community to hire more local workers which we do not oppose, but the law also imposes too many restrictions that may not be good at this time and may lead to higher costs for businesses.”
He noted that the regulations for the six-month exit provision remain unclear.
On Friday, thousands of guest workers, local residents and businesspersons attended a unity march to express opposition to the new labor law.
Guerrero said the chamber sympathizes with the marchers’ position against P.L. 15-108.
He said the new law will restrict businesses from hiring new people.
“If there’s no local workforce available, who can fill the positions immediately? I don’t think businesses should be restricted from hiring a replacement,” Guerrero said, adding that the law’s impact on businesses should have been considered.
Right now, he added, to help address local unemployment, small businesses should not be exempted from the 20 percent local workforce requirement.

Letter to the Editor:‘We are your partners’


mv - Monday December 10, 2007

AFTER my most recent letter to the editor came out, I’ve been receiving some interesting phone calls mostly from locals. The callers represented opposing sides. Some called to ask if I could give them a ride and there were those who called to tell me basically that we, nonresident workers, were taking away what were supposed to be only for locals.
Don’t get me wrong. I love talking to people regardless of from what side they are taking. I take each conversation as a learning opportunity; knowing how they are thinking and why they are thinking that way. I’m writing again not to argue or question anybody’s opinion but to try to explain as objectively as I can my understanding of our role as your guest workers.
We came to your island because your invertors were looking for qualified people to work for their businesses. I’m sure they would have thought initially of hiring locally if the right person is already on island considering that the cost of getting foreign workers and processing the work permits, etc. is not a joke. It’s either you cannot do the job or you do not want to do the job. We are here to fill a need.
Nonresident workers are a vital part of building your island and your economy. There are nonresident workers who have spent 20 or more years of their lives serving you. Isn’t it just right to have a two-way relationship where both parties, nonresident workers and locals, give and not only us are giving and you receiving?
Some callers believed that we’re taking away their share of food stamps. Food stamps are from the federal govenment and not from the local budget. I believe there is enough for everybody who needs it. It’s not that locals are not getting their fair share because we are prioritized.
I sympathize with you if what you are saying is accurate that some Head Start centers are not accepting your kids because they are filled up with the children of nonresident workers. But don’t you think it is an issue that the government should address? We are also paying taxes and so I believe that it is just fair that we can put our children to schools.
Did you realize that with the new labor law, your investors are going to be inconvenienced because businesses will have to slow down as employees are leaving? Companies will be training new employees all over again and then just when the new employees are trained, they need to exit again. This is not to mention the cost of airfare that will be incurred.
I believe that you have every right to enjoy the privileges of being the owners of this island and of being sons and daughters of the great United States of America. But please, do you really believe that now is the right time for this new law? When the economy is almost hitting rock bottom and even our governor is saying we are in a state of great depression, why do we have to make it harder for businesses to survive?
The beauty of democracy lies in the fact that people, regardless of race, are free to express their opinion in a civilized way. I don’t understand why I am getting harassments for expressing my opinion. Please know that we respect you, your laws and your culture. At the same token, we hope that you can also respect us.
I know some locals who are going to our country on a regular basis either for business or medical reason. In fact, some have moved there with their families. We don’t tell them to go home or that they’re taking away what’s ours. Instead we show them our hospitality.
What about the children of the nonresident workers who are born here? Does your Christian heart tell you to ignore the fact that families will be separated or children will suffer?
Because I am only human, sometimes I feel sad knowing that some locals think of us as trying to steal what only they should have. Again and again, I say and I would say it again. We’d like to think that we are your partners. We take because we give. I pray that all of us will have the same motto in life so everybody will be willing to give.
Chinatown, Saipan

Letter to the Editor: Respect, love, and kindness


mv- Monday December 10, 2007

NOW that the Unity March is over, I want to share my thoughts with my friends and critics on why I supported this march. But before I do, I want to tell you that I am human and am prone to error, that I don’t have all the answers, and that I will continue to make mistakes. But I have learned through trial and error that I am at my best when I choose to listen not only with my head, but also with my heart. I have been forewarned that by coming out against Public Law 15-108, my business will suffer severely.
I see it differently. Any person who would want to stop doing business with me because of our differences of opinion should not be doing business with me in the first place. If I can respect other people’s opposing views, then shouldn’t mine be respected as well?
Rik and Janel Villegas wrote a beautiful article on respect, its importance in our culture, and how respect is attained. I would like to quote part of what they said: “True leaders earn the respect of others by giving back respect. Tyrants and dictators demand the respect of others without necessarily reciprocating that respect back to their subjects. Progression through oppression creates depression; whereas, more can be acquired if people are inspired by their desires.”
I grew up on Saipan, having lived here since I was four years old. Definitely this is my home. I spent a few years away at college and all the while I was gone I counted the days until I could return to my home here on Saipan. My core values and beliefs are more local than anything else I know: I believe in the taotaomona; I have visited and have been healed by a suruhanu; I remember to fangingi not only my wife’s parents and uncles and aunties, but all of our elders. I also know the importance of respecting our elders, something that is so important in our culture. But showing respect does not require that I agree with all of my elders on all counts. If we are to truly make progress here in the CNMI, we need to be able to stand up for what we believe in, but to do it in a way that is not offensive.
When we write letters to the editor that chastise and castigate people, what are we really accomplishing? Yes, I am a hypocrite, because I have done the very thing I am criticizing right now. Indeed, I am a slow learner, but I have finally realized that this is how we lose respect while fomenting anger and hostility — even hatred. We attack each other instead of concentrating on the issues at hand. When you insult a congressman and say that he is an idiot or that he is feeble-minded, it not only hurts him, but it also hurts his family. If someone insulted your father, how would that make you feel? Please do not misconstrue what I am trying to say. I am not defending our leaders’ decisions as I disagree with them on many issues and let them know it. But I seriously doubt they will ever listen to me if I choose to attack them on a personal level.
In a nutshell, what I am trying to say is, before you write your next letter to the editor about a pressing issue or get into a heated debate with someone, please remember to write or speak with respect, love, and kindness. Your words will carry more weight, and your adversary may reciprocate with the same mutual respect. But if he or she doesn’t reciprocate, wouldn’t you feel better that you had taken the higher road and replaced insults with intelligent ideas?
I suppose I have digressed and should get back to why I supported the Unity March. I supported this march because it was a peaceful assembly that brought people together to show their discontent with Public Law 15-108. But it is far greater than just that. It was democracy at its finest hour. It was about exercising our right to speak freely, openly, and civilly about a labor law we strongly oppose.
This long and lengthy labor law is deeply flawed and is certain to bring about an abundance of labor lawsuits. I believe the people who stand to benefit the most from Public Law 15-108 are attorneys practicing labor law. Some have even begun to refer to this law as the Labor Attorneys Employment Act of 2007. Is that what we really want? Even more litigation? Aren’t we already the most litigious society in the entire Pacific Ocean? Is this the kind of progress we’re yearning for and striving to achieve?
I absolutely support the fundamental purpose of this law, which is that “citizens and permanent residents be given maximum opportunity for employment in the public and private sectors of the economy.” However, I believe the law’s means of achieving this worthy goal are flawed.
I have spoken at great length about respect. So I feel I should conclude by speaking of two people whom I have the greatest respect for — my parents. I love them both dearly, and thank them for their unconditional love. No matter how many times I have disappointed them or failed them, I thank them for not giving up on me. They sacrificed so much for their children, and even though we are all grown up now, they still continue to watch over us and guide us. My parents are both Christians and recently e-mailed me something that I believe is fitting and timely with regard to our Unity March: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who resides with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” — Leviticus 19: 33-34.
Whether you are Christian or not, I believe this is a powerful and inspirational passage and words that we should all live by. And whether you are a citizen or non-citizen, I will treat you with respect, love, and kindness. All I ask it that you do the same in return.
May God bless the CNMI.
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