June 28, 2010

Trees Ablaze

Living on a tropical island, you don't get the Fall season, with leaves that turn yellow and red.  However, Saipan does have something similar.  It has the flame trees.  When they bloom -- late April through the summer months -- rich hues of orange and red blanket the landscape, as if the trees are ablaze.  Where ever you are on the island,  you will encounter a flame tree or a grove of them.  When you do, you can't help being awestruck by their beauty and fiery splendor.

Here's a video that will give you an idea of what you'll encounter driving around Saipan when the flame trees are in bloom.

Here are some photos of flame trees near my home.

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Flame trees in bloom, just another reason I Luv Saipan!

(hu guaiya hao mama)

June 21, 2010

Father's Day is Family Day

This past Father's Day I woke up early before everyone as I normally do.  When the kids awoke they greeted me with their hand made cards, followed by hugs, kisses, and I Love You's.  My lovely wife followed that up with a kiss, a hug, and a whisper, telling me how much of a wonderful father I am to our children.  My heart melted.

We soon got ready for church where all the fathers were given a blessing.  My spirit was uplifted.

I was then given a choice, I could have the day to myself or we can go out to eat at a nice restaurant for brunch.   I thought about it for a second, and for me Father's Day is Family Day and so I chose what my family loves to do and that is to go to the beach.  When I let everyone know my decision, the kids yelled, "Yay!"

And so we got out of our church clothes, and put on our swimming suits.  We packed up all our beach gear and loaded it all in the truck.  This time though we brought the kayak and the paddle board along with us.  Then we headed to American Memorial Park, but before we got to AMP, we made a quick stop at Himawari to pick up some lunch.

When we got to AMP, we found a nice shady spot right next to the beach.  My wife got the kids lathered with sunscreen while I unloaded the gear.  As the kids ran into the water and my wife and I finished up with our setup, I looked around us and watched other families celebrating Father's Day at the beach.  The breeze carried the sweet smell of barbecue and sounds of laughter, music, and conversation.  My gaze then turned to my kids splashing in the water, smiling, and laughing, as my wife joined them.  I thought to myself at that moment that this is how Father's Day should be spent.

We kayaked, we paddled, we swam and we snorkeled.  Interestingly, I picked up a 4th child while my daughter and I snorkeled.  A little zebra fish became attached to me and even gave me a kiss on the cheek.  Check out the video to see.

We spent the whole afternoon there at the beach.  We were sunkissed but we had a blast.  Another fond memory made and another reason why I Luv Saipan!

Check out more pics by mousing over and clicking anyone of the images below.

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(hu guaiya hao mama)

June 14, 2010

June Kaboom

KABOOM!  These past couple of weeks were an explosion of memories being made for my family.  After our day trip to Managaha on Memorial Day weekend, the events ticked off one after another.

It started with my wife and I celebrating our 15 year anniversary.  Fifteen years I've been married to the most wonderful woman.  Since that day I said "I do," my life has been blessed.  I had an inkling then that she was my soul mate, but I know whole heartedly now that she is every bit The One that was made for me.  We had an intimate night out with drinks and hors d'oeuvres (we were full from a large lunch) atop a rotating restaurant, as we talked about our past, present, and future while we watched the sun set over the infinite horizon.

That same week my eldest daughter received her Sacrament of Reconciliation and her First Holy Communion.  This was the culmination of a school year's worth of weekends at our church where my daughter learned the prayers and rituals of the Catholic faith.  It was a special moment for her as well as for my wife and I.  My heart was touched when I saw all the children receiving their First Holy Communion along with my daughter.  I never was religious until recently.  My mother's death played a big part in turning that around and I am most grateful.  Thank you Mom.  If she were able to witness my daughter's First Holy Communion, I know she would've had tears of joy.  She was smiling for sure from up above.

Finally, we celebrated my eldest daughter and youngest son's birthday with a party to remember.  The planning was two months in the making with the final week left for my wife and I to get everything prep'd for the party.  We had over 30 kids, ages 2-10, at our house.  Let me repeat... 30+ KIDS!  They all had fun: they jumped (we had 2 bouncers going), ate, laughed, ran, squabbled, did some arts and crafts, tore up the piƱata, sang, and left with goodie bags and balloons.  I think their parents would have thanked us that evening, because I'm sure they were out like a light.  The best part though was that my daughter and son were both enjoying the party and the fun.

So why am I including these memories in the I Luv Saipan chronicle?  Quite simply, Saipan is the backdrop of memories being made and celebrations being had by my family.  Sure, these personal events happen all around the world, but I consider myself lucky, my family being lucky, to have these memories made here, this magical place full of beauty, full of tradition, and perfect for families.

June kaboom, it was an explosion of sorts, that's what it has felt like these past few weeks, and we are so lucky it was here on Saipan... more reasons why I Luv Saipan.

(hu guaiya hao mama)

June 1, 2010

Day trip to Managaha

We spent this year's Memorial Day out on Managaha.  It's a great little getaway and it's a free ferry ride for local residents.  For our day trip we brought along our beach gear and a cooler filled with ice and water, fresh fruit, and lunch.  

The first thing we had to do after we got off the ferry and onto the island was to find a nice spot to settle our things.  Since we were on the first scheduled arrival (9 am), we had a lot of places to choose from.  The spot we chose was underneath two coconut trees, it had a large swath of shade, it was about twenty feet from the shore, and the breeze kept blowing throughout the day.  It was perfect.  All that was missing was a hammock and a couple of Coronas (hmm...maybe next time).

As soon as we picked our spot, the kids were clamoring to get in the water, but my wife and I made them wait.  We had to first setup our beach blanket.  Then we organized our things around it like a castle wall to anchor the blanket and to create a boundary of sorts.  Finally, like responsible parents, we put gobs of sunscreen on the kids.  Once that was done, they were off into the water as were we.

We had the beach to ourselves for a little while.  The tourists that arrived with us on the ferry (and other boats) were getting briefed by their tour groups and given their complimentary mask, snorkel, and fins.  Within a half an hour though we were surrounded by young couples, families with small children, and seniors, conversing in Mandarin, Korean, and Japanese.  

The tourists were fun to watch.  There were two elderly women, both lathered in sunscreen, one of them covering her entire head and shoulders with a beach towel while waist deep in the water, and the other barking in Mandarin as if commanding her friend to take off the towel and come out further.  There was a young couple where the man was showing his bride how to snorkel yet she was terrified to stick her face in the water.  Her whole body became rigid as she fought to stand back up whenever he eased her into putting her face in the water.  He was very patient.  There were kids laughing and crying, fathers showing off and mothers doting over their kids.  Like us, they were all having fun in the sun off the shores of Managaha.

Pretty soon it became a little too crowded for us so we left the water and sat in our perfect spot.  The kids played in the sand for a while, and then we had our lunch (bento from Himawari).  Afterwards we just sat there and did more people watching, while the kids did another round of sand castle construction.  When the water wasn't as crowded, we went back in.  This time I showed my eldest daughter how to snorkel and how to lure the fish to you with sand.  We saw trevally, a trumpet fish, some parrot fish, and a trigger fish come up to us as they investigated the sand I was dropping from my hand to see if it was fish food.  She enjoyed it and snorkeling came naturally to her.  

Before long, and after a walk around Managaha, it was time for us to go.  We packed up our stuff and walked out to the dock to wait for our ferry.  The dock was a great vantage point to see fish swimming on either side and boats pulling their passengers in the air on parasails.  Eventually, our ferry came and we headed to the top  level.  On the way back to Saipan, and in that 15 minute span, we spotted two sea turtles.  A nice cherry on top to a wonderful day!

It was a great time once again for the family; a day trip across the lagoon to one of the best beaches in the Marianas, and another reason I Luv Saipan.

Click on image above to see more pics

(hu guaiya hao mama)
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