FOR Guam Business Magazine
30 March 2012
BY Stephanie Lundberg
Director James Cameron explores the ocean deep
Famed director James Cameron made headlines in March as he attempted – and completed – the first solo dive to the deepest part of the ocean in the world, the Mariana Trench. Reaching a depth of 35,576 feet, Cameron spent more than three hours at the bottom of the trench – longer than any person to previously conduct the trip. Cameron said that he plans to return to the Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep for further exploration at a later date.
New York Magazine pokes fun at Santorum’s Guam Primary Bid
Guam hit the national news stage for several days in March as candidates for the Republican presidential nomination vied for Guam’s delegates for the National Convention. Each of the candidates did their part to woo the Guam Republican Party – Newt Gingrich sent a letter, and Mitt Romney sent his son Matt – but it was Rick Santorum who drew the most unique attention of the period.
New York Magazine’s Dan Amira gleefully described Santorum’s pre-primary phone call with members of the island’s Republican party, in which Santorum expressed his newfound concern for Guam and an apology for a comment he had made in January about sending wayward Ninth Circuit Court judges to Guam as punishment:
“But pretending to listen to Guamanian concerns while playing Minesweeper and occasionally saying ‘uh-huh’ was not [Santorum’s] only act of deference to Guam’s momentarily powerful Republican Party,” wrote Amira. “Apparently, Santorum made a joke a while ago about banishing liberal activist judges to Guam, a joke that Santorum suddenly regrets very much… Congratulations, Guam. You finally have an American politician by the balls. Make the most of the moment.”
Guam Visitors Bureau Launches Russian language tourism website
The Guam Visitors Bureau has launched a Russian language version of its website in an effort to encourage Russian tourists to take advantage of the Russian Visa Waiver program enacted in January. The website was unveiled in March in Moscow by a delegation made up of representatives from GVB and the Marianas Visitors Authority and U.S. Consul General and other officials in Russia. The GVB and MVA delegation also promoted Guam travel and the new website at the Moscow International Travel and Tourism Exhibition, a 4-day, premier exhibition that sees as many as 250,000 visitors every year. The new Russian language GVB website can be found at www.visitguamusa.ru.
U.S. National Zoo welcomes two new Guam Rail chicks
Officials at the National Zoo announced March 16 that two rare Guam rail birds have hatched at their facility in Front Royal, Va. The two birds bring the number of total Guam rail hatchlings at the Zoo and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute to 82, some of which have been sent to Guam to help reestablish the bird’s population here. The Guam Rail has been considered endangered on Guam since the introduction of the brown tree snake after World War Two, which has hunted the birds to near-depopulation.
May the force be with Niue
The Pacific island state of Niue, located roughly 1,550 northeast of New Zealand, has commissioned a set of collectible coins depicting Stars Wars characters and the Queen of England in a bid to raise the profile of its fledgling nation and money for its government. The island, which has seen its native and tourist population shrink in recent years, began selling the silver legal tender coins – at $469 per 4-coin set – late last year inside Millennium Falcon or Darth Vader-themed boxes.
Michigan students test underwater robot in dive off Palau
Eight high school students from Stockbridge, Mich. successfully tested their class-built underwater robot in the waters off Palau March 29. The robot dove 125 feet to locate the group’s goal for the trip, a B-24 bomber shot down in August 1944 during the fierce fighting that took place over Palau in World War Two. After completing their mission, the students also visited World War Two battlefields, ancient ruins, and explored Palau’s culture and local high schools before they returned home April 7.
Group brings Chamorro culture to Arizona
The dance group Inetnon Gef Pa’go, meaning “a beautiful gathering” in ancient Chamoru, appeared on the television program “Good Morning Arizona” on March 29 in the United States. The group’s organizer Vince Reyes said the group, made up of young men and women from Guam, appeared on the program to bring the Chamorro culture to the 5000 Chamorros living in the Phoenix area, as well as to promote and share knowledge about Chamorro culture in the U.S. at large. The group also held a free workshop in Tempe and a free performance at Arizona State University on March 30.
LearnChamorro publisher launches language software and mobile app
Troy Aguon, publisher of the LearnChamorro DVD: Kids Edition and creator of Chamorro language interactive media tools designed for kids announced March 13 the official launch of his last two LearnChamorro products in development, the LearnChamorro mobile app and the LearnChamorro computer software. The products were inspired and modeled after the Rosetta Stone language products, and features local Chamorro families voicing the products’ content. More information can be found at www.learnchamorro.com.
Books around the Marianas and the Pacific
A number of books tackling military history in Guam and the Pacific have been recently released or are upcoming, some of which deal with particularly sensitive topics related to Guam during World War Two. The Japanese Administration of Guam, 1941-1944: A Study of Occupation and Integration Policies, with Japanese Oral Histories deals with the Japanese Navy’s social, economic, and cultural approaches to integrating the local Chamorro people into Japanese ideology in Guam and Micronesia. Written by Wakako Higuchi, a research associate at the University of Guam and the Australian National University, the book seeks to find news ways of understanding Japan’s decision to go to war. The book is due to be released in September.
Counting the Days: POWs, Internees, and Stragglers of World War II in the Pacific by Craig B. Smith tells the story of six prisoners of war held by both the U.S and the Japanese: an American Marine captured on Guam and held for the duration of the war, a Japanese seaman who was the first Japanese POW; a European couple imprisoned and then released by the Japanese in the Philippines; a Japanese American sent to an internment camp for the duration of the war; and, finally, a Japanese soldier who hid on Guam until 1960.
In Memoirs of a B-29 Pilot, retired U.S. Air Force Major Charles R. Reyher describes his training as a pilot during World War II, and then his experience flying 13 bombing raids out of Guam and the Marianas against oil targets in Japan just before the end of the war. Reyher also posits a theory that the U.S. could have ended the war in the Pacific by attacking oil refineries and supplies, and without the use of atomic bombs in Japan.
Moving into the Vietnam era, When the Wolf Rises: Linebacker II, the Eleven Day War details the role of the B-52 and its crews in ending the war in Vietnam, as well as the personal toll the bombing missions took on squadrons out of Guam and Thailand who were tasked with carrying them out. The author, G. Alan Dugard, is a retired USAF colonel and oversaw more than 50 crews and combat missions out of Guam to Vietnam.
In other book news, P.F. Kluge, author of Gone Tomorrow and a former Peace Corps volunteer in Saipan in 1967, has written The Master Blaster, a darkly funny fictional tale of the intersection of four strangers’ lives in Saipan: a weary journalist, a university professor, and elderly businessman, and a Bangladeshi laborer. In a review of the book, The New York Times says that Kluge has written “a long, bewitching love letter to an utterly maddening place, Mr. Kluge introduces a group of Saipan newcomers who don’t yet know the lay of the land.”
In a not-so-fictional turn, King Larry: The Life and Ruins of Billionaire Genius by James D. Scurlock takes on the life of Larry Hillblom, a wealthy businessman and co-founder of DHL who retreated to Saipan in the final years of his life to indulge his prurient desires, expensive tastes, and several shady business deals throughout Asia Pacific before downing his plane in the ocean in 1995.
Finally, Guam native and lawyer Stephen Tenorio has written An Ocean in a Cup, a book set in the late 1890s and described on Amazon.com as being about “a gifted young islander, who is tormented by an unexplainable darkness. As Tomas sets out to deliver his goods across the island, the reader is exposed to [Tomas’] memories which surface to help him through his difficult times and sheds light on the origin of his dark episodes.”