Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Annual Pika (Hot Pepper) Festival, Feb. 16 & 17!

“When a heart is on fire, sparks always fly out of the mouth.”

Tinian to hold hot pepper festival

(MVA) — The annual Tinian Hot Pepper Festival will be held on Feb. 16 and 17 at Tachonga Beach on Tinian.

This year’s event is brought to you by the Marianas Visitors Authority, the Tinian Mayors Office and Bridge Investment Group.

The festival is an island-style show that features different kinds of locally prepared dishes as well as arts and crafts that always draws a big crowd. One of the highlights is the hot pepper eating contest which will take place on both days of the festival.

Competitive events this year will include the Katdun Pika —which is where chefs compete for the tastiest local version of spicy chicken — the Hermit Crab Race, the Dragon Boat Rowing where teams of 12 race, beach volleyball, the best booth contest, mwar making, a karaoke contest and the “Do the Cha-Cha Dance.”

This year, a new entertainment will be part of the festival. The Ukulele Wiz Kid, Ryan Imamura, is a 13-year-old boy from Guam who will perform at the festival.

The schedule of events for Saturday includes an opening program. The official kick off of the festival will be at 1 p.m. The first day of festivities ends at 10 p.m.

On Sunday, the festival starts with performance of the cultural dancers at 10 a.m. as well as the mwar contest.

If you are traveling from Saipan, Taga Air and Freedom Air fly to Tinian. You may also consider the ferry for transportation to and from Tinian.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Taga Beach - Then & Now

"A strange thing is memory, and hope; one looks backward, and the other forward; one is of today, the other of tomorrow. Memory is history recorded in our brain, memory is a painter, it paints pictures of the past and of the day." -- Anna Mary Robertson Moses

Taga Beach in 1997. Photo from Fleming's Restaurant's collection of photos of "Tinian in the old days."

Experience the thrill of Taga Beach cliff jumping! (Thank you, Angelo Villagomez!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ladda (Noni)

Life is not merely to be alive, but to be well. -- Marcus Valerius Martial

Ripe ladda (noni), fruit of the Morinda citrifolia plant. This plant grows abundantly on Tinian in the wild and as a cultivated plant.

Ladda is the Chamorro name for this tropical plant with purportedly astounding medicinal efficacy. It's known as noni or Indian mulberry in Hawaii and Guam (also called ladda there). In Australia they call it, among other things, cheesefruit. In the Philippines, they call it bankoro or nino. In Palau they call it kesengel or ngel, and in Chuuk and the Marshall Islands it is called nen. In Fiji it is called kura. In Singapore and Taiwan it is called luo ling. In Yap it's called mangalweg. In Tahiti it is called mona, monii or nono. Whatever its worldwide name, the name "noni" is the most common reference, thanks to an explosion of research and the global reach by commercial means of various parts (not just the fruit) of this exotic and intriguing plant.

Noni was believed to have come to the Pacific islands from its native origin of Southeast Asia. The ancient islanders were believed to have understood that noni was edible and had medicinal properties. During the Second World War, a field manual instructed U.S. soldiers located in the South Pacific islands that noni was edible.

Source: Emergency Food Plants and Poisonous Plants of the Islands of the Pacific (1943). War Department Technical Manual TM 10-420, by Dr. D. E. Merrill. Dr. Merrill was the Administrator of Botanical Collections and Director of Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University.

There is considerable research being conducted on the noni plant that attests to its healing powers. At the same time, there are "quack watches" that caution noni consumers of the clamins by commercial sellers of its health benefits.

A study presented at the American Heart Association's 46th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention in March 2006 found that noni juice may lower total cholesterol and triglycerides in adult smokers after one month's use. The author of the study, Dr. Mian-Ying Wang, is a surgeon at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford. Dr. Wang's study was funded by the Morinda Corporation in Utah, the makers of the widely distributed Tahitian Noni Juice. Dr. Wang is also a researcher at

The FDA and limits to commercial marketing of noni
Back in August 1998, the Morinda Corporation had entered into a settlement agreement with the Attorney Generals of Arizona, California, New Jersey, and Texas regarding unsubstantiated claims that "Tahitian Noni" could cure or prevent a variety of disorders including diabetes, depression, hemorrhoids and arthritis. The terms of the settlement agreement included, among others, that Morinda Corporation exclude claims that their product can cure, treat or prevent disease until the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved their product for those uses.

The Morinda Corporation is just one of many companies that broke FDA regulations by marketing practices which claim noni can be used to cure, mitigate, treat or prevent diseases, a claim that can only used by FDA-approved "drugs," something which noni has yet to be recognized as. The FDA also categorizes noni as a "new drug." This means that noni products must have a drug sponsor that submits scientific data on the safety and effectivenes of the noni product in order for noni products to get FDA approval.

Current scientific studies and investigations
A study presented in October 2002 at the 2002 Hawai'i Noni Conference by Dr. Eiichi Furusawa of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, concluded that noni fruit juice could inhibit cancer tumors in mice.

For further reading, refer to From Polynesian Healers to Health Food Stores: Changing Perspectives of Morinda citrifolia (Rubiaceae) by Will McClatchey in Integrative Cancer Therapies, Vol. 1, No. 2, 110-120 (2002), a literature review of recent studies of potential anticancer activity of noni fruit.

Juice from noni is displayed here at a local store, Blooming in the Tinian Dynasty.

Extracting the juice from the noni fruit
Briefly, the traditional process of extracting the juice from the noni fruit is done through fermentation/aging for about two months (or longer) in an adequate fermentation container. Some prefer no light to exposure, while others use glass fermentation jars which let in direct sunlight. Fermentation requires freshly picked and ripened fruits. Ripe fruits are those that are whitish and soft, almost translucent. The fruits "sweat" and this is the juice you collect.

Juice is drained from a spigot at the base of the containers; the process of fermentation does not use oxygen (i.e., it is an anaerobic process), so you must not let air or oxygen get in contact with the fruit, pulp and remaining juice in the rest of the container. Gas will build up and without a proper fermenation vessel with a pressure-release lock, there could be a build up of unwanted pressure from fermentation gases.

The juice is dark in color and sometimes must be filtered. Aside from the dark color, the most distinct characteristic is the strong taste and smell. Noni juice has a pH of about 3.5, which means it is very sour. As the Australians would say, the odor is probably what rotten cheesy fruit would smell like.

There are other processing methods that do not require fermentation, and which produce lighter colored and/or sweeter-tasting juice. For example, you can probably produce noni at home by fresh-squeezing noni juice. Simply squeeze the ripe noni fruit by hand through a cheesecloth. The juice is not as dark as the juice extracted by the fermentation process. Add water, other fruit juices and/or sugar. Refrigerate immediately.

The home juicer must be very cautious of contamination, or risk unwanted microorganisms! Use sterile equipment and work in a sterile environment. If you think your juice is cloudy or the odor is foul (more foul than rotten cheese!), then it is probably contaminated! If you want to be sure, or your nose can't distinguish from rotten cheese (normal) to really, really rotten cheese (contaminated), then get a pH paper and aim for a pH that is not greater than 3.5.

Status of noni under the FDA
The FDA has not evaluated the noni. You should see this label, therefore, on noni products:

"This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."

What does it all mean? Nothing conclusive yet. Noni is still being studied and explored. In general, it is probably safe to consider noni juice as safe as other common fruit juices.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
+ A product is a "drug" as defined under Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, section 201(g)(1) if it is intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. Noni products are not considered drugs under the FDA.
+ A "new drug" is defined under Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, section 201(p). The FDA must approve new drugs before they are marketed in the U.S. Approval of a new drug is based on scientific data from a drug sponsor to demonstrate that the drug is safe and effective. No such demostrations have been made of noni products at this time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I recently discovered these delicate little cakes at a local bakery, the Star Bakery. The main ingredients are powedered milk or flour, sugar, butter. They melt in your mouth as soon as you eat them. They are very buttery and sweet.

They're so irresistible; you can't have just one! Get a bunch -- they cost only $0.25 each.

Contact the Star Bakery
Tel. +1 (670) 433-0432

Free Tae-Bo offered at the Dynasty Rec Center

Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. -- Goethe

Take advantage of the free Tae Bo classes which are being offered daily at the Tinian Dynasty Recreation Center. You would normally have to pay a fee to use the gym or swim in the pool, except if you simply want to participate in a Tae-Bo class. Classes are held daily at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. It is advisable to call the Recreation Center first to confirm these times for the day you plan to join a class.

The recreation center is located near the Tinian Dynasty poolside.

Ganga is one of the gym's well-trained and knowledgeable staff.

Contact the Tinian Dynasty Recreation Center
Tel.: +1 (670) 328-2233 (main Tinian Dynasty line)
E-mail Ganga:

"What is Tae Bo?" Ask creator Billy Blanks!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Kid-Friendly Dynasty

"Allow children to be happy in their own way, for what better way will they find?" -- Samuel Johnson

The children's playgrounds are located near the pool area.

The playgrounds are on top of rubber mats for safety. Nearby are benches and covered picnic tables.

The circular kiddie pool.

The kiddie pool is perfect for kiddie splashes! There are also water slides (see right side of photo). Visitors to Tinian who are not hotel guests may use the pool area for a fee.

Contact the Recreation Center at the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino!
Tel.: +1 (670) 328-2233

Local Famed Historian Don A. Farrell

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future. -- George Bernard Shaw

The History of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI Public School System, 1991) by Don A. Farrell. Photo taken at the Tinian Public Library.

Local Don Farrell lives a regular life on Tinian, but he really is a "rock star" in this little community and in the Commonwealth. His extensive publications on the Marianas makes him deserved of the title, "celebrated historian."

His publications include:

Farrell, Don A. “The Northern Marianas: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”. Glimpses of Micronesia and the Western Pacific. 1979: Volume 19: 4.

Farrell, Don A. “Spare The Bullets: Save our People”. Glimpses of Micronesia and the Western Pacific. 1980: Volume 20: 4.

Farrell, Don A. Liberation—1944: The Pictorial History of Guam. Micronesian Productions, 1984.

Farrell, Don A. The Americanization of Guam: 1898-1918. Micronesian Productions, 1986.

Farrell, Don A. “A Marriage Made in Micronesia”. Guam Business News: November 1988.

Farrell, Don A. Tinian: A Brief History. Micronesian Productions. 1988.

Farrell, Don A. The Sacrifice of Guam: 1919-1943. Micronesian Productions, 1991.

Farrell, Don A. The History of the Northern Mariana Islands. CNMI Public School System. 1991.

Farrell, Don A. Saipan: A Brief History. Micronesian Productions, 1992.

Farrell, Don A. “The Partition of the Marianas: A Diplomatic History, 1898-1919”. Isla: A Journal of Micronesian Studies. 2.2 Dry Season, 1994, 273-301.

Farrell, Don A. Guam: A Brief History. Micronesian Productions. 1994.

Farrell, Don A. Rota: A Brief History. Micronesian Productions. 2003.

Farrell, Don A. The Tinian Atomic Bomb Files: Declassified. (In publication)

Numerous newspaper articles in the Pacific Daily News, The Guam Tribune and the Saipan Tribune, 1981-2005.

Contact Don A. Farrell!

CLICK HERE! for Don and Carmen Farrell's history of the Marianas (Saipan, Tinian, Rota, Guam)!

CLICK HERE! for an overview of the history of the Northern Mariana Islands by the NMI Council for the Humanities.