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.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Getting to Tinian by Ferry

"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." -- Jawaharal Nehru

Traveling to Tinian by Ferry (or to Saipan from Tinian) is an alternative to flying on Freedom Air. The ferry ride is 50-minutes long. You can sit at the top deck (called the "VIP seats") or the lower deck area (the main area). The ride is smooth on most days depending on the condition of the currents, and some have seen dolphins along the way!

Listed are the current schedules as of October 4, 2007.

A practical itinerary if you are traveling from Saipan for a weekend on Tinian would be to leave Saipan on Friday at 5 p.m. Stay for the weekend and leave after brunch on Sunday at 1 p.m. For example, bring the family and your bikes on the ferry and take advantage of Tinian's long and winding roads! Or come for a relaxing time at the Dynasty -- you can easily find fun for the whole family! Or check out the local restaurants and drinking holes! Whatever you decide to do on Tinian, it will leave a memorable impression.

The schedule may change, and it is advisable to call Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino to confirm the arrival and departure times.
Tel.: +1 (670) 328-2233

Monday, October 15, 2007

Island Weather

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. -- Langston Hughes

It has been raining a lot these past few months. We are just getting out of the rainy season, which, in the Northern Mariana Islands, occurs during the months of July to November. The dry season is observed during the months of December to June.

The Northern Marianas is mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most equable (even temperature) climate in the world! The temperature all year round is a steady 86 or 87 degrees Fahrenheit, with gusty tradewinds that quickly cool the sweat from your skin from all the humidity.

What's my favorite thing about the climate here? Though it rains (that pelting kind of rain, the kind that falls in big decided DROPS, not demure showers), they last for five minutes, and sometimes, the sun is blazing as the rain is falling. That, and that the sun rises and sets at the same time all year round (no daylight savings here), makes these isles an enchanting place.

In these islands is your endless summer.

Check out TODAY'S WEATHER FORECAST from the CNMI Emergency Management Office (EMO)

CLICK HERE! for Tide Predictions for Tinian

CLICK HERE! for watches, warnings, or advisories from the National Weather Service

Friday, October 12, 2007

Running Trails

I always loved running... it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs. -- Jesse Owens

The running path from Kammer Beach toward Taga Beach and Tachogna Beach.
Part of the running path back toward Kammer Beach.

Star Bakery, where you can find Chamorro cake and other local baked goods

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” -- Jim Davis, "Garfield"

The Star Bakery is located inside the Star Plaza on Broadway.

The bakery offers moist, delicious Chamorro cake, a local favorite. The cake is spongy and is great with morning coffee or during merienda.

You can order various kinds of pies for special occassions, or simply come in to the bakery to see what they've made that day.

Chamorro cookies and rosketti are also available.

Contact the Star Bakery
Tel. +1 (670) 433-0433

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fine Baked Goods at the Island Store

“Oh, God above, if heaven has a taste it must be an egg with butter and salt, and after the egg is there anything in the world lovlier than fresh warm bread and a mug of sweet golden tea?” -- Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes (1996)

Want great bread? Get it at the Island Store!

Located in a nondescript corner of the lobby of the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino, between the elegant Chinese Restaurant and the bustling Broadway Restaurant, the tiny Island Store is a giant contender when it comes to the quality of breads and baked goods that it offers guests and locals.

Background: Coconut bread; Foreground: Pandan Bread. Also available: Garlic bread, French bread, red bean bread, walnut-raisin bread, and whole wheat bread.

Pandan bread is green in color and simply delicious. The ingredients for this bread include leaves from the pandan plant and coconut milk. There is a delicious fragrance and a distinctly unique flavor to this bread. I hope you'll try it out if you haven't already!

These buttery doughnuts are $1 each (price subject to change); they're so big, so round and simply delicious!

Breads and doughnuts are baked fresh every day and are available beginning at 8 or 8:30 a.m. Ask for Executive Chef Gladwin Stevenson for special orders.

Contact the Island Store!
Tel.: +1 (670) 328-2233 (Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino main line)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Island Flora

Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off...

... and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow. --Douglas Pagels

I enjoy the flora around the island. It's like finding hidden jewels. I found this heliconia one morning. It appeared to me like a rare gem in the thick of green velvet. It sits in a frame in my house and I can enjoy it all the time!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ancient Chamorros

It's not a matter of painting life, it's a matter of giving life to painting. -- Pierre Bonnard

The local public library, located in the heart of San Jose Village, is not only a book repository but a gallery for handsome local paintings by such local artists as Rem Diaz. Rem, who lives on Tinian, created these magnificent pieces. They depict ancient Chamorro history and culture.

Artist's rendition of how latte stones were used by the ancient Chamorros.

There is a distinctly Tinian feel to the public library; it is a place that is neither anonymous like most libraries, but rather rich in what makes Tinian unique: the House of Taga, which contain the largest known latte stones and purportedly built for Chief Taga, the 17th century ancestor of today's modern Chamorro people, is located on this island.

House of Taga with one standing latte stone, carved wood relief style.

Get a feel for the Chamorro culture and history in general here.

Contact the Tinian Public Library!
Tel.: +1 (670) 433-0504

Check out the CNMI Library located on Saipan!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Migrant Workers on Tinian

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the right to be free. -- Charles Evans Hughes

The lush heliconia garden provided a magnificent backdrop for this Bangladeshi gardener robed in radiant reds and pinks. This hidden, tiny island in the Pacific boasts over 100 different nationalities, such as this intrepid migrant worker pictured here.


Contact former Tinian residents Helen and Alex at TRAVEL THE PARADISE and book a trip to Tinian!