The Underwater World of Saipan
Located in the western pacific, a short flight from Guam and 3 hours from Japan, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is a popular tourist destination rich in history, culture and natural resources. Saipan, just 5 miles wide by 12 miles long, is the largest and most populated of the 14 islands making up an archipelago that stretches 400 miles (north to south) along the edge of the Marianas Trench. With a wide variety of activities available including golf, deep-sea fishing, jungle trekking, eco-tours and beach-going to name a few, the fantastic SCUBA diving and snorkeling here should not be missed. Among the most diverse underwater ecosystems in the world, these waters are home to over 800 species of fish alone not to mention beautiful soft and hard corals and all the critters in between. Throw in unlimited visibility, warm tropical sun, unique topography and regular visits by schools of spotted eagle rays and it’s easy to see why this is quickly becoming a favorite for underwater photographers everywhere. Cinematographer, photographer and PADI dive instructor Mike Tripp has called this island home for more than 4 years discovering and capturing on video what makes this aquatic wonderland unique. By taking you on seven distinct virtual dives, he makes it possible to experience the islands unique topside attractions and diverse underwater world from the comfort of your own home. With a little luck perhaps it will inspire you to travel to the edge of Micronesia and discover the riches of this island nation first hand.
The Underwater World of Saipan is a 105-minute DVD showcasing the incredible beauty and bio-diversity of Saipan’s underwater world. More than just a highlight reel of Saipan’s amazing SCUBA diving this DVD takes you on 7 distinctly different dives including The Grotto, Obyan, Banzai Cliff, Ice Cream, Managaha, Naftan Point and Lau Lau Bay. The interactive map menu makes it easy to select individual dives or to play them all in succession. The DVD uses 250 user-selectable subtitles to identify more than 130 different marine creatures making it a valuable resource for everyone from dive professionals to non-divers. In addition, a bonus 8-minute scenic slide show highlights Saipan’s topside attractions including flame trees in full bloom, wide open golf courses, beautiful white sand beaches, historic WWII tanks, bunkers and guns as well as the island of Managaha and the view of Saipan from its shores.
DVD Summary (running times)
Seven Dive Sites:
Total running time = 105 minutes
What people are saying: "Mike, just wanted to let you know that Bev and I have been watching your DVD tonight and have been THOROUGHLY enjoying it. An excellent and impressive job! Bev and I definitely give it TWO THUMBS UP! If we were only ambidextrous we'd give it FOUR!" - Mark Robertson, Underwater photographer and longtime Saipan resident
"For the second half of the underwater DVD we turned on the "ID Fish" feature and found it unobtrusive and a lot of fun. We'd forgotten so many of the fish names over the years. I think we both thought that the most compelling moments on the DVD were the one where the octopus changes color in an eye-blink. I knew octopi changed color quickly, but I had no idea it was "that" quick. Pretty amazing. We also enjoyed the close-up shots of the eagle rays gliding overhead. I'm sure divers will enjoy this, but I also think you'll find an audience for people who don't dive. It will truly open up the underwater world for them." - Randy K.R. Schmidt, Long-time Saipan resident
PROCEED TO STORE >>
Liewella: A Micronesian Story
Lieweila: A Micronesian Story: Narrated by Cinta Kaipat, a descendant of the first migrants, "The film tells the history of Refalawasch beginning with details of the early migrations and ending with the current situation in which the people from the northern islands now live on a Saipan that has become a Mecca for tourism, cheap Asian labor, and land developers. In this environment, it is difficult for the story of Refalawasch to remain relevant, and yet, as the film shows, there is a continuing effort to keep the story alive. The film's narration is clear and personal. It is the voice of a woman who is part of the story and who works on behalf of her people's interest. Although I can hardly get past its personal appeal to me, I think the film has broad educational value, especially in the context of learning about the struggle of Pacific Island people to hold on to their traditions in the face of wave after wave of economic and cultural colonization." --Fred Blake, Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaii [Courtesy of the Landlocked Films website] PROCEED TO STORE >>
Keywords:pacific island,carolinian history,chamorro
Looking for America
Filmed entirely on location on the island of Saipan!
The following is an interview with the filmmakers which appeared in the April 18 edition of the Saipan Tribune:
Dan Shor is an award-winning television/film actor, director, writer and teacher-living here on Saipan-whose performing credits include such popular films as Air Force One, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Tron, as well as such television series as The X Files, Judging Amy, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: The Next Generation and many, many others. (see wikipedia.org)
Ben Salas is an actor and producer born in Hawaii whose family moved to Saipan in 1985. He has lived all over the United States and has traveled to Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand as well.
For the past several years, the two were pursuing their individual passions. Ben, through his Slingstone Music production, as well as his Todo Balé Freelance Martial Arts, and Dan, through his acting, screenplay writing, as well as being a film/acting teacher at NMC.
The two met in 1995 when Ben, pursuing his film degree and honoring gift as an actor, registered for Shor’s film class at NMC. The two, realizing they had a lot in common, became good friends and, in 2005, inspired by similar visions began a collaboration on a unique project. Their final creation, State of Liberty: Looking for America, is the pilot episode of a not-yet-created television series Shor and Salas envision as being Saipan's gift to the world of entertainment.
Why create this series, and these characters?
Dan: It’s very simple. In a world that is intent on blowing itself up and generating its purpose through hatred, in a world that’s dividing itself, the only people in the world who can reunite us are the artists. We have an absolute purpose through our art to express the reality that all people are basically the same. We’re all human. State of Liberty is a story about a microcosm of the world that populates this tiny little island. Our lead characters are Japanese, Chinese, Chamorro, Carolinian, Bangladeshi, Filipino, Russian, and stateside Americans. It is a complete universal representation, of seemingly different, but ultimately similar human beings pursuing life together.
Why Saipan for this series?
Dan: Well, we live here. But even beyond that, the most unique and amazing thing about Saipan to me is that it’s this huge, actually this tiny little melting pot...but, you know, it’s not a melting pot, it’s even better than a melting pot because your culture stays distinct and yet you're right next door to another culture. And I’ve visited these worker houses, these shared rooms. ...Everybody is cooking, and the Filipinas and the Chinese are teaching each other how to cook. And that’s one of the amazing things about Saipan-the diversity and harmony. In this first episode, we just begin to touch on some of the really unique social interaction that happens here. There is racism here that’s even comic. One group hates another group, until they meet them.
Ben: One group is better than another, except for the ones that aren’t.
Dan: Everybody hates each other’s culture...except for the ones that they don’t hate!"
Ben: Stereotypes are placed on each other here, almost casually...You find that a person’s prejudice is not the flag-waving, war-mongering, hit-you-with-a-bat kind. They’re often the "isn’t that funny", "let’s all laugh about it" tongue-in-cheek kind where we can even tease you about it while we share a drink together. Everyone is sharing the same society, the same roads, and looking past each others’ cultural differences.
Dan: Or not!
Ben: But we’re not killing each other over it.
Dan: It’s comical at times!
So what do you want to accomplish through State of Liberty?
Ben: My lifelong dream, in regards to film, has been to not merely put my island people on the map, but to basically show how truly connected we are as filmmakers and artists.
Isn’t filmmaking an expensive undertaking? How did you pull it off?
Dan: When you see the quality of acting, the cast, the locations, and all the effort that went into it, if this were NY or LA it would have cost at least $100,000...or we may not have been able to do it at all! Here, it cost me a total of, hmmmm, let's see, I bought a camera...
Ben: The camera was the budget!
Dan: Other than the camera, it cost me $1,000 in lunches to get this done.
Ben: We were able to do that here because of the unadulterated passion, commitment and dedication of those involved.
Dan: We-all the actors, and everyone involved-people like our editors Niles Hogue and Jerry Talosig, people like Raby Syed, a Bangladeshi actor in the film, we’re all passionate about creating a film industry here. We all have the exact dream. We all want to create works of art that portray what it is to be human...and here, Saipan, is an extraordinary place to do that.
What’s the series, and this episode in particular all about?
Dan: There are five different storylines. All are interconnected, not all are resolved in this pilot, but this first episode is mainly about a Chinese woman who is searching for her half-brother named America.
What do you want people to come away with after seeing this?
Dan: I want people to say, "I saw myself represented on film for the first time!
Ben: And for other would-be filmmakers, I’d like them to see that it can really be done here, and with everyday people!
Is there a particular scene in the film that you personally love?
Dan: This series is about finding freedom. Freedom means different things to different people. As you'll see in the film, everyone has different dreams, desires and expectations. For me the most special moment is the very last beat, the final moment in the movie when two people of completely different background meet, and for one shining moment in their lives are free.
What have you discovered is the unique thing you bring to this life, and this venture?
Ben: I consider myself a unifier of creative people. I've always found myself bringing together motley crews of talent who would never have crossed paths otherwise. My friends meet my other friends, and magic happens.
Dan: The ability to fall in love...It's the ability to open my heart and fall deeply and madly in love with the project I'm creating, and to inspire other people to open their hearts and fall in love as well.
What’s next in the developing success story of State of Liberty?
Ben: At the very least, I would like to see this series broadcast throughout the Pacific islands, especially New Zealand, the heart and soul of what we call ’Polywood" [Hollywood’s Polynesian cousin], the Mecca of filmmaking for Pacific island films where most stuff gets exposure.
Dan: My aspirations are huge! My fantasy is to have the series airing concurrently in every country that’s represented in the film.
With the completion of this first ever independent television pilot for a dramatic series shot entirely on location on Saipan, you've accomplished something quite unique. Any advice for entrepreneurs and filmmakers?
Ben: Never let anyone, and for that matter, never let yourself tell you it can’t be done. Don't buy that for a single minute. It’s healthy to set personal goals. Just act on it, just do it...Even if you come from a small tiny place in the middle of nowhere, you can create something incredibly huge by following your passion.
Dan: We accomplished the absolutely impossible. People just don’t know what it took considering the environment, the history and there not being a precedent. But we did it. It's not incredibly huge yet, but we're on our way.
Any final words?
Dan: I hope that as a teacher that I've been able to inspire some people. Ben needs to do this. Ravy needs to do this. If I can help them succeed, I win. When they are successful, I win. If I get to do it with them, I win even more. Either way I win. ...This is just the beginning, though. We still have many more challenges ahead of us. I'm willing to give anything for this baby to live.
Ben: The ideal would be to get sponsorship from a local interest, investor, to finance future productions of the series. That's our next step. Meanwhile people can enjoy the pilot episode right now on DVD. It's done. It's complete. And it's in stock!
* * *
After seeing the film myself, I can attest that if you’ve ever wanted to show your friends, or to have a way to capture what life on Saipan is really like in a living breathing animated way (blogs don’t quite capture it all) you can send them a copy of this DVD. You’ll be treated to beautifully captured and familiar scenes from popular locations around the island, see life from every perspective imaginable...and even recognize some familiar faces. Almost everyone will see themselves represented in some way this film. (Even the Jamaican(s?) on the island). And, given Saipan’s size, you’ll probably be able to tell your friends, hey, I know this or that actor, or I've been here or there on the island.
State of Liberty, Shodavision's gift to the world is now available on DVD!
Keywords:pacific island,carolinian history,chamorro
It took a lot of courage for a 25-year-old girl from Wu Xi City in Jiang Shu province, China, who had never flown on a plane, and who had never left home before, to travel 2,000 miles to a foreign country in search of work. It took even more courage to stay once she discovered what life was really like for a factory girl on the island of Saipan in the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
Had she made the greatest mistake of her life? Like many girls, she came with dreams of a better future. Yes, the pay was better than in China, but at what price? Would the high pressure of 15-hour quota-driven days of tedious, mind and finger-numbing work get to her? Or would the greedy floor monitors, and scam-artists preying on lonely, naive women rob her not just of her income, but of her innocence as well? At every turn, there were wolves ahead and tigers behind that threatened her dreams of happiness. Could she learn Saipan's secret factory system and get ahead before she lost it all? Could she save money, save face, and return to China better off? Would she even want to, given the real reason she left China in the first place?
Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin is Chun Yu Wang's eight-year journey on the island of Saipan. It is an inspiring and enlightening tale of determination, disappointment, justice, and triumph, and the only known first-hand account and diary of a Saipan factory girl's life.
Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin is told in her own words--simple, yet full of profound insights, and from an entirely untainted perspective. It is a directly transcribed account, told without the bias of reporters, journalists, case workers, human rights activists or western worldviews. Chun Yu's words reveal a natural storyteller's love of the art, and an attention to detail that makes Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin a rare, emotional, memorable experience you'll want to share again and again.
Coming Soon! Doing Business on Saipan
There's an economic transition taking place. The future is uncertain. What does that mean? It means OPPORTUNITY for the savvy entrepreneur. Now you can order a guide that will explain (with easy-to-follow checklists):
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tags: saipan,saipan tourism,cnmi