NMI stimulus payments on the way

While the next stimulus payment for the Northern Mariana Islands is still up in the air, Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres confirmed to the Journal the next round would be distributed via a card, during a March 25 press briefing. He said there might be some issues with this form of distribution, and he is working on solving these, but “at the end of the day, the card is the best way.”

Torres previously said the amount could be more than the last payment of $500, also sent out by card. At a press briefing on March 18, he said mailout of some cards had been delayed during the first distribution.

All tax filers for 2020 in the NMI previously received the 2021 payment, which could be used at any business.


Red Cross adds tables to annual Guam event, last minute buys still welcome

The Guam Chapter of the Red Cross was busy adding tables on March 24 to the first of three nights of its annual Red Ball at the Hyatt Regency Guam, after Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero announced that the number of people at indoor gatherings can be raised from 100 to 250. For March 24, “We’re close to 20 tables,” Sandra Ramiro, Red Cross Guam’s director of services to the Armed Forces, told the Journal. “The last two nights have already increased.”

Tables of six are still open for March 25 and March 26. Call Chita A. Blaise at (671) 688-0280 or Sandra Ramirez at 688-0283. Red Ball five course dinners to go are also available.


Korean Government recommendation may affect overseas travel

While there are hopeful signs for regional travel with an increase in flights to the Mariana Islands, Korean media are reporting that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended that people wait to travel until mid-April.

As previously reported, Air Busan increased the number of international flights from Busan to both Guam and Saipan to two per week, Jin Air is resuming service from Busan to Guam as of April 16, and Jeju Air is resuming service on the Busan-Saipan route with two flights per week from March 30.


In other tourism news, as earlier announced Hawaii’s mask mandate is due to end when the emergency proclamation ends on March 25. Hawaii’s health director recommended people at risk should still wear masks in some indoor settings such as schools and hospitals and crowded settings, according to the Office of Gov. David Y. Ige.


US Compact negotiator named


The U.S. Department of State named Ambassador Joseph Y. Yun March 22 as the new Special Presidential Envoy for Compact negotiations with the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau. Yun most recently served as the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, from 2013 to 2016. He also served as the principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Yun’s other overseas postings include the Republic of Korea, Thailand, France, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Before joining the Foreign Service, Yun was a senior economist for Data Resources Inc. in Lexington, Mass. He holds degrees from both the London School of Economics and the University of Wales.


Changes at the top for shipping company


Matson Navigation Co. has announced the following appointments:

Vicente S. “Vic”” Angoco Jr.  senior vice president for the Pacific region has been appointed as senior vice president for Alaska, based in Anchorage, effective July 1.

Angoco was operations manager and then promoted to manager for sales and customer service in Guam from 1996 to 2001, later returning to Guam in 2006 as country manager.


Leonard Isotoff, senior vice president for sales in Hawaii, is promoted to succeed Angoco, effective April 1.

Isotoff was the former general manager for Guam and Micronesia from January 2008 to July 2013.

Bernadette N. Valencia, vice president and general manager of Matson Guam has been appointed senior vice president for sales for Hawaii, to succeed Isotoff.


Valencia was promoted to vice president in 2017 and her career at Matson in Guam began in 2008 as regional manager for sales and customer service. Valencia is the 2018 Guam Business Magazine Executive of the Year.

Patrick Bulaon, operations manager for Guam and Micronesia, is being promoted to vice president and general manager for Guam and Micronesia, also overseeing Japan, and will succeed Valencia.


Bulaon joined Matson in June after an 18-plus career with Exxon Mobil Oil as regional manager for Guam, Country Manager for Fiji and as programs manager in Singapore. He previously spent four years with PacifiCare Asia Pacific as marketing manager, and prior to that worked in retail sales for Mobil. Bulaon holds a 1990 bachelor’s in business administration from Marquette University. 

Angoco, Valencia and Bulaon are originally from Guam. Isotoff is originally from Chuuk.


UOG gears up for annual sustainability conference

The Center for Island Sustainability at the University of Guam will host its 13th Annual Conference on Island Sustainability, themed “Harness Wind in Our Sails to Sustainable 2030” from April 5 to April 9. The conference will use a hybrid format — both in person at the Hyatt Regency Guam and via livestream. 

The conference schedule and speaker bios are at uog.edu/cis2022.   


Guam Housing Corp. gets clean audit, dealing with delinquent loans

Despite the negative impact to Guam’s economy from COVID-19, the Guam Housing Corp. ended fiscal 2021 with a net gain of $434,000, an increase of $263,000 from the fiscal 2020 net gain of $170,000. GHC received a clean opinion on its fiscal 2021 audit from Ernst & Young LLP, according to a March 23 release from the Office of Public Accountability.

COVID-19 had a financial impact on many GHC mortgagors and their ability to meet their financial obligations. Delinquent loans 30 days and over decreased by $1.2 million to $2.6 million in fiscal 2021. Overall, loans delinquent 30 days and over decreased from 15% in fiscal 2020 to 11% in fiscal 2021, the release said.

Find the full report at www.guamopa.org


If it’s too good to be true …

In 2021, 11 people in Guam lost $3,932 and seven in the Northern Mariana Islands lost $107,000 to online fraud, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Report 2021.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center “continued to receive a record number of complaints from the American public: 847,376 reported complaints, which was a 7% increase from 2020, with potential losses exceeding $6.9 billion. Among the 2021 complaints received, ransomware, business e-mail compromise schemes, and the criminal use of cryptocurrency are among the top incidents reported. In 2021, BEC schemes resulted in 19,954 complaints with an adjusted loss of nearly $2.4 billion,” the report said.


Political updates:

Thomas Hicks Jr., the co-chairman of the Republican National Committee is visiting Guam “to meet with party officials, committee leaders, and candidates,” according to a March 22 release.

The RNC chairwoman – Ronna McDaniel – visited Guam in 2020.

Jonathan Pangelinan Del Rosario Cabrera has been appointed interim chairman of the Democratic Party of the Northern Mariana Islands. He has been a member of the party since 2010 and has served as party secretary twice.

Nola Kileleman Hix has stepped down as chairwoman of the Democratic Party of the Northern Mariana Islands. Hix previously relocated to Guam.

Attorney Michael A. White, the Party’s National Committeeman, was elected to two DNC councils, the Seniors and Climate Councils. Mr. White was also elected to an At-Large position within the DNC’s Western Caucus at the DNC Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.


For your diary:

The CNMI Office of the Governor and the CNMI Office of Veterans Affairs will host town hall meetings on Rota and Tinian to discuss issues of concern to veterans and military families.

Meetings are scheduled for March 30 at the Rota Mayor’s Office Conference Hall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and for April 1 at the Tinian Public Library from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Contact the CNMI Office of Veterans Affairs at (670) 664-2650 for more information.

The Marianas Visitors Authority’s Saipan Marathon will take place on April 9. The deadline for early bird registration for the half-marathon, 10K, and 5K is March 25.

Contact MVA Community Projects Coordinator Ed Diaz at (670) 664.3210 or [email protected]

The Tumon Bay Youth Orchestra will perform from 2 p.m. March 27 at the Center Court of the Agana Shopping Center, featuring the woodwind and brass section. mbj