Friday, June 8, 2007

Blogging as a way to promote Saipan, and the Saipan Chamber of Commerce scholarship program.

Food For Thought 6-8-07

Hi friends, this is Harry Blalock; General Manager for radio stations KZMI & KCNM. It’s that time once again to take a look at the issues of the week, and to offer some Food For Thought.

Has it really been a week already since we last did this? I did have a cold this week, and that could have had something to do with it, but I swear this past week was pretty much just a blur. But that is not to say that it hasn’t been an eventful week, actually I’m kind of amazed when I look back at all the things that were packed into this past week.

I had Walt Goodridge come on my morning talk show, Island Issues a week ago, and we had a good discussion about where Saipan is heading, and what role each of us may play in it’s future. In case you’re not familiar with him, Walt is an author with quite a few books under his belt at this point, he also write a column each Wednesday in the Saipan Tribune called the Saipanpreneur Project, and he is the founder of the We Love Saipan internet network. I swear Walt’s brain is clicking away about 28 hours a day with all kinds of plans and ideas. I have invited him to be a regular guest on Island Issues to discuss his ideas and to hopefully inspire you listeners about some of your hidden potential as well. I believe he’s going to take me up on it, and I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what comes out of it.

If you haven’t checked out the We Love Saipan web page, let me encourage you to do so, it’s at And if you’d like to write a little testimonial about why you love Saipan and have it included on the page, they are always looking for more people to be included. Especially if you have a web page or a blog, it is a great place to link to, and help build exposure for the network and for your web page as well.

As I read through some of the people’s blogs, I was finally pushed off my lazy backside to start my own blog. I have had people suggesting it for a long time, but I always thought it was too much work setting up a website and everything. That’s because I had never really checked out, it’s basically blogs for dummies. It takes all the work out of it, and you just click on the options for how you want your page to look, and it does the rest of it for you. Oh yeah, and the best part is, it’s absolutely free! So then you can upload pictures to your blog, it makes it very easy, you really don’t have to have any html knowledge at all. Then you just write whatever you want to say in your blog, just like you’d type it out in a regular Word document, and push the Publish button, and then you have it, your own blog.

This is truly a great way to get free exposure for Saipan, and to let other people see Saipan from your eyes. They can see the pictures you choose to put online, and hear what you think about things. This is a great way of countering that website, which shall remain nameless, that has nothing but bad things to say about Saipan. When Walt started the We Love Saipan website on December 6th of last year, it was ranked 155th in the Google search for Saipan. As of this morning, when I just checked it, it came up in the 10th position. The more people that connect to the network, and the more hits it gets, the higher it will climb in the Google search. Wouldn’t it be great to have a website promoting Saipan in a positive light be the first thing that comes up in a Google search? While this may not fix all the problems currently facing Saipan, it is certainly a step in the right direction, and it allows you to become a part of the solution.

And I have to admit, I’m enjoying blogging, it’s a way to put down your thoughts and observations and have them recorded before you forget them. It’s basically a modern day journal, only one that you let the world read. You can talk about anything you feel like, and make it as personal or impersonal as you wish. For me, it’s a way to talk about more things than I can cover in my weekly Food For Thought. So some of my blogs will be my thoughts about various issues or events, while others will be talking about my 27th wedding anniversary with Kelli, which we just celebrated on June the 7th. So just in case you don’t get enough of me each morning, and once a week with Food For Thought, now you can read my ramblings on my blog as well. I can’t guarantee that it will always be something you’ll be interested in, but then again you don’t have to read it if the title doesn’t interest you. I’m telling you, if I can do a blog, anybody can do a blog, it really is that easy. Mine is at

In my blog I’ve talked about having some of my underwater pictures published in an upcoming book, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce scholarship program, the meeting with Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, my sons new ferrets, and Kelli’s and my 27th wedding anniversary. Like I said, you can talk about anything you feel like. In my case, I usually don’t have nearly enough time in Food For Thought to talk about all the things I’d like to, so I find this is a good supplement. It allows me to go into other topics that might not make the cut for Food For Thought, and it allows me to talk about things that our family and friends in other locations might be interested in.

I had a couple topics I wanted to discuss today; one was the visit by Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and the other was the Saipan Chamber of Commerce scholarship program. I’m not going to say a whole lot about Secretary Kempthorne’s visit, but I did want to point out that I was very impressed with him as a person. He seems genuinely concerned about and interested in the CNMI, and said that he wants to make a difference. I believe him, and I expect that he will do whatever he can for us back in Washington, but we need to keep in mind we are only one very tiny part of his responsibilities. If you want to know more on my thoughts about his visit, you’re welcome to check out the comments about it on my blog.

I did want to spend a little bit of time today talking about the Saipan Chamber of Commerce scholarship program. The Chamber has fundraisers throughout the year in which we raise money to give to select graduating high school seniors in the form of a college scholarship. That’s where the funds from the Corporate Challenge go, some of our mixers and socials are also fundraising tools for the scholarship fund. We also do raffles during the regular membership meetings to raise extra money for the scholarship fund. And we host debates of gubernatorial and senatorial candidates for the community, the proceeds of which go toward the scholarship program as well. We try to give out about $10,000 in scholarships each year, some years it’s a little more and others it might be a little less, but that’s our goal each year.

We announce the program each year to graduating high school seniors encouraging them to apply for the scholarships if they are headed for college. This year we had 19 students apply, each and every one of them very impressive in their own right. The problem is we only had 6 - $1,500 scholarships to give out. So members of the Education Committee interviewed all 19 students, trying to narrow down the list and figure out which ones we felt were the most deserving students. It’s not all just about academics, but of course that is a big part of it. We are also looking for students who understand what community service is all about and who have already started giving back to the community they live in.

If these students represent our future, then things are really looking up, they were a most impressive bunch. The only thing that bothers me about the whole process is that we have to turn any of the students down; they have all worked hard for their accomplishments. So the next time you see the Chamber of Commerce doing a fundraiser, please be generous and help us help this next generation of business leaders and professionals. Even though the scholarships were only for $1,500 each this year, every little bit helps when it comes to funding a college education, and every student was most appreciative.

This years Saipan Chamber of Commerce scholarship winners were Tikla Brown – who was home schooled this past year, Raneeza Cano from Grace Christian Academy, Henry Chan from Saipan International School, Emily Jang from Marianas High School, Bernadeth Piamonte from Marianas High School and Chellette San Nicolas from Northern Marianas Academy. Each and every one of them students who made their schools and parents very proud. Congratulations to each one of you and we all wish you the best of luck as you embark on this next phase of your life heading off to college.

And to those of you still in high school, keep those grades up and get involved in your community so that we can be interviewing you for the Saipan Chamber of Commerce scholarship when you’re a graduating senior.

I’m Harry Blalock, thanking you once again for giving me a generous slice of your valuable time, and allowing me to share my Food For Thought.


Christopher said...

This is probably an old blog, but you mentioned Raneeza Cano....I was her kindergarten teacher at GCA 15 some odd years ago. My name (was) Miss Hanuska (now married, it is Mrs. Peggy Rios). If you know her, please tell her I said hello and I wish her well!

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My commentary that airs on radio stations KZMI - 103.9 FM & KCNM - 101.1 FM