Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Photos courtesy of Ronnie Lanuza

This is a celebration of my second life.

After the car I’m driving last Friday afternoon, July 31, was hit by a speeding bus, I’m glad to be alive. Alive with just minor cuts and bruises on my face and body, and a fractured collar bone.

But if you saw my car, you will think I didn’t survive the accident. The blue Mazda MPV, named “Sky” by my daughter, is a total wreck.

The incident, or accident, happened at the intersection of Bank of Hawaii and Smiling Cove Marina at around two in the afternoon.

I was waiting for the stop light to turn green. When I saw the green light, I went ahead and started to drive. Out of nowhere, a speeding tourist bus, heading North of Saipan, rammed the van that I’m driving. My one-week old car was a total wreck, unrepairable.

This time, the reporter who regularly writes news, became part of the news.

Thank you for your help former Saipan Tribune sports reporter Brad Ruszala and to the men and women of EMS and CHCC.

I owe you my life.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Costly decision for Joe Miller

Saipan, CNMI—Choosing to use a pair of tires with tubes proved to be costly for Joe Miller as the Filipino bet finished sixth among the pros that competed in the 2015 XTERRA Saipan Championship last Saturday here in the United States’ territory’s largest island.

The two-time XTERRA Philippines Filipino Elite champion completed the 1.5-kilometer swim at Micro Beach, 40K bike ride around the steep hills of Mt. Tapochao, and 10K run through the rugged jungle trails in three hours, 22 minutes, and 33 seconds.

Miller submitted times of 22;:10 in the swim, 1:37:46 in the bike, and 1:01:12 in the run legs in his first try in the Crown Jewel of the Global XTERRA Circuit.

He was 22:08 behind Australian Ben Allen, who claimed his fourth XTERRA Saipan crown with the fastest time of 2:40:25, 13:09 slower of the record held by International Triathlon Union World Championships gold medalist Olivier Marceau of France (2:27:16) in 2007.

Miller said he was supposed to use tubeless tires but decided at the last minute to change to with tubes thinking it would give him more traction on the trail bike leg after testing the course two days before the event.

A heavy downpour bridging late Friday night and early Saturday morning changed the layout of the course, making the bike and trail run legs muddy and slippery.

“I was a bit disappointed with my performance. I kept on slipping on the trail since my tires have tubes in it. I was targeting fourth but still managed to finish against a strong field of competitors where some I’m not that familiar with,” said Miller.

He said XTERRA Saipan is not like the XTERRA Philippines course. “In Albay, it was sandy and rocky but not that sharp. Saipan has a rocky terrain and the rocks here are sharp increasing your chance to encounter mechanical problems so you have to really be careful.”

“It was really a challenging course. I’m a strong mountain biker but had difficulty navigating the course because of the mud and heavy rain,” added the first-year pro Miller.

“Still, I completed the race with no flat or other problems with my bike, and no injury in my first try here on Saipan,” said Miller, who experienced two flat tires in last month’s XTERRA Philippines to finish in sixth (3:10:48).

The former mountain bike racer will also make XTERRA stops in Guam (April 11) in New South Wales, Australia  (April 18) and Malaysia from May 1 to 3 in Langkawi.

“I want to complete the Asia-Pacific Tour since this XTERRA circuit will also be part of my preparation for the finals in Maui, Hawaii. I’ll first return to the Philippines after XTERRA Guam before heading to Australia,” Miller said.

He said that he’ll focus more in improving his swimming and running since he already has the skills in mountain biking. “XTERRA’s course is a perfect fit for me. I used to race against Philippine national team members in various Mt. bike races but coach Noy Jopson encouraged me to try triathlon.”

Miller said that he’ll be back next year after falling in love with the XTERRA Saipan course. “I didn’t know that there were a lot of Filipinos here. I’m going to be back next year and will bring other Filipino triathletes.”

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pinoy bet Miller tries his luck on XTERRA Saipan

Filipino triathlete Joe Miller used to hear stories from fellow pro Ben Allen of Australia and two others on how beautiful and challenging XTERRA Saipan Championship course.

On Saturday, the first year pro and former two-time XTERRA Philippines Filipino Elite champion, will finally try his luck in conquering the first stop of the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship Off-Road Triathlon series.

“A lot of the pros that I used to compete with like Ben, Jacqui Slack, and Daz Parker used to tell me stories about XTERRA Saipan. How beautiful and challenging the course is, and that I should try competing in it,” said the Zamboanga City native.

“I trained for 13 weeks for XTERRA Saipan and I’m targeting a third or fourth place finish. I really wanted to see the result of my training that’s why I’m pushing myself hard. I wasn’t satisfied with my performance in XTERRA Philippines and I’m craving for more. I want to challenge myself,” Milller said.

XTERRA Saipan starts with a 1.5-kilometer swim at Micro Beach and transitions to a 40K bike leg around the hills of Mt. Tapochao before finishing off with a 10K run through the rugged trails.

Miller, whose grandfather is an American, said that he used to compete with Allen, Great Britain’s Daz Parker and Jacqui Slack, and South African Bradley Weiss. All four have been urging him to come and compete on Saipan.

“They’ve been asking me to come and join them on Saipan. Particularly, Ben, because we became good friends and I even lived in their house when I competed in Australia,” said Miller, who arrived on Saipan early Thursday morning and despite coping with jetlag went out and tried the XTERRA Saipan’s bike leg.

The four-year triathlete, who will be competing as a pro for the first time this year, said that he now know why a lot of his colleagues have been coming back to compete in XTERRA Saipan after seeing the course that will go through the jungle of Mt. Tapochao.

“I tried the whole trail in the bike course, since it was already marked. It was challenging but I saw the beauty of the island and now I know why the other pros keep on coming back to compete here. I will try the run portion,” said Miller, who is hoping for a Top 5 finish.

Miller, who relocated to Mactan City in Cebu province when he concentrated on his blossoming triathlon career, said he was on his way of a Top 5 finish in last month’s XTERRA Philippines in Albay but both his tires got flat that’s why he had difficulty catching up with the lead group of pros.

He managed to finish the race in 3:10:48 to still end up at sixth place among the pros in the men’s division and 20th overall. “I’m a strong mountain biker since that is where I started racing before slowly transition to triathlon. But there’s nothing that you can do it if you encountered mechanical problems. Hopefully, I won’t encounter the same problems that I had back in XTERRA Philippines.”

Completing the Asia-Pacific series is another reason why Miller decided to join XTERRA Saipan. The series also includes stops in Guam on April 11, Australia on April 27, and Malaysia on May 2 and 3.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hay naku! Huma-haiku

Ms. Elisa Cruz, my English and Filipino teacher in my junior and senior years, respectively, at San Sebastian College's high school department, introduced me to the Japanese poetry called haiku.
A haiku is characterized by three lines in a 5-7-5 syllabic structure.
Now, I decided to review my past tweets and posted them on my own blog.
I'm used to writing news and sports stories, but a friend of mine told me to sometimes get out of my comfort zone.
I'm not much of a literature or poetry kind of guy, so bear with me in my attempt to write haiku.

Gentle morning breeze.
Waking me up at this hour.
I went back to sleep.

A bird takes its flight.
Free to widely spread its wings.
Soaring with the wind.

Deafening silence.
Teach me to see the real things.
The world's true colors.

Neighbor's dog howling.
Other dogs are joining in.
Disturbing my peace.

Humbled in defeat.
Choosing to do what is right.
Retreat and regroup.

Broken, tired, weary.
No chance to become happy.
It has frustrate me.

Mankind or kind man?
We see only destruction.
Mother Nature cries.

My day's work is done.
Now, rest and relaxation.
Tomorrow again.

Inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender series:
WaterSouthern water tribe.
Where Katara lost her mom.
Powerful bender.

I need to redeem myself.
Get back my honor.

An inspiration.
One spark ignites the flame.
Solving mysteries.

Tiny grains of sand.
Our lives connected by faith.
Thinking in between.

Life of each person.
All have own stories to tell.
Roller coaster ride.

With each passing day.
Seconds, minutes, hours go by.
Aim for contentment.

Turning back the time.
If you have lots of regrets.
Correcting mistakes.

Take the first step.
Each journey begins with it.
Traveling the road.

Helping people's lives.
What goes around, comes around.
Paying it forward.

Who, what, when, where, why.
Questions every people ask.
Searching for answers.

Horrors of mankind.
Nightmares, haunting everyone.
Deafening silence.

Neighbor's puppy barks.
Is restless at the moment.
Silence, back to nap!

Time to heal old wounds.
Rekindle bonds of friendship.
Leave the past behind.

Letting go
Lost souls find their way.
Return to your innocence.
Submit to freedom.

Bad dreams haunting you.
Restless soul, no peace of mind.
Put away your fears.

Evil things lurking.
Waiting to pounce on the weak.
Vigilance needed.

Rising sun bows down.
Says goodbye for just a while.
Resting place is west.

Quotes and sayings

I am not a guru nor a philosopher but most of the time, especially when my mind is wandering to another place, I think of words, those words become phrases, and those phrases become quotes or sayings.
Here are some that I came up with and posted on Twitter. Some are self-explanatory, while others are quirky or out of this world.
Enjoy reading...

Why let anger and hate consume or control your life? Detach yourself from the chains that hold you down.

Good and evil are always at war within ourselves.

Climb a mountain to see blue skies.

Every journey begins with one small step. The adventure continues...

Get out of your comfort zone.

When we're angry, our judgment gets clouded.

The choices we make shape our future.

Give me courage and strength.

In humble silence, I submit!

We are but a tiny blip on the radar.

Let God be our judge.

Football players are goal oriented. Sprinters are always in a hurry.

We are constantly searching for answers.

Always, keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.

Social media made stalking a lot easier.

Sometimes, you have to step on the brakes. Slow down.

Leave everything behind.

Good things happen when you least expect it.

Back to the Stone Age.

Thankful for another year, and that I continue to breathe, for the blessings that come in bunches or in trickles like rain in the desert.

We must co-exist even if we have different beliefs.

I'm a journeyman.

Even heroes need a helping hand sometimes.

We can learn a lot from the past.

Was expecting a fastball but the Pitcher threw a curveball.

I observe in silence.

Here's a serving of humble pie.

I still believe in miracles. No matter what lie and story you fabricate, the truth will come out. Judgment day will come.

Death will someday come knocking at our door.

Why did the waiter quit playing tennis? Because he is required to serve.

Expect the unexpected and lower your expectations.

I face my own problems no matter how difficult it is and I always try to find a solution.

Men who physically, emotionally and psychologically abuse their wives or girlfriends are cowards.

Lying and making up stories to cover up those lies are perfect qualifications of a person who wants to run for public office.

Some people are afraid of change. But change is good. Change for the better to improve your life.

Every relationship needs T.R.U.S.T. Truthfulness, Respect, Understanding, Simplicity, Thoughtfulness.

Blaming is what impossible people do, and they do it well. Remember, impossible people can do no wrong.

Easter is the commemoration of our freedom from sin through Christ our Lord's resurrection.

Pause, pray, reflect, repent and change.

Some things are not meant to be.

Finding strength to forgive the people who hurt you is a courageous thing to do.

Nobody's perfect, we all make mistakes.

We must learn how to stand up each time we stumble and fall.

Treat others like the same way you wanted to be treated. Pay it forward. What goes around, comes around.

Humility is a sign of maturity. Owning up to your mistakes is not a sign of weakness.

We gain wisdom as we age.

You must first respect others, in order for you to receive it.

Faith, hope and love are some of the treasures that no person can take away from you.

We may look like a worthless lump of clay, but with our Master's hands He can turn us into a useful pottery jar.

Laughter lightens our souls and refreshes our spirits.

Some people gain wisdom as they age. Some age without wisdom.

Be part of the solution, not the problem.

We see things differently.

We will be judged according to our works.

Are you a blessing or a burden to other people?

May we 'die' and be resurrected with Christ this Lenten season.

Aside from the traditions (Palm Sunday, Visita Iglesia, Way of the Cross, Pabasa and Salubong), may we find the true meaning of Lent.

Good things happen to those who wait.

Learning is a continuous process.

You can no longer bring back the lost hours.

I'm not a psycho, I'm just special.

We need to fight fire with fire.

Your priorities begin to change as you grow older.

Some people are good in digging the dirt of others, but fail to find the mud splattered on their faces.

Some people can't handle the truth that is why they come up with lies and other stories to cover up everything.

In the end, when our time comes to face the Lord, He will not ask us how many times we prayed each day. If we recited the entire rosary's 20 mysteries? How many hours we spent kneeling at the altar? If we memorized the bible from cover to cover? How much we contribute at church? Or even if we made various offerings in His name.
The questions we must expect from God when we stand in front of Him is how did we treat our fellowmen.
Did we spread lies, make up stories, malign and falsely accuse other people? Did we fool others in order to advance our own personal motives? Or did we cover up the truth in order to protect a family member?

All things happen for a reason.

Some people are still living in the stone age, when in fact we're already in the new millennium.

We need to let go of things that's dragging us down.

Funny how, sometimes, our lives are intertwined.

In today's age of camera phones and selfies, some of us are more concerned in looking beautiful outside instead of enhancing our character.

Dark clouds cover the horizon.

Hoping that all women who are victims of any type of abuse may find the courage to fight back.

Children are the first casualties of every conflict.

You must first respect others, in order for you to receive it.

Pride has its positive and negative effects.

I control my own destiny. People around me can give their advice. But in the end I'll be the one who'll make the decision.

You should really practice what you preach. That's why I don't preach.

You reap what you sow.

Faith, hope and love are some of the treasures that no person can take away from you.

We may look like a worthless lump of clay, but with our Master's hands He can turn us into a useful pottery jar.

Is peace merely an absence of conflict?

Be an optimist.

Knowledge belongs to everyone,

Friday, October 31, 2014

Two blinks and a wink

So sorry for this Halloween-related story.

October 31, Saipan time, was my second straight Friday of walking from my friend's place in Quartermaster Road to the Saipan Tribune office at JP Center in Garapan.

The distance is around three kilometers more or less and some 20 minutes of brisk walking. It was a cloudy afternoon, and except for a handful of tourists wandering and taking pictures of the lagoon, the Beach Road pathway had less foot traffic that day.

As I get near Triple J Motors, and the building where Mega Byte and Hardt Eye Clinic was located, I saw an old Asian-looking man slowly walking beside his bicycle, which has a basket in front of the handlebars.

He was wearing an orange-hued but undershirt and an unbuttoned checkered polo, and black pants.

I knew that in a few minutes I would come across the man since we're at the pathway. But in just one snap, as he passed by some trees, he vanished. I was amazed, stunned and surprised of what had just happened.

So I decided to went around the tree just to check if he stopped and rested for a while. No bike and not a single sight of the man.

I told myself, maybe he crossed the street, but cars travelling along the northbound and southbound lanes of Beach Road did not stop. And if the cars did stop, I would have seen it because CNMI drivers are courteous to pedestrians and switch on the hazard lights of their cars if someone was about to cross the street.

I'm not forcing you to believe me, I just wanted to share my story of another encounter with a different kind.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Breast cancer patient fundraiser

Sorry for this promotion but this one's for a good cause.

A friend, colleague and talented lensperson, Jacq Hernandez (, was recently diagnosed with Stage II HER2-positive breast cancer.

Jacq used to work as a photographer for the Marianas Variety and Saipan Tribune in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Pacific Daily News in Guam.

She is now connected with the Manila Bulletin in the Philippines but some of her photos were also used by the Associated Press and Agence France Press.

It is a treatable form of cancer but medication, and chemotherapy and radiation is too costly.

That's why a group of her friends decided to have this fundraiser to help with her mounting medical bills.

Any amount would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your support and understanding.