Battling worker shortages, government deficits, increased taxes and natural disasters … it’s safe to say 2018 was a rough ride for the region.
Admittedly, areas all over the world dealt with the unimaginable last year — from wildfires to hurricanes and typhoons to earthquakes and wind storms and mudslides. Ranker.com has a very rousing list of “The Worst Natural Disasters of 2018” that will make any person cringe. And much like we do in the islands, people in those regions — and often from neighboring states and countries — banded together to help each other survive. Yet, it’s interesting to see how the Marianas handle such hardships differently than the rest of the world.
The Atlantic on Nov. 14 had an article much-circulated amongst those who live in the Marianas, called “The Media Barely Covered One of the Worst Storms to Hit U.S. Soil.” A point that hits home is how when others in the United States, and even the world, are hit by storms much less devastating than Super Typhoon Yutu, the rest of the world is in an uproar. Here — yes — disaster relief approvals were signed, FEMA was admittedly quick to come to the region’s aid, etc. Yet, because of our region’s “remoteness,” those signatures are quickly forgotten, and the world moved on to other things. At a time like that, it surely feels like we’re left on our own.
This is where one can see how the Marianas stand out as unique.
2018 Executive of the Year Bernadette N. Valencia’s favorite credo depicts the mindset of the Marianas better than any. “I live by the words, ‘Show no signs of weakness.’ Giving up is not an option,” she says.
Valencia stands as the perfect example of the strength of our region. Here you find people much like Valencia who show no signs of weakness — people who are proud to be local, proud to endure the obstacles that our location brings, proud to band together to be stronger than anyone else because of those obstacles.
Of her accomplishments, Valencia says, “I believe that I have proven to other large companies in our region that locals can run their organizations better than ex-pats. I am very proud to be locally hired and have 100% local staff in Guam, CNMI and Micronesia with responsibility for a significant part of the company portfolio.”
Our region is full of local flavor; it’s spicy. Whether it is in our food, business endeavors or simply strength of character, that spice creates a community that has more heart and more resilience than ever seen.
It’s a community that saw a labor shortage and launched countless training programs to educate local workers; that saw a government deficit and increased taxes and so fought for its right as a territory and as businesses; that saw natural disasters and dropped everything it had to help its neighbors and used the opportunity to improve its homes, business, products and services.
It’s a community that has said, “Hello 2019, give us your level 10 spice — we dare you.”