We can all strive to be better people

By Mabel Doge Luhan

Who stole my Manabat?

I’ve been a bit under the weather since I heard the news of Donald Turnip still ambulating mostly under his own power. As is my custom, I searched the Variety for a Manabat article to gather a bit of cheer and convince myself that getting a degree in English literature was worth it.

Yes, there were quite a few articles under Manabat’s name. I ravenously scanned each one for the usual malapropisms, unconjugated verbs, or clumsy colloquialisms. And I came up as empty-handed as Wil Castro at a Harvard commencement!

Someone must have stolen my dear Manabat and replaced him with a clone altered to speak native -level English. Either that or Manabat fixed his English. Either way, I hereby damn him to the lunch buffet at PIC and an appointment with Shayne Villanueva’s tailor!

If Manabat did fix his English — by whatever means, even if by signing up for Grammarly or whatever — that should serve as an unfortunate warning that people can and do learn new skills. And people can and do improve.

Maybe some Mabelian mockery was what he needed. But isn’t that better than the alternative? Once the Variety prints its last IPI press release and Manabat looks for a new job, he’d have his resume laughed out of the room by any employer who uses standard English. And so would most of us in the CNMI, even those born and educated here.

We talk about the disadvantages we have on a remote island. We do. And one of them is that we speak a form of English that is far from standard, and that will disqualify us from employment or education pretty much anywhere outside the CNMI and the Philippines.

But this isn’t a hundred years ago when the Chamorros would gather around a visiting American to hear real English. It’s not even twenty years ago when audio and video were a big hassle to access online. There are thousands if not millions of English learning or improvement resources online. If you don’t use them, then it’s only your fault that you’ll be stuck here forever. Even Guam laughs at our English, FYI.

You think your English is too far gone to fix?

I’ve bought quaaludes from a Paraguayan llama herder who spoke better English than the old Manabat. Trust me: your English could not have been worse than that. And now Manabat writes like a native speaker. The Variety is still trash, but at least it’s no longer ungrammatical trash.

If Manabat can fix his English and Troy Torso can overcome a debilitating addiction, what can you do? How can you improve yourself, your life, and the world around you?

As Orville says, “The balls are round. Everything else is up to you.”


Mabel Doge Luhan is a woman of loose morals. She resides in Kagman V, where she pursues her passions of crocheting, beatboxing, and falconry.


  • Striving to be a better person isn’t for the faint of heart. It mean to reprogram oneself from being Egoic to God-centered.

    For most individuals, the Ego rules, not God. The Ego calls the shots and doesn’t especially care if you live or die. However talk of God is difficult (and somewhat embarrassing). This is foolish and immature.

    To be God-centered is to care more about other living beings than oneself. That’s what real Love is. But your Ego is frequently the Devil, and tells you how wonderful you are, and that you are superior to others. Not true.

    Each of us is an aspect of God, and our purpose is to show compassion for, and willingness to help, others.

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