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Saipan

Ruins of the La Fiesta Mall on Saipan

  IN broad daylight, the ruins of what was once the flourishing La Fiesta Mall in San Roque, Saipan, look like what it exactly is- sprawling dilapidated buildings. But cloaked under heavy darkness, the view changes. The crumbling buildings take on a sinister form and everything about the place feels creepy.

Surrounded by ruins

It was getting dark. I and a buddy were at the parking lot of the mall. Silence engulfed the whole place. We were sitting under the old, ominous-looking tower with the huge clock up above. I could not stop the goosebumps that started to crawl up and down my spine.

I’d been at the La Fiesta mall ruins several times in the past with companions. It was always fun and challenging to pick our way among the ruins, through the debris-filled hallways. I found it fun peeking through the rooms and shouting “hello” into the vast emptiness. As always, our voices ricocheted through the walls.

I had seen the place come to life with gunshots echoing through the hallways when the Department of Public Safety used the place as a training area for shooting.

I’ve heard hundreds of stories about how La Fiesta Mall was the main destination for all shopping and events. When Japan Airlines pulled out its flights to Saipan, the bustling mall closed its doors in 2004.

Silent witnesses of former glory

Now, no traces of the once-largest shopping and entertainment center on Saipan remained except for these forsaken buildings with its peeling paint, shards of broken glass from the shattered windows, and dangling plywood from the cracked ceilings. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for these buildings that had been mute witnesses to events of the past.

Somehow, in the deepening darkness and deafening silence, it was hard to imagine that just a few years back the place bustled and throbbed with life.

Abandoned mall sections

The three sections– Fiesta I, II, and III which used to house shops, fast food restaurants, designer boutiques, movie theaters, and a concert hall where performers belt out live musical renditions every night have become a thing of the glorious past.

We didn’t dare wander through the empty halls in the darkness albeit the temptation to do so was strong. I didn’t exactly relish the thought of being caught by authorities and mistaken as burglars.

We left the ruins with a heavy heart, feeling sorry for the days gone by when La Fiesta stood in all its glory, a past that I was not even a part of.

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