This is one unforgetable Chamorro greeting that I will not forget the moment I stepped out from the jetway to Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport of Guam.
|Guam's Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport.|
After we get our baggages at the carousels, we exited to the arrival hall. I saw a huge banner with bold letter on it saying "We support our troops" pertaining to the US military bases in the island. Then, we meet and we were welcome by my mom's family friend, Kuya Toni and his wife Ate Cecille who are Guam residents. We will stay at their house for the next 4 days. It was still dark in Guam when we wentoutside the airport. It think its 4am. It was just 7 minutes away from the airport and we were already in Dededo, where they are residing. It was so near the airport. Even though it is dark I can see the surroundings filled with small bushes and trees that makes me wonder why Guam seems like a province. When we arrive, I had my first taste of breakfast in Guam (wheat breat with white cheese and American coffee which I really like). After that I sleep fast as I am so sleepy because I have not sleep during the entire flight!
|Supporting their troops message at the airport.|
|It says it all...|
Thanksgiving is part of their celebrated holidays. Other malls are also on sale until Saturday of that week because of this holiday. Early bird shoppers were already at K-Mart. Most of them bought plasma flat-screen TVs. It was only here that I realize that mostof the residents of Guam are Filipinos. They flocked K-Mart and even its staffs some are Filipinos. So expect a warm atmosphere when you visit the island. But majority are still the Charmorro - the natives of Guam. But Pinoys are everywhere that makes Guam a "little Philippines." In the afternoon, we met the other two siblings of my mom's friend who are also her teenager friends before.
By early evening we celebrated the Thanksgiving Day with other Filipino communities and mostly are just neighbhors. It was like a big reunion. I am expecting a plate of American style of roasted turkey as the main course meal but I am more satisfied to have a home-style buffet feast of pancit, empanada, rice cakes, sinigang and roasted chicken and pork menu all in Filipino style.It was a good opportunity to exchange stories with Filipinos abroad and what is the status of their lives on Guam, One of the interested conversations I won't forget is that although Guam is plagued by pinoys, Christmas is still best celebrated in our country. According to them. simple celebration were held during the holidays so its still quite sad to spend Christmas in Guam. There no place like home when its Christmas, I thought.
|Thanksgiving in Guam with the Filipino community.|
On the third day, we visited one of the famed white sand beaches of Guam - Mata'pang Beach. It is part of Tumon Bay and located in the opposite side of the strip where all beach-front hotels are dotting like chains on Tumon Bay. Guam is famous for its white sand beaches, so its a must experience in your itinerary when visiting Guam. A perfect time to visit the beach is in the morning so we were fetched there together with Kuya Tony, Ate Cecil and their daugther Cean. Mata'pang Beach is beside Holiday Resort Guam and accessible to the public. It isa white sand beach at its finest. I was not crowdy in the during our visit which I like. Plus its long stretch of white sand beach has secluded places to stay upon. You can feel a private beach of your own when you are in a secluded spot in Mata'pang. You can freely meditate in the shore or you can just appreciate the nature around. You can also swim without worrying about your items as crime rate is low in the island. I did not waste time, I swam in to its clear blue waters and savor the relaxing feeling of being one with the ocean.
|The pure shores of Mata'pang Beach.|
|I certain do!|
|Swim, swim, swim...|
|Life at Guam's beach. See the rainbow?|
|Two Lover's Point viewing deck.|
|The view says it all.|
|The viewing deck of Two Lover's Point.|
|A view of coral seabeds below the viewing deck cliff.|
|Murals at the viewing area of Two Lover's Point.|
|Commemorative wedding plates around the park.|
|Things to see in the museum of Two Lover's Point.|
|Guam is also a heaven for shoppers.|
Ate Lenie treated us at Winchells(again! ^^). This time, it is already cemented that this is my favorite donut store in Guam. We also hada sample of their hot choco... (it was heaven taste ^^). Then we headed to Agana Shopping Center in Hagatna which houses the SM Shopping Mall. Yes, SM has a branch here (they also have 4 in China). SM Guam sells almost the same commodities and clothes as its local counterparts minus the local brands sold in our country. It also offer movie theaters, restaurants and an inviting atmosphere for alternative shopping in the island.
Underwater World which dubbed itself "same planet, different world" is a famous oceanarium in Guam located in the heart of Tumon. We visited it in the afternoon of the same day. We tour the oceanarium to let us experience to be submerged beneath 800,000 gallons of sea water without getting wet! It features the longest underwater tunnel aquarium in the world. We enter in the long tunnel walled by huge glass in a half circle arc design. It lets us view sea life that we never imagine. We weresurrounded by sharks, stingrays, turtles and countless sea fishes. Seeing this lifsize aquarium is a unique experience. Its my first time in oceanarium! (I haven't seen the Manila Ocean Park yet. Its my sister's second time see saw Sydney's Aquarium. And my mom's 3rd visit. She had been to Sydney's and Hong Kong's oceanarium). I won't forget the 2 big sea turtles swimming above and the stingrays that swims wonderfully like birds in the water. It also happened that time was also the fishes. I am surprise how strong is the mouth of coffin fish and stingrays as they can crack open the muscles feed to them.
|First time in oceanarium!|
|The oceanarium of Underwater World Guam.|
|'Wish to touch the turtle.|
|Big Fish is sleeping.|
|Touch pool with the starfish.|
|Nemo and his bestfriend... they just so tiny.|
|Aquarium contains some unique sea creatures.|
|The oceanarium is tiring at times, good thing there are sofas.|
|Underwater World's souvenir shop where we also exit from the aquarium.|
Around the island tour of Guam is the last activity we had for the day. Round the island is possible in the morning or afternoon schedule because you can tour around the island of Guam in 3.5 hours by car. It is the estimated time but if you have stops for viewing the places then approximate time would be 4.30 hours.
Out first stop was Agana Bay at Paseo Park where next to it is Hagatña Boat Basin channel. There is a scaled down replica of Statue of liberty facing the bay. the ara is a popular spot for visitors and locals. On the left of the bay are surfer-lovers breaking in to the strong waves of the sea.
|A view of Hagatña and Tumon from Fort Santa Agueda.|
|Doing the Statue of Libert pose at Paseo Park.|
|Shores of Hagatña Boat Basin Channel.|
The latte are remnants of the earlier Chamorro culture.
|Latte Stone Park at Hagatña.|
|Asan Beach overlook were a historic battle happened.|
|The mountain ranges doesn't look like that were in Guam!|
|Walking away from Vietnam War Memorial overlook.|
Located on the southeast coast of Guam, Umatac Bay was believed in the past to be the location where Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan first landed on Guam. There are many things to do and sites to see along Umatac Bay including enjoying a day at Umatac Bay Park which is situated along the eastern coast of the bay. The park is the location of the village mayor's office and also contains a public basketball court. The black rocky coast of Umatac Bay offers a scenic walk for visitors and there are covered picnic tables and benches for relaxing and enjoying the view along Umatac Bay. One can also enjoy swimming in the bay or do jetskiing. Then we headed to Fort Nuestra de la Soledad where a parallel lines of pines trees welcomes us at the entrance. Fort Nuestra de la Soledad is a Spanish ruin located on a cliff overlooking Umatac Bay. There are old Spanish relics of the fort, architectural landmarks as well as cannons used during the colonization of Spain. The area also serves as a park developed by the government so there a benches and gardens around. What is spectacular in the fort is the beautiful view of Umatac Bay on the overlook. The entire bay from Fort Nuestra de la Soledad is a picturesque nature scene that everyone will appreciate. Justbe careful around the overlook as it is surrounded by a steep cliff on the edges of the overlook.
|Umatac Bay overlook.|
|Ruins at Fort Soledad.|
After that we had a scenic drive in the town of Merizo and its Pier Park. Merizo is also located on the southern tip of the island and is part of the Haya District. The village derives its name from the word “lesso”. “Lesso” is the next growth size of the juvenile rabbit fish locally known as “manahak” and these were caught at the mouth of the bay of that village. The Merizo Pier Park serves as the gateway to another popular tourist place in Guam - Cocos Island. It is a recreational island with beautiful tropical sights that I dream to visit. I have seen and read a lot about it in internet websites as it is a popular place in Guam. But unfortunately, I wasn't able to visit it due to time constraints. I hope in a next visit this will be part of my travel itinerary. But in the mean time I have to be contented in a glimpse of Cocos Island from afar - it is ladden with numerous coconut trees basking under the golden yellow light of the sunset.
It was already late noon when we passed the the places of Inarajan and Talofofo. A lot of scenic bay sights with inland pools and rocky waters can be seen in Inarajan and Talofofo Bays. I also appreciate the cliff edge scenes that I see along the road. The road is strategically placed on coastal edges which is suitable for around the island tour as you see a lot of nature scenes especially the ocean views. The roadtrip then proceeds to the residential areas which are seperate houses or privately owned contrasts to the condominium styles dominant in Tumon. It was also the end of our arounf the island tour and so we headed to Dededo where we are staying.
At night we lit up the Christmas tree at the house to the delight of kids - CJ and Cean. It was the start of the Christmas season in Guam. We took the opportunity to have souvenir photos.
There is still so much to discover in Guam that I have not toured during my stay. I think a full 3-day visit is not enough. There are still more places and sights to explore in Guam that I would definitely put in my itinerary the next time I visit it. The following are the places I recommend also to see and "discover" in Guam:
1. Ypao Beach/Joseph Flores Beach Park - The most popular beach in Guam. It is ideal for family picnics, pavillions for parties and gatherings, and snorkeling for sea creatures. It makes up the southernmost point of Tumon Bay.
3. Atlantis Submarine - see more of Guam's rich marine life in the sea adventure through this submarine tour.
4. Fish Eye Marine Park - it features an underwater marine observatory located at "Piti Bomb Hole" - a popular dive site because of its rich marine life. In the underwater observatory, the upper deck offers a 360 degree view of the ocean life around while the bottom deck has 24 viewing windows that views the underwater life as you stay-dry.
We leave Guam the next morning in a early morning flight. It is a 6am flight to Manila. Now I know why Guam is inhabited by our fellowmen. Aside from its tropical weather that anyone will love, it is a place of beautiful sights and land of employment opportunities. Perhaps, it is the reason why they find Guam a true home. The ambience of a tropical paradise will make you utter "I love Guam". You will truly love it. I think it is among the best place to live. And I think I could live there. Why it was dubbed "where America's day begins"? It is more than because of its geographic location and being the first territory of US to experience morning but it is because a place of opportunities, dreams to fulfill and high standard of living. And though Guam has lot of places yet to develop, their potential is there and it is accelerating. As I look in the plane window, to see a last glimpse of Guam, I thought, "I'll be back... someday" just what I always promise whenever I leave the place I have visited as the plane ascends to kiss the sky. Si Yu'us Ma'ase Guam!
My trip to Guam happened last November 27-30, 2008 during the Thanksgiving Day celebration in the island. Philippine Airlines flies 5 times a week while Continental Airlines flies daily on Manila-Guam route. For more information about travel in Guam visit Visiting Guam and Guam Visitors Bureau website.