Archive for August, 2022



Hafa Adai! As in “half a day”? But make that the whole day for a more leisurely drive. There’s really no rush but the coastal road brings you from the Philippine Sea to the Pacific Ocean coast. North to South. West to East. Just be sure to bring water or any beverage along with snack food to tide you over since the dining places are not that many. Fret not though since the distances between points are very short. Guam is a tiny island that it’s a chore to manage to get lost!

Liberty. Lone Sailor. Tollai Talaifak. Guam Seal.
The Basilica

We started rather early not so much to cover more ground but to beat the sweltering heat. It showers intermittently here but when the sun’s out, it can get uncomfortably hot. From the Liberty Statue, the Lone Sailor, Plaza de España, Two Lovers Monument, historic Tollai (bridge) Talaifak, Cetti Bay Overlook, Magellan Monument, Nuestra Señora de Soledad Fort, Fort Santa Agueda to the Dulce Nombre de Maria Basilica and the Guam Museum. We met, and in fact made friends with, some Japanese and Korean tourists. Young travelers from countries just 2-3 hours flight away. They make car rental a flourishing business here in Guam and I just love how they are partial to top down sports cars in neon colors! In case you are just as inclined, be sure to slather a generous amount of sunblock or BURN!

Nuestra Señora de Soledad Fort in Umatac Bay.

It is fascinating that Guam and the Philippines share similar war histories. Very interesting to note that while Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines on March 16, 1521, his expedition actually made a stopover in Guam 10 days prior. In both the Philippines and Guam, the unholy alliance of government and religion ruled for over 300 years. Both were likewise sold off under the Treaty of Paris to America and both were “abandoned” by US of A and suffered Japanese occupation, only to be later “liberated” by Uncle Sam after heavy bombardment to weed out the Japanese. The timelines are almost the same. And both cultural traditions and national identities heavily damaged by the foreign conquests. Same fate? For over two centuries too, the 4-month voyage of the Acapulco-Manila Galleon Trade made stopovers in Guam or the Marianas Islands on their return trips to the Philippines. A Magellan Monument stands in Umatac by the bay, a stone’s throw from the Nuestra Señora de Soledad Fort where presumably, the Spaniards kept watch against sea pirates. The sentry tower and cannons in this fort look almost identical to the fort features of their equivalents in Manila and Cebu in Philippines.

Two Lovers Point in Tamuning

Two Lovers Point is a popular seaside cliff that overlooks Tumon Bay and the Philippine Sea. There is a legend of two doomed lovers and their forbidden love that ended with both leaping — with their hair tied together in a single knot — to their deaths here. There are many versions of the story but somehow, the romanticism and tragedy are further amplified by a “heart lock wall” where young pairs write their names on heart-shaped love locks to hang here. Much like those you’d see in Paris, Seoul Tower, Brooklyn Bridge, Rome, etc. Yes, this “sells”. Some distance away and without the crowd, we found this heart-shaped photo opp. Just as romantic, but without the tragic story. 💕😍


The beach scene may not vary much but the hotel facilities and amenities may provide enough variety to make hotel-hopping a worthy pastime. Despite the pandemic, the hospitality industry seems to be thriving and it feels so much like home given that many of the hotel staff are Filipinos who’d readily interact with you in the local language. Tourism may have waned for sometime but slowly picking up as those from the mainland and Asian neighbors are coming. I met many young Koreans, many of whom are students here. The same class of Korean teens who came to study English in the Philippines. You’d find them booked for weekends in hotels, crowding the infinity pools and having a grand time. They also came ready with their Jack Daniels peeping out of their beach bags as they troop back to their hotel rooms. The balcony scene in most hotels gives a glimpse of their idea of fun.

Night view from the hotel balcony.
The Tsubaki Tower

Dining out on weekends is a grand family affair. And hotel restaurants offering buffet lunch and dinner compete for patronage. The Tsubaki Tower ups the ante with unlimited wine and champagne. How can you resist that? Sundown cocktails are another thing. And best of all, there’s a fountain show at certain hours in the evening by the poolside. Unlike other hotels, The Tsubaki’s pool is open till 11pm. Other hotel pools are closed off as early as 7pm.

The Pool scene in the evenings.
Fountain Show at Poolside

Cocktails are served either at the bar on the 27th floor or by the poolside. The La Cantina has a wide variety of bubbly spirits and offers a grand view of Tumon Bay. Watch paddlers, kayakers, jet skiers from the bar while sipping your wine and enjoying the soft sounds from the piano and the crooner. Should you opt to enjoy your beer or some other alcoholic drinks by the poolside, time your stay with the music and fountain show. It’s worth the wait.

Unlimited Wine and Champagne at Buffets
Chill Nights at the bar

But then again, you may be too tired after an afternoon of water adventures or late night swimming at the pool. Tsubaki’s well-appointed rooms are perfect for relaxing evenings. If you get an Oceanside room, you may even watch the fountain show from the comforts of your balcony. La vie est belle. Life is beautiful!


Every Wednesday, the Chamorro Village comes alive with food booths, children’s rides, curio shops and blaring music from the dance hall. The Chamorros are the indigenous people of the Marianas Islands and likely descended from the Spanish, Mexican, Japanese or Filipinos. Its language has sprinklings of Spanish, as does the Filipino language. Both Chamorro and English are spoken in this Micronesian Island. Yes, Micronesia. Quite apart from Hawaii, which is a Polynesian island. The 2 are on different regions of the Pacific, in fact nearly 4,000 miles apart with Guam resting on the West side of the vast Pacific Ocean. And no, it is NOT among USA’s 50 states. Like Puerto Rico, Guam is a US territory.

Hafa Adai is Chamorro for Hello
Pricey corn!

This Wednesday, we watched the native Guamanians and some tourists crowding a dance hall. I was surprised to see a fat carabao being paraded around for $3 rides around the village. The children are not the only riders; I found a full grown man enjoying his ride too. Must be a tourist. The booths displayed both food and souvenir items like floral clothes and curio stuff. Corn on the cob served with mayonnaise, bacon and cheese will cost you $7 (!) and other food sold were mostly grilled or barbecued.

Carabao Rides for $3 per person.
Crowded on Wednesdays

When we passed the dance hall, an elderly man invited us to enter and join the dancing crowd of mostly locals. We politely said no, and simply watched. There was a good crowd – despite the pandemic- and it’s a good sense of how island life is in this corner of the world. It’s a Wednesday, the middle of the week, but the locals are behaving like it’s the start of the weekend. Judging by how difficult it was to find a parking space, this village must be the “in” meeting place in an island where locals take to the beach by day and dance their “worries” away by night.

The Dance Hall

We left Manila past 10pm for a four-hour flight to Guam. Quite a struggle standing around the carousel waiting for our bags at 4am Guam time. The 2-hour time difference ain’t much but without a wink, we behaved like cranky zombies this Sunday early morning. There was just enough time to hear mass, take a nap, bathe and then get ready to meet a friend for lunch. Our first taste of a Guam-azing (to borrow my friend’s description of her adventures) Sunday here made for a good introduction to this island territory of Uncle Sam.

Beach View from Hotel Nikko Guam
Hotel Nikko Lobby

It would have been ideal to visit a Museum first to brush up on a little bit of history but absent that and in my sleepless state, I relied on my first impressions during our first 24 hours — no, make that first 12 hours — here. That islander vibe welcomes you soon after landing. At 2am Manila time or 4am Guam time, it’s almost excusable to be testy and ill-tempered. Not so. The immigration and customs officers look and sound laid back, like they have all the time in this world. At the hotel where we lunched, everyone seemed to be so nice and locals enjoying Sunday meals were mostly families who seem to be “regulars” in Hotel Nikko’s Toh Lee Chinese Restaurant.

Lunch at Toh Lee Chinese Restaurant
A Typical Sunday in Guam

When we moved to the beach area fronting Hotel Nikko, Tsubaki Tower, Lotte Hotel and Guam Reef Hotel, we spotted that red Lifeguard Station watching over many locals enjoying a leisurely Sunday. That island life! The nearby kiosk had barbecue pits for locals to grill an assortment of meats and seafood while loud danceable music was blaring. We found the locals very friendly with one charming lady even offering to snap a photo of us.

Red Lifeguard Station
Large Kiosk Accommodated Many Locals

This island US territory may not be economically ranked at par with the states of Uncle Sam but its simplicity has its charm. I’m not sure how long that charm will hold since I suspect there aren’t many activities here outside of the beach scene and shopping. In my first 12 hours here, we’ve only lined up trips to the beach, malls and the cinema. My curiosity isn’t at its peak in my sleep-deprived state but then again, I didn’t come here for excitement. Let’s just say we’re happy to meet up with kin and kith.