Guam, USA Why They Hate Me in Guam

I’m in a hotel room catching up on sleep and watching the war unfold while I wait for my connecting flight to Yap.

They keep talking about "shock and awe." They throw the term out every 5 seconds. Donald Rumsfeld looks giddy talking about how the invasion will be unlike anything every seen before.

You know what? It looks exactly like what I’ve seen before. It’s a city being bombed. We’ve done it lots and lots of times. Big flashes of light and clouds of smoke. I don’t understand why everyone is acting all impressed. I am neither shocked nor awed.

And they keep using the word "awesome" to describe the light show. They must know that the meaning of the word has changed in recent years to mean "incredibly cool." It’s not the right word to be using. I cringe every time a CNN reporter says "these explosions are awesome." It just sounds wrong.

Guam is pretty bad. It’s a Japanese honeymoon island, so the coast is lined with high rise resorts, karaoke bars, and casinos. There’s a Louis Vitton, Gucci, Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock. All the tourist brochures are in Japanese.

So there’s that, and then it’s got Anderson’s Air Force Base, which is the primary U.S. military outpost in the Pacific. The big base covers most of the northern part of the island. Right now, George has a bunch of stealth bombers stowed there in case North Korea gets uppity. I walked up to check it out, but of course, there wasn’t much to see.

It’s weird to think that less than 60 years ago, Japanese and Americans were fighting for possession of this island. 25,000 soldiers died in the battle — about two thirds were Japanese. It’s all water under the bridge now.

Outside of those two enclaves, the rest of the island is miserable and depressing. It’s poor and run down, and bears all the markings of the United States of Generica. I asked a cab driver if there was anywhere to eat besides McDonald’s, KFC, and Taco Bell. He said, "Oh sure, we’ve got Outback Steak House, TGI Friday’s, and Hard Rock Cafe is pretty good."

I had lunch at the Planet Hollywood. It was really the best option from what was available. They’re down to the bottom of the memorabilia barrel for the Guam branch. They’ve got a tie worn by some guy on the bus in Speed, and Roger Moore’s pants from Moonraker. Across the street is Underwater World, where Japanese couples can view rare and beautiful tropical fish, then eat them.

Guam is a pit. It’s a disaster. And it’s a real shame, cause all they’d have to do to make it a nice place is burn everything to the ground and start over.

Security for the flight to Guam wasn’t as tight as I was expecting. It was pretty normal. The one funny thing was when the security lady saw my steel water bottle and asked me to drink from it. I told her it was just water, but she insisted that I drink from it. So I said, "I’m not thirsty. I don’t want to drink from it. You drink from it." And she says, "Sir, I can’t let you through until you drink from the water bottle." I told her it was perfectly safe, it was just water, there was nothing to worry about and to stop bothering me. So then she gets all mad and starts whispering into her walkie talkie.

I’m just kidding. I didn’t say any of that. I drank the water.

Going through customs in Brisbane was vaudevillian in its absurdity.

“Where are you staying in Brisbane?”
“I’m not. I’m continuing on.”
“To where?”
“Cairns.”
“So you’re staying there?”
“No. I’m connecting to Guam.”
“Guam?”
“Guam.”
“And where do you live?”
“Nowhere, actually. I’m traveling.”
“You sound like you’re from the states.”
“Yes.”
“Did you live there?”
“Yeah, but the last place I lived was here.”
“In Brisbane?”
“Yes.”
“When?”
“Two weeks ago.”
“Let me get this straight. You lived here two weeks ago, but now it’s a stopover?”
“Yes.”
“This is some rather strange ticketing.”
“Yes.”
“And Guam is your final destination?”
“No. Yap.”
“Yap?”
“Yap.”
“What is a Yap.”
“It’s an island in Micronesia.”
“Micronesia?”
“Yes. The Federated States of Micronesia.”
"Are you making that up?"
"No, sir. It’s near Guam."
…"Here’s your passport, mate. Bugger off."

It was strange being in Brisbane for such a quick stop. There wasn’t enough time to see anyone. I’m glad I’m coming back in a few weeks.

I asked my cab driver if he saw George’s bombers coming in last week, and he said yeah. His only comment about the whole thing was that the planes were really loud.

Stealth bombers, they’re called.

Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States. Its residents are U.S. citizens, but they can’t vote in national elections, they have no voice in the senate, and while they are allowed one congressman, that representative can’t vote, so I’m not sure what the point of that is. They’ve been lobbying to be turned into a U.S. Commonwealth. I don’t know what that gets them, but regardless, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon.

The people are a strange ethnic mix of native Chamoro islander, Spanish, and Japanese. There also seem to be a lot of Fillipinos, which is a similar mix. There are many Catholic churches around, and the last names mostly sound Spanish. There are tons of stores selling cheap video CDs of Chinese action movies, like you’d find in any Asian country. And there are a healthy number of strip clubs and brothels lining the outskirts of the tourist bubble. The general atmosphere reminds me a lot of the area just south of L.A.; Torrance, Long Beach, and around there. This is not an entirely pleasant atmosphere.

Guam is bigger than I expected. It’s about 60 miles from north to south, so way too big to walk around in a day — as I found out the hard way.

I went to the local Megaplex and saw my first movie in ages. It was Shanghai Knights. Probably the most anachronistic movie I’ve ever seen, but it was damn funny.

I’ve still got a lot of the New Zealand trip to cover. Lots of great pictures from the Milford trek, there’s the Hitler tree, and — Oh, dear God — the dolphins. The dolphins were incredible. So keep checking the New Zealand journal for a little while.

Calling a Micronesian island from anywhere, including here, is ridiculously expensive. It costs a couple dollars a minute. So I imagine internet is going to be pretty hard to come by and wildly overpriced. If you don’t hear from me for a week or so, that’ll be why.

60 Responses to Guam, USA Why They Hate Me in Guam

  1. Eric

    It looks like your stop to Brisbane could be a subject for a one man show :) Very funny though !
    The good thing is that you didn’t look like a terrorist !

  2. Brad Welch

    I like watching my head dance on the map page – it makes me happy…

    It will make me happier when my head is ‘in country’ in ‘Nam…

  3. Jennifer Rice

    Sounds like you should leave guam soon. Planet Hollywood sounded quite awful. Dolphins Dolphins. what’s the story about the dolphins? War coverage on U.S. TV is slowing down a bit. It’s only 18 hours a day instead of 24 hours. Needless to say we’re all worried about you travelling. Between travel advisories, the killer asian flu, and terrorism in general Isure wish you’d pick some different countries to visit besides hong kong, vietnam, and nepal. Let’s discuss. luv jen

  4. blahzah

    I think the reason they talk about shock and awe is that the operation is called “Operation Shock and Awe”. You might know that already, I don’t know.

  5. Mom

    I checked out Yap, Palau and Truk on the web and think you are in just the right place under these awful wartime circumstances. The state dept. issued a warning about travel to Vietnam because of the sometime deadly flu and poor medical capabilities in that country. Only essential travel is recommended there. When you get back to Brisbane, perhaps you should reexamine your itinerary. Can’t wait to hear from you again. Love, Mom

  6. Jennifer Rice

    Listen to mom! But stay away from the Phillipines too. There’s been terrorism alerts there as well. Don’t go anywhere with Dust storms. They look awful. Jen

  7. Lonely Planet Guide

    Also, be sure to carry a nice clean pair of underwear in your pockets. Whether you’re on TV from either being abducted by terrorists or lying in your fluey deathbed, you’ll be glad that at least the lower half of your body isn’t slumming it in horrible conditions. Plus, if someone tries to mug you, they’ll only get your underwear and not your wallet

  8. Jessie Kahn

    Hey Matt, you’ll be wondering who the f*** I am – Kristin’s buddy. Your shock and awe comments are very much to the point (in my opinion). Just wanted to ad that Guam epitomizes why the world hates us. Perhaps the true reason for these bloody fireworks is that Iraq cited some zoning laws to prevent the 23rd McD’s from opening in Baghdad, leading GWB to feel that the “Eastward Ho!” manifest destiny of US imperialism was being thwarted. I hope you stumble across beauty in Yap  they were known for their amazing coin currency at some point in history  or if not there, then your next destination. Stay safe, but take it all in  and keep us posted! J.

  9. Gecko

    A very narrow minded view of our island. Did you actually go anywhere besides Tumon? Chat with any of the locals? Eat at a nice little mom and pop shop? Last I remember, most people do not judge a whole island based on the appearance of the local planet hollywood.

  10. SYR GUAM

    Im from Guam. Our culture is priceless. Where do you get off judging our island based on a few nights in TUMON……..Our Local Wakiki……….

  11. Island Girl

    I swear you just pissed the living day lights out of most of us Chamorus and Guamanians with what you just wrote. It Just goes to show that you don’t know nothing about us. You were talking to the wrong kind of people (taxi driver) if you wanted to eat food other that the fast food. I suggest when you come around here again, you come and talk to one of us CHAMORUS. Then we will show the real beauty our island has to offer. The same goes for talking about the our sister Islands in Micronesia. One of these days people might shove it in your face. Make you eat your words guy!!!

  12. matt

    I’d like to apologize for offending you. You’re right. I know nothing about Chamorus or Guamanians — only the little bit I’d read in my guide books. And as I only had a day to spend in Guam and didn’t know anyone local, I could only have the surface experience of walking around and seeing what their was to see.

    The main thing I think I failed to get across in my entry is that I don’t have a negative opinion of island culture. It’s exactly the opposite: I was upset by seeing it trampled on and replaced by continental U.S. and Japanese corporate establishments.

    I didn’t spend all my time in Tumon. I walked for upwards of six hours around the northern part of the island and saw pretty much what I would see in any U.S. town. I wrote about my experience in an honest way, for an intended audience of friends and family members. It never occured to me that locals would read it and be hurt by my comments. I really am sorry about that.

    For what it’s worth, I cherish my experiences on Yap, Palau, Chuuk, and Pohnpei, where I spent more time and saw much more of the native island cultures, and I look forward to returning to the region as soon as I can. When I come through, I will spend time on Guam, and I’ll make a special effort to see the parts of the island that I was blind to on my first time through.

  13. lila

    I’m a Chamorro girl from Guam. I concede that the island is more dirty than it should be. Nonetheless, there is still a lot more beyond Tumon/Tamuning and Dededo–the northern part you toured. If you came back and got to meet some of the locals, I’m sure they’d welcome you warmly and show you the beauty you desire. Thanks for the apology and I hope you do decide to give Guam at least a second chance.

  14. bear quitugua

    matt. If you truly want to enjoy the island lifestyle. Email me if you ever visit again and I will make sure you get to the right spots and hook up with the right people to show you a good time and what guam is all about.

  15. miniguamanian

    hasn’t your mom ever told you that ….
    “IF YOU HAVE NOTHING NICE TO SAY, THEN DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL!”

    geez, my mom did. so i think you should come back to guam and see the REST of the island, because i don’t think you had the opportunity to do so. you just saw the tourist attractions* and thought to yourself that the rest of the island is probably “miserable and depressing” without so much as giving YOURSELF a CHANCE.

    go to The Chamorro Village in Agana (Hagatna) and you’ll see many people of your *kind ENJOYING themselves and NOT looking so miserable and depressed. by the way.. maybe you didn’t tell the cab driver exactly what you were looking for in regards to what you wanted to eat, because that’s (chamorrow village) where all the good LOCAL food is!!

    as for saying our island is “poor and run down” .. there are WHOLE countries that are worse off than we are!!

  16. miniguamanian

    maybe you should read this .. what a local person had to say about our island .. w/c i’m sure some outsiders* will agree with.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Nice. Simply nice. Guam as a home is simply nice. An island community that is relatively small creates a type of cohesiveness. Cohesiveness brings about connections that can foster understanding, respect and a certain type of pride. Sometimes small can also mean a lack of privacy. If you want to be anonymous or alone, you should not choose Guam as your home. Guam is a nice place to live. It’s a place where you learn to appreciate what you have. Familiarity and warmth go hand in hand here. Guam people are one of a kind. And it is only after you’ve lived here and then moved elsewhere that you will know just how wonderful Guam people are. When you are away, you will miss walking into a store, a bank or a gas station and saying “hi” to just about everyone. You will miss reading the newspaper and knowing exactly who the people that are being written about are, or the exact location of the story. You will miss the reassurances after a tragic time. You will also miss the smiles and hugs during a time of celebration. Guam people are resilient, resourceful and giving. We have survived trials by nature, the economy and global events, over and over. If you are absent from Guam, you become truly appreciative of the variety of food we enjoy. We roast, marinade, fry, pickle, barbecue, bake and stir-fry like no one else. While hot and humid most of the time, the weather is still wonderful. The sunsets, sunrises, starry nights and rainbows are masterpieces. The air is clean and the skies are incredibly blue with pillows of clouds. On Guam, we celebrate God and the many blessings He has given us. We flood our houses of worship and we open our homes as we celebrate. We respect diversity in our lives, including religion. Our island is rich in talent. Many people speak more than one language. Many light up the stage with their dancing and singing. Local color is vibrant and, once you catch on, you’ll laugh with the rest of us at our whacked humor. We are proud of our nation. Guam folks are at the top of the list when it comes to serving. We’re also on the list when it comes to spilled blood. The pride shines through the fallen tears. Our graduates from our public education system excel at college, on and off-island. Having had the honor of preparing some of those graduates to become teachers, I know our system does well. Having sons in the public school system, I know we do well. We’re also the first to admit that we can do better. We discuss our problem areas — from education to health care to infrastructure to crime. We talk about issues and how to resolve them. We know we need to lower our diabetes rates, our blood pressure, our cholesterol. We know we need to stop smoking and moderate our drinking. We need to become better at mediating our problems. We need more and better-maintained school facilities. We know that there’s room for improvement in the accountability area. We know littering has to stop. We know that people make mistakes. We know all of this. But let someone else, someone who doesn’t know us, criticize and, well, be prepared. If the offense is truly despicable, prepare for the quiet reaction. Guam people are really good at giving the silent treatment. You have to have lived here on Guam and engaged in Guam life to know what I mean. Anybody can say what they want about Guam. Those of us who live here know the truth. We know the opportunities. We realize the potential. We have the dreams. We have the smarts. Whether it’s schooling, health care, museums, work force, athletics, tourism, recreation, the environment or technology, we have our vision. And, we’ll get there. Guam is good.

    Aline Y., Ph.D., a resident of Tamuning, is a parent and an educator.

  17. CRUZ

    I AGREE 100% WITH MINIGUAMANIAN TALK ABOUT US ALL YOU WANT, WE US LOCALS KNOW THE TRUTH ON WHATS REALLY GOING ON IN THIS ISLAND GUAM IS BETTER ACTUALLY THEN MOST PLACES I’VE BEEN OUT HERE IN CALIFORNIA.

  18. Jerod

    wow Gumanians sure are sensitive to their culture being criticized in any way. Then again, as a Texan I know what its like to be slandered and people not realize the truth about your great culture and national pride. In fact, Texas and Guam seem kinda similar now that I think about it. So all you people who think anywhere in the US but New York and Cali are “flyover country”… well I just pity you. Vive Texas and Guam!

  19. Hayi na Acfalle

    Yes we Guamanians are really sensitive when it comes to our place we call home Guam. As you can see that many of our people get offended when our Island is talked about in a bad way. It shows us that we are being put down. Here the people of Guam are trying to get our Island noticed, then people turn around and write negative stories they publish in the paper. They also talk poorly of our island. I am proud to say that I am Chamorro and I come from a beautiful island. This guy should go back to Guam and visit the southern part of the island because that’s where it’s all about our true culture.

  20. Ray Z

    good write up. next time, just get out of the “tourist area”. Visit the south. go boonie stomping/hiking, scuba dive, snorkel, Try to get someone local to hook you up, unless you want to get the tourist trap. lol. just my 2 cents.
    rayz- Proud Guamanian/Filipino in Seattle.

  21. Laine

    I’m a military brat. My mother was in the US Navy, and we were stationed in Guam for three years, not on Anderson, but the Naval base on the other side of the island. I’m not sure if it’s there anymore or not. From where we lived in Naval housing, we could walk for twenty minutes and go to a little beach, which was off a beaten path close to a cemetary. Virtually no one ever went there. We had the beach to ourselves for hours — until evening hours when things cooled down, and boonie dogs would be active. We’d go and find glass bouys, comb the beach and find rainbow lobster shells, hermit crabs and small sand-dwelling fish. I was 9 or 10 years old when we left the island. I’m in my early twenties now, and I still think about Guam a lot. While I would not like to live there (for reasons of raising family there–I am accustom to good medical and schools, I know first hand that local grade schools aren’t very easy for non-asian kids) I would give anything to visit there for a time. It really is a beautiful place, but I have heard there aren’t many birds left on the island from the tree snakes, and it’s been more and more commercialized over the years that I have been away for. Guam has its benefits, despite itself. The reefs are clear and absolutely beautiful. The fish are vibrant and colorful, and there are patches of jungle left untouched. If you want to try local food, there used to be a little roadside restaurant close to where you can walk uphill to see waterfalls. I wish I could tell you where exactly, but asking some locals for some pleasant places to visit should reward you. Be sure to tell them you’re looking for traditional, historic, and natural exposure to the island.

  22. Quipuha

    Matt is quoted as saying “Guam is a pit. It’s a disaster. And it’s a real shame, cause all they’d have to do to make it a nice place is burn everything to the ground and start over.” Ouch, that was pretty harsh Matt. Seems as if Matt is not only mad at the Bush but mad at capitalism and what it has done to Guam and Micronesia. Matt is also quoted as saying the following, “The people are a strange ethnic mix of native Chamoro islander, Spanish, and Japanese. There also seem to be a lot of Fillipinos, which is a similar mix.” Seems to me that Matt is an Anthropological genius since he has globetrotted the world. Wow, not only does Matt reveal his utter disregard to the ethnic melting pot that comprises Guam but he also manages to demonstrate his racist and bigoted true identity! Good going Matt! By the way, Filipinos is spelled with one L and not two. We now know from Matt’s travels to Micronesia why people from the US are regarded as “Ugly Americans.” Hey you, Speak English?

  23. Just had the unpleasant opportunity to view this internet post. I was born in Indiana and raised in New Jersey – a TRUE PIT, near Newark International Airport. I left NJ in 1972 with a self promise of never going back. I retired from the US Army in 1992 and made this beautiful island my home – I found that raising my three sons in Guam’s Public School System was a far cry better than had I raised them on the mainland. No guns, no gangs, no need for bullet-proof vests and medal detectors on Guam. I visited the US for six months a couple of years ago and I hated it. My opinion is that most mainland people are cold-hearted and mean-spirited – MATTS essay on his one day trip to Guam is testimony of my conclusion.

    I found the article completely rude, uncalled for and his applogy completely unacceptable. And Matt’s photo essay was a complete distortion of the facts! Anyone could have taken similar distorted views of MATT’s own home town or even his own house!

    I don’t think I’ve ever read an article about the mainland by anyone from Micronesia with a rude tone such as Matt.

    I love this island and am happy to say it will be my final resting stop!

  24. stateside island girl

    Dear Mr. Matt,
    Apparently you do not know where in the hell you are. You see Guam from the eyes of a pessimistic military person and not for the beauty it possesses. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things that the states have that Guam does not but the reverse also applies. I was raised in the states and there was alot of things I loved about it; however if you would open your eyes and shut your mouth for a couple minutes you might see the good parts of Guam. Sure, every place has there faults but this place has alot to offer also. The water alone is so beautiful, snorkeling (one of my favorites), submarine, parasailing, hiking ect. You being the military man that you are have access to one of the most beautiful beaches on Guam which is Tarague beach in Anderson Air Force base. So please stop sitting in front of your computer and go out and take in the beauty of the place you are blessed to be in.

  25. B.Y.E.

    Hafa Adai Matt,

    First off, thanks for stopping by… Hope you can visit us again and maybe we can set you up for the next PXC or Fury event. I’m pretty sure we can find you a match 😉

    Although your story hits way below the belt, I’ll take it as it is, a story. A story of one’s imagination for entertainment purposes only. We know who we are and where we come from. Do you?

    Have a safe journey… God bless you and may he have mercy on your soul.

  26. CHRISTINE..

    HI DICK!

    FUCK YOU AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE GUAM, STAY THE FUCK OFF IT DUMB HOLE….NO ONE IS TELLING YOU TO JUDGE IT. WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM…EAT SHIT DUMB ASS!

    You ARE LIKE ONE OF THOSE SPOILED KIDS…NEVER SATISFIED….I FEEL SORRY FOR YOUR CHILDREN, BECAUSE THEY’LL HAVE A TERRIBLE PARENT.

    OH WELL, I GUESS THAT IS ALL YOU CAN SAY, IS PATHETIC NON SENSE ABOUT GUAM, I GUESS THAT’S ALL YOU ARE IS PATHETIC. LOSER…

    I’LL PRAY FOR YOUR SOUL…MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND MAY KARMA BITE YOU IN YOUR ASS BIG TIME!!! FUCKER!!!

  27. christine

    OH AND I DON’T HATE YOU I JUST WISH YOU COULD PUT YOURSELF IN OUR SHOES, BECAUSE WE ARE NOT SO FORTUNATE…WE ARE NOT EXTRAVAGANTE…AT LEAST SHOW A LITTLE LOVE, BUT THAT’S ALL YOU CAN SAY IS HATE…I GUESS THAT’S WHY WE ARE IN END TIMES…BECAUSE PEOPLE LIKE YOU CAN’T SHOW NO FUCKEN RESPECT. I HOPE MY ANCESTORS AKA TAOTAOMONA, HAUNTS YOU DOWN.

  28. Anonymous

    Hey, Christine…

    Intelligent people don’t have to use four-letter words, and they can spell. I suggest you consult your 8th grade English texts before you pollute the online community with your pathetic attempt to get your point across… which, by the way, I am still unsure as to what it is.

    You are a prime example of the uneducated population that inhabits Guam.

    If you could have your head surgically removed from your ass, you might be able to actually read Matt’s article again. He wasn’t bashing Guam. He was merely expressing his opinion on the ONE day he spent in a very limited area. I for one can speak on his behalf when I say that I know what he is talking about. My mother is from Guam and we lived there for a while. I was lucky enough to see the good things that the island has to offer, but I will agree with the fact that the place is run down. It is not nice and clean like it was years ago. Graffiti can be found everywhere, the schools are crap, public education is pretty much useless in the the grand scheme of things. The school system is horrible and half of the “teachers” can’t even speak English. Additionally, GCC and UOG are even better examples of how education on Guam is simply a lost cause.

    Tumon is dirty. Tamuning is dirty. Dededo is ghetto.

    Since Matt only saw those parts of Guam, he can easily draw those conclusions.

    He wasn’t able to meet many of the locals and see how friendly and warm people are. He wasn’t able to eat the good food. He wasn’t able to see the beautiful parts of the island and everything else Guam has to offer.

    So give him a break.

    I think all of you need to grow up and stop taking everything so personally. Seriously.

  29. Rowena Manalo

    Hey Anonymous, You Idiot whats wrong with you? Every thing you said about Guam and the schools is a bunch of bull crap.
    You said you lived in Guam “for a while”, when was that in the 60’s 70’s 80’s? Guam is a beautiful Island, mostly every body here speaks English. Your the one who’s polluting the on-line community with your hate and your lack of knowledge. Saying”I for one can speak on his behalf when I say that I know what he is talking about”just because you lived here on Guam “for a while” doesn’t give you the right to say all that crap about Guam and the People.
    “uneducated population that inhabits Guam.”
    Your the one who is uneducated! You need to get your facts straight and join a witness protection program after saying that. No wonder why you put yourself as “Anonymous”
    You Punk! You only can talk crap like that hiding behind a monitor! I dare you to come to Guam say that face-face!
    My name is Rojean Salas, From DEDEDO.
    Where are you from? Why the hell were you in Guam in the First place? How do you and the people where you live like it if we typed down some shitty review of where your from assuming all the people where you live are a bunch of uneducated red necks who live in trailer parks and have nothing to do but masturbate and talk crap about Guam? How do you like that?
    You need to stop this bashing and hating!
    I don’t know of any body who wouldn’t take that personally if some punk like you and Matt came to their HOMELAND and bashed it like that.

  30. jolene

    well, let me start by saying the these comments do not need to be written correctly…everyone gets the picture! on another note, i lived in a small town a while back and can you imagine a social studies teacher asked if i was in culture shock. oh, boy i sure was. not because the way she tought i was. i just couldn’t believe how guam was more up to date.
    anyway, matt only stayed a short period of time, he should have stayed inside the airport! and because he did not see the right places or things he shouldn’t have wrote anything about our island of guam. tourist(japanese, chinese, statesiders, korean, who ever comes to visit the island) are basically our economy and we treat them with respect. well, matt the next time you come…look out for a fiesta in one of the villages here…you don’t have to be invited, just come you will see that the people of guam will open their homes to you! then after that visit write about you travels and of course everything will be forgotten! and the people of guam will forgive you!

  31. Daisy

    Ignorant…. That’s the first thing I thought of when I read what you wrote about My HOME, My BEAUTIFUL ISLAND. It makes me want to cry, because no matter what, where ever we go in the U.S. or any other country we show respect, because that’s how we are brought up, with respect, love, and honesty. When people come from the states or anywhere else to visit Guam they always seem to find themselves at the strip bars, or the crappiest beaches, or behind the dumpster, then they turn around and make up stupid lies about Guam, when all they have to do is call the Govenor’s Office, or the radio station, or any other local business, and just say “Hi I’ll be in Guam for a few days and I’m writing a peice about it and I’d just like to know what Guam’s all about” that’s it, and someone, anyone would be happy to drop everything their doing to spend a few days with you and show you exactly what Guam’s all about. But you failed to do so, and what gets me most is that you were only there for a day, but yet you seem to write like you were living on Guam for 50 years, like you there for the war. You really hurt not just a few peoples feelings, but everyone who calls Guam home, Guam is all about Family, friends, fun, parties, food, respect, and culture, but I guess you have no clue what all those things mean, because if you did you would have made an attempt to really see the real Island of Guam. Another thing, if you came to see Guam and wanted to try Guamanian food then what hell are you doing eating at planet hollywood. I hope next time when you decide to go back to Guam, you take some of these people’s advice, go to the beaches, see the beautiful sites, go on a tour of Guam, go to the southern end of the island, go to Coco’s Island (also part of guam), go to the hotels and watch the cultural dances, go to chamorrow village and enjoy the free show and eat the local food, go to gef pagu, all you have to do is ask someone local and they be more than happy to give you some pointers. My husband and I are very proud to be from Guam, were proud of our culture and our Island. May God bless you, and please stop making and imagining your stories, get all your facts right before you start to write stuff down on your little site, You have no right to trash talk Guam like that, none what so ever. Be Careful because now the people of Guam are fighting back.

  32. B. Anna Mendiola

    I understand some of you out there are very upset with all the trash talking about Guam. It is very frustrating to deal with ignorant, clueless people who lack respect for Guam, Guam’s history, and its natives but in the end what really counts is the love, respect, and values we have for our island, its people and how we share it with others new to our culture. Try to remember that no matter whom we are, where we go, or the people we meet, someone out there will always have a personal opinion that we do not all agree with. My husband and I love Guam very much (I was born and raised there), there are things and families we miss, but like every other place we’ve lived in there are also things we like and don’t like. We’ve been all over California, Washington, Massachusetts pretty much all across the country and there is always something new that takes time getting used to – it’s natural.

    Act responsibly, only we are qualified to judge ourselves and no one else. You are all adults stop trashing others for trashing Guam. You are not helping Guam’s image. If you want to share your opinion on Guam do it constructively. We are good people that love and welcome others into our island no matter how bad, ignorant or disrespectful they may be at first. Instead spend your time showing them the true beauty of our island and its people. Be kind no matter where you are. Someone once told me that being Christian doesn’t stop at the door; a Good Samaritan is always there to help and give love to others despite the time and place. Show them what Guam and its people are about by being good to those around you. There are always going to be people who are just not nice, but don’t let them get you down. Guam is about hospitality, family, and culture these qualities are in our blood, we are naturals, remember this and stay true to it. Take all this criticism about Guam and use it to make things better, volunteer to beautify the island, show hospitality, welcome those who visit and treat them like family. Guam is beautiful, its people, culture is beautiful. Guam is my roots, my heart, my home despite distance and time this is how it will stay.

    Guam is the reason why my family are good people. We are a young family, but we still manage to amaze others here in California because of our drive, sense of family, love, respect, common courtesy and all aspects that we express. We have met a lot of bad people and terrible places all across the country and I’m sure that’s the same all over the world. My first time here, six years ago was stressful and still there are times when I get frustrated with some people here, I thought to myself everyone was SO rude not like the people on Guam, everyone was like family and always smiled. After a while you adapt and though it takes time and effort you find good people and good things.

  33. SOUTHSIDE CHAMORU!!!

    Hello there Matt…. well first off i want to extend my sincerest apologies for what was said in the comments from my people earlier…. I personally think that in some cases you have a point in some of what you had said with your visit to GUAM, I mean that you only talked about going to the northern part of the island, there that was the problem, cause from my point on living here my whole life THAT IS where all the SLUMS of GUAM are at…. The real hospitality is and always will be kept from central to the southern side of GUAM!!! I mean all the “locals” that are up north are sunken in with living in CITY and are UNREALALIST’s of the CHAMORU CULTURE!!!! i mean the majority of the population up there ain’t even CHAMORU!!! it’s mostly FILIPINO!!! and you already know the history and the current events on the FILIPINO’s…. that’s why they won’t stay put on their ISLAND!!!! I mean hey sometimes people start off on the wrong foot, and i think you should come back and try to venture to the south…. that’s where the PARADISE is here on guam…. I mean it really sucks to have all these people comment you that way and i’ll apologize again, in hopes that you so return and change your mind about guam…. all the time when a person experiences something bad the first thing to prevent the next person to make the same mistake we react bye letting them know the consequences in your case your experience on GUAM!! but at the same time that person will still act on their desicion and make their own judgement on the action… why don’t you just try one more time and see if it’s the same,by now in a way you helped out alot of my people who do take MY HOME for GRANTED…. I mean it really hurt with what you said but now atleast my people will know and try to help make our WHOLE island a whole lot better!!! and for all the CHAMORU’s that got OFFENDED this should be a test to really see how we LOVE our island and start sharing the “HAFA ADAI” SPIRIT!!! smile and say Hi nai!!! Not only to the tourists but even to the HAOLE’s cause if it were’nt for their people we would be working in the RICE FIELDS and really be in POVERTISM and all that other stuff!!! which is where they prevented us from ending up!!! and don’t badger him on his experience, cause that’s something for us to learn from…. to try and really open our doors,like we say we do when we really don’t… well Matt you know that you’re gonna be really full and have a blast when you do think of comming back to GUAM!!! So until THEN!!! ADIOS!! Esta que manalihi’ hit CHELU!!!

  34. NORTHSIDE CHAMORU!!!

    ONLY WE ARE QUALIFIED TO JUDGE OURSELVES
    ****************NO ONE ELSE***************

    ENOUGH SAID!!!

  35. Anonymous

    Hi Matt, Can you Please Please delete this blog. Everything about it, is just NEGATIVE.
    People just going on here bashing every one.
    Enough is Enough!

  36. Anonymous

    ONLY WE ARE QUALIFIED TO JUDGE OURSELVES
    ****************NO ONE ELSE***************

    ENOUGH SAID!!!

    ENOUGH SAID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ALREADY!
    Delete this blog…please.

  37. Anonymous

    ONLY WE ARE QUALIFIED TO JUDGE OURSELVES
    ****************NO ONE ELSE***************

    ENOUGH SAID!!!

    ENOUGH SAID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ALREADY!
    Delete this blog…please.

  38. Connecticut baby

    I Want It That Way
    I Want It That Way

    You are my fire
    The one desire
    Believe when I say
    I want it that way

    But we are two worlds apart
    Can’t reach to your heart
    When you say
    That I want it that way

    CHORUS:
    Tell me why
    Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache
    Tell me why
    Ain’t nothin’ but a mistake
    Tell me why
    I never wanna hear you say
    I want it that way

    Am I your fire
    Your one desire
    Yes I know it’s too late
    But I want it that way
    CHORUS

    Now I can see that we’ve fallen apart
    From the way that it used to be, yeah
    No matter the distance
    I want you to know that
    Deep down inside of me
    You are my fire
    The one desire
    You are, you are, you are, you are
    Don’t wanna hear you say…

    Don’t wanna hear you say,
    Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache,
    Ain’t nothin’ but a mistake,
    (Don’t wanna hear you say),
    I never wanna hear you say,
    I want it that way

    Tell me why,
    Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache,
    Tell me why,
    Ain’t nothin’ but a mistake,
    Tell me why,
    I never wanna hear you say,
    (Don’t wanna hear you say),
    I want it that way

    Tell me why…
    Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache,
    Ain’t nothin’ but a mistake,
    Tell me why,
    I never wanna hear you say,
    (Never wanna hear you say it),
    I want it that way

    I want it that way

    Posted by: Connecticut baby

  39. Nepo

    Hi Matt,

    You have made the RIGHT decision when you filmed yourself in front of junked cars. I’ve been a resident of Guam (raised for 20+ years) and growing up, it has become more and more like a junkyard. Everywhere I go (even in the local areas where I hike), I see garbage, graffiti, and abandoned vehicles and debris left from past typhoons. I am absolutely saddened and disgusted with the appearance of my home. There is trash everywhere and everybody turns a blind eye claiming that it’s “beautiful”. No it isn’t. NOBODY is proactive about the upkeep of our island and THIS should be a WAKE-UP call for the island to clean their mess up. Otherwise, the culture, the voice, and the spirit of the island and their people will CONTINUE to fade – and ALL that is left is just a tourist trap with a crappy Planet Hollywood. I apologize for all these negative comments directed toward you. If you think about it, if a person TRULY believe in their island, then he/she would stand on SOLID ground and wouldn’t let anything nor ANYONE offend them. Just like religion.. if you truly believe in god, you wouldn’t get offended because you KNOW where you stand and you have strong faith in it. So for those of you who are offended, YOU ARE IN DENIAL and not a true Chamorro/Guamanian. For the people who extended a welcome to Matt for a chance to show him a different point of view, I commend you because you are true believers of our island.

  40. bulie

    Amen to that Nepo. I too have lived in Guam (4 years) and the things I’ve seen aren’t that pretty. I’ve been pretty much all over the island, yes even down to Merizo, which I’d have to say is my favorite village out of all of them. I lived in Agat for four years and my experieces there weren’t that great. Not only are there junk cars and graffiti everywhere but the people aren’t that friendly. There are no “Hi’s” when you meet someone on the roads, and what I was told in school (by fellow classmates) to do when you encounter public school students was to put my head down and not look them in the eye. What the hell? Am I on an island or is this LA? The old people are constantly looking down on you especially since I’m from a neighboring island. So much for neighborly love. The only things people seem to be proud of is cage fights and their spanish heritage which is kinda sad because that shouldn’t be who they are. they should be proud islanders and not always show off the spanish culture. I’ve only seen a couple of their “local” dances. In school you see guys acting all bad ass, and girls in REALLY short skirts. It’s like they’re trying so hard to act “cool” that they forget who they are. The only thing I’ll give them credit on is the fact that everyone goes to church. There was even this one day that is dedicated to the catholics, and you see everyone come out and celebrate. Now that’s something to be proud of.

  41. random_stranger

    Hi Nepo and bulie,
    Its pretty obvious you 2 are disguising urself.. no natives can ever read this crap and agree with that!

  42. Laurie

    As a mainland American who has visited Guam many times now, I’ve found it reminds me of my hometown in Texas. Some of the people in my town are very poor and live in the ‘projects’. Only a few are very rich, but those lord it over all with their outlandishly huge mansions and sports cars. My hometown doesn’t have much to be proud of, but we are fiercely proud anyway!

    One thing I have noticed about both cultures is the disease of laziness and general apathy that contributes to the kind of poverty and crime issues that have been alluded. Sure, you may be poor and live in the proverbial ‘junkyard’, but in the end, you have only yourself to blame for staying that way. You have to work to clean up your yards/schools/public parks; you can’t expect anyone else to do it for you. If you don’t go out and get a job/education to better yourself, you’ll never rise above your current squalor, or expect your children to want to either. Poverty breeds poverty; you have to be the one to break the chain.

    I liked Guam overall, but I didn’t get a chance to meet many of the locals. I got the vibe nearly everywhere I went that as a non-Chamorro American, I was the enemy. That I didn’t belong there and was the one who was ruining their lives. I probably wasn’t very friendly back though. As someone who actually got off my lazy butt to slave my way through a full time job so I can pay my way through college (and be the first of my family to do so), I don’t have much sympathy for any culture who makes excuses and blames everybody but themselves for what’s wrong in their society.

    Sorry if this is harsh, but its called the American Dream for a reason. Nothing gets handed to you on a silver platter, but if you’re determined enough, you can go out there and earn yourself (and inevitably your children) a better life.

  43. Ann

    With all of the things previously mentioned, I’m not sure what else to say that wouldn’t sound redundant. However, at the same time, I would like to express some of my views as well.

    First off, I apologize for the really bad impression you’ve had of our island, contributed also by some of the comments you’re received regarding the content of your post.

    I am not Chamoru, but I was born and raised here on Guam for the past twenty years. In my experience, I’ll have to admit that Guam really isn’t the cleanest place in the world. We have eyesores practically everywhere and unused, abandoned buildings scattered about, with primitive graffiti drawn on its walls. Although we do have school-sponsored beach clean-ups and the like, our focus isn’t so much upon the state of the environment as it is upon the courtesy and kindness that is prevalent within our community.

    I can understand if that is a little hard to believe based on your personal experience, but I’ve always felt that you can’t truly experience Guam without being guided by people who know her inside and out. Tourists usually get cheated out of the genuine experience, stuck with Tumon (which isn’t all that great to begin with), golf courses, and our “malls”. It’s also true, we do have strange characters wandering out at night, but doesn’t every community? And…we’re a pretty small island, so you’re bound to bump into one or three.

    As for our cuisine, we pride ourselves on our village fiestas and our Wednesday night markets in Chamoru Village. We also have a decent selection of Asian restaurants, but I do suppose our American, Mexican, and European restaurants leave something to be desired. Also, compared some of the other places I’ve traveled to, our customer service is pretty iffy. It all depends on who you get, but I’m sure it’s like that everywhere.

    The people of Guam do indeed hold a degree of bitterness toward Americans as well mostly because many of the Americans received here are associated with the military, and for the most part, we strongly disagree with some of the views the military has concerning our people. We hear that some service members are under the impression that Guam is just an island where the local men like to pick fights and the local women willingly throw themselves at random strangers. So, if you can imagine, some of us are wary of the Americans who come to visit.

    In general, Guam really isn’t the island paradise that many people would like to think it is, but it does have its charms.

    So, perhaps before you plan your next visit, you could hit one of the Guam commenters with a email, and we’ll be more than happy to show you around, give you a taste of real Chamoru food (possibly cooked by your local tour guide), and ensure that you have a better time than you did before.

  44. Ryan

    Reading this shocked me into reality. I lived in Guam for two years about ten years ago, and I still remembered Guam as my own personal paradise. However, reading the article reminded me that in retrospect my happiest memories were on Andersen Air Force Base or in nature, not in the populated areas off base. Thank you Matt for opening my eyes.

    However, being a former resident of this amazing island, I have to say that you should give it a second chance. Other people are right, visit the beaches and other natural wonders of Guam and forget about the touristy, populated areas. I suggest Two Lovers Point, Mount Lamlam, Tarzan Falls, Lost Pond, and Tweed’s Cave.

    For eating establishments, a great place is the Pirate’s Cove in the far southern part of the island. It is not a chain, and serves amazing grilled food.

    I desperate want to go back, but now I am afraid my image of this island of my dreams from childhood will be tarnished by my pessemistic, angst ridden teenage point of view. Despite this, I plan to go back for a visit someday.

  45. Bond

    Hey, people who said delete this blog, it’s people’s freedom to make a blog and write things on it. you also have your freedom to choose to read it or not, if you feel dick, fine, never visit again, but you don’t have the right to spam here and ask the host to delete the blog. although that’s 3 years ago’s comment, but when i read about it it just pisses me off straight away. some people are just need to be re-educate and learn how to be polite in this society.

  46. Skrevet 3000 år siden, “Book of Changes”, på vegne av sko “sko” ord dukket opp. Tid fra de krigførende stater, sprekk Sun Bin Pang Juan kneskål, kan ikke klippe med en hard skinn til “ned” for å gå ut og “hjelpe”, oppfunnet høy hud Xuan, senere, støvlene, Museum of Chinese History skatt et par dekorert 2000 år før skinn.

  47. Fiona

    My! It’s been over a decade since this entry was posted. Hawaii was my home back in 2003, and I have to admit, I enjoyed it there. Now Guam is a much different story. It lacks aunthenticity when it comes to culture and tradition. The true Chamorros are nowhere to be seen, but Filipinos are the majority. It’s almost as if the island is a tinier version of Manila only not as dirt poor. The other Micronesian islands may he smaller and less populated but they at least still practice their true traditions and culture. I particulary enjoyed my time in Samoa and Palau.

  48. Rick

    My how Guam has grown since I lived there 1967-1970. When I lived on Guam it was 29 miles north to south and between 5 and 10 miles wide. Now it is 60 miles from north to south. The island has really grown up.

  49. Robby Chargualaf

    Hahhh? Tf I just read? Bro thanks for the apology but you need to get outta Tumon if you wanna see how Guam really is. Go south and just tour the island on your own or go chamorro village and chow there instead of planet hollywood. You’ll get a taste of real chamorro food. I let all my friends out here in the mainland sample and everybody love the chicken kelaguen. I haven’t been back home for like 5yrs but I tell you this, you’ll fall in love once you start exploring. I really hope you go back one day and really see how our culture is and enjoy yourself. I really do mean that.

  50. chinga

    Its amazing that any of the locals on Guam can’t take any criticism. You truly show why Guam sucks with your racist attitudes. Right, “Only you can judge yourselves”. I’ve been coming to Guam for over 30yrs. It used to be really nice, now its a pit. The lazy attitude of the locals is amazing. There is trash everywhere. Why the Japanese still come here, I don’t know. But this island is headed down to further poverty.

  51. John L

    I don’t have a dog in this fight but I thought I’d offer up my opinion as well. I agree that your day visit was probably not representative of actually living there, but you’re not totally off base in certain areas.

    I’m based in the US (so I have an American bias) and my work sends me to Guam several times a year for a week at a time each. I’ve been going back and forth now for a couple years. Guam is not a desired assignment among my coworkers but as I’m the most junior in my team, I’m the one who gets assigned to it.

    I went to all the tourist attractions on my first visit, and I’ve been to them again sporadically since. Altogether, they take at most two days to see. Two lovers point has a decent view but is a bit overrated; paying to climb a flight of stairs for a slightly better photo is a ripoff. The beaches are mediocre. Sand is not fine and there are homeless people nearby sometimes. Water sports are okay (mainly patronized by Japanese tourists). Power outages are somewhat common. The hotels in Tumon have their own generators to cope with them. Heavy rain brings flooding to even the nicer parts of the island. For restaurants serving local food, I’d recommend Proa, Mezcla, Table 35, and Pika’s Cafe. That said, I don’t miss Chamoro food when I’m home in the US. Honestly the best non-American food I’ve had in Guam was Japanese and Filipino. Also be warned sometimes food is just not available. I went to a McDonald’s that had a sign explaining that tomatoes were unavailable for the rest of the month due to a shipping delay. This is in addition to the higher cost of food (milk is $6+/gal).

    I’ve made friends with some Chamoros, Filipinos, and Americans who have lived there for a few years (military). My Chamoro friends are very warm and friendly, but they have warned me about going to bars without them and told me specifically to avoid approaching local women. Apparently local men are very insecure and can start a fight for just looking at their girls. They call it respect, but to my American friends it’s seen as racism. My Filipino friends have told me of some racism they receive from Chamoros. They’re scapegoats similar to Mexicans in the US: “They come here and take our jobs”. Odd considering such a large majority of the island is Filipino, and indeed much of the Chamoro culture and language seems to borrow from the Philippines.

    It’s also interesting that locals have a love/hate relationship with the US. They hate the American military on Guam (understandable given many are young, hormone-filled ignorant males), but love the federal dollars that come with having the bases. According to my American friends, the unemployment rate is about 45% and the government has a hard time paying its bills and even refunding income taxes. Schools and infrastructure are severely underfunded and hospitals are substandard and constantly full. I was also warned never to get surgery done on island; people seem to go to Manila for major procedures. Guamanians proudly fly the US flag, but if you’re not Chamoro you’ll have a hard time discarding the “outsider” label.

    In short, Guam is *okay*. It’s by no means third world, but it’s certainly not first world either. To my American friends who’ve asked, I recommended they avoid visiting Guam. If you want a beautiful beach and don’t mind spending, go to Hawaii. If you want a beautiful beach and to experience another culture for low cost, go to Philippines or Thailand. For Japanese, Guam is the cheap weekend vacation when they don’t have the time/money to go to Hawaii. Other than that and its value to the US military, it’s an island only a Chamoro could love.

  52. Dillon Cepeda

    I’m a native chamorro from guam and I feel like the way you judged my island was a bit discriminating. You mainlanders read the “history” books and think you comprehend everything there is to understand about our lineage, history, and culture. Go back to your home land and criticize that because as of now you’re just going to upset the remainder of our ” japanese honeymoon island” and eventually cause.your own murder.

    Sincetely, A concerned citizen

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