Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why I'm Not a Shiny Happy Native

I'm writing a section of my dissertation right now on the narrative that Guam "has no culture." This has led me around the internet looking for different articles from travel magazines and the notorious Lonely Planet guide that discusses Guam as a horrible place to visit, with nothing on the island of interest except the world's largest K-Mart. As I often tell people on Guam, you may feel all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings for the United States or for Americans, but stroll around the internet for a bit and visit the blogs or pages of people sent to work on Guam or stationed on Guam and you'll find an aircraft-carrier-load of negative and nasty comments.

If you think that Sherry from Myspace was bad, or that Mike Ogle's trash from ESPN.com was racist, then you have to read the comments and testimonials below from the website, Virtual Tourist. The section was "Guam Warnings or Dangers" and is full of people who call Guam "hell" and think of it as the most corrupt and backwards place in the world. Here's some of the more nasty recent comments. One you can click the link to read all of them, one of the more interesting ones was left in 2002 and it said "DON'T MESS WITH A DRUNK CHAMORRO, YOU GET your ass beat down!!" Not sure if the person who wrote this was a drunk Chamorro who was in the process of beating someone down, or someone who had been beaten down by a drunk Chamorro.

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OMGLOL: April 7, 2009

I've chosen to make my home on Guam for personal reasons, but this is the worst place I've ever lived. I've been to many islands, and most island people are welcoming, friendly, and charming. This place is almost hostile. No concept of hospitality, and the worst waiters and service people I've ever encountered in my life. Try taking care of business at the department of revenue and taxation - you may need a drink or a shoulder to cry on afterward.

Everything costs double, not just because goods have to be imported, but because local business have monopolies on certain industries and charge as much as they can. When first apartment hunting, I was shown $1,500-$2,000 per month apartments so run-down and nasty that I've seen better section 8 housing stateside. This is because all property owners automatically set their base rents at military housing allowance, which is a ridiculously high $1,700. Try renting a decent (one that isn't filthy and will not get broken into) apartment on a regular salary - yeah, not gonna happen. Oh, and if you like air-conditioning (who doesn't when it's 90 degrees outside 90% of the year?), prepare to pay $400 or more per month for a single family home.

I've lived in big, major metropolitan areas, cities people associate with crime. I had never been robbed - until I got to Guam. I was robbed on Guam twice in two years. And when I say robbed, I mean "inside jobs." Staff at the hotel and apartment where I stayed had access to my rooms (duh, they're staff). One day, after a short stay off island, I came home to find everything gone - even my freaking tennis shoes. When the cops came, I pointed out empty beer cans that weren't mine (yeah, the thieves made themselves right at home). Perhaps they should take them for prints....they LAUGHED. The police LAUGHED AT ME because GUAM HAS NO FINGERPRINT DATABASE OR FORENSIC LAB OF ANY KIND.

People still abuse/ignore stray animals and enjoy cock-fighting here. The island's only pound is disgusting and in disrepair (have you been to the SPCA on Oahu? It's like a hotel). Guam's situation with animals is 40 years or more behind most developed nations.

If you get sick on Guam, you are screwed. Basically, if you go into Guam Memorial Hospital for an emergency, chances are you won't come out alive. The GMH emergency room entrance looks like a triage unit for an army doing ground warfare in the middle east. The parking lot is packed 24/7 (when I say "packed" I mean, cars have to park all the way down the street and into a residential area). Why? Because people who have no money or insurance use it as a clinic - because they know they can't be turned away. That's right - they just don't give a damn. They don't care that people with real emergencies may suffer because they caught a cold and don't want to pay for the treatment. Oh, did I mention the hospital is not approved by stateside medical organizations? And that some of its former directors have been accused/convicted of theft and selling prescriptions?

And based on news of late, it looks like our next governor will either be a nepotistic thief of a murdering thief. No, I am not speaking in metaphors - the locals will know what I'm talking about.

Most locals will start getting a rope ready to hang you if you spoke of any of this (elephant in living room stuff) in public. It's because most have never lived any where else for an extend period of time, although more Chamorros live off island than on island (gee I wonder why). And they're really sensitive. Anyway, I'm here to stay, for a while anyway. And I smile and welcome everyone and try to be good island representative and try to pretend like this place isn't going to hell in a hand-basket.

Advice: Shop at Cost-u-less; Other grocery stores, especially Payless, charge double or triple cost-u-less. Kmart may be the only place you can find what you need, but it's not like stateside k-marts - they are (I can't believe I'm saying this about Kmart) EXPENSIVE. They take advantage of us because they're the only place. If you have access to the stores on base, go. Get an ebay account if you don't already have one. Use it, love it, and never let it go. I saw something at Micropac (electronics store that RAPES its customers because they are sole distributor for certain popular electronics products) selling for $400 that I got on ebay for $75!!!!!! THE SAME DAMN THING - only mine was a NEWER MODEL!!!! If people here think they can separate you from your money, they will. You must demand lower prices everywhere you go - including the power authority, phone companies, cell phone companies, etc. Don't be ashamed. The service is so damn bad, we should get discounts for that alone!

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seawithfromsaipan: March 28, 2008

Hi After spending six months on Guam I learned a lot. First of all, behind the facades of the beautiful hotels hygiene is terrible. I saw the feast displayed on buffets for Sunday brunch from behind the scenes, cooked food was placed on the floors in the halls for servers to pick up to place on trays, dishes are wiped clean with dirty rags because the water pressure is low. So beware of where and what you eat.

Guam is populated by very poor people, this is a slum island most people have slum or ghetto mentalities but if you are not from their culture you won't recognize it until you realize your girlfriend steals ashtrays from peoples houses and will eventually teach your children that stealing is ok. Girls from the slums make men feel great and the islanders have no respect for marriage. They see a man from The Mainland through eyes with dollar bills signs ringing up their best financial opportunity.

The architecture is 60's slums, the hotels are pretty but it is true that one or two were not earthquake or typhoon proof. Standard of living is so low that lower middle class homes look really good on Guam. Not many good shops if you want anything other than perfume or designer scarves.

The police on Guam are notorious for being very brutal. Excessive force is common. Divorces on Guam will favor locals so if you and your spouse want a divorce don't divorce on Guam, the adulterer usually has a local squeeze and the judge favors the party with a local adulterer.

Forget law, I attempted to withdraw money from a joint bank account before my divorce on Guam and the bank refused to release the money. Women on Guam are very jealous and devious.

Health care on Guam is quite poor, if you are very sick leave the island to be seen in a hospital at Hawaii or St. Lukes in Manila or go to Tokyo.

Military Wives on Guam live in misery, mucho gossip, no privacy, dog pile politics, dirty laundry, crime on base, few activities available and it is a long way home.

The schools on Guam are inferior to any in any part of the world, so are the teachers and the principals. Jobs are awarded to relatives of the politicians and for those who make large campaign contributions.

There are few friendly people on Guam.

Transmitting STD's seems to be the local sport. I was lucky to get away from my spouse before I contracted the health problems his girlfriend gave h im. Another big trick is for women to get pregnant on Guam then get married or to conceal children they had when they were teenagers from a future spouse.

The beaches are polluted. Raw seage is dumped into the beach area from hotels, the roads aren't banked, there are frequent power outages, tap water from the fawcet might not ever be more than a trickle, don't drink it, garbage pick up is usually non existent and there are many burglaries.

Culture is non existent on Guam, there are not any museums, the Chamorro culture on Guam is not Chamorro, the most authentic Chamorro culture are on Saipan on Rota. There are no theaters, no concerts, no art galleries, no good newspapers (free speech is limited by publishers who have other priorities), the beaches are seriously and dangerously polluted, single women are not safe, single men will be approached by very available partners (at least in Amersterdam they are tested). Children will have no educational stimulation or activities.

Guam is Great for Loosers who can't make it in the Mainland USA.
It is better to visit Saipan

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Petersamforsally: February 8, 2008

DANGER!!! Guam is a place for cheap ass holes that think they are saving their family a little money for a bunch of Chamorro that do not appreciate ***, hell they smell like ***. They are rude and think they are better than “actual” Americans. I lived there for a couple of year and they would wine like little pussy babies about how they wanted America to leave. I would tell them all the time they would get over run by Japan or something and they would get angry and try fighting. I would have to beat their asses and the wining would start back. Trust me. Avoid Guam at all cost.

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Whater11: December 30, 2007

Guam is a third world ghetto. I have NOT found the locals to be the least bit nice to non-islanders. This island is about 15-20 years behind any modern country. There is graffiti, abandoned cars, abandoned buildings and trash almost everywhere you go. If you are coming here for two weeks to stay on the "strip"( where the hotels are) then you might enjoy yourself if you enjoy shopping at high end stores and staying on the beach the entire time.(Caution for the beaches-they are, for the most part, polluted.) I would highly recommend Bali or Bora Bora over this place any day.
Caution to those of you who are thinking about moving here or PCSing here, this place is a NIGHTMARE! keep in mind its 15+ years behind modern times....Anyone who has very positive reviews has either stayed here for less than two weeks, came to Guam from a less fortunate country, or enjoys the lazy, "laid back", I don't care attitude of the locals.

Not all of the locals are this way... just 95% of them......

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Guam Sucks: March 11, 2007:

DANGER ! Guam Sucks ! Guam is the worst place to visit. The pictures of Guam look pretty, but Guam is really a third world ghetto! The beaches are polluted with sewage ! The local sewage treatment plant is badly neglected. The raw sewage flows right into the water and down to the tourist beaches. Sometimes you can even smell it and see the toilet paper in the water.

The locals hate the tourists and will do anything they can get away with. There are plenty of beatings, robberies and rapes on the tourists. The whole economy is geared towards fleecing the tourists. The obvious hate that the locals have poisons every human interaction with them.

If you come to Guam, you will feel it too. The locals consider the abuse on the tourists as a joke, and something to brag about. You will sit in a restaurant and wait and wait and wonder if the rude waitress is doing something really bad to your food. As you groan on the dirty toilet in your overpriced hotel room, you will know that she did do something bad to your food ! Don't go to the hospital, it is the worst place to go, you are sure to die there ! The word nightlife really means strip clubs, which are also whorehouses. There is very little to do at night except strip clubs, and you better go with a buddy. AIDS and all other diseases are very common here. Most local people refuse to get tested, and don't get treatment, it's a denial thing. The Guam government is very corrupt and the American taxpayer's money is going into some politician's pocket. Very little of the money is actually spent on it's intended purpose. The local schools are a nightmare. The police force is very corrupt. Drug use is common even among the police and school bus drivers. The locals appear friendly, but that is so they can take advantage of you!

I have lived in Guam in the local community for three years. I know many of the locals and interact with them daily. I beg you to please take my advice and visit someplace better. I can honestly say that my life on Guam has been pure HELL !

3 comments:

Michael said...

You know, its just so sad to read all of this. I grew up on Guam and then i moved to the states in 2000 and you know i just don't remember Guam like that. In my memories Guam was pretty, and wonderful. I felt safer there, i mean, back in the day we were able to leave our front doors open all day even when we weren't there. The beaches were clean and for the most part untouched. But now i feel such a big disconnect, not just with the island because it isn't how i remember it, but also with the Chamorros today. I go back to Guam and even though i love my family, they act soo backward and almost glorify violence and ignorance. ON TOP OF THAT, they act like such... chauds and proclaim Chamorro culture but i speak WAY MORE Chamorro than my cousins and even more than a lot of adults on Guam AND i half grew up in the states. It's just so ridiculous. It hurts to read these comments BUT I CANT EVEN SAY ITS NOT TRUE and that annoys me.Our government is corrupt, our people have a backward mentality that is exacerbated by our worship for the fight and the island is just a MESS, i compare my life in the states to Guam and Guam is just flat out ghetto. It sucks that i see it that way, but it's just... the truth. When i first moved to California i used to long for my island, but when i went back after 8 years that longing quickly dissipated. For stateside Chamorros, Guam has easily become like Palestine. None of us want to go back home until we retire or are on our death beds because for me and many stateside Chamorros Guam is just not an option anymore, its not what it used to be to us and although its significance still lingers within us, as our home, our origin, Guam just no longer is as it should be or as many remember it as and therefore is no longer an option for many of us. It would be like going back to square one, but this time square one is a tattered, mistreated and ill-kept island with little hope for a future.

brent said...

Always disparaging comments about "Americans"; ...don't you have an American passport, didn't you go to school in California,...did you check the Asian/Pacific Islander box on your college application. Me thinks thou protest too much.

Jay Bird said...

Michael...there are some Chamorros who are fortunate enough to get off the island and get a better education. Wouldn't it be something if they came back home and did something about the problems that currently persist? Stop your whining and do something about it. I think you've really lost touch with reality when you compare Guam to the Gaza Strip (considering there isn't a Palestinian state).

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