- December 25-26, 2022, Sunday to Monday.
- Christmas in Guam isn't as fun as you think - but of course I made it fun! It isn't as fun because Christmas is a holiday in Catholic-majority Guam and most of everything is closed on Christmas! Many stores, restaurants - even the malls! - are closed on Christmas. I was so glad I found out about this early on as I was planning for the trip, so I was able to make sure that our Christmas would still be interesting.
- I realized that most of Guam's historical spots are open 24/7, and conveniently located near each other in the island's capital, Agana. It was the perfect way to spend Christmas! At least, for someone interested in history like me. (If not, I think water activities might be available during the holidays because there are many tourists who don't really celebrate Christmas. Water activities aren't my thing though.)
- We first visited Fort Santa Agueda on top of a hill overlooking Agana and the sea. Built in the 1800s, the small fort is actually the last remaining fort in Agana. I'm glad it was eventually protected because many forts and Spanish-era sites have been victims of neglect and theft.
|The cannons left in Fort Santa Agueda. Old documents said that there should have been 10.|
|View from the hilltop fort.|
|One of the cannons.|
|Stairs to the cannons.|
- At the bottom of the hill, one can find the Latte Stone Park. Although the park was formally established in the 1950s, the latte stones were actually from centuries prior. Originally from the village of Mepo in southern Guam, but were moved because the American Navy was going to build some facility there. (The park also has two entrances to Japanese air raid shelters from World War II but for the life of me, I cannot remember why I forgot to check them out! Woe is me.)
|With the lattes.|
|Again, latte stones were supposed to be bases of Chamorro wooden/grass houses. They provide sturdy support for the whole structure, prevent floods from reaching the houses (to some extent,) and prevents animals from climbing to the houses.|
- After having a quick brunch in Tamuning (as there was a restaurant we liked and we knew was open on Christmas), my family went back to Agana to continue exploring Agana. Perhaps one of Agana's most popular and recognizable tourist destinations is Plaza de Espana. It was the seat of government of Guam from the 1700s until World War II. The governor's office used to be there, until it was destroyed in the war, only leaving some structures behind.
|Left: Chocolate House, a small function/meeting room where chocolate was usually served. Right: Azotea, or terrace-porch. |
|With the fountain and Siesta Shed.|
|Arches of the almacen (armory.) The armory doesn't exist anymore, but the arches remained.|
- Right beside Plaza de Espana is the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica. The cathedral is one of the main churches of Guam. Though built in 1959, it is significant as it was built on the place where the first church of Guam used to be. The first church was built in the 1600s and was only destroyed during World War II. The church appears to have a museum but I wasn't able to visit it anymore since they were closing the church after the Christmas mass (at least that's what it seemed like?) By the way, the church is air-conditioned.
|Inside the church. You can see a small statue of Santa Marian Kamalen, the patron saint of Guam.|
|San Lorenzo Ruiz. Although not exactly involved with Guam in any way, he is the patron saint of overseas Filipinos.|
|Saint Pedro Calungsod is also enshrined here, for a more obvious reason. He went to Guam with the Spanish to help spread Catholicism in the island. He was also killed in Guam. |
|With the cathedral.|
|Statue of Pope John Paul II (and the Insular Guard Monument at the back.)|
- Finally, we ended our historical tour of Agana by visiting San Antonio Bridge, or Tollai Acho. It is a bridge that was built in 1800 over what used to be the Agana River. The river was rerouted, so there isn't a body of water under the bridge anymore. There is also a mermaid statue on one side of the bridge. The mermaid, called "Sirena" (which means mermaid,) used to be a human who didn't do her chores and was cursed to become a mermaid.
|With the Sirena.|
|This is what it looks like over the bridge.|
- The rest of Christmas afternoon was spent resting before my family had Christmas dinner in Dusit Thani.
|My Christmas look.|
- On our last day in Guam, I visited the Latte of Freedom, located inside the Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor's Complex (where the governor's office is.) Originally planned in the 1970s, the giant latte was supposed to not only serve as Guam's main landmark, but also as a multi-purpose building that includes a Chamorro museum and cultural center. This was planned by the late Ricardo J. Bordallo who was the governor that time. Although the Latte of Freedom was not built while he was living, a scaled down version was finished in 2010. The Latte of Freedom mainly serves as a viewing deck.
|Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor's Complex.|
|With the Latte of Freedom. (I didn't go up anymore.)|
|Artillery from World War II, as well as a small Japanese shrine to honor those who lost their lives in World War II (regardless of affiliation.)|
- We had breakfast afterwards at Shirley's (it's a good all-day diner!) Apart from the food, I was also interested at the Indian Temple that was a few doors away from the restaurant. The temple is currently Guam's only Indian temple. The temple was closed the day I visited, but I was able to take a peek at the small shrine at the yard. It was a shrine for Shiva.
|Guam's only Indian temple.|
|Couldn't go in as it was closed. It's only open on Thursday.|
|Nandi, Shiva's bull.|
|Shiva's image, and the Shiva lingam on the yoni.|
- In the afternoon we decided to go to Duty Free for some last minute shopping. I am not normally interested in Duty Free shopping, so I left my family in Duty Free while I visited a peculiar store called Underground Dungeon. It's a warehouse that sells costumes for parties, Halloween, or any major occasion. It was paradise for me!!
|Despite the name, it is paradise.|
|I told you.|
|More Power Rangers merchhhh.|
|There is a section dedicated to Power Rangers stuff. I mean....I tried my best not to buy everything of those shelves.|
- After dinner we had to head back to the hotel and rest before our red-eye flight back to Manila. Our trip to Guam was the first time my family had a vacation together in a long while and for that I feel thankful. We rarely go on vacations together, and traveling was out of the question during the earlier years of the pandemic. Although I was able to stay in Australia for a good few months and had some adventures there, my family didn't. As for Guam, I guess it exceeded my expectations to some extent because I was surprised by how alive it is despite the size of the island, and the lack of infrastructure compared to Hawai'i. I keep comparing Guam to Hawai'i because they're both American territories (although Hawai'i is a state) in the Pacific - and also because I have been to Hawai'i. Although admittedly, considering the number of tourists visiting Guam, I think Guam could probably improve a lot of its infrastructure and preservation of historical landmarks. I hope more people can see the beauty of Guam beyond its beaches because there really is something to see and do in this small Pacific Island!
** BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!! **
- After two back-to-back trips - a long one in Australia, and a short week-long trip to Guam - I realized that I have a lot more things at home now. Even without my trips, people have always asked me how I manage to organize and store my everyday clothes, and more importantly, my collection of traditional and cultural clothing and accessories. Because my family lives in a modest condo unit, there isn't too much space to work with in the first place. Good thing ORGANONO is here to save the day!
- Organono is an online store (click here to see their website) that provides easy-to-assemble modular items ranging from cabinets, organizers, racks, pet houses/cages, and more. Because my room is small I opted to get shoe organizers for a more compact fit for my clothes. I actually already have the 6-door 12-layer shoe organizer from a previous purchase. Since I needed more space, I bought two more sets so I can connect it to the one that I already have! By the way, purchasing from their store is very easy, and they deliver it right to your doorstep!
|My existing shoe organizer converted into mini cabinets. It doesn't look stable so I wanted to add more compartments to the side.|
- Each box has rectangualr and square panels, round connectors, and hooks. They usually add a wooden hammer to help people make sure that the steel frames of the panels are completely attached to the connectors. They also have instruction sheets to help you understand how the pieces go together. However, the final product IS UP TO YOUR NEEDS AND IMAGINATION!
|Square panels, rectangular panels, doors, round connectors, hooks, and an instruction sheet.|
- It took me 3 hours to work on my new cabinet (after removing my clothes from the existing one) because I had many compartments to work with! I also needed to make sure that the panels are all attached correctly. Making mistakes might be a concern since the connectors are difficult to remove from the panels once you hammer them in. HOWEVER, the panels' snug fit is actually what makes the final product durable!
|I love working on my new cabinet. I feel like a carpenter! The wooden hammer helps a lot by the way! I chose this particular style of cabinet because the transparent doors allow me to see what's inside each compartment easily!|
|This is what a compartment looks like. The corners are secured by the round connectors. In the middle of each compartment, you see hooks attached to the square panels. The hooks allow me to add a panel so I can split a big compartment into two smaller compartments. |
|The compartments looks small, but I assure you that they are spacious! You can also see the mid-panel hook on the lower left of the photo that allows me to add another layer inside this compartment. Also see my wooden hammer, some connectors, and hooks.|
- I absolutely love my new cabinet and the process of making it was actually therapeutic too. I felt happy and proud because I made something for myself and for my own convenience. Organono is a life changer because their products allow you to organize your things the way you want to! When your things are organized, it's easier to organize your life too!
|I was tired, but I know that my newly-assembled cabinet can provide me more comfort!|
|I immediately placed all my clothes in my new cabinet after taking this photo. Now I know where everything is!|
- Thank you Organono for changing my life! Your products are affordable, durable, and modifiable! As someone who likes to organize, this is surely a game changer. Do check out Organono's website today (linking it here again) and see how you can organize your life based on your rules!