Moving to Guam
Moving your family to a small tropical island in the far Western North Pacific Ocean can be a bit stressful to put it mildly. Particularly if you're coming from a large metropolitan area and are accustomed to all the amenities that sort of lifestyle has to offer. Living on Guam is a bit different to say the least. We think you'll find after a short adjustment period you'll settle in and begin to enjoy our way of life here.
If you're coming from the U.S. mainland, you'll notice a big difference in the way people live. Things move a little slower on Guam, people just don't seem to be as hurried. Homes are not as lavish, cars not as luxurious, and everyday products you need and want aren't likely to be of the same type you'll find in the U.S. Mainland. Barbecues are very popular here on the weekends, and there is always someone having a fiesta for one reason or another. People just find a reason to party here. On Guam, people tend to pursue a more simple life focused on family and friends. The community is more closely knit than you're likely to find in the Mainland. Let yourself slow down a little and enjoy the experience of a new way of living.
People and Culture of Guam
People and Culture
Guam has a unique culture and its traditions and customs have thrived throughout history, despite invading conquerors, wars and changing governments. It has since expanded into a vibrant, modern way of life, retaining its cultural identity, language, customs and cuisine.
The people of Guam, known as Chamorros are a very happy, friendly people and there is nothing they like more than a festival! The Spanish heritage is still very much evident today, with each of the 19 villages having its own patron saint whose feast day is celebrated with an elaborate fiesta usually continuing throughout the week, with an array of local delicacies, music and good cheer. Everyone is welcome to participate.
Over the years, visitors such as the Americans, Europeans, Asians and Micronesians have left their imprints on the island's pastimes and tastes, and particularly in the island's food. During one of the many fiestas or family parties you will find tables laden with local delicacies, such as red rice, shrimp patties, Filipino style noodles, barbecued ribs and chicken, and taro leaves cooked in coconut milk.
The traditional menu also includes such favorites as Eskabeche (fresh fish marinated in vinegar and soy sauce), Kadon Octopus (octopus stewed in coconut milk with onions and sweet peppers),) and Shrimp Kelaguen (minced shrimp mixed with lemon, onions, peppers and shredded coconut).
To get a real flavor of local food take a trip to the Chamorro Village Wednesday Night Market at Agana. Here you will find vendors selling wonderful Chamorro treats such as Ahu (grated coconut boiled in sugar water) or Lumpia (vegetable egg roll dipped in garlic sauce) and homemade Sweet Tuba (a drink made from the first sap of the young coconut tree). A firm favorite with families are the operated barbecue booths, where you can sample Short Ribs, Chicken Kebobs and even squid are served hot off the grill.
Music plays a significant role in island lifestyle and singing is a very important element of Guamian music. The Kantan Chamorro style of singing is a type of improvised poetry and has been a favorite form of entertainment for generations. Traditionally it was used to lighten long hours of group work activity, begun by one singer who would sing the familiar four-line chant, trading witty remarks with another group worker. This person would then take up the tune and the song might continue back and forth in this way for hours.
Music performances can be heard using traditional instruments, such as the belembaotuyan, made from a hollow gourd and strung with a taut wire, creating a melodic sound. Another popular traditional instrument is the Kantan, which is a nose flute made from bamboo and originally used by men to serenade their sweethearts.
Legends and Folklore
Guam has a lot of legends that some local people still believe today. Legends and folklore from doomed lovers leaping to their death off Two Lovers' Point to the legend of the coconut are portrayed in many of Guam's cultural dances. A great place to learn more about the legends of Guam is http://ns.gov.gu/legends.html – run by the University of Guam.
Guam's traditional arts and crafts are very much alive and visitors often have the opportunity to watch master craftsman such as weavers and blacksmith at work during cultural fairs, exhibitions and at Chamorro Village.
To view exhibits by local and regional artists visit the Isla Center for the Arts at the University of Guam or the KAHA Arts & Culture Gallery at Two Lover's Point.