Remember when I said I wanted to double major in Pacific Island Studies and International Hospitality and Tourism? Well… I changed my mind about tourism having seen the effects it has had on our island. Tomhom (darkness), also known as Tumon is the heart of tourism here on Guam. Little do people know that it is the biggest burial site in the Pacific. It used to have the most beautiful, pristine beaches and luscious jungles, and now it’s a concrete playground for tourists with hotels, shopping plazas, and pollution. The picture above is actually Tumon bay in the 1950s. Gef pågo (beautiful), no? Because tourism is the island’s main source of revenue, we are starting to put the desires of tourists before the needs of the people and the land. It’s like we’re creating a picture perfect paradise Guam just for their pleasure. Eco-tourism companies such as Fisheye Marine Park let tourists feed the fish dog food and bread even though it is bad for the fish and the already fragile ecosystem they are a part of. Jetski clubs pollute the beaches with oil and exhaust and scare the fish away on the daily just to give tourists a joyride. There are many pressing issues on our island that need to be addressed like homelessness, pollution, failing public transportation, the illegal raises that the governor gave his staff, public health and education, chemical castration of sex offenders, decolonization, the list goes on. But instead, a culvert that drains filthy water into our beaches to alleviate flooding in Tumon is more important to our leaders. The bill wasn’t passed thanks to concerned taotao Guåhan, but I just think it shouldn’t have been proposed in the first place. I wanted to be in tourism to show people Guåhan for all that she naturally is and not what people are shaping her to be. I wanted to show tourists Guåhan’s soul, but it’s getting harder to find it. I wanted to engender respect and appreciation for our culture and our island in visitors, but how could they appreciate it if we don’t?
Pues pågo (so now), my options are open! It’s quite exciting because there are so many majors and programs I can choose from and so many things I can learn to help si nanan-mami Guåhan (our mother Guam). I don’t want my career and my life to revolve around money, I want to help something bigger than myself sa hu guaiya i islå-ta, i taotao-ta, yan i kotturå-ta (because I love our island, our people, and our culture).
Si Yu’us ma’åse for reading.