The US Territory of Guam
(1949 – Present)
|Asan War in the Pacific
National Park Overlook
As the Westernmost plot of U.S. soil in the Pacific, Guam today remains a strategic outpost for the U.S. military as well as an important commerce and communications hub between the United States and Asia and Australia. In 1949, U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed the Organic Act making Guam an unincorporated territory of the United States with limited self-governing authority and granting US Citizenship to the people of Guam. The Government of Guam has an elected Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Senate and local village administrations and an independent income tax system. All residents of Guam at the time of the Organic Act and all persons born on Guam are US Citizens. Guam uses US currency,US banking institutions, US Customs and Immigration and US Postal Service. Guam is a integral part of the United States in the Pacific.
|Gateway to Guam
Won Pat International Airport
In 1962, security clearance requirement for travel to Guam, which had been in place since World War II, were lifted permitting Guam’s economy to flourish and opening and influx of new residents of diverse nationalities and races such as Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, Australian, Pacific Islanders, Europeans and mainland US transplants. Guam today is a truly cosmopolitan community with a unique culture, the core of which is the ancient Chamorro heavily influenced by the Spanish occupation and the Catholic Church. Strong American influence is also evident in the celebration of many public holidays, the form of Government and the pride in being U.S. that is displayed by the populace. Guam ‘s culture has also been influenced and enriched by the Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Micronesian immigrants each group of whom have added their unique contributions. The present population of Guam, 2006, is approximately 171,000 of whom roughly 37% are Chamorro, 26% Filipino, 11% other Pacific Islander with the remaining 26% primarily Caucasian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese, all of whom bring their cultural heritage and customs and contribute to Guam’s unique culture and appeal.
Chamorro – Core of Guam Culture
Perform at Tumon Hotel Pool
The culture of Guam has been heavily influenced over centuries by the influx of peoples and cultures from all over the World. However the overriding culture that gives Guam it’s unique flavor is that of it’s native inhabitants, the Chamorro. The Chamorro culture is characterized by a complex social protocol centered upon respect, caring, accepting and helping one another.
|Puntan Dos Amantes
Legent of 2 Lovers Point
Inafa’maolek, or interdependence, is a central value in which depends on a spirit of cooperation. Historian Lawrence Cunningham in 1992 wrote, “In a Chamorro sense, the land and its produce belong to everyone. This is the armature, or core, that everything in Chamorro culture revolves around. It is a powerful concern for mutuality rather than individualism and private property rights.” The culture is visibly manifested in the kissing of the hands of elders, passing of legends, music, dance, chants, courtship rituals, handicrafts, burial rituals, preparation of herbal medicines, and requesting forgiveness from spiritual ancestors when entering a jungle. Glimpses of Guam culture are evident in local legends and folklore such as taotaomona (ancient spirits), Puntan Dos Amantes, the story of doomed lovers leaping to their death off Two Lovers’ Point and Serena, the story of a beautiful young girl who becomes a mermaid.
Monument to Pope John Paul II in Hagatna.
The Spanish occupation was characterized by conquest and conversion to “save the heathen souls”, implemented by force, which nearly resulted in the total extermination of the pure Chamorro race.
|Merizo Bell Tower
18th Century Spanish Landmark
The Spanish failed to recognize that the Chamorro culture was matrilineal and largely ignored the influence of the Chamorro women, which likely accounts for the fact that Chamorro culture has endured as the prominent culture on Guam to this day. However given approximately 433 years years (1565 to 1898) of occupation and intrusion into all aspects of Guam life, the Spanish influence on the island remains ingrained. The greatest influence of the Spanish over Guam’s culture was through the Catholic Church which has, since the 17th century, been the center of village activity. A statue of Pope John Paul II rotates in the center of the capital city of Hagatna 24 hours a day on the site where he held mass in 1981. Today, every village has its patron saint whose feast day is celebrated with an elaborate fiesta to which the entire island is invited. These fiestas, where extended families contribute food and work to cook for the village guests, remain a key attribute of the culture of Guam to this day. Spanish influence is also evident much of Guam’s present day architecture, especially in the Southern Villages.