This morning, we woke up, packed up the car and drove an hour away from home to Carlyle Lake, Illinois for the annual Guam Liberation Day Party.
Let me guess. You probably have some questions. Guam, what? Guam is where I’m originally from. My mom is 100% Guamanian and was born and raised there. My dad is full Filipino, was born in Maui, but raised on Guam. So that makes me half Guamanian and half Filipina.
Now for a geography lesson. Guam is a tiny island in the Pacific, the largest of the chain of islands that make up the Marianas Islands. It’s a U.S. territory, so us Americans don’t need a passport to get there. And getting there entails about 27 hours of flight time and layovers from St. Louis and a fat wad of cash to pay for it.
But when you get there, you see how absolutely beautiful this tiny gem of an island is. And then it’s all worth it.
These photos (first two taken by my dad), were captured during our November 2010 trip. It was hands down the best trip I’ve ever been on. I really don’t care what any travel expert says. Nothing compares to these beaches. It’s a shame Guam never ends up on Americans’ travel list.
You history buffs will remember Guam’s role in World War II. Japan attacked and invaded Guam during the war. Guamanians were harshly treated by the Japanese. Many, including my maternal grandmother, were sent to labor camps. After about two and half years of Japanese occupation, the U.S. Marines stormed Asan Beach to recapture the island on July 21, 1944. The U.S. victory on Guam proved to be a turning point in the war.
So every year, Guamanians celebrate the day they were liberated. It’s called Liberation Day. (Duh.) And even though we’re thousands of miles away from Guam, the party still rages on.
In our case, we and 70-some Guamanians who live in the St. Louis area, gathered together at Carlyle Lake in Illinois for island food, drink, music and mingling. It’s no beach, but it’s probably the closest thing we have to one. The park pavilion we rented is heavily shaded with large trees and has a beautiful panoramic view of the lake. Not to mention cool breezes that blow off the water. A welcome relief from the heat and humidity.
It certainly is nice to get away from the everyday and lounge around with “your people”. Coming from a community (or island) so small, I think it’s only natural to flock to “your people” when you live that far away from home. Because in my day-to-day life, I don’t live every second in my Guamanian culture. I live a culture that combines what I know from home and what I know from where I live today. Finding the right balance of both is important. And being able to draw from both, makes me feel that much more cultured.
Guam’s Liberation Day is five days away, so let me be the first to say Happy Liberation Day, Guam!