The eve of the new millennium provides us a good chance to pause and reflect and to take stock, as the expression goes. Before my black and white photos start getting brittle and my color slides turn pale, I thought it would be interesting to dust off the old album and peek in for a few glances.
This scene is so very familiar. New York City's skyline is dominated by skyscrapers in an asphalt jungle; ours is relatively modest in outline and the natural jungle must continuously be pushed back to keep it from reclaiming what it has lost to development. The hotels and business establishments along Tumon Bay cater to over one million tourists a year and are the major arteries that sustain Guam's economic life. The Bay has known many tragedies historically but, in a bit of poetic justice, it is now enjoying many triumphs economically. This was Tumon just a few years ago.
This place is right downtown and a very busy place indeed. The Agana Marina, the Chamorro Village, and the Baseball Stadium attract a lot of people. It is always full of activities, particularly in the evenings with people walking, running, talking, and some just plain gawking. Right after World War II, it was referred to as Bakers Field, in reference to a Major Baker who was in charge of the site. His responsibilities included supervising the dumping of debris from the war ruins of Agana in the Paseo. This expanded the original acreage to what it is today. Since Agana was virtually totally leveled during the post-war razing to clean it up, archaeologists of the future may find valuable specimens from Guam's early history buried in the Paseo not by nature, but by man himself. This was the Paseo not too long ago.
From the fort at Apugan behind Government House, you see this view of the Plaza-Basilica complex, with the Bank of Guam in the background which has become a prominent part of the downtown profile. My album has this picture of the same area taken in the seventies.
One of Guam's greatest assets is the natural harbor at Apra. During the height of U.S. military activities on Guam during World War II, this harbor handled more tonnage in connection with the war effort than any other harbor in the world except Antwerp in Belgium. Given Guam's continuous and vigorous quest for economic self-determination, a picture of this harbor ten years from now would undoubtedly show dramatic changes that would have been instituted to keep up with the growing needs of the Territory.
While many new structures are going up, sadly, some very precious ones are falling down. One of the most prominent of these structures, which was built by the Spaniards during their colonial administration of Guam, is Fort Santo Angel in Umatac. It continues to deteriorate from the ravages of the sea and is likely to be swallowed by it unless immediate attention is focused on protecting it. Not very long ago, I took this picture of the same fort.
Now enters a relatively recent phenomenon on Guam -- depredation and degradation through the deliberate spoiling and marring of the surface of buildings and other structures under the mistaken notion that graffiti is art.
Fifty years ago, there appeared in the Chicago Tribune a piece entitled, "The Place I Liked the Most." It was by Ned Calmer, a New York radio commentator. A picture, similar to this one, accompanied the article and it had this caption: "It won't be long now until man soils its primeval beauty; but as it was the last time I saw it, I wanted to stay there motionless, spellbound, forever. "It was a very meaningful tribute considering that Mr. Calmer was returning from a trip around the world and had visited many countries but selected a simple black and while picture of Tumon Bay to represent the place he liked the most.
As Mr. Calmer had predicted, man has soiled the beauty of the place that captivated him. It was inevitable, from the day Guam decided to concentrate on tourism out of economic necessity. The challenge for Guam now is balance and harmony. These pictures from our seashore shows that nature does it well.
At Tumon recently, I spotted a beautiful white bird and I hurriedly took a picture before it went into the trees. It reminded me of a carrier pigeon and wondered to myself what message it was delivering. When I developed the picture, I found out The pretty bird had just flown off a sign with a telling message in Chamorro and in English: PROTEHI I BUNITON ISLA-TA. PROTECT THE BEAUTY OF OUR ISLAND. It occurred to me that it was a timely and suitable picture to put at the end of the album.