Exploring Chamorro Cuisine

Chamorro cuisine is pretty basic and centers on key ingredients: meat, coconut and chilies. If you’re to attend a party in a Chamorro’s house, you’ll mostly likely to find the dining table heaving with platters of meat dishes, dishes with grated coconut or coconut milk, and they would be spicy (for some Chamorros, the spicier, the better).

Chicken Kelaguen
Chicken kelaguen with titiyas on the side

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Maila Ta Fan Boka Festival

The primary reason why I, along with fellow travel blogger Ivan of Ivan About Town, food nerd JJ of Pinoy Eats World and writer Angel of Travel Life, flew to Guam for 5 days last May was for the Maila Ta Fan Boka Festival. Meaning “come and let’s eat,” that’s exactly what we did in Guam.

Maila Ta Fan Boka Festival 01
Victoria at the opening of the Maila Ta Fan Boka festival

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The Smart LTE Experience

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To say that the internet plays a big part in my life is an understatement: the internet is my life. My full-time work is online, my projects on the side are all online, more than half of my siblings are overseas so we keep in touch online, I share my travels through this blog, which is of course, online.

Smart LTE Speedtest results
Smart LTE Speedtest results

I’ve experienced the slowest of slow connections: our first modem was a 1400 baud dial-up modem. I’ve experienced fast: 24 Mbps in Hong Kong. Last weekend, I experienced holy-frack-that’s-fast!: download speeds of up to 50 Mbps using Smart LTE.
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Hello and goodbye, Guam

“Hafa adai,” Ivan said as we stepped off the Continental Airlines plane that took us from stormy Manila to sunny Guam.
Still shaking off the cobwebs in my head, I replied with an eloquent “huh?”
“Hafa adai,” he repeated.
“Ah yeah, we practically lost half a day traveling.”
“No, I meant hafa adai,” Ivan said while pointing to the sign welcoming visitors to Guam.
“Oh so that’s how it’s pronounced!”

Tumon Bay
Tumon Bay as seen from the 16th floor of the Hotel Nikko Guam

The locals greeted us with hafa adai every where we go, whether it’s day or night, whether we’re just seeing each other or parting to go our separate ways.

From the first night meeting the Guam Visitors Bureau team along with the other contingents from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, South Korea and the USA at the Chamorro Village Night Market up to the fiesta in Santa Rita, we were warmly welcomed like long lost family members.

It’s hard to ignore how similar Guam is to the Philippines. Both have the same tropical climate, terrain and underwater treasures. Like the Philippines, Guam was also colonized by Spain. The huge Filipino population in the tiny island meant that there are plenty of Pinoy fare (or very similar to it) on the buffet table.

But as the Southeast Asian cliché go, it’s same same, but different. Since Guam is a US Territory, the infrastructure is similar to that in mainland USA. The laws are also the same, though there are also local laws. The US dollar is also the local currency.

We came here for the Maila Ta Fan Boka food festival. The Chamorro phrase means “come, let’s eat” in English, and eat we did. We tasted every possible meat that you can barbecue or make into kelaguen (including Spam). Kelaguen is like the Pinoy kilawin, though made with lemon or lemon lime, depending on the recipe. I’m no fan of kilawin, but I’m a really big fan of kelaguen, specially when made with fish or shrimp.

In between all that eating, we shopped. We did some sight seeing too, but it was the shops that really excited us. With duty-free shops, outlet stores and 24-hour K-mart, how can you not be excited?

We’re flying back to Manila tonight and we’re trying to squeeze in some more shopping, swimming, sun bathing and in my case, Internet time before checking out. I’m excited to go home, but I’m also intrigued to explore more of Guam when I don’t have a schedule to stick to.

My US Visa Interview Experience

On the early morning of May 3, I found myself on the side walk outside the US Embassy in Manila, bewildered by the number of people waiting to enter the embassy. It’s not the number that shocked me actually (I know there’s always hundreds of people lined up outside the embassy), it’s the suits and business attire worn by the applicants, as if dressing to get that job they’ve always aspired for.

US Ambassador to the Philippines at the inauguration of NOX1. Photo by Jane Tenefrancia Uymatiao, used with permission.

The time in my confirmation says 7:15, but I was there an hour ahead, even if the instruction was to be there 30 minutes before my schedule. I walked away from the hoard and found a quiet spot facing the Manila Bay. Distracting myself from the unappealing aroma wafting from the water, my mind wandered back a month when I first learned that I need to apply for a US Visa.
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