Daily Archives: 10/16/2003

Quick Guam News Roundup

A quick trip through the Guam headlines:

  • GovGuam Retirement Fund Audit Released – It took a few years, but the audit of GovGuam Employees Retirement Fund is out. Seems the fund has over $1 billion in unfunded liabilities, due to bad investments and the tendency of lawmakers to dip into the fund to cover governmental expenses. Whoops. Guess that wasn’t such a good idea after all guys.
  • Yingling Please Innocent – Gerry Yingling appeared in court yesterday and plead innocent to charges he used a government credit card to run up thousands of dollars in personal expenses.
  • October 13th Blackout – For the third year in a row, the power went out islandwide on October 13th. Luckily it was back on by the time I returned Monday evening.
  • Jayne Flores Calls Out DOE Leaders – Jayne Flores, local journalist and editor of Guahan Magazine, called on five DOE directors and principals to retire because of their ineffectual leadership last Thursday. I am sure none of the five will do such a crazy thing – it’s not their fault the school system sucks, they only work there. Oh wait, they are the long time, entrenched leadership that guides the school system. I guess it is their fault the schools are falling apart and the children are failing so miserably.
  • GovGuam Gets $15 Million Settlement – GovGuam got a $15 million settlement from the Bank of Guam last week. Guess how much is going to be dispersed to people in the form of long-awaited tax refunds? That’s right – none of it. In fact, the legislature was banking on that cash to keep the government afloat. Guess I’ll never get my money back from GovGuam.

Lost Weekend

I spent the weekend in Tokyo, a guest at the wedding of a former Guam resident. Sumiko moved off Guam about three years ago, but we’ve kept in touch since. She married Go Shimada on Saturday, and friends converged from around the world to wish her and Go all happiness and joy in the years ahead.

The happy couple

The wedding was held at the New Otani Hotel in Tokyo, and it was beautiful. The party lasted well into the night, first at formal dinner in the New Otani’s Ho-oh Ballroom and then at Zipangu, atop the Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu. Among the guests were a sizable contingent from Thunderbird, the graduate school in Arizona where Go and Sumiko first met.

Antonio makes a toast to Go and Sumiko

My friend Annie, also a former Guamanian, came to the wedding from San Francisco.

Sumiko and Annie together again

Guess who got the bouquet when Sumiko tossed it?

Annie snags the bouquet

It was a good trip. I spent Sunday shopping with Annie and her friend Liz and Sandy. Or I guess I should say they went shopping in Harajuku while I went to see the Meiji Jingu Shrine and walk around Yoyogi Park. Sunday night they went down to Roppongi (Gas Panic!) while I met my friend David Neale for dinner in Ogikubo. Dave is putting on True West this week, so I was lucky he could spare a few hours to hook up with me.

I spent a good deal of my free time wandering around this trip. Tokyo is just about as different from Guam as any place can be. Millions of people, all in a hurry. Millions of things to do, places to go, sites to see. It is very easy to become lost in the immensity of the place. Hell I could ride around on trains all day and be happy. To escape the daily routine, and discover new places and people. I am sure that is why people come to Guam, and many see it as an exotic, idyllic place. The allure of a tropical island wears off after so many years. I find myself craving cities, culture and mobs of people. Losing myself in a crowd, melting away to nothing, it holds a nihilistic appeal to me.

A funny thing, the newlyweds honeymooned on Guam! They were at the Hilton for a few days, and I met up with them yesterday. They look quite happy together. They left today for Japan, to resume their busy lives.

I will say this. I got a taste of the big city in Tokyo, and I definitely will be visiting more often.

Cubs Lose

Boy, the weight of history was against the Cubs this year. Up 3-1 in the NLCS and the Marlins came back to win the series and go to the World Series. I just watched the last couple innings of the game and the Wrigley Field crowd was numb. The final out left the ballpark quiet. Only the Marlins dancing around the infield showed any joy. I think the entire crowd was weeping.