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  • By Bruce Lloyd

Guam Consulate General's new residence fuels a media controversy: does it have a basement or a b

Philippine Consul General Marciano R. de Borja is justly proud of the as yet unoccupied ROP consular residence in Guam's Jonestown neighborhood. For many years, the country's diplomatic corps on Guam lived and sometimes hosted guests in an aging, typical concrete house. Diplomatic representation of Guam's huge Filipino-American community and the national government is a 24 hour assignment, made more complicated in the event of impending disasters.

Consular residences for most countries show the flag for their nation with a consular residence somewhat closer to a mansion than a concrete ranch house. By those standards, the new facility, meant to be both a residence and a place to host diplomatic events and visitors, is modest.

Typically, when typhoons have threatened the island, consular operations have moved to island hotels, which can provide uninterrupted power and communications vital to continuing to provide services.

With the recent threat of a North Korean missile launch in Guam's direction, international media members arrived, checking out local response to the "crisis." The consular residence got attention from some of the visiting Philippine media when reporters learned that the basement of the residence contained a room stocked with emergency supplies, which was described as a "bunker."

China Global TV Network reporter Barnaby Lo interviews Consul General de Borja in the "bunker"

But for those familiar with real life bunkers, designed to continue operations in the event of any kind of disaster, calling this modest facility a bunker is somewhat laughable. The small basement room is stocked with a few jugs of water, some canned goods, cases of soft drinks, bleach and a lot of duct tape. It's pretty typical of the typhoon supplies in many Guam households.

Few older houses on Guam even have a basement but many do have generators.

It's unlikely though that any other Guam homes have a bust of Philippine national hero Jose Rizal in the backyard.


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