In the race to complete that endless Christmas list, the challenges of long lines, limited stocks and gnarly traffic can make the season an unpleasant experience. So what a pleasant surprise it was to discover Guam!

I recently visited our Pacific neighbor and was happy to discover a slice of the American Pie just a short four-hour flight away. Guam is part of the United States, which in shopping terms means K-Mart and other American retail stores at Micronesia Mall, Guam Premiere Outlet, Tumon Sands Plaza and T Galleria DFS. It’s the perfect getaway for that quick shopping fix.

Better still, Guam has quite a number of beautiful golf courses where non-shopping family members, i.e., husbands, can while away their time. It really is a happy combination of shopping and golf that make for a perfect family destination.

To celebrate my father Alex Prieto’s 80th birthday, we planned a golfing adventure instead of having a big party extravaganza. It was so timely that the Guam Visitors Bureau invited me so we worked around the invitation and added a family golf tournament in between the shopping.

Upon arrival via Philippine Airlines, we checked-in the Dusit Thani Hotel in Tumon Bay, and enjoyed the beautiful beachfront resort. The golfers arranged a round of golf at Leopalace Golf Resort, while the ladies prepared their game plan for the shopping, as we were there on a well-known American shopping peak: Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Tumon Bay is a wonderful discovery for first-time visitors. The resorts are right next to the calm ocean waters. In the opposite direction is the Galleria DFS duty-free shops. Down the road is The Sand Castle hotel, where we were treated to the Sand Castle Show, a Las Vegas-type magic show.

Our group also golfed at Talofofo and Mangilao resorts, the latter featuring holes along the Pacific that would rival Pebble Beach. At night, we had a hearty dinner at the Manhattan Steak House at the Pacific Star Resort and Spa, with its GM Roy Abraham. Martin and Liz Gerber also joined us that evening. Martin is a board member of the Guam International Airport.

Readers should note that the fifth annual Shop Guam e-Festival is back! Guam’s signature shopping event offers local and international shoppers the ultimate shopping spree with exclusive deals, special offers and fabulous prizes to be won, including Guam travel packages valued at $1,000. The Shop Guam e-Festival began December 1 and runs through February 4, 2017.

This year’s Shop Guam e-Festival is fully mobile and puts over 230 offers from 178 vendors right in your hands with the official Shop Guam App. Download the free Shop Guam App for Android or iPhone and browse with ease an exciting diverse array of deals on luxury and popular brands, fine and casual dining, optional tours, entertainment, beauty, spa, tourism services, and much more. As a bonus, the Shop Guam e-Festival’s exclusive deals on Made in Guam products and Only on Guam activities will further enhance your experience on Guam.

The Shop Guam App was designed with the traveler in mind. It alerts shoppers of special offers whenever the guest is within a 40-50 meters of a participating vendor. This year’s festival includes exclusive offers from a wide selection of luxury brands and boutiques including Balenciaga, Chloé, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, LeSportSac, Lacoste, Rimowa, and many others.

To know more about Guam, visit the Guam Visitors Bureau’s PH Facebook page at:, or you may follow the @visitguamph page on Instagram. Use #ShopGuameFestival and win more prizes.

Closer afoot, complete your Christmas lists at the final leg of Noel Bazaar at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City. This event is for the benefit of the GMA Kapuso Foundation, Gifts & Graces Foundation, Philippine Daily Inquirer Newboys Foundation, Noel Gozon Memorial Clinic, and other charities.

Every Christmas, the Meralco Center at Ortigas has an electrical spectacle that brings holiday cheer to all. Ace photographer Red Ognita recently mounted his latest photography exhibit, “A World Unto Itself” featuring key Meralco locations.

Inspired by stories of the unsung heroes behind Meralco, the country’s largest utility company, Red went around Meralco locations, including the San Pablo, Laguna substation and the sprawling center in Ortigas, to take stunning black-and-white photographs that perfectly embody stories of extraordinary dedication.

Red is a former immigration coordinator for the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, who decided to take a leap of faith into the fine art of photography and printing. The risk he took was well worth it – over the years, he has made a name for himself in the international community through a distinct minimalist aesthetic.

In “A World Unto Itself,” Red’s photographs evoke a meditative quality uncommon in today’s bevy of snapshots and super-filtered digitalia. Red’s art is simply an austere yet skillful manipulation of light and shadow. It’s beautiful to see how Meralco’s core team of linemen and engineers are brought to life by Red.

Seeing Red’s photographs that are a tribute to the men and women of Meralco, one will be left in awe and thoroughly inspired. Visit his website at

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