by Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News
GUAM — Clear skies, white sandy beach, and no incoming missiles from North Korea for now.
Welcome to Guam, a US territory in the Pacific, and home to over forty thousand Filipinos.
It’s business as usual, after North Korean state media reported that leader Kim Jong Un has opted not to fire missiles at this time, pending Washington’s next move.
It’s a sign of easing tensions between North Korea and the US, which has seen its leaders in a heated exchange in the past weeks.
Filipino-American Marge del Carmen, who has lived in Guam for over nineteen years, welcomes this development.
“Of course thank God na nawala na yung mga ganyang threat, nakahinga na kami ng maluwag we have been praying with our rosary,” she says. “We can live although normal naman, although we don’t think about it, we try to live normal, ayaw namin matakot yung mga anak namin.”
Nova Manlapas too describes the de-escalation as a welcome respite.
She lives near a US air base in Guam, and was concerned about North Korea’s earlier threat.
“Tell me about August 15, the night before August 15 yung anxiety attack parang naghihintay ka na lang na maynangyayari, ayaw mo mangyari, maexperience, prayers talga…. pasalamat sa Diyos, na parang wala na talaga, hopefully, di naman natin hawak ang kanyang kaisipan, we really thank our Lord. We still need to be aware still and be ready.”
Many in Guam also worried about how the threat would affect tourism, which the island depends on as one of its biggest industries.
But the local government says more people seem to be visiting Guam these days.
“Guam, to our kababayans, don’t worry about Guam. It’s a great tourist destination like the Philippines. You should come,” said Lieutenant Governor Ray Tenorio.
While tensions might have eased, Guam’s government says they are ready if North Korea pushes through with its initial threat.
It’s a sigh of relief for many here in Guam. But with the US and South Korea set to hold joint military exercises within the month, the Pacific Islands may likely end up back in North Korea’s crosshairs.