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Challenge to hunt carabao statues on Guam

Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente poses with a carabao off of Marine Corps Drive during her search to find all of the carabao statues on the island Aug. 2. Sergeant Redente, 36th Wing Public Affairs craftsman, has found 22 statues. The Guam Chamber of Commerce started the campaign, Carabaos on Vacation, in 2006, as a way to showcase Guam's culture.

Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente poses with a carabao off of Marine Corps Drive during her search to find all of the carabao statues on the island Aug. 2. Sergeant Redente, 36th Wing Public Affairs craftsman, has found 22 statues. The Guam Chamber of Commerce started the campaign, Carabaos on Vacation, in 2006, as a way to showcase Guam's culture. (Courtesy photo)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Five months ago, I arrived here on a deployment to assist the 36th Wing Public Affairs office in supporting the U.S. Pacific Command's Continuous Bomber Presence and Theater Security Package by writing stories and escorting media to highlight the missions of the KC-135 Stratotankers, F-22 Raptors and B-52 Stratofortresses. 

During my time off, I ventured around the island and starting seeing a variety of water buffalo statues. On Guam, they are called carabao, pronounced care-uh-bou. 

"The carabao became the island's traditional beast of burden during Guam's long Spanish era," according to a release from the Guam Chamber of Commerce. "It would be used to plow fields and pull bull carts. Today, the carabao represents strength, hard work and humility." 

The painted statues are a part of a promotion created by the Tourism Committee of the Guam Chamber of Commerce. 

"Carabaos on Vacation is an island-wide campaign celebrating culture and color that began in 2006," the release said. 

The program is supported by members of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, who purchased fiberglass carabaos from a local art gallery, which are painted and placed at various locations around the island. 

"Proceeds from the purchase of the statues benefitted beautification efforts throughout the island," the release said. 

A few months ago, I thought it would be fun to find as many of the carabao statues and take my picture with each one. Thus far, I have had my picture taken with 22 statues. They are in a variety of locations, and some more sneaky than others as they are hidden indoors and behind buildings. 

Guam's Chamber of Commerce press release said, "Carabaos on Vacation enhances the visitor experience by promoting cultural exchange with residents as well as colorfully showcasing an icon of our culture." 

According to the release, there are approximately 30 statues on the island of Guam. If this is the case, I have eight left, but after talking to some Guam residents during my hunt for the carabao statues, it's rumored there are many more. I challenge everyone to try to find as many carabao statues during their time here whether it is a four- or six-month deployment to Guam, or a permanent assignment.