Suva, Fiji, 15 March 2021Captain Barbara C. Tayama is the operations supervisor of the Logistics and Support Division of the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency. As a young person, she loved to dance and performed in various places in Guam and even in the United States at the Disneyland in Anaheim, California, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., and the Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, New York. Captain Barbara holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, a former member of the Guam National Guard Marathon, and is also the Law Office Superintendent in her military capacity. She also values the importance of volunteerism and gives back to her community as a lector at her parish and advocate for victims of abuse with a non-profit organization. This is the story of the mother of one and blessed soon-to-be grandmother this month.

Who is Captain Barbara?

Captain Barbara Tayama of Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency

I am a mother, daughter, sister, friend, and colleague. I can’t cook. But I can furnish a meal.
I love to run. And the chances are, if there is a 5Κ event going on this weekend in Guam, we are likely to meet up. I love to spin. And, that is at the gym. I love to ride my Harley. I love yoga. I can swim. But I don’t. l am grateful for each day I am given, and I can still learn something new every day.

Her early years

When I was young, my form of self-expression was dance. I loved to dance.

And, I had all the best moves. So much so, that I auditioned for the SKIP Dance Troupe and made it. I made it. I was on top of the world and performing at the Liberation Carnival, the Agana Shopping Center, and the premier performing arts center on Guam at the time, the University of Guam Fine Arts Theater.

Through the mentorship of some wonderful role models, I traveled to the United States and performed as a goodwill ambassador for Guam. I danced at Disneyland in Anaheim California, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., and the Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, New York.

My dear Uncle Nicky, may he rest in peace, once told me that when I grew up, I was going to be a stripper. It was a horrifying thought for someone like me. In retrospect, however, I think he was paying me a compliment.

And, I can recall that I always had a competitive streak. When I turned 10, at my birthday party, I worked so hard and brought out all the battle guns for the balloon dance competition. It was all out. All divisions. No rules. Just one winner. I had to win. And I did! If I ever lost, for example, a game of checkers or hop-scotch or any game of skill, I would cry. It was total devastation. I just had to win.

Barbara on fire

I hated my name. Barbara. It was just plain Barbara, no Barbara Ann or Barbara Sue or even Barbara Jean. My mom’s last name had to be my own middle name. When I was young, I once told another girl that my name was Sandra. She came up to my parents, asking for me only to be caught that I lied about my name. What was it that I did not like about my birth name at a tender age of 8? Maybe it was that I was named after a patron saint. I was born on her feast day in December. And that sparked no interest or appreciation from me at the time. But then, one magical day in religion class, I was given homework to find out how I got my name. And my research revealed that Barbara, Santa Barbara, is not only a local catholic school, but she is the most popular patron saint invoked against thunder, lightning and fire. Little did I know, that I was on fire since the day I was born!

What makes you spin?

I go to the gym and get on the stationary bike, which has a knob and you can increase the tension. The amount of tension you put in determines the amount of effort you will have to exert, in order to tear up your muscles. So, you’ve got to tear it down, like a failure, only to build it back up. And, that’s what makes one stronger. This spin class is very much like our lives. This “tension” is an outside force that builds muscle and endurance. The amount of time you spend under resistance helps you to gain strength. The heavier the resistance, the stronger the muscle you can build. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity. You must keep the muscle under tension, until the feeling of muscle failure, so your muscle gets tom down, in order to rebuild itself. After this “so-called” failure, you bounce back and you come back stronger. Through life’s failures, you become stronger and wiser. As you get stronger, you must take on more challenging forms of resistance.

Advice to women

As the saying goes, behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women, who have her back. You are the faces of empowerment. Lots of people can have passion. You don’t have to be passionate about the same things. But living a full life is about finding your passion. Turning your passion into action can make a difference in your life, which in turn, affects the lives around you.

I am a firm believer, that we can create change if we care enough about something. It can start with something as simple as our daily conversations. We can practice becoming more conscious of the words we speak. We can speak with love, encouragement, understanding, and genuine concern. We can create change by shifting negative conversations to positive ones. If enough of us care, we can change the course of our lives. Everyone has the potential to reach. We all have different potential. But it is still potential. And we all have it. We can change the world if we begin with ourselves. If we can remember that every opportunity, we have with one another, is a chance to present someone with a step in helping them to reach their full potential. It is helpful to focus more on the individual than yourself.

And by this, you will help contribute to their hill potential. It costs nothing. And the benefits far outweigh the risks. Turn your vision into action. What sort of thing do you love and are passionate about? How would your vision make a difference in the world? That is the recipe for your empowerment.

Follow your heart, with vision and action. And, you will find your purpose in life. It’s quite simple. Get out there and WAVE- Women A Voice of Empowerment.

Captain Barbara C Tayama manages all sections within the division that includes the Resource Management Office, Property Evidence & Custodial Office, Fines, Fees, & Forfeiture, Training & Development, and the Research & Development Sections’. She has been described as being more than an asset to the division- she is the glue that brings the sections together working as one team!

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Our Gender Program: In 2019, the OCO held its inaugural Change Management on Gender Equality workshop, which suggested there should be gender equality in all aspects of OCO’s work program. This suggestion was endorsed at the 2020 OCO Annual Conference. In 2020, OCO member countries were encouraged to celebrate International Women’s Day in their own administrations and to share their activities widely. This year, OCO is dedicating the month of March to our women. The Pacific Women in Customs Series is a collection of stories of women who are working in Customs in their various countries and we hope to inspire more women to join this field of work.

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