Monday, July 11, 2011


As the painting of Cain and Abel above implies, there was a time in Chamorro history when brother Chamorro went against Chamorro brother.  But it happened at a time when two foreign nations controlled two different parts of the once-united Marianas.  What happened in World War II was not something the Chamorros involved wanted to do.

When the Japanese took over Guam from the U.S. on December 10, 1941, they brought with them Chamorro interpreters (intetprete) from Saipan and Rota to Guam who could translate between Japanese and Chamorro.  The vast majority of these interpreters did no harm, but a few did.  Some were tried, convicted and served short sentences on Guam and were then allowed to return home.  In their defense, those interpreters facing charges said that they had no choice; it was either punish the Guam Chamorro, or be punished even more severely by the Japanese.  The Japanese, they said, naturally expected greater loyalty from the Chamorros of Saipan and Rota, since they had been under the Japanese since 1914.  Their punishment, therefore, would be greater.

The following are excerpts from a statement written in 1945 by one such Saipan Chamorro interpreter, read to the court that heard his case.  In it, he states that he tried to show kindness to the Guam Chamorros in his custody, because he, too, is a Chamorro and a Catholic.  I have put it in more recognizable spelling, and I have taken out the names of the people involved.  This sad chapter in our history is still too sensitive for many to look at.  But we must try to be as fair and as objective as possible when evaluating.  Looking at all the complex factors involved in their situation, what would we have done if we had been in their shoes?  We won't all answer this the same way.


Malago' yo' lokkue' na hu na' gåsgås yo' magåhet gi me'nan-miyo på'go. Pinite yo' gi korason-ho nu i hu susede este guine, sa' i hagas na gobietnon-måme demasiao na ti ha nå'e ham nu i boluntårio na lina'la'-måme.  Guåho måtto yo' guine gi fuetsao na nina' fåtton-ñiha, man pareho ha' todos yan i pumalo siha nu i man presente guine på'go na Chamorron Saipan.

Guåho hagas na obligasion-ho i "pulisman" gi tano'-ho ya taimano i man ma susesede guihe na kastigo, i finatton-måme lokkue' guine gi hinalom i Hapones man ma nå'e ham lokkue' siha otdenånsia na måno i tinago' i ma'gås-mo debe de u ma kumple o sino i kastigo u fåtto giya håme yanggen fåtta hame ti in kimple.

Guåho konfotme yo' na este i man gaige guine siha na kausa, fuera di __ yan __.  Gåsgås bai hu atmite na hu cho'gue, lao todo kastigo, Señot, segun i man ma tuge' påpa' guine na påppet ti todo måtto lokkue' guennao i kruetdåt-ho nu siha, sa' masea lokkue' hu kastiga pot ofisiok-ko yan otden-ho, guåho lokkue' Chamorro yan Katoliko, buente guåha ha' lokkue' i pinasensia yan karidåt i hu nå'e siha."



I also want to truly cleanse myself before you here today.  I am sorry within my heart that I am in this situation, because our past government truly did not allow us a life of freedom.  I came here because they forced me to come, the same as the other Saipan Chamorros who are here now.

My prior obligation in my homeland was to work as a policeman, and the way punishment was done there, when we came here with the arrival of the Japanese, we were given orders that we must obey the orders of our superior or else the punishment will fall on us if we do not fulfill them.

I am agreeable to the present charges, except for that of ___ and ___.  I admit honestly that I did them, but among all the punishments, Sir, according to what is written down on this paper, I did not do all of them because of my cruelty towards them, because even if I punished them because of my job and my orders, I too am a Chamorro and a Catholic, so perhaps there is also patience and charity that I gave to them.

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