Thursday, December 8, 2011


Skip to the 1 minute mark on this video to see scenes of Guam just before the Japanese attack on December 8, 1941; of the attack on Sumay; of life on Guam under the Japanese.  Keep in mind that the purpose of this film was to celebrate the American victory; it can be considered to be propaganda.  So the spirit of the clip is very nationalistic; some scenes are not even of Guam or of Chamorros, since the American audience would probably not be able to tell.  But we can!  Still, some scenes are of Guam and the Chamorros. 


It was towards the end of Mass at the Hagatña Cathedral on the morning of December 8 that news broke out in the capital city that Sumay had been attacked by Japanese planes flying from Saipan.  Someone whispered to Bishop Olano at the altar, "Gera! Gera!"  ("War! War!") Bishop Olano did not need to decipher this one-word message.  For months, everyone knew that war with Japan was a possibility.  The American civilians had been evacuated from Guam just that past October.  Olano turned around to dismiss the people, who, crying, sighing and praying, left the bishop alone with just a few people to finish the Mass.

Not since the initial Spanish colonization of Guam, or the 1856 smallpox epidemic that wiped out half the island, did Guam experience such trauma.  Our little island was made to suffer the political rivalries of two global powers.


Three months prior to December 8, in September, Pale' Román de Vera was told to board a ship for Manila.  The American Navy did not want Spanish missionaries on Guam anymore; American Capuchins were replacing them.  Pale' Román was not happy about it, and he was not pleased that a handfull of Chamorro Catholics were among those wishing to see American priests replace the Spanish friars.  Days before he left, he was telling the people, "Hame in sasaosao i lago'-mame ni paño, lao un dia, ti u nahong i sabanås-miyo para u sinaosao i lago'-miyo."  "We wipe our tears with our handkerchiefs, but one day, your sheets won't be enough to wipe away your tears."  That December, many Chamorros felt that Pale' Román had prophesied the bitter war that was to come.

Pale' Román de Vera

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