Sunday, December 11, 2011


Born in Hagatña on December 11, 1927

No matter what your opinion may be about Ricky Bordallo the politician or the person, it is undeniable that he was a huge figure in Guam's political landscape for forty years or so.  Like most very strong personalities, he had his fervent followers, and his ardent detractors.  There was little middle ground when it came to Ricky Bordallo.

Few people would contest that he was gifted - intelligent, industrious, visionary, charismatic and eloquent.

When I was a teenager, only two public speakers were able to keep me glued to their speeches - Bishop Flores and Ricky Bordallo.  Both of their Chamorro oratory soared.

Ricky was the grandson of a pure Spaniard from a small, humble hamlet in Salamanca province called Saucelle.  He was the son of BJ Bordallo, also a political and civic leader who helped lead the campaign for U.S. citizenship.  Ricky entered politics at a very young age and sat in the Guam Legislature year after year.  He was central to the evolution of the Popular Party into the Democratic Party of Guam.  He was governor twice; 1974-1978 and 1982-1986.

He certainly had a passion for the island and the Chamorro people, language and culture.  I will never forget a speech he gave, when I was 16 years old, when he described how he, as a young boy, looked over the wall into the stateside children's play ground in Hagatña near the Cathedral, and wished he, too, could play on their swings.  The playground, he said, was segregated.  He said it was his life-long commitment to redress the historical wrongs done to the Chamorro people.

I remember seeing him prune and trim the mansanita trees along the streets of Hagatña; part of his Green Revolution.  His Inauguration in 1983 was held in the Plaza de España and he had the hostesses dress in mestisa.  In 1976, he was governor when the worst typhoon since Karen hit Guam.  Everyone called it Typhoon PA-mela.  Ricky called it Typhoon Pa-MAY-la.  He always managed to stand out in some way.  Most people would also say Hafa a-DAY.  Ricky would say Hafa a-DIE.  He was also governor when thousands of Vietnamese poured into Guam after the fall of Saigon.

After he lost in 1978, I went to see him at his insurance agency.  We sat there for 2 hours; me, a high school kid and him, the former Governor of Guam.  He did most of the talking, and why not?  There was much to learn.   I am sorry he's not here for me to interview some more.

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