Wednesday, January 29, 2014


The other day I met up with some mañaina, one of whom happened to grow up in Barrigada during the war.  My own family, who lived in Hagåtña before the war, spent the Japanese occupation at their ranch in Barrigada as well.  This woman knew my family, and was around the same age as my mother.

Barrigada was called Haruta Mura by the Japanese.

Haruta means "empty rice field" and mura is "village."  It would make sense that Barrigada was an empty rice field because they grew corn there, not rice!

There was one school house in Barrigada, across the San Roque chapel and near the bomban hånom (water pump) which was accessible to everyone.  This was in what is now called Radio Barrigada.

There were two teachers, both Chamorros who had been trained intensively in Hagåtña, where they lived in dormitories and were drilled in elementary Japanese so they could teach it to the children.  In Barrigada they were Juan Sanchez and Lucille Rosario (familian Chambambi').  They taught the kids in basic Japanese and in Chamorro.  English was forbidden.

Every morning the students would gather outside and sing the Japanese anthem, Kimigayo, facing north towards the Emperor in Japan.  They would also do calisthenics before heading into the school house.

There was no resident priest in Barrigada.  Påle' Oscar Calvo would periodically come say Mass, baptize, hear confessions, anoint the dying and so on.  People said their rosaries and prayers faithfully.

The woman remembered that my uncle Ben Reyes, married to my grandmother's sister, was soncho, or municipal leader in Barrigada.  The farmers there had to provide the Japanese with the food they harvested, and the soncho coordinated this.

The man said, "Ti man ñålang ham guihe na tiempo, sa' man bunmuchåcho i Chamorro siha gi tiempon gera."  "We were not hungry at that time, because the Chamorros were hard working during the war years."  Those in Barrigada were blessed with some of the best agricultural land on Guam and farmed everything they could and raised all the animals they could.

She also remembered that my mother was one of the quicker learners of Japanese.  Later in life, my mother hated to hear Japanese or see Japanese, but I would tease her and speak Japanese to her or turn the TV to the Japanese station.  She would scold me, but, once in a while, I would catch her in a willing mood to speak Japanese or listen to the Japanese station.  She even taught me a Japanese song she learned during the war.

This elderly couple and I also spoke of more sensitive material about those war years which I cannot share for many years to come!

1 comment:

  1. Pale, Your mention of Uncle Ben Reyes is a bit of history I did not know about my nino. He was my nino for confirmation as well. I still remember his house in Sinajana and visiting him and Auntie Ana (a part of our trips to Sinajans to visit my grandfather, Pa (Tun Antonio Bono)). Gof dangkalo na Si Yu'us Mas'ase' for your blog; I encourage family and friends to visit it often, esp i manjoben who want to know about being CHamorro. Esta_i primu-mu