Monday, February 9, 2015


Monsignor Oscar Luján Calvo

Although he was honored with the title Monsignor, Chamorros back in the day always called him "Påle' Skåt."

The Skåt was short for Oscar, shortened and pronounced the Chamorro way which changes final R to T. Like kolot instead of Spanish color. Under American influence, Skåt is often spelled Scott, but that just confuses people, thinking his actual name was Scott.

Påle' Skåt started out as a priest with a reputation for avoiding controversy. This he did with the Japanese when the Imperial forces occupied Guam during the war, and it saved his head, which was good for the 20,000 Catholic Chamorros who needed him!

In due course, however, time would prove that Påle' Skåt was not afraid of confronting publicly what he thought was unjust. The earliest example is when he lead a protest against the writings of George Tweed, the U.S. Navy radioman who was sheltered by the Chamorros the entire time of the Japanese occupation.

Right after the war, Tweed wrote a book, with the help of a professional writer. In that book, he made statements about both Father Dueñas and Påle' Skåt that were highly offensive to Påle' Skåt and others. Returning to Guam after that book was published, Tweed was greeted by a demonstration in the Plaza de España in Hagåtña, with Påle' Skåt at the forefront. Tweed later retracted his statement about Father Dueñas (but not about Calvo), saying that his ghost writer embellished the story and that he (Tweed) relied on what others said too much.


Around 1977 or 1978, Påle' Skåt was at the forefront of another protest, this time against the "English only" language policy of the Pacific Daily News.

Chamorro language advocates were offended. They felt that the PDN should honor the Chamorro language which is indigenous to the island. When they felt that the PDN was not open to their arguments, they scheduled a protest.


The morning of the protest, which I believe was on a Saturday, I stood on the periphery of a crowd of 40-60 people who gathered on the public sidewalk in front of the Academy of Our Lady of Guam, facing the tall PDN Building. Protesters sang Chamorro songs and gave speeches in English and Chamorro. Indistinguishable faces peered from behind blinds and curtains from the PDN Building, including perhaps management which worked on the 2nd floor.

But the dramatic scene was saved for Påle' Skåt who climbed (with assistance) the raised platform and began his speech, again in both languages. Quite unexpectedly, he raised a copy of the PDN and, if memory serves, said into the microphone, "Here's what we think of your newspaper," and I suppose someone else (Påle' Skåt was advanced in age and nearly blind) lit a flame to the newspaper and set in on fire.


Within a week or so of this protest, the PDN changed its policy. Things could be published in the PDN in languages other than English, as long as there was also an English version of the same.

I am not sure now what is the PDN language policy today. I know that Peter Onedera has a CHamoru column in the paper, with an English version of it available on-line.

Once in a blue moon I will see a paid ad or notice (like funeral announcements) entirely in Chamorro.

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