Monday, August 10, 2015



1914 ~ 1945

Most people have heard of at least three Chamorro priests from the early years, the time before the war.

A lot of them know the name Padre Palomo, the first Chamorro priest, whose full name was Jose Bernardo Torres Palomo.

Even more people, perhaps, remember the second Chamorro priest, because he was beheaded by the Japanese in 1944 and because a well-known school is named after him : Father Jesus Baza Dueñas.

Many still remember the third Chamorro priest, who died only in the year 2000. He was a contemporary of Father Dueñas. Monsignor Oscar Lujan Calvo.

But very few people can name the fourth Chamorro priest, ordained in 1942. Few can name him because he died not long after ordination. He was not even ordained on Guam, but in Manila. And he never spent a day on Guam as a priest, because the war prevented him from leaving Manila, where he died.

His name was Father Jose Ada Manibusan.

He was born in Hagatña in 1914, the son of Lorenzo San Nicolas Manibusan and Regina Mendiola Ada.

At some point, he was sent to Manila to study for the priesthood when he was still in his teens. The future Fathers Dueñas and Calvo also studied in Manila at the same seminary of San Jose, run by the Jesuits, both Spanish and American.

Fr Manibusan in Manila when he first began his studies, not yet in a seminarian's cassock.
Photo taken in 1930.

First to finish his studies was Dueñas, the oldest of the three, who left Manila to return to Guam and be ordained in 1938. Then Calvo returned to Guam to be ordained a priest in 1941. Manibusan was not ready yet for ordination so he stayed in Manila, only to be stranded there when war broke out on December 7, 1941.

On March 21, 1942, with the Japanese already occupying Manila, Manibusan was ordained a priest. Because of the war, he still had to wait in Manila till circumstances might allow him to return to Guam.

The Pride of the Church on Guam
Bishop Olano and the Three Chamorro Seminarians in Manila
Duenas, Manibusan and Calvo

Father Manibusan had been suffering from poor health for some time. His poor health may have slowed his progress towards ordination, since he was, in fact, one year older than Calvo, who was ordained ahead of Manibusan. Older people recollect that his illness was some sort of respiratory condition, but cannot say anything more specific. The hardships and shortages of the war, including a lack of proper medical attention and medicine, contributed to his decline.

Though thousands upon thousands of civilians died in the battle for Manila in February of 1945, Manibusan survived the bombs and bullets, only to die from his own poor health, on March 13, ten days after the Americans had recaptured Manila.

He was buried in Manila, but his body was eventually brought back to Guam where it was buried in Pigo Cemetery, in an above-ground crypt standing on its own and then later in another crypt in the new mausoleum building.

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