LIBERATION Guam Remembers
A Golden Salute for the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Guam
With U.S. forces poised to recapture
Guam, Japanese acted to prevent any efforts by Chamorros to aid the
coming invasion. On July 10, 1944, people were ordered to march to camps
far from probable battle lines. Many people weakened from malnutrition,
injury or illness, were only able to reach the camps with the help of
The journey to Manengon
By RICARDO J. BORDALLO and C. SABLAN GAULT
The American bombardment began on July 8, 1944, and
continued until July 20. The Americans threw everything they had at the
island. The continuous pounding nearly drove us insane. There was no
escaping the noise. During a barrage, we couldn't speak, couldn't think.
We could do nothing but wait for a lull and blessed silence. The lulls
were painfully brief. As soon as our ears stopped ringing, the
bombardment would begin anew. We would dive back into the shelter,
muffle our ears as best we could, and cower in fear again.
At the height of the bombardments, Japanese
authorities ordered all civilians into designated campsites around the
island. The order was issued on July 10. We learned of the order a day
or two later. Once again, we packed our belongings into the bullcart ...
we packed only a few items of clothing and some tools. Our main concern
was our food supply. Mama had foreseen such an emergency and had
stockpiled ample stores.
We didn't know why we were being concentrated or how
long we were to be held. We didn't know if we would survive. As usual,
Mama took roll before we set out. There was Daddy, Irene, Lorraine,
Bobbie, Paul, Norma, Fred, Rodney, Donald, Junie, Josephine,
Michael, baby Rosamunde, me, our little Indian bull
and Paul's fully loaded bullcart. We left Pado and joined other refugees
on the trail. A huge throng of people was already at Tai when we
arrived. The larger group had been removed from Yigo to make way for the
Japanese stronghold and had been herded to Tai a day before us.
Throughout the night and well into the next day, groups of people from
other parts of the island arrived steadily. The Tai encampment soon
turned into a sea of humanity wallowing in mud.
Later that morning, the Japanese routed the
encampment and the march to Manengon began. Thousands of people arose
slowly from their makeshift camps and prepared to move out. Precious
belongings pathetic bundles of every size and description
were carefully lashed onto bullcarts or shouldered by their owners. Fear
filled the faces of every man, woman and child. At a barked command, a
column of soldiers with fixed bayonets began the march. ... The seething
chaos of humans and animals compressed and uncoiled slowly, like a huge
snake. Flanked by armed soldiers, the great human snake inched
More people joined the march when we reached the
Chalan Pago crossroads. From there, we descended the steep road down to
the Pago River.
Just before we entered Yona, a bullcart, about two or
three carts ahead of ours, broke down and halted progress. Hannah
Chance Torres and her children were passengers. Like
everyone else in the column, I could only watch as a soldier made his
way towards Hannah's cart. He then jabbed his bayoneted rifle toward her
in a threatening manner. Hannah began to scream. The soldier stormed off
in disgust, but Hannah continued to shriek hysterically. ... She never
recovered from the terror. Exhaustion eventually reduced her to
semi consciousness. She whimpered all the way to Manengon and gave up the
will to live.
People forced to camp in Manengon used
the Ylig River for a water source. In the photo, women are washing
clothes as children play in the river's waters. People from throughout
Guam camped at Manengon under Japanese order.
The Japanese would not allow a slow, careful descent
into the Manengon valley; instead, they drove everyone downward at gun
point. Just before we began our descent, heavy rain began to fall again.
Soon, rivulets of rainwater and mud began to wash down the slopes.
Blinded by the darkness and the rain, people slipped and fell, tumbling
helplessly until they slammed into rocks, trees, or other people. Men,
women and children dug their feet into the mud and tried desperately to
keep heavy bullcarts from careening downward out of control.
In the wee hours of morning, I heard a man's voice
calling out softly in the eerie silence, "Felix, Felix, mungi hao? Maila
sa chachaflik si Hannah." Someone was calling Felix Torres, Hannah's
husband. "Felix, Felix, where are you" the voice had said, "Come,
because Hannah is dying." When we awoke at daybreak,
Hannah Chance Torres was dead. Felix and his family wrapped Hannah's
body in a blanket and buried her near the camp. In the days that
followed, many other burials took place in and around the camp.
When we first came to Manengon, the air was clean and
sweet. Smoke from thousands of cooking fires would blend with the
morning mist but dissipate as the day wore on. Within a few days,
however, the smoke and mist began to accumulate into a thick, steamy
layer above the hovels. It never dissipated. The blanket of smoke and
steam sealed in all the odors in camp. As human and animal wastes piled
up each day, the odors grew more and more foul. Soon, the whole camp
reeked with a most horrible stench. The small stream that coursed
through the valley was our only source of water. With several thousand
people using it daily, it quickly turned into a cesspool.
Except to conscript laborers every morning, the
Japanese left us alone. Two machine gun squads were posted at the edge
of the camp, but otherwise, we were free to forage in the surrounding
jungle. On one particular morning, Lorraine was among several women
pulled from the ranks. They were loaded onto a truck and taken from the
camp. Later, we learned that they were just being
used as cooks and domestics at Tai.
Marines assisting them, people begin to
load themselves and whatever personal belongings they had aboard a
truck. This was the kind of scene typical in the liberation as U.S.
military officials began to restore order to the island.
Among Lorraine's group was Maria Perez Howard, a
pretty woman who once worked as Dad's secretary. Her husband, Edward,
was a crewman on the USS Penguin and was among the American prisoners
taken to Japan. Maria's good looks and her marriage to an American Navy
man made her a favorite target for Japanese harassment. Just days
before the American landing, Maria was led into the jungle at gunpoint.
She was never seen again.
Once in a while, an American plane would fly over the
camp and stir up everyone's excitement. On one such occasion, my
brothers and sisters and I were splashing around with some other
children in a popular swimming hole not far from the camp. As we
splashed in the water, the American plane appeared overhead. It circled
directly above us and came in closer. It flew so low that it barely
cleared the treetops. Some of the children even claimed that they saw
the pilot's face. Before I could yell, "Wave and smile at him, or he'll
shoot us," my companions were jumping up and down and cheering
When the pilot dipped his wings in acknowledgment, we
got even more excited. But seconds later, our excitement turned to fear.
The pilot suddenly opened fire with his machine gun. For an instant we
thought the American was going to mow us down. Then suddenly, a man tore
out of the machine-gunned thicket. His hands were tied behind him and he
was barefoot. As he disappeared into the jungle, a Japanese patrol
emerged from the thicket. I learned from my cousin, Joaquin Pangelinan,
that the man was Ignacio "Kalandu" San Nicolas who had been scheduled
for execution that day. The grave in the banana grove was to be his. The
American pilot's machine gun fire scattered Kalandu's
executioners long enough to allow his escape.
I was sitting in a thicket when I began to hear a
strange sound rising from the camp. I could hear people laughing and
shouting and whistling. Moments later, I heard my name. It was Paul. He
galloped toward me, hollering"Hurry! The Americans are here!" We ran
down the hillside and into the frenzy in camp. People were laughing and
crying, hugging and kissing, shouting and jumping, dancing and singing. I
worked my way into the densest part of the crowd and found Dad.
Together, we elbowed our way toward nine dumbfounded American
The Americans had not expected such a reception or so
large a crowd. One of the soldiers was shouting and holding his rifle
above the surging mob. "Follow" was all anyone heard. The word spread
quickly: follow the Americans. Within a few minutes, hundreds of people
fell into line and followed obediently behind the dazed Americans. The
camp guards panicked and fled.
From the Manengon valley, the great throng climbed
into the hills and headed west. We followed paths beaten down by
soldiers who had fought their way up from the Agat beachhead. When we
reached the slopes above the coast, we were greeted by the incredible
panorama of American military might. Agat Bay was speckled by hundreds
of ships of different shapes and sizes. There were so many, they
darkened the ocean all the way to the horizon. The sight was
(Editor's note: This article was extracted from
the late Governor Bordallo's autobiographical manuscript
entitled "Uncle Sam's Mistress." Copyright 1987: R.J. Bordallo)