Independent Guåhan organizes “Ayuda i Mañainå-ta,” an event to celebrate our elders and assist them in their war claims applications
For Immediate Release, November 30, 2017 –
Each December 8th, Guam commemorates the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Guam that dragged the island into World War II. Earlier this year, after more than seven decades, the US Congress has passed a law providing reparations for Chamorro survivors of the Japanese occupation. While this law is problematic in many ways, it still represents a chance for our manåmko’ to receive some compensation for what they suffered and help give closure to this violent period of Guam’s history.
This December 8th, Independent Guåhan is organizing “Ayuda i Mañainå-ta” an event designed to assist our elders in the completion of their compensation application and a celebration of their lives and struggle. Trained volunteers will be onsite to help them properly document their story, complete their forms and notarize their applications. Families are encouraged to attend, as there will also be food, live music, film screenings and a booth for oral history collection. “Ayuda i Mañainå-ta” will take place on Friday, December 8th, on the 1st floor of the University of Guam from 9 am – 5 pm. This event is free and open to everyone.
Independent Guåhan is seeking volunteers who would like to be trained in the process of applying for war reparations and successfully completing the forms. Co-chair of Independent Guåhan will be holding a training session on December 5th, from 6:00 – 7:30 PM at UOG Humanities and Social Sciences Building Room 106.
Event will help Manåmko' file war claims forms
by Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Pacific Daily News
November 30, 2017
Dec. 8 is the anniversary of Guam being drawn into the global conflict of World War II. War had been raging elsewhere and while rumors of war reached the island, as tensions increased between the two colonial powers in Micronesia, most Chamorros weren’t ready when the bombs fell that fateful day.
The 32 months that followed remain the most significant in recent Guam history, and changed in so many ways both Chamorros and their island.
Puerto Rican scholar Frances Negron-Muntaner, who directed the documentary “War For Guam,” once wrote an article calling on the U.S. to “end the war in Guam.” For some of you, this might seem like a strange thing to say, as each year Liberation Day is held to commemorate just that event. Her argument is built around the idea that even if the fighting is over, the legacies of destruction and violence persist, and as Guam remains a colony, the war in Guam continues.
Part of what makes the war active is Guam’s militarization. Like bases the U.S. holds in Asia and Europe, Guam’s bases were claimed and built up in the midst of war or in the ashes of the immediate postwar era. Few Chamorros then protested the widespread land condemnations, but the bases weren’t taken in good faith and didn’t even follow the national or international conventions of the time. Military officials testified in Congress after the war that the land takings were not legal, but that everything is legal in war and so the point was moot.
The Organic Act itself wasn’t actually something provided to Chamorros because of their loyalty or their protests -- its main purpose was to try to enhance U.S. control over the island, in particular with regards to legitimizing the illegal land takings.
For many families, the land takings may be distant and meaningless, but for others it means the war didn’t end in a clean way, with the signing of treaties or the changing of flags. It persisted in small ways, spreading into the choices families made to try to adapt to a changing economy and society. Nearly all Chamorros felt grateful for the American return that expelled the Japanese, but did that give the U.S. the right to take advantage of that gratitude?
Another way the war persisted was in terms of compensation and reparations. Chamorros had limited opportunities to seek compensation after the war, although some did seek recompense for family members killed or property lost. A commission determined Chamorros weren’t treated fairly compared to other groups across the Pacific, Asia and the U.S. that received compensation for suffering.
Earlier this year, Congress passed war claims for Chamorro survivors of World War II. The bill remains flawed and, frankly, insulting in a variety of ways, but it does provide a chance for closure. The process for applying for war reparations, however, can be confusing and daunting for our manåmko’.
Independent Guåhan, an outreach group I am proud to co-chair, is organizing Ayuda i Mañainå-ta from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 8 at UOG’s Humanities and Social Sciences Building. Volunteers will work with war survivors in completing forms free of charge and also will answer questions. Food, film screenings and oral history documentation services will be provided.
Michael Lujan Bevacqua is an author, artist, activist and assistant professor of Chamorro studies at the University of Guam.