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January 2, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

Beyond the Fence Episode #46

Episode 46 "Guam's War Reparations Saga: The Final Chapter? " (hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames) airs 12/17/10.

The celebration of the feast day of Santa Marian Kamalen on December 8, 2010 (see Episode 45) coincided with a photo exhibit at the Cathedral-Basilica Museum entitled "Take My Hand: Remembering How the War Began, Promoting Peace in Our Land." This exhibit is a joint effort of the Office of Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr., the National Park Service, the Guam Humanities Council, the Micronesian Area Research Center, Council of Arts & Humanities Agency and the Department of Parks and Recreation. It brings together photos and stories about Guam before the war, during the Japanese occupation, and the immediate post-war period.

The exhibit features the photos and stories of 30 Chamorro survivors of the Japanese occupation who testified before the Guam War Claims Review Commission on December 8 and 9, 2003. These heatings opened the floodgates and stories, many never told before, began to pour forth about how the Japanese military beat, raped, humiliated, enslaved and murdered many of Guam's people.

In a 1951 Peace Treaty with Japan, the United States agreed to pay all claims against Japan for atrocities suffered by U.S. citizens and nationals during the war. This included Guam. It has been 69 years and still the people of Guam await reparative justice. Of the 22,000 people who survived the war on Guam, less than 1,000 are alive today.

Every one of Guam's delegates to the U.S. Congress have introduced legislation for war reparations. Except for one bill, which created the Guam War Claims Review Commission, none have passed the Senate. In February 2009 the House of Representative passed H.R 44 the WWII Chamorro Loyalty Recognition Act, but this was never voted on in the Senate. H.R. 44 was included as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2011, which is now pending Senate action. Will this be the final chapter in the Guam war reparations saga?

Program guest in the first half hour is Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. (frank.blasjr@gmail.com), President of the Guam War Survivors Foundation, a Republican senator elected to a fourth term and also selected Minority Leader for the Guam Legislature. He discusses what motivated him to take up the issue of war reparations, the current status and prospects for the WWII Chamorro Loyalty Recognition Act, and why it is important to close this chapter in the struggle of the people of Guam for recognition and justice. The second half of the show features the stories of two survivors, Rita Santos Cruz and Jack Lujan, recorded at the 'storytelling circle' held December 8th as part of the "Take My Hand" exhibit.

Music selections for this episode, "Take My Hand" (by Brenda Perez-Sana) and "Frankie's Song, Survive" (by i yan I), were composed for this event and produced at Elusive Light Studio. To read the stories of Guam war survivors or to sign the 'Petition2Congress' urging Congress to provide war reparations to Guam's World War II survivors, go to www.guamwarsurvivors.com.

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January 2, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

Beyond the Fence Episode #45

Episode 45 "December 8, 1941-2010: Rethinking Peace and Protection on the Feast Day of Santa Marian Kamalen" (hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames) airs 12/10/10.

December 8, 2010 marks the 69th anniversary of the beginning of World War II on Guam, the first American territory to be captured and occupied by Japan. The invasion began soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor with the bombing of Sumay (now Naval Station) and then the capital of Agana. Unprepared for the invasion and left undefended by the US, within two days the US Naval Governor surrendered military command and responsibility for the people of Guam, who remained under Japanese occupation for two and a half years.

The bombings in Agana interrupted the Solemn High Mass being celebrated at the Cathedral and the novena and procession that normally follow on this feast day of Santa Marian Kamalen, also known as Our Lady of Camarin, an iconic representation of Mary, revered as the patron saint and protectress of Guam for over three hundred years. Since 1941, each Mass celebrated on this day in Guam marks the completion of the observance of this holy day which was interrupted by war --- a war experienced by many Catholics as a test of faith. This day also provides a special occasion to reflect upon the meaning of peace and protection in other than military terms.

Program guest is Dr. Laura ('Loling') Marie Torres Souder, the techa (prayer leader) of the Nobena for Santa Marian Kamalen and and kamarera (caretaker) of the statue of Santa Marian Kamalen, the oldest religious icon in Guam. The traditional role of kamarera is one she inherited from her mother, Mariquita Torres Souder, who served as kamarera for 75 years. Dr. Souder holds a Ph.D in American Studies from University of Hawai;'i and is author of Daughters of the Island: Contemporary Chamorro Women Organizers on Guam (Lanhan, Maryland: University Press of America). She was recently a guest lecturer in a Social Justice course at the University of Guam to discuss her experience as one of the co-founders of the Organization of People for Indigenous Rights OPIR in 1981.

Music selections for this episode are songs sung for the December 8th Nobena for Santa Marian Kamalen (Matuna I Ginagasmo, Chalaoa NananMame, and Sen Masamai Hao Abog-ko) recorded at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Cathedral-Basilica.

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