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July 28, 2013 @ 3:00 am

Ep. 156 “Left by the Ship — Amerasians in the Philippines”

In May 2013, the US Senate Judiciary Committee approved an Immigration Reform bill that would gradually make citizenship  possible for as many as 11 million undocumented immigrants. While described as sweeping in scope, it leaves the plight of another group of would-be Americans unaddressed, that is Amerasians in the Philippines.

There is an estimated 52,000 Amerasians in the Philippines fathered by American military servicemen, a number substantially larger than those living in neighboring countries. This is explained by the presence of the US military in the Philippines for 94 years from the Spanish American War in 1898 to the closure of Clark Air Force Base and Subic Naval Base in 1992, the two largest American overseas bases at the time.  Despite these closures, the U.S. continues military activities through a Visiting Forces Agreement and last year announced plans to restore a significant presence in the Philippines, to include rotations of US Marines initially designated for relocation to Guam in the 2006 military buildup plan.

When these bases closed 21 years ago, many Amerasian children were left behind.  Although the U.S. Congress passed the Amerasian Immigration Act of 1982, which gave preferential immigration status to Amerasian children born in Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos during the Vietnam War, it does not include those born in the Philippines. Filipino Amerasians can become a US citizen only if the American father claims the child before age 18.

This episode examines the Amerasian experience in the Philippines and in Guam. The first segment features three interviews conducted in March 2013 in Olongapo City, just outside the former Subic Naval Base (now the Subic Bay Freeport Zone). We begin with Alma Bulawan, founder and president of the Buklod Center, a drop in center established in 1987 that advocates for the rights of girls and women, especially those in the prostitution industry.

This is followed by interviews with two Amerasian women, Frigel (‘Fri’) Kupia and Brenda Moreno, both daughters of African-American servicemen and Filipino ‘bar girls’.  These interviews were conducted two weeks after the celebration of Amerasian Day in Olongapo City on March 4.  Fri was abandoned by her mother, escaped from an orphanage, and lived on the streets from age 13 to 17. With assistance from the Buklod Center, she now works full-time at the Preda Foundation, a non-profit organization that rescues children from abuse, prison and exploitation. Brenda, age 45, is a mother and grandmother, a former bar girl and since 2007, an outreach worker and organizer for the Buklod Center.

Following these accounts is an interview conducted in Guam on January 26, 2013 with Nhoriel Reyes, a third generation Amerasian and native of Olongapo City who has been a resident of Guam for six years. He was raised by his mother who took on various jobs in the city to support him and his two younger siblings.  She eventually married a merchant marine in the U.S. military sealift command. Reyes came to Guam in 1997 at the age of eighteen, and immediately enlisted in the Navy.  His seven years of service as a Corpsman included assignments at Guam Naval Hospital, South Carolina, and Iraq in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

This episode includes excerpts from the documentary film “Left by the Ship” (2010, in English and Tagalog, with English subtitles) by Emma Rossi-Landi and Alberto Vendemmiati (see http://www.leftbytheship.com/film.html and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gk0j6e3D3xk). This film explores the experience of being Amerasian in the Philippines from the perspective of journalist Robert Ianne Gonzaga, who narrates the film, and three young Amerasians in Olongapo City who were filmed with the assistance of the Buklod Center.  “Left by the Ship” premiered in Guam last August at the 2012 Guam International Film Festival but has yet to be screened publicly in Olongapo City where the  documentary was filmed.

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July 28, 2013 @ 2:51 am

Ep. 155 “To Forgive, Not to Forget - 69 Years After Guam’s Liberation”

(hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames with production assistance of Joy White ) airs 7/19/13.

July 21, 2013, celebrated as Liberation Day, marks the 69th anniversary of the recapture of Guam by US forces after two and half years of Japanese occupation.  In the closing days of the Japanese occupation, and even weeks after the recapture, many men, women and children across the island were brutally punished and about 500 were massacred by Japanese police and troops. This month, as Guam’s Congresswoman presses forward to revive the campaign for war reparations for WW II survivors and their descendants, the island commemorates this tragic time with memorial services and the celebration of Mass at various massacre sites, several of which require US military clearance to visit.

This Liberation Day episode features partial coverage of two of these memorial events:  the July 6 memorial service held at the Manengon Memorial Foundation Peace Park in the village of Yona and the July 16 memorial service for the Tinta and Faha victims in the village of Malesso.

We begin with coverage of the Manengon memorial and the homily of Archbishop Anthony Apuron who concelebrated the Mass in Chamorro with Pale’ Eric Forbes, co-founder of the Manengon Memorial Foundation. This is followed by the reflections of Mr. David Flores, a Manengon camp survivor who was 15 years old when the war first began.

This is followed by an interview (recorded 7/17/13) with Mr. Ignacio ‘Buck‘ S. Cruz who was 14 years old and had two brothers serving in the US Navy when Japan began to bomb Guam on December 8, 1941. His father, Ramon Padilla Cruz, was among the many influential residents of Malesso massacred at Tinta.  Mr. Cruz survived the war to become a teacher, US Marine and Vietnam veteran, devout parishioner of the San Dimas Catholic Church, and mayor of Malesso for 17 years.  As mayor, he was instrumental in establishing the Tinta and Faha memorial sites.  This year Mr. Cruz was selected Grand Marshall for the annual Liberation Day parade.  Mr. Cruz has also spoken out publicly urging the U.S. Congress to act on the issue of war claims which was first introduced by Guam’s first delegate Antonio B. Won Pat in 1977.  At the end of WW II, there were 22,000 Chamorros freed from the concentration camps at Manengon, Asinan and Fena; it is estimated that less than 2,000 are alive today.

These memorial services not only provide opportunities for descendants of massacre victims to visit these sites but for members of the Japanese community to share their sorrow, express condolences and honor the dead.

In the final segment, we continue with some coverage of the Tinta-Faha massacre memorial with brief comment from two Malesso residents, Lou San Nicolas and Sheila Hale; remarks of the Malesso Mayor Ernest Chargualaf  who also read a letter sent by the Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; a message from the Japan Consul General Hisatsugu Shimizu;  and a brief interview with two members of the Peace Ring of Guam-Japan: Mrs. Sumiko Naito, a Japan resident whose father was a soldier who died on Guam during the war, and Mrs. Wakabe Nakamura Taitano, a Guam resident who served as interpreter for this interview.

We conclude with the invocation given by Pale’ Michael Crisostomo at the Tinta-Faha memorial service.

The recordings of these events were edited to fit the time allotted for this program.

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July 16, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

“Minagahet yan Dinagi Siha” The Revitalization of the Chamorro Language”

(hosted by Rosa Salas Palomo with production assistance of Joy White ) was recorded by Michael Lujan Bevacqua in Okinawa in March 2013 and airs 7/12/13.

This episode features two presentations from Guahan that were recorded at the March 2013 Island Language Revitalization Conference at Ryukyu University in Okinawa. This conference was organized by the Institute of Island Studies and Institute of Okinawa Studies at Ryukyu University by Professors Yoko Fujita and Masahide Ishihara. Language activists and linguists from Ainu, Chamorro, Maori, Hawaiian, Welsh and Okinawan communities were invited to share the state of their language revitalization efforts and learn new strategies for tackling this increasingly important issue for indigenous peoples.

Two Chamorro representatives, Edward A. Alvarez (cheftan@hotmail.com), the executive director of the Guam Commission on Decolonization and Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua (mlbasquiat@hotmail.com), assistant professor of Chamorro Studies at the University of Guam, presented at this conference.

Mr. Alvarez speaks about the history of Government of Guam efforts since 1964 to revitalize the Chamorro and of the difficult “minagahet”or truth that, despite these efforts, you can live your entire life on Guam and still not learn its native language. He also discusses the impact of the planned military buildup on language revitalization and political self-determination efforts.

Professor Bevacqua speaks about the “gefpago na dinagi” or the “beautiful lie,” meaning the gap between positive language attitudes and the fact that Chamorros and many other indigenous people are still not passing on their languages to younger generations.  He examines the Guam experience in relation to the four stages of language colonization and decolonization (cultural self-destruction, recognition of loss, celebration; and return to sovereignty).

Music selection:  “Fanohge Chamorro” or the “Guam Hymn”, written by Dr. Ramon Sablan and translated into Chamorro by Tan Lagrimas Untalan.  Implicit in the phrases, “Para ta onra, para ta gloria”is respect for the indigenous language and culture.

The 32nd Annual International Pacific Islands  Bilingual Bicultural Association Conference will be held July 21-24, 2103 at Okkodo High School, Guam.  The theme is “Indigenous Rights: Sacred and Secret ---Direchon i Taotao Siha;  Sagrad yan Sikretu.”

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July 5, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

Ep. 153 “Guam ‘Downwinders’ and RECA: Another Push for Social Justice”

(hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames with production assistance of Joy White) airs 7/5/13.

On June 27, 2013 the Guam Legislature unanimously passed Resolution 127 relative  to petitioning the US Congress to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) of 1990 to include several additional geographic areas, including Guam, and to improve and increase compensation for those affected by ionizing radiation. Senator Vicente ‘Ben’ C. Pangelinan introduced the resolution, together with fellow Democrats Vice Speaker Benjamin B.F Cruz, Senator Tina Muna Barnes and Michael F.Q. San Nicolas.  This is the fifth resolution passed by the Guam Legislature since 2005 for Guam’s inclusion in RECA as ‘downwinders’ due to exposure to radioactive fallout from nuclear testing conducted in the Marshall Islands from 1946-1962.

When first enacted in 1990, RECA covered only those affected by nuclear fallout from testing in Nevada and in the Marshall Islands. Since then Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo has introduced three unsuccessful bills seeking inclusion of Guam in the ‘downwinder’ category.  Last April, Senator Tom Udall and Congressmen Ben Lujan, with support from Bordallo, introduced companion legislation, S.773 and H.R. 1645, respectively, amending RECA to include all of New Mexico, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Missouri and Guam.

This episode provides coverage of the legislative public hearing held June 7, 2013, on Resolution 127. In the first half of this episode,  Senator Pangelinan, Chair of the Committee on Appropriations, Public Debt, Legal Affairs, Retirement, Public Parks, Recreation, Historic Preservation and Land explains the purpose of this hearing; Mr. Robert Celestial, advocate and president, Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors (PARS) outlines the history of RECA, how Guam entered the picture, the advocacy of PARS, and previous attempts to include Guam in the downwinder category with support from the Board of Radiation Effects Research of the National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences; then Anjelica Okada, University of Guam graduate student (Micronesian Studies), describes the Screening and Education Program, administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services, that would be extended to eligible people in Guam if RECA is amended,  as proposed.

The second half features the oral testimonies presented at this public hearing by the following individuals, all of whom supported Resolution 127: Lucille Cruz, Nursing Supervisor, Cancer Center of Guam; three cancer survivors --- Bruce Kloppenberg, John Farnum and Joaquin Leon Guerrero Diego; and Rose Marie Cabrera Quichocho and Hope Cristobal who testified on behalf of relatives diagnosed with cancer.

We conclude with the remarks of Dr. Chris Perez, PARS Medical Advisor, honoring and commending Mr. Robert Celestial, who was presented with a legislative resolution.

These statements and testimonies have been edited to fit the time frame allotted for this  program. For additional information on this topic,  go to www.senben.com

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July 5, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

Ep. 152 “Agent Orange in Guam, Part 2: Guam Veterans/Advocates Speak Out”

(hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames with production assistance of Joy White) airs 6/28/13.

This episode is the second in a series on Agent Orange (AO) exposure in Guam. In Part 1 of this series [Ep. 149 (5/31/13) program guests were retired and disabled US Air Force veterans MSgt. Leroy G. Foster and Sgt. Ralph A. Stanton who are key figures in the campaign to uncover the extent of damage done to veterans, their dependents, and civil service employees stationed at Anderson Air Force Base-Guam during the Vietnam War era,  as well local civilians who may be affected by the legacy of this toxic contamination. [see http://guamagentorange.info/personal_stories].

The national campaign for service connected disabilities claims for veterans due to AO exposure goes back several decades. During the 1970s and 1980s, the Veterans Affairs (VA) denied tens of thousands of claims related to disabilities and deaths attributed to AO exposure. However, beginning in 1990, the VA was forced to acknowledge that many types of cancer and other serious diseases are related to AO exposure. As a result of the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the VA is now required to provide presumptive service connection for a disease if the Institute of Medicine shows a positive association exists between AO and the disease. This list of AO related diseases, which includes many cancers and Type 2 Diabetes with a high incidence on Guam, grows as the Institute of Medicine continues to analyze scientific studies on the health effects of AO and issues bi-annual reports, expected through 2015.  As a result of these reports, hundreds of thousands of Vietnam War veterans and their survivors across the country have received billions of dollars in disability and death benefits.

Although retroactive payments may be made for all presumptions made before 2015, Guam advocates believe there are still many Vietnam era veterans and survivors eligible for these benefits who have never applied, applied but the review process was never completed, or applied but were denied and never appealed the decision. Unlike Vietnam War veterans and some veterans who served along the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ), claims for disability compensation for AO exposure by veterans stationed on Guam during the 1960s and 1970s are not presumed and must be proven on a case by case-by-case basis.

Program guests in Part 2 of this series are four Guam veterans who are also advocates in different capacities for the local veteran community, estimated to be between 8,000-14,000.  They discuss Agent Orange exposure in Guam as a compensatory justice issue for veterans and as an environmental justice issue for the local community.  They are:

Tony Guzman (tony.guzman@gvao.guam.gov) has served as a volunteer advocate for veterans since his retirement from the US Army in 1996.  Since 2009, he has been employed as a Veterans Service Representative with the Guam Veterans  Affairs Office (GVAO), Office of the Governor. The GVAO, established in 1970, is the principal state office responsible for the development and management of policies and programs related to veterans and their families. The GVAO acts as a liaison between the Governor and veterans organizations and also between veterans and the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Benjamin Guerrero (Chamorro1947@hotmail.com) is a retired Major (USMC), Vietnam combat veteran and recipient of disability benefits related to Agent Orange exposure. He served as Director of the GVAO from 2001-2004.  After leaving this position, he founded the non-profit organization Veterans Helping Veterans located in the John Gerber compound in the village of Ordot and serves as the organization’s volunteer director and advocate.

Tom Devlin (mophtd@ite.net) is also a Vietnam combat veteran and Commander of Chapter 1315, Military Order of the Purple Heart.  He is the originator and producer (with Art Mesa)  of the K-57 weekly radio talk “Vet Talk” which has been on the air for seven years. His many guests on Vet Talk include US Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki who visited Guam in May 2011 in conjunction with the  opening of the new Veterans Clinic.  Shinseki has supported the addition of presumptive diseases related to AO exposure, based on the Institute of Medicine reports, regardless of the economic impacts of these presumptions or how common the disease might be.

Victor Rodgers (victor.rodgers@guamcc.edu) is the current program host for Vet Talk.  He served in the US Navy for 23 years and was stationed with his family at the US Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, from 1982-84.  Camp Lejeune was officially listed as a Superfund site in 1989 due to water contamination from 1953-1987.  Toxic chemicals reportedly leeched into ground water from a poorly maintained fuel depot and indiscriminate dumping on base, as well as from an off-base dry cleaner. Victims who later developed cancer and other ailments claim that USMC leaders concealed knowledge of the problem and did not act properly in trying to resolve it or to notify former base residents that their health might be at risk. In August 2012 President Obama signed a law to begin providing medical care for people who may have been affected by this toxic contamination.

Like the issue of Agent Orange exposure on Guam, claims for compensation have been hampered by the lack of official documentation by military authorities and testing and monitoring of toxicity levels.  Anderson Air Force Base is one of the Superfund sites in Guam designated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) due to groundwater and soil toxic contamination, including dioxin, a primary component of Agent Orange.  This site is on the US Environmental Protection Agency National Priority List of the most hazardous sites across the US and its territories.

Music selection: “Agent Orange Song’ by Country Joe McDonald

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