ben’s Pen: The things we remember today
Tuesday, 21 July 2009 03:14 by Sen. Ben Pangelinan
EACH year, for the past 65 years, this day rolls around and we remember.
At Sumay, we remember the place where our parents made their homes and buried their parents, brothers, sisters and family. We mark this with a mass at the Sumay cemetery; not for those buried there who died during the war, but those buried there before they took the land away and now need permission to return to honor and pay respect at that hallowed place.
At Fena, we remember the pain and the memories, and for some the unspeakable guilt they carry with them for surviving, while others did not, the brutality and atrocity of the enemy-- an enemy not of our own making.
At Manengon, we remember the suffering of the children left to the care of young new mothers with babies exposed to the risk of disease and sickness, because a fire could not be built to boil water from the river, the same river they used to wash clothes and bathe in.
We remember mothers, wives and children who watched husbands, brothers and fathers, walk away from the camp, obedient to the enemy’s order to come with them. And they never looked back. The wives, mothers and children watched never knowing; if the husbands, brothers and fathers did not obey, it would be they who would be beaten or killed.
At Tinta and Faha, we remember the deaths and the fact that our people knew their fate as they were forced into the caves. The explosion of the grenades and the sound of bayonets piercing flesh, looking for the kill left unfinished by the force of the explosion and the shrapnel as clear today as it was 65 years ago.
And we remember the brave men of the Malesso rebellion, those who knew that no amount of cooperation or compliance with the enemy’s orders would spare their innocent loved ones pain or death, who summoned the courage, and who rose up to overpower the enemy. Facing death, they fought and some lost their lives, and their sacrifice and gallantry saved the lives of countless loved ones.
And we remember, the over 45 strong young Chamorro men found at Chi gi’an, with their hands tied behind their backs and be-headed, after they carried the enemy’s provisions to Yigo for their last stand.
Each year, for the past 65 years, this day rolls around and we celebrate.
We celebrate liberation from the hands of a brutal enemy. We celebrate the return of the Americans, who say they gave us democracy and self-government. And they stayed, a kind and generous occupier, but an occupier nonetheless.
Last year, this day rolled around and amidst the remembrance and the celebration we chose to actively embrace a full democracy and freedom as a people. We chose to act to bring about decolonization, move forward our destiny, and fulfill our human right to self-determination.
It is a right that a liberator does not bestow to the liberated. It is a right that a just and moral authority recognizes belongs to those peoples denied such right.
It is a right that can, only by the action of those who have yet to exercise such right, bring about real freedoms and true liberation.
Abiba self-determination! Biba Liberation!