Locals celebrate 75th anniversary of Guam liberation
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Chamorro Association of Central Texas celebrated the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Guam from Japan by the United States during World War II with a big event and potluck dinner at Ogletree Gap Park on Saturday.
The United States liberated Guam from Japan through the Second Battle of Guam, when the Marines landed on the island on July 21, 1944. The battle lasted until August 10, 1944.
The CACT has been celebrating the liberation in Central Texas since 1985, according to Vice President Bill Perez.
“We were not Americans, and now we are proud Americans,” Perez said about the Liberation. “We thank God for America and we’d die for America, and that’s why we celebrate, because we’re proud Americans, regardless of race, color, creed,” Perez said.
Roy Fowler, Ambassador to the CACT, added that each year the event gets bigger.
“And if you walk around, you’ll see it’s not just Chamorro, it’s not just white people, it’s not just black people,” Fowler said. “There’s every race here today.”
The theme of this year’s event was about bridging the gap between the generations, with the event shirts bearing the phrase “manamko yan neni’s.”
“It means a lot because we want the younger people to step up and do what we’ve been doing,” Fowler said about the different generations that were at Saturday’s event.
Fowler added that this year’s event was run by the younger people of the organization. The organization is also looking for donations for land or a building for a place to call home, Fowler said.
Scott Pangelinan, owner of Latte Creations, had a booth set up where he and his family were selling different sizes of latte stones. Latte stones are a pillar capped by a hemispherical stone, with the flat side facing up. They were used as building supports by the ancient generations of the Chamorro people. Now, they act as a sign of Chamorro pride and culture.
Pangelinan said he sells the latte stones to try to keep the culture alive.
On his business card, Pangelinan has “Support our culture” written, to go with the stones.
“Anyone from Guam will know if they see a latte stone, whether it’s a sticker or a replica of décor for the house, they want to get it, so I try to bring that to the younger generation and everything,” Pangelinan said.
At the booth, Pangelinan sold raffle tickets for $5 each for people to try to win a large latte stone, weighing 400 pounds at 33.5 inches by 22 inches, and made plans to donate the proceeds to the Chamorro Association of Central Texas.
Pangelinan has lived in the area since 2002, being active duty in the Army. Despite deployments and PCSing, he has always returned back to Central Texas.
“Since I bought a house, I kind of like it here because it kind of feels like home already because I’ve got a lot of Guamanians here, Chamorros and Islanders that make me feel like I never left Guam,” he said.
He’s come to every Guam Liberation event every year when he is home, he said.
“I take it to heart, honestly. The people that served, that fought for us,” Pangelinan said about the liberation of Guam.
His great grandfather was part of the liberation and passed down stories to his children and grandchildren, he said.
He added that he and many others from Guam joined the military because of the stories they heard and out of obligation to America.
The event began with the singing of the national anthem, along with remarks from both the mayors of Killeen and Kempner, followed by a blessing over the potluck meal.