Juan UnpingcoMy name is Juan Martinez Unpingco. I am 79 years old and blessed with eight children.

In the morning of December 8, 1941, Japanese war planes came to Guam and started bombing and shooting Sumay in the city of military installation headquarters in Agana. I went home immediately and found all my family packing and ready to go to Barrigada and hide there.

I was made to work by force at Mangilao field digging soil all day to find and collect manganese and, at the end of the day, turn it over to the Japanese soldier. I was forced to work with my family. My mom and sisters went to Mangilao field tilling the soil and clean the bushes for farming. My dad, my brother were working at Jalaguag air base and Japanese plane to land. At night, planes appeared from nowhere and began shooting and bombing, shot fire from all direction. Me and my fellow workers were so scared that we run for our life and hide in the bushes until the war planes left.

Then the Japanese soldiers call us back to work and repeated fill the holes and they were bombed. We seldom go to the other village and to Agana because we were afraid that we might meet Japanese soldier who were so mean and brutal. I have seen them slap our people with them and even stab people to death with their bayonet. They were ruthless and they have no regards to the value of human life. Then one day the Japanese soldiers came to our ranch destroying things and terrorizing us. We were so scared, especially when the same soldier rape my auntie Margaret.

One day the Japanese soldier armed with rifle and an interpreter telling to forcing us to march to Manenggon concentration camp. We have to carry whatever we can and when we marched the rain came down, and all of us were wet, but we can’t stop walking. I can hear babies and children crying and some old people mooing due to the hunger and tiresome march.

If you stopped to rest, you’d be whipped and beat. These were the march when my father, got whipped - - oh boy he was really whipped had no reason, apparent reason. He was whipped with tangantagnan stick five feet long, one inch thick, my dad was whipped so severely until his body was swollen, lacerated, covered with matted blood and bruises.

The beating took so long, so the soldiers took turns beating him. When the beating was finished, my father went to the nearby river and soaked his wounds for two hours to lessen the pain, swelling and bleeding.

When we came to the concentration camp, we built our tent next to it a hole which already dug four feet by six feet deep. We already knew that the hole was used for a graveyard for a massacre. One day I went to find food and found a big tree, breadfruit tree. I climbed the tree and picked so many breadfruit and carried it in my burlap sack to the concentration camp. Before I entered the village, I was stopped by a leader taicho and show him the breadfruit. They took the largest and left the ones for me. He left me with less then the sack and then I took it to my mom.

But a short time later, my mom was crying and lying down when she scold me and said, Johnny, look what the Japanese soldier did to me. She was brutally whipped and all her body was swollen. There were bruise and clot. I put wet cloth around her body to lessen the swelling and the blood clot and told her to stop crying. She made me promise that I will not do anything drastic to avenge her beating.

One day we were rounded up and told to carry a box of bullets and one going up to the southwest and the other group heading north. My dad and brother went to south. It was this time that I run away and hide in the jungle. I keep on moving and hear later from somebody’s family that the group that headed north to Yigo were beheaded after they were carried box of bullets and supplies to the guard post.

Our people, as well as my family, endured so much hardship, pain and agony and torture. There are times I have nightmare remembering the suffering and torture and the killing that I witnessed as a young man. I still remember the mangled bodies with worms and flies feeding them.

Real People. Real Stories. A weekly testimonial series provided by the Office of Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr.  The testimony of Juan Martinez Unpingco is recorded in the Guam War Claims Commission public hearing held in Hagåtña, Guam on December 8, 2003. This story sponsored by the community involvement of Guam Premier Outlets (GPO). Photo courtesy of Expressions Studio.