I am Pilar Diaz Cruz Lujan. I was 11 years, 2 months old on December 8th, 1941.
The mass of the Immaculate Conception was just celebrated in the Santa Cruz Church in Agana. As we were coming out of the Church, we heard and saw planes overhead. Instantly, we waved and cheered as if we were watching an aerial show. Little did we know that those same planes had bombed Sumay. Within minutes of the bombing, people went berserk and scattered in all directions trying to gather their family together. They ran home, grabbed as many possessions and provisions as they could and fled to the jungles of Guam.
That was the end of the peaceful island paradise of Guam. A few days later, the people of Guam were captured by the Japanese and that was the beginning of the reign of terror that was forced upon the inhabitants of Guam.
I listed all my responses required. However, the questionnaire seemed inadequate in that it was calling for concrete evidence of forced labor, march and internment, injury and death. I suppose the questionnaire was formulated that way to simplify the levels of force the Chamorros experienced. As far as I'm concerned, the trauma and the lasting negative psychological impact of the people cannot be measured.
From the ships, I for one, I'm 73 years old, but to date, although I know that the end result of the blasting of firecrackers may be pretty and sometimes spectacular, the sound of the blast makes me tremble with fear as if there were shelling from the ships and bombardment from the air. I am also terribly afraid of the rat -a-tat-tat sound even from toy machine guns. The flickering of light reminds me of incendiary bombs exploding around me as I try to dodge them. I'm even reluctant to watch violent movies. It doesn't matter whether they were Academy Award winners or not.
I have physical scars all over my body, from the cuts by twigs and thorns inflicted while fleeing into the jungle. The sores were untreated for the lack of first aid supplies materials. Sometimes they got infected and took months to heal.
Mr. Chairman and members, just delight in the deep emotions elicited by the atrocities of the war. I have to say that the scars were of the nature that they would have immediately disqualified me from bathing suit contests, even if Justice Cruz and Speaker Unpingco and Congresswoman Bordallo were the judges. I would have been disqualified immediately.
The point is, the physical scars can never measure up to the fear that I carry today, even as old as I am now. The subject of war experience is not a subject that is easily passed on from one generation to the next. It is painful and horrifying experience that many people want to discuss, but most are unable to express without outward signs of emotional release.
I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of this Commission, for coming out here to listen and gather information and evidence of what the World War II dissidents and survivors experienced. I hope and pray that justice and closure to the issue of war reparation will finally be achieved. I just want to call your attention that I did submit my response to the questionnaire.
I thought, when I was listening to one of the witnesses yesterday, of the uniqueness of his job in forced labor, where he had to collect manures of any kind. In my case, in that forced labor, I had to collect flies. Remember that the Japanese brought in their horses and with the horses, there were thousands and thousands of big flies that swarmed allover Agana.
So, the children then were forced to collect them, bottle them and turn them in to Japanese officials. It was a tedious, disgusting and repulsive work, which was done without antiseptic, gloves or sanitizing agent. The task took many months in an attempt to control the pesky insects. My health was severely affected to the point that I vomited frequently, I could not eat and I became very sickly.
Real People. Real Stories. A weekly testimonial series provided by the Office of Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. The testimony of Pilar Diaz Cruz Lujan is recorded in the Guam War Claims Review Commission public hearings held in Hagåtña, Guam on December 9, 2003. This story sponsored by the community involvement of Gary Wayne Francis Gumataotao, Attorney at Law. Photo courtesy of Expressions Studio.