Lourdes PerezWhen the Japanese came, we went to Barrigada, that is Tiyan now.  We were hiding there.  Then, they move up to Finaguayan, that is NCS now. It is called Finaguayan, but it's NCS. We'll go back again to Tiyan. I will start from Tiyan, at the beginning.

When the Japanese were there, my mother had a nervous breakdown. My brother, Carlos, had infection. He almost died. My brother, Jose, had bronchial pneumonia. My brother, Jesus, died. He went to the dentist. He had tooth extraction. But, when he went back to the farm, he was taken to work immediately after he was taken from the dentist.

The reason why we moved to NCS is the Japanese were accusing my parents that we are harboring George Tweed, which my parents did not know. But, my father will go to the cave, a cave now in Tiyan. I know that there's a cave that belongs to my father. He owns the Tiyan land.

My father will wake up every morning to check where George Tweed was usually hiding and make sure that there will be no evidence. He wanted to remove the evidence. If they found the evidence, we'll be killed. The Japanese usually, I will say they or our. I'll use more than one, because the Japanese is never one. Not one Japanese will be arriving. It's only like one, or two, or three. They will be coming over to the house, to the farm. Then, they will tell my father that if they found the George Tweed, they will kill everybody in the family and also the neighbors, north, south, east, west. That is both four sides. That's why my mother had nervous breakdown. I have to stay in the farm to watch my mother because I was the oldest among the girls.  My brothers were taken to work, sick or not sick. That's how they became almost dead. We moved to NCS. When we moved to NCS, the same problem was happening. My father planted taro, corn and tapioca and sweet potatoes. So, the Japanese again were still there. They came to the farm and they told us ... In other words, the farm belongs to my father's sister, because my father owns Tiyan.  So, we went and followed my aunties.

When they came to the farm, they told my father not to touch anything.  My father have to steal. Imagine to steal our own food. Father will get up in the middle of the night and went out to collect things and take back to the farm.  But, we have to hide because if the Japanese will see those things, they'll do something to us. That's what my father was afraid too.

My father will take the cow and slaughter the cow with the help of a brother. Imagine, my brothers are only like three years older than myself. In other words, I was 11 when the Japanese came and when the Americans came, I was 15.

But I will remember and I will never forget to what was going on. When my father took the cow to slaughter the cow in the jungle with my brothers, he has to bury the unwanted meat. He has to dry the meat in the jungle so that the Japanese won't find any trace of the blood.

We went back and after the meat was dry, my father has to put the meat in the sack.  Imagine, again, that. He has to put the meat in the sack to hide. Then, they carry back to the farm. When they came back to the farm, we have to hide again the meat. In the farm there was no locked door. As soon as the Japanese came, they can see what's in the farm. So, we have to hide very far in the farm so that they won't see it. 

Later on, every nighttime, my father has to get up, in the middle of the night again, and pick something like potatoes, tapioca and corn because wherever we go, my father planted. He's a very energetic man. He's a very husky man. Also, when my father went out at night he has to bring a bag again, food and hide in the farm.

I watched my aunties, my father's sisters whipped when their three kamas were lost when they were going out. So, the Japanese rounded up all the old people first. They started whipping them. The Japanese were taking turns whipping the old people first. They were very strong because they started first. Then, when they went to the younger people, they were kind of weak. But, I watched my aunties cry but they have to hold their breath because if they cry more, or if we cry because I watch them, you’ll get beaten more and you'll get whipping more.

Later on, I got married. My husband and I were 47 years of married life. He never outgrow the dream that he has. He always has a nightmare. Every night he has a nightmare. He always scared me because I have to wake up in the middle of the night and shook him, or I pat his face or I kiss him. I ask him, "Wake up and tell me what was wrong." He said, "The Japanese are coming here to kill me." So, my husband died and he took his nightmare to his grave.

Real People. Real Stories.
A weekly testimonial series provided by the Office of Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. The testimony of Lourdes Laguana Perez is recorded in the Guam War Claims Review Commission public hearing held in Hagåtña, Guam on December 9, 2003. This story sponosored by the community involvement of Pay-Less Supermarkets. Photo courtesy of Expressions Studio.