My name is Vicente Taisipic. I’m from Yona, and I’m here to testify on my behalf of my personal experience during the Japanese occupation and also in regards to some of my uncles and auntie that passed away. Five minutes is not much of a time that we spend for almost three years in Japanese occupation, so I’ll try and highlight my personal experience.
When the Japanese came to Yona, they round us up and took us to the compound at Yona’s school. There was supposed to be an indoctrination. Every 15 minutes, they make us face towards the north end of the island and bow. From thereafter, after that indoctrination, I see nothing but atrocities, being beaten, beaten up, threatening to be bayoneted, and then I was forced to attend the Japanese school from 7:00 to 5:00.
I was deprived of my childhood. At that time, I believe I’m almost six years old. But during the war, during the occupation, you grow up so fast, especially when you start seeing the Japanese soldier with their bayonet. It’s not just a threat, but the experience that you see so traumatic that, like I said, you grow up so fast.
Then they give me a job. Two jobs. First thing early in the morning, there’s a wagon, the teachers son, his name is Kitano. My job is to take him and pull him around the compound for the first half hour. Then after that I attend the classroom. After 11:30, out in the field, we planted a variety of fruits, vegetable, and we also harvest it. Then, at the same time, they gave me a bucket to patrol the whole area of Yona and collect manure, irregardless what kind of manure. And they gave me a quota that, if I don’t fill up six buckets during the field, that I would be beaten up.
Practically, I was a walking maggot because, the fact of the matter is, that after the field work, I had to walk all the way from the school compound down to Asinan Valley. That’s where our ranch is located at. And my parents normally told me to go directly to the river, stay there with the other carabao or water buffalo. And at that time, soap is a luxury for us. We used lemon leaf for soap so I could get rid of the flies that had been following me from the field that I would be beaten up.
Then after that, I experienced a very traumatic experience, that a Japanese patrol with the Japanese interpreter came down to our ranch, demanded that we cater the Japanese interpreter that interpreting Chamorro for the Japanese patrol, that they’re planning of getting married on the island -- and they didn’t request, they demanded that we cater them with a carabao for the wedding party. And if we refused or the family refused, they were supposed to take the oldest one of the family and beheaded him.
At that time, everyone was crying. Everybody panicked. So the family got no choice but to give the water buffalo for whatever they request it for.
Then I experienced also, when I was going to school, from a distance, Mr. Eustaquio always being beaten up because he looked so American. I got tired going out to the boondocks cutting post for the windows. And also we were forced to march to Manenggon. The Japanese sergeant told me and a few others to round up all the dogs. At that time, I was under the impression they’re supposed to eat it, but they behead it. And the one time, I came so close to at being cut by a Japanese sword. And then the dog, more or less, trying to reach and I reached over to grab it, hold it back, and then the Japanese soldier, cut him in half. Then he started laughing at me, and then, at the same time, I was bloody all over, then he started getting mad at me that I wasn’t doing my job holding the dog down.
Then, at the same time, I helped dig a huge hole in Manenggon. Apparently that was for a mass execution. And also, we were told to dig caves on the side of the river bank for protection in case American patrol reached the Manenggon camp. And also, I helped build that huge bunker up in Yona that used to be the late Bordallo’s house, her house. We weave basket, put rocks in it, and then we haul it up to the hill.
Real People.Real Stories. A weekly testimonial series provided by the Office of Senator Frank Blas, Jr. The testimony of Vicente Taitingfong Taisipic is recorded in the Guam War Claims Commission public hearing held in Hagatna, Guam on December 8, 2003. This story sponsored by the community involvement of Frank Blas & Associates, Inc. Photo courtesy of Expressions Studio.