It was a bittersweet day for manamko war survivors as the signing into law of Bill 181-35, the local war claims bill, not only brought joy but also brought back memories of the war they endured 75 years ago.
Asan resident Cynthia Terlaje took a moment to reflect on the significance of today’s bill signing ceremony.
“Oh my God, it’s so touching right now because we have been waiting for the longest time. I am so sad right now because my husband won’t get it, he passed 19 years ago. With both of us as survivors, even my parents, you know, none of them is going to be getting it,” Terlaje said.
She added: “It’s like my feeling is just terrible. It brings back memories like I am seeing it all over again. It’s hard, it’s really hard.”
Terlaje is only one of the ever-dwindling number of war survivors who have been battling to receive the compensation they are owed and sadly, many of our island’s manamko have passed on and will never see a dime.
Agat resident Maria Babauta shares Terlaje’s sentiments.
“Well, it means a lot. It brings back a lot of tears and memories because I did the march to Manenggon and I remember the war very distinctly,” Babauta said.
Babauta was five years old during the Japanese occupation while her husband, Antonio Babauta, was six. They remember seeing planes at Nimitz Beach. Both say this day has brought satisfaction to many war survivors as this day is long overdue.
“It’s taken so long. I went through generations, my grandmother, my mom, and now me and I’m hoping it won’t go beyond me to the next generation. It is very important that the manamko are well recognized and deserve whatever the governor signed into law. It has been long overdue,” Babauta said.
Molojloj resident Concepcion Meno Mathews has been waiting for her war survivor claim to be paid out for as long as she could remember, having only been a toddler during the occupation.
“I have been waiting and waiting for so long and they keep wondering. So I’m very glad that the governor was going to push this for the war claims and I hope before I die, I will get it,” Mathews said.