Guam – On Saturday people who have family members buried in the old Sumay cemetery were granted access to the site for a special mass that was held. Sumay was was once known as the pearl of the island before World WarrII. After the war it was taken by the U.S. government for use as part of what is now Naval Base Guam.
A special mass was held at the old cemetery in Sumay on Saturday. Sumay now lies on Naval property but it was once a thriving village whose history dates back to the pre-Spanish ancient Chamorro era. It evolved from a small fishing village to an agricultural and commercial hub for ships during the Spanish era in the 1800’s. Then when the U.S. took Guam from Spain during the Spanish-American War in 1898 the American government also used it to stage many of their naval shipping operations. During this American period Sumay remained a thriving village whose population was second only to the capital of Hagatna.
However when the Japanese attacked Guam on December 8th of 1941 Sumay was heavily bombed and the residents of the village fled to their ranches and to the jungles of Guam to hide from the bombing. Then, when the U.S. liberated Guam and took control of the island they did not allow the residents to return to Sumay. Instead they took the property and turned it into what is now part of Naval Base Guam. The residents of Sumay were relocated to the surrounding hills creating what is now the village of Santa Rita.
Governor Eddie Calvo was among those in attendance at Saturday’s special mass. “As we look towards all the tombstones all of these are of those that died before the tragedy of World WarII and so we’re here to pray for all their souls and also the people of Sumay and also in commemoration of the tragedy of World WarII but also of the liberation of our people so with that I’d like to also wish all the people of Guam a happy liberation day and god bless you,” said Governor Calvo.
Decendents of the original inhabitants of Sumay were also in attendance. For the first time in a long time Maria Cruz went to visit her family members who are buried there. “My grandmother was buried here and my father and I got maybe ten siblings buried here,” said Cruz.
Inez Cruz Quinata of Santa Rita visits the Sumay cemetery every chance she can get which is only three times a year but she is grateful nonetheless. “My great great grandfather he died 1914 and he was born 18 something and my grandfather is right over here and my mothers sister over there so we have quite a few relatives here,” said Quinata adding,”So every year we come this way. This is nice once a year at least three times a year we’re here. All souls day, liberation, and the back to Sumay event.”
Saturday’s memorial mass was coordinated by the Santa Rita mayor’s office and Naval Base Guam commanding officer Capt. Mike Ward as a part of the island’s 69th liberation day festivities.