Håfañelus! (Hafa adai Mañelu)
Håfa manatatmanu-hamyo? Long time, no?
As many of you may or may not know, today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception in which Catholics on Guam honor and venerate the patron saint of Guam Santa Marian Kamalen. The tradition is to have mass at the Cathedral followed by a procession around Hagatña, then pray to and venerate the historical statue of our Blessed Lady.
Santa Marian Kamalen has historical significance here on Guam. According to the stories of mañaina-ta, a group of fishermen were fishing down in Malesso when one of them saw crabs carrying the statue underwater, swam to her, and brought her in. The statue allegedly came from a sunken Spanish galleon off the coast of Malesso. For the full history of Santa Marian Kamalen here on Guam, visit guampedia.com or ask your grandparents to tell you the legend.
Although today is a day of celebration, it’s also a sad day. On this day 74 years ago, the Japanese bombed Guam and began World War II. The entire island was preparing for the nobena, lukao (procession), and misa (mass) in their own villages when the bombs dropped and war was declared around 9:oo AM. My grandma Engracia Diaz Pangelinan whom was present that day said that many parishioners cheered because they had never seen planes before and believed that it was a blessing from God, only to end up screaming in terror.
Growing up, procession was kind of fun, kind of not. I got to see a lot of people, but it would get hot and I would be sweating in my Saint Francis uniform or my confirmation shirt. Today, it means so much more. This is the one day dedicated to the Patron Saint of Guam Santa Marian Kamalen, the person that our people, the Chamorus have prayed to, and through her intercession, overcame many difficult things, including World War II. Today, I am celebrating our people’s patronage, spirituality, and faith that has kept us alive and together, remembering the history of our once broken people, and keeping the tradition of lukao para Santa Marian Kamalen alive… What is this day to you?
Biba Santa Marian Kamalen! Si Yu’us Ma’åse for reading.
P.S. Procession is at 4 at the Cathedral followed by mass, and if you’re unable to attend mass, watch the Voices of Our Elders – Santa Marian Kamalen Retold section on Guampedia (: