Governor of Guam 1979-1982

Paul MacDonald Calvo (1934 – ) was Guam’s third elected governor and one of the founders of the Republican Party of Guam. He is still one of Guam’s leading businessmen as the head of Guam’s most prominent business family, and remains influential in Guam’s political realm. His son, Eddie Baza Calvo, is currently the governor of Guam.

Early years

Paul Calvo was born 25 July 1934 and is the eldest son of Eduardo “Jake” Calvo and Veronica Mariano McDonald. Jake Calvo was one of Guam’s leading business pioneers as the founder of Calvo’s Insurance and the numerous other businesses that comprise Calvo’s Enterprises today, and was also one of Guam’s leading politicians in the Popular Party and later a founder of the breakaway Territorial Party of Guam.

Paul Calvo attended Agana Heights Elementary and George Washington High School on Guam before attending Peacock Military Academy in San Antonio, Texas. He went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in Commerce in 1958 at the University of Santa Clara in California.

Calvo is married to Rosa Baza Calvo and they had eight children – Vera C. Garces, Kathy C. Sgro, Paul Calvo, Senator Eddie Calvo, Barbara C. Damron, Marie C. Benito, Reyna and Clare Calvo and many grandchildren.

Calvo returned to Guam, working as an insurance salesman for American National. When his father died in 1963, he and his brothers, Edward and Jerry, inherited Jake Calvo’s considerable business interests. Paul Calvo became president and chairman of Calvo’s Insurance, holding that position until he became governor in 1979.

Political career

Paul Calvo was first elected to I Liheslaturan Guåhan/the Guam Legislature in 1964, as the top vote-getter in the election and part of the Territorial Party of Guam’s first-ever majority in the Legislature. In 1966, after the Popular Party won back all twenty-one seats of the legislature, Calvo and a handful of others formed the new Republican Party of Guam.

Calvo was again the top vote-getter in the 1970 election, as the Republicans won the legislature’s majority due to a Democratic slate weakened by its top candidates running in the gubernatorial primary. Calvo won again in 1972, and in 1974, he threw his hat into the ring for the gubernatorial race.

Calvo teamed up with Senator Tony Palomo to challenge the incumbents, Gov. Carlos Camacho and Lt. Gov. Kurt Moylan. The Calvo-Palomo ticket’s attacks on the administration included charges of corruption and favoritism, and the primary election was so close – Camacho-Moylan won by only 261 votes – that Calvo-Palomo decided to run as a write-in team for the general election. While Calvo-Palomo lost in the general election, they forced a runoff election to be held between Camacho-Moylan and the Democratic team of Ricardo J. Bordallo and Rudy Sablan. Camacho-Moylan lost the runoff, and afterward Carlos Camacho retired from politics and gave control of the Republican Party to Calvo.

Calvo ran for governor again in 1978, this time with popular senator Joseph F. Ada. Calvo’s image of a successful business executive resonated well with the voters as he ran on a “balance-the-budget” campaign and attacked the Bordallo administration for the huge jump in the budget deficit and high crime rate. Calvo built a strong political organization, complete with regional and village groups, and had the financial backing not only of Calvo’s Enterprises, but of supporters in the business community. Bordallo, meanwhile, was hurt as his running mate, Sablan, ran against him in the primary, and Calvo-Ada won the election with 52 percent of the votes.

Governor of Guam

During his first year as governor, Calvo reduced the government of Guam’s deficit by $27 million, but the deficit continued to climb for the rest of his term due mainly to long-standing problems with tax collections.

Guam’s economy began to regain health under Calvo’s administration, as he sought to attract new businesses to Guam, including a tuna-fishing fleet, a garment manufacturer, and hotel construction. Visitor arrivals also registered sharp increases.

But Calvo’s term as governor was marred by the teacher’s strike of 1981, which lasted many months and caused deep divisions in Guam’s education system. He lost to Bordallo in the 1982 election and decided to retire from politics. Although he has never run for office since, Calvo remains strongly influential in Republican politics, as its senior statesman, and his son Eddie Baza Calvo was one of the most popular senators in I Liheslaturan Guåhan/the Guam Legislature and was elected governor of Guam in 2009 along with running mate Ray Tenorio.

Business career

After retiring from politics, Calvo returned to the Calvo family business and helped reorganize, streamline, and diversify the corporation as they continue to grow into one of the biggest and fastest-growing businesses on Guam. Marginally performing companies and assets were liquidated and operations streamlined. This reorganization set the foundation for explosive growth for the company in the succeeding years.

Calvo remains the chairman of Calvo’s Enterprises, the largest group of family businesses on Guam. Companies under the CEI umbrella include: Calvo’s Insurance Underwriters, Pay-Less Markets, Inc., Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. of Guam, Mid-Pacific Liquor Distributing Company, Market Wholesale & Distributors, Title Guaranty, Calvo Realty, Pacific Trading Company and Pacific Telestations dba KUAM. Calvo is also a major shareholder in the Bank of Saipan, Mr. Rubbishman and Bruno’s Quality Produce. He also owns both Governor’s and Rosie’s Apartment complexes and has numerous real estate holdings throughout the island.

Several of Calvo’s children are now running a few of the family businesses. For example, Dolores Calvo Garces works in the family’s California business office, Katherine Calvo Sgro runs Pay-Less Supermarkets, Paul Jr. heads Calvo’s Insurance, and Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo ran Pepsi before he became a senator in the Guam Legislature.

Calvo’s civic and business associations include Elks Lodge, Rotary Club, Guam Jaycees, Young Men’s League of Guam, Knights of Columbus, Holy Name Society, Guam Chamber of Commerce, Civilian Advisory Council-Andersen Air Force Base, Republic Legion of Merit, Republican Inner Circle, Hagåtña Restoration and Redevelopment Board and the Agana Cathedral Church Choir.

In 1992 Calvo was the Guam Business News Executive of the Year. In 2004 he was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Guam. In 2007 Calvo was inducted into the Guam Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame.

By Leo Babauta

For further reading

Guam Chamber of Commerce “Hall of Fame Laureate Profile: Paul M. Calvo.” Accessed August 9, 2014

Political Status Education Coordinating Commission. Hale’-ta, I Manfåyi: Who’s Who in Chamorro History. Vol. 2. Hagåtña: Political Status Education Coordinating Commission, 1997.

Rogers, Robert F. Destiny’s Landfall: A History of Guam. Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 1995.

Sanchez, Pedro C. Guahan Guam: The History of our Island. Hagåtña: Sanchez Publishing House, c.1988.