Song of Hope, Song of Faith
Ditty urged the Americans to return
I used to listen lo my auntie’s stories about the invasion, occupation, liberation and other things concerning the Japanese on Guam back then. She told me all about the “Uncle Sam” song and used to sing different versions of it, all the while a smile upon her face.
Both children and adults learned and sang the song throughout the occupation period though forbidden by Japanese authorities. It was a ditty urging the return of the Americans.
One version of the song, not so silly to the Japanese occupying authorities, went like this:
Eighth of December, 1941
People went crazy
right here in Guam.
Ob, Mr. Sam, Sam
My dear Uncle Sam,
won’t you please
come back to Guam.
Other versions included a stanza telling the Americans lo “Hurry up and come back with Camels and Chesterfields, because we’re tired of smoking the (Japanese cigarettes).”
She said that “Pete Rosario and his gangs” invented the song, and that printed versions of it nowadays aren’t always the same as the ones she knew. Additional verses, as written in the Carano-Sanchez “History of Guam” follow:
Early Monday morning
The action came to Guam,
Eighth or December,
Oh, Mr. Sam, my dear Uncle Sam,
Won’t you please come back to Guam?
Our lives are in danger
You better come
And kill all the Japanese
Right here on Guam.
Part of the ditty’s popularity was that one could make up anything about the Japanese, and no matter how silly, it would still be appropriate.
The song got so popular, she said, that even humming the tune around the Japanese infuriated them, and they would “binta” (slap) you or dole out some other kind of punishment.
Rosario and his friends sang a little concert to some of the first Marines on island in the area of the Hagåtña cemetery, and after that, it became a hit with the liberators.
It wasn’t the only song in the psychological fight with the Japanese occupying authorities. One other song, or saying by the CHamorus that made a mockery of the Japanese propaganda effort was about the flag, which depicts a sun on a while field.
CHamorus took advantage of the language barrier for a song that they were taught about Japan’s flag, the one with the red ball as the sun.
But instead of using the given lyrics, which used the word “apaka” which means white in CHamoru, CHamorus hid a devious smile and sang instead the word, “aplacha,” which means dirty in CHamoru. Apparently no one ever caught on.
My auntie insisted that she remain anonymous, but our thanks still go out to her for sharing her enjoyment of that old, that silly, but oh, so precious song.
It may be old and may be silly, but even now the song sings loud of the CHamoru faith in those times, of the hope that kept people’s spirits high in a time of despair.
Thank you, Uncle Sam.
By Paul J. Borja
Reprinted with permission from Liberation: Guam Remembers – “A Golden Salute for the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Guam” in 1994.