They had God and each other

During the war, Ana “Ann” Anderson Atoigue Muna (1934 – ) and her family had two things: God and each other. They knew despite the difficulties of war, God had a reason. He had a plan. Together, through routine, they lived. Together, through prayer, they survived. 

At seven years old, Muna and her four siblings along with their parents Joaquin Cepeda Atoigue, a farmer, and Ana Borja, depended on their daily family routine. They lived in a ranch at Pago Bay and together, they farmed. Muna remembers feeding the animals every day. The children went to school, did their chores, finished their homework and after supper, they prayed. Every day. 

The family prayed together as much as possible. They prayed for their safety and good health, and they prayed for peace for the island. Joaquin and Ana taught their children how to pray. And most importantly, they taught their children to forgive. Because in order to be a good Catholic, you must believe in prayer and you must forgive, Muna learned.

“We prayed with the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary through Jesus to God. We believed the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary holds a very special place in her heart for Guam. It was because of our prayers and faith that our lives were spared.” 

Ana Atoigue Muna

Witness to a beheading

One day, on her way home from school with her older brother Jess, Muna’s faith was tested as she and her brother witnessed Japanese soldiers beheading three CHamoru men.  To this day, she remembers every detail of that afternoon, though she chooses not to share them because the memories made her sad.

“We could not make a sound or show emotion. If we did, we would be next.”

Muna and her brother were stunned, numb, and very frightened. It wasn’t until they were about 100 yards out of the Japanese soldiers’ sight that they were able to let go and finally cry. 

Although traumatic, the beheading did not keep Muna, Jess and her family from moving forward. They prayed for forgiveness and forgave the Japanese. As good Catholics, they did not, and still to this day, do not hold grudges toward the Japanese. They trusted God’s plan and their prayers spared their lives and the island from further devastation. 

 “You cannot carry that burden, you have to forgive. Always believe in the power of prayer.” 

Reprinted and adapted, with permission, from Guam War Survivors Memorial Foundation by Dondi Leonidas Quintans.