Asha Robles

Guam - Sumay was once known as the "Pearl of the Islands" before World War II. Before becoming an economically rich village since the 1930's, Sumay was the agricultural and commercial hub for ships in the mid-1800's. Santa Rita mayor Dale Alvarez said, "This was a very big village, as a matter of fact it was suppose to be the capitol of the island because it was our first commercial village but after the war they relocated all the Sumay people up to Santa Rita."

Today the US Naval Base Guam in coordination with the Santa Rita Mayor's Office invited former residents of Sumay and their families to a memorial mass as part of the islands 70th Liberation Day festivities.  Commanding officer of Naval Base Guam Capt. Andy Anderson said, "Today was a tribute to folks from Sumay who were relocated to Santa Rita and this is a means to pay tribute to those folks for all the things that they've sacrificed and endured in order for us to enjoy the freedoms that we have today."

Mass was held at the Sumay Cemetery and was filled with local residents who came to pay their respects. Vicente Duenas was one of those people and came to visit his father, who is buried in Sumay. He said, "It's very emotional you know it brings back a lot of memories, I was only three years old when he was buried here. Well, I'm still here and he's resting in peace."

The first memorial mass down in Sumay started five years ago when Mayor Alvarez asked the military if they too could honor Sumay's massacre, as he felt that it was slowly becoming a forgotten village that had many survivors. Each year's mass since then started to show more people in attendance. "This is the biggest by far," he stated. "The first time it was only maybe 20 from the village and I guess more people started hearing about it and we started to announce it, inviting, now it's a very big, and as you can see a lot of very important people are here like the liberators and I was surprised that they came down here to help celebrate liberation out here."

No matter how many years have passed, Sumay still remains dear to those who have lived and lost loved ones in the village.