History is built upon the everyday memories of individuals. Under the American Sun (Camp Roxas Film Project), will be a 60-minute film that celebrates the lives, memories, and perhaps, misery of a generation of Filipino-Americans whose epic migration to postwar Guam transformed the island and the lives of their progeny.
The Camp Roxas film project will recount a little-known chapter of American history - the story of skilled and unskilled laborers and professionals recruited from the Philippines' Iloilo Province by the United States military to rebuild the island, devastated by years of Japanese occupation and war. The Ilonggos arrival in Guam in 1946, and their subsequent settlement at Camp Roxas in the southern part of the territory changed the landscape of Guam forever. The film, produced by Bernadette Provido Schumann and directed by Burt Sardoma Jr., will be built from the recollections of those who lived the story.
One of the largest ethnic minorities on Guam, the Filipino-American community has a long and complex history on the island that began during the Spanish colonial period in the 1600s. In recent times, the history of Filipinos in Guam is associated with the Ilonggo influx. The postwar recruitment of Ilonggo labor lasted for two decades, resulting in a migration of more than 10,000 Filipino men and women to Guam.
Under the American Sun (Camp Roxas Film Project), Bernie Provido Schumann, P.O. Box 5307, Hagatna, GU 96932
From the deck of a transport ship in 1946, Guam looked a little like paradise. At a distance, its broad, sandy beaches and green, rolling terrain seemed to bear no traces of World War II. But this southernmost island of the Marianas chain was devastated by 32 months of Japanese occupation and the fierce battle to recapture it. Its infrastructure lay in ruins. The indigenous Chamorro workforce was exhausted, starved and demoralized by the occupying Japanese.
And so the government of the United States, who had retaken the island in 1944, looked west across the Philippine Sea forfresh workers to rebuild the island.
From National Park Service photo archives
Filipino contract workers, most of whom were recruited from Iloilo province in the Philippines, stepped onto the first transport in 1946 for the long journey to Camp Roxas in Agat, Guam. And as their ship drew closer to the island, and its features came into focus, the first Ilonggo workers felt anticipation, uncertainty and hope.
Beautiful Guam proved to be a different kind of paradise for these workers - a place of discrimination, confinement, and misery. But the Ilonggo spirit rose to the challenge, and against an odds, helped forge a new Guam, This is where my father's story begins.
Pilar Poblacion Malilay, a registered nurse from Iloilo, Philippines, was recruited as a "hospital worker" in 1952.
Fred Constantino recalled the seasickness and rough seas of the voyage from Iloilo to Guam in 1946. (Video capture images by Burt Sardoma Jr.)
Because of a succession of colonial and strategic occupations, Guam was, in 1946, already a diverse and thriving community. But the Ilonggo community flourished in unexpected ways, creating a successful social network in the local community, and contributing to the political,economic, and social life of the island territory. Not surprisingly, the population of the largely Catholic Ilonggos boomed.
As is the case in most migrations, the Ilonggo men were the first to arrive. They came primarily as skilled laborers and professionals - accountants, carpenters, masons, plumbers, electricians and engineers. This diverse workforce was tasked with the rebuilding of the US. military facilities and infrastructure. In the ensuing years, Ilonggo women, many of whom were trained as nurses and other professional and semi-professional positions, were hired to work in Guam. They began to join men of Camp Roxas after 1946. The passage of the Organic Act in 1950 and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, often referred to as the McCarran Act, enabled many of the workers to become permanent residents by working on Guam before December 1952, and to later apply for U.S. citizenship.
Loreto Parrenas Provido (above), who passed away in July 2009, was in declining health as he tells the story of Camp Roxas through his daughter, Bernadette Provido Schumann (below) , producer. (Video capture image by Burt Sardoma Jr.)
Under the American Sun (Camp Roxas Film Project) is extremely honored and grateful to maintain archival information and/or photos regarding Camp Roxas in honor of the following persons and their descendants: