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Ghost Story

October 20, 2011

This story was relayed to me today.  The teller of the story claims to have been there as it happened.  I’m not a huge believer of such things, but the storyteller is a a respected member of the community.  Draw your own conclusions.

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High atop a ridge overlooking the south side of Guam is a resort complex known as the Leo Palace Resort.  Developed by the Japanese (I’d said Korean in an earlier post, sorry), the Resort was to be a retirement community for aging Japanese.  It sits largely vacant.  The Pheebs and I visited it once.  I’d gotten a strange feeling walking through the place – the air still and heavy, a general feeling that light was a few shades off.  A vague feeling of unease, we left shortly after we arrived.

I’d made an offhand comment about how odd the place  seemed in a meeting today.  “Oh, that’s because it’s haunted”, my associate replied matter-of-factly.

“How do you know?”  I queried.

“Well…I was there the first time”, she replied.  The response that of someone describing a copier failure. “Let me tell you the story.”

“The resort is built along the path of the Manenggon Death March.  The Japanese rounded up our people late in the war and marched them without food and water to the Manenggon Valley.  Many people died, we don’t know how many. Men taller than Japanese solders were executed simply because they were bigger.  The route is a sad place, we all try to avoid it.”

“The Japanese developers didn’t know this when they selected the site for the Leo Palace.  When they started digging for construction, they found bones, bones of men, women and small children.  They did not stop, they kept building.  They found remnants of Japanese soldiers, too, many soldiers.   The construction did not stop.”

“I was hired in to work at the front desk. I was qualified as my mother was from Japan and I spoke Japanese.  The grand opening of the condos and golf course villas were a few days away, to assist potential customers in their buying decision, several pretty young Japanese girls in their early 20’s were flown in.  The developer put them up in condo building “C”.

She paused for a moment, then continued. “I was on the front desk late the night when a call came in from two of the girls rooming together.  They were screaming.  The manager took the phone from me and spoke to the girls, forgetting I knew Japanese.  They had been awakened by a strong chill in their room, as if they were in a refrigerator.  Standing in the room with them were a pair of Japanese soldiers in uniform, silent.  When the girls screamed for help, the two soldiers marched away, disappearing.”

“The manager was very cross with the girls, telling them they saw nothing, and they were to put this out of their minds before coming to work tomorrow.  The girls begged and pleaded, to no avail.  I was wide-eyed.  Noticing me standing there, the manger ordered me to leave the area, returning to the phone to yell at the girls.”

“The girls did report for work the following day.  I was on the desk that evening, and late in the night, I received another phone call from the same room.  They girls were screaming and crying.  The cold had awoken them again.  When they opened their eyes,  a pair of hands were holding their blanket up and away from their bed.  Behind the blanket were the  Japanese soldiers.  This time, one of them spoke.”

She paused again, eyes focusing on a distant unseen object.  She continued.

“Please”, the solder pleaded.  “Please take us home.  We want to go home.”

“The manager took the phone and spoke into it on low tones I could not hear.  A cab was sent for the girls, and they were shipped off to the airport in the middle of the night.  They were not seen again.”

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I’ve done some research on the atrocities and hauntings of Leo Palace, and this is what I’ve found.  18,040+ Japanese lost their lives during the re-occupation of Guam.  The other results are noted below.  I find the deviation between the published story and what has been shared with me to be significant, as the teller of the tale is not prone to exaggeration.

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(from Haunted Island Tales):

The Leo Palace Hotel is situated in Talafofo, where the ghosts of two World War II soldiers still occupy the grounds. They have been seen on several occasions when the morning is still early. They have made appearances between 12am and 4am. When passing the hotel, they are not easily seen, but as you travel further, their images are known to appear in the rearview mirror. They wear their uniforms and are mostly seem walking side-by-side. One of the soldiers does not appear to possess a head and is seen carrying a helmet in his arms. When you turn your head to get a better look, they disappear into thin air.

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(From Guampedia)

One of the worst atrocities that took place at the end of the Japanese occupation of Guam during World War II was the Manenggon concentration camp. In July 1944, as American forces prepared to invade Guam, Japanese forces ordered nearly the entire civilian population of Guam to move to Manenggon as well as other smaller concentration camps.

Manenggon is a valley area located between the villages of Yona and Talofofo. On July 10, General Takashina, the Japanese commander, ordered all Chamorros throughout the island to be evacuated from their villages and marched to campsites in the southern interior of the island. Thousands of people, from infants to the elderly, were forced to march to the Manenggon camp, with very little possessions, from as far north as Yigo and as far west as Agat. Southern villagers were collected mostly at inland campsites near Malojloj and Merizo.

A long, hard march

Over several days and nights, long columns of people poured out of the villages and marched on roads and trails, carrying whatever they could. Some rode carabao carts, but most were on foot. They were herded along by soldiers wielding bayonets who were noted in many accounts for their cruelty.

The long march was an extreme hardship for some, and many accounts exist of people who died along the way, or babies lost during childbirth who were left on the side of the road to Manenggon. They were not allowed to give a proper burial for those who died on the route, and when some fell sick, the others had to continue the march, leaving their loved ones behind. Dolores Jones, who was an orphaned 11-year-old at the time, recalled the ordeal forty years later and how she was in charge of her small brothers and sisters. She tied her three-year-old brother to her back, carried her four-year-old sister with her right arm, and carried her six-year-old sister with her left. She said they walked day and night, and she couldn’t keep up with everybody. When she got tired, she just laid on the ground and slept.

The families who were forced to march were gathered in a hurry, had no food to eat along the way, and had to scavenge for fruits or anything edible along the route. There are also many accounts of beatings on the march to Manenggon, including the beating of those who tried to leave the path to get water or food.

No food or shelter provided

Once the Chamorros arrived at Manenggon, there were about 18,000 or so of them camped out in different spots along the Manenggon river. They built temporary huts using tangantångan sticks and coconut leaves. No buildings, latrines, food, or medicine were provided at the campsites. The Chamorros used water from the river and foraged for anything edible in the area.

Some learned that the Japanese soldiers had set up machine guns surrounding them, and later found out that a machine-gun massacre was planned.

Many accounts of experiences at Manenggon exist. Carmen Matias gave birth to a baby girl, July, while her family was encamped in Manenggon. Her husband, Leonardo, was beaten by a Japanese soldier for building a fire.

Eighteen-year-old Ann Borja was among a group of young women at Manenggon who were gathered by Japanese soldiers to be transported to Ta’i Mangilao for unknown reasons. But before Borja and the new group of women boarded the truck, they spotted an American soldier hiding behind a nearby bush. He was with eleven other American soliders, and they told the girls they were on patrol and not to follow them. The girls didn’t listen, and about 300 ragged people dropped everything and followed the Americans. Borja also described a Japanese truck full of young Chamorro women reaching Manenggon a few days after American troops landed at Asan and Agat. The women were allowed to disembark, according to Borja’s later account, and all the girls were shaking, apparently with fear, and wouldn’t say what had happened to them. She later found out that the girls they were to replace had been raped by Japanese officers.

The soldiers also rounded up men from the Manenggon camp and took them in work groups to carry munitions and other supplies in other parts of the island. Many people in the work groups were later killed. In one account, forty Chamorro men were tied, hands behind their backs, to trees, and then beheaded in order to prevent the Chamorros from escaping and helping the Americans.

Others described the final hours at Manenggon after the Chamorros had been there for more than a week. The Japanese rounded up many of the children and told them that there were cookies in a large hole. The children later found out that they were going to be massacred. But word of American soldiers approaching came just at that moment, and the Japanese scattered at the news. The Americans soon arrived, to the relief of the Chamorros, and took the Chamorro refugees to camps in other parts of the island.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 20, 2011 5:34 am

    Chilling…..

    I do believe restless souls linger among us after their vessel’s death. The are trying to resolve issues in a dimension separate from the conscious reality we are in. Some of us are capable of being respective to them.

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