Oral History Excerpts

Jose Taijeron Champaco
Guam

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the Distant Past

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Have Had Leprosy

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I was not yet thirteen when I started to feel a different sensation in my hands. It was suspected that I was cursed by the taotaomona, (ancient spirits who dwell in the jungles) so they kept trying to find medicine for me and my parents made many attempts to ask the taotaomona for dispensation on my behalf. It was later that they realized I was not suffering from Chetnot maipe (demonic possession/spell bound) but from what they called leprosy.

It was decided then that I would be deported, separated from the public. I was attending school, but I didn’t care about school because I was depressed . . . . It was the late part of 1948 to the late part of 1949 that my parents got a letter telling them that I was going to be placed at the Umatac Colony for treatment. At that time, we were getting shots of Chaulmoogra Oil. It was very painful, it made me ache, but it didn’t do any good. It was after we arrived at Tinian that they gave us Diasone pills. I am not sure that it helped me; I continued to feel the same and my energy level remained the same, but they told me that I was cured . . . I was the first to be released from there.

-- Excerpt from oral history with Jose Taijeron Champaco conducted by Rlene Santos Steffy in 2006. Photograph and Translation from Chamorro by Rlene Santos Steffy.

Jose Taijeron Champaco