The 15th Guam Legislature (1979)
Front (L-R) : Unpingco, San Agustin, T Palomo, Espaldon, Kasperbauer, Blas, Taitano, Charfauros, Quan, Santos, Quitugua
Back (L-R) : B. Palomo, Crisostomo, Duenas, Aguon, Tanaka, Underwood, Bamba, Lamorena, Sudo, Perez
In my late teens, I was very involved in Guam politics. Every day after school, I could be found at the Guam Legislature. I was also a member of the Guam Youth Congress three terms and Speaker of the last of those terms.
In the 1978, we saw the election of a Republican Governor (Paul Calvo) and a legislature with a Republican majority. That was a first and it hasn't been repeated very often to have both branches of government in GOP hands.
As usual, I was hanging around the Legislature the evening the 14 members of the Republican majority of the newly-elected 15th Guam Legislature met in caucus to elect the new speaker. The caucus started around 6pm and all the employees had left the building. Only the security guard, a man we all called Balajadia, was left behind and he could not leave the building.
Besides myself and a good friend, the only other people present in the entire building were Kin Blaz, Executive Director of the Guam Legislature, and Bob Torres, one of the campaign leaders of the victorious Calvo-Ada team. Both were hanging out in Kin Blaz's office, waiting to see who might be elected Speaker. Rufo Taitano would come in and out of the building, also curious who would win the speakership. Other than us, no one else was around.
The caucus met in the back meeting room and we were told to stay a certain distance away, so as not to hear the voices in the caucus. My friend and I hung out in the lobby area of the building next to the session hall.
DINNER FROM CHIN FEE
At around 7pm, Katherine Aguon walked out of the meeting to call my friend and I to the meeting room. At the door, we were asked to go pick up dinner for the caucus members. Benigno Palomo gave us cash (easily $100 or more) and asked us to get the food from House of Chin Fee, an old Chinese place. We were not told to order anything specific. My friend and I went and got an assortment of Chinese standards sure to please everyone.
YET ANOTHER DINNER
Closer to 10pm, the caucus was over and we heard who won. But, the senators wanted to celebrate with yet another meal and insisted that my friend and I go with them. This time, dinner was at King's at the Gibson Shopping Center, what is now Guam Premium Outlets. My friend and I sat at the same tables with the senators but at our own corner.
When the caucus first adjourned close to 10pm, my friend and I went into the meeting room to put it in order. I saw notes with vote tallies left on the table. But it was impossible to put together, from those notes alone, how the voting went all night.
But, the next day, one of the senators told my friend and I the whole story. I will leave out some details, as so many of these individuals are still with us!
The Republican majority were looking at three candidates for speakership. Tommy Tanaka, Frank Blas and Tony Palomo. For some reason, the Republicans agreed since the beginning that the candidates had to lose twice before one was elected Speaker.
There was no clear winner on the first ballot. But, by the 2nd ballot, the candidate who garnered the fewest votes earlier decided to take his name out of the race. Thus, the 2nd ballot was between two candidates only, and Tommy Tanaka was the man who won speakership on that 2nd ballot.
Also elected that night was the powerful Rules Committee chairman, and that went to Tony Unpingco.
AN EDUCATION IN LIFE & HUMAN NATURE
I was only 16 years old when I witnessed, to some extent, the election of the Speaker of the 15th Guam Legislature.
I spent three years in my teens actively involved in politics, as soon as the school bell sounded the end of the school day.
This experience was quite an education that I believe helped me prepare for the priesthood, where one has to know human nature very well, among many other things.