Artistic imagery of induvial in a va'a, the word in Samoan, Hawaiian and Tahitian which means 'boat', 'canoe' or 'ship'

Honoring Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month is observed annually in May to celebrate the contributions that generations of have made to American history, society, and culture.

First established in 1978 as Asian Pacific American Heritage Week, the celebration was expanded to "Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month” in 1990. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants. 

What's in a name?

Exploring the origin and evolution of "AANHPI"

Throughout May, it’s likely you’ll see celebration events under many names and acronyms, including AAPI; Asian American; APIDA; Asian; Asian Diaspora Heritage Month; and AANHPI. While often used interchangeably, each term has its own meaning and history depending on who you ask, and when in history. In the following article we explore the evolution of the names used to solidify a movement and combat the history of American Imperialism and modern racist stereotypes.

Discover: What's in a Name? The origin and evolution of "AANHPI"

 

Celebrate AANHPI Month! Va'a: Voices, Ancestry & Art

11 a.m.-3 p.m. | Thursday, May 9 | SU Grand Hall

The Pacific Islander, Asian, and Asian American (PIAAA) Caucus at GRC invites you to celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) heritage month with us on May 9th in the Student Union! This event is open to all students and employees at the college. There will be speakers, performances, and activities, along with a resource fair of community organizations and local vendors.

See Va'a event agenda & details

Fresh Perspectives S2:E9

Asian American, Native Hawaiian, & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Welcome to the eighth episode of Fresh Perspectives, season 2! In this installment, Mark Brown and Amanda Thomas ring in Asian American, Native Hawaiian, & Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AANHPI) with Leilani Salu, assistant director, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Tune in as she shares her unique experiences, challenges, and triumphs.

Fresh Perspective has received regional and national honors for outstanding achievement in design and communication at community and technical colleges from the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR), which represent more than 1,700 members from nearly 650 colleges across the United States and Canada.

Fresh Perspectives was awarded a silver Medallion Award in Nov. 2023 and a gold Parragon Award in March 2024.

Follow Fresh Perspectives

Portrait of Pono Program Director Joan King

Building community through GRC’s Pono Program

Malcolm Naea Chun’s book, Pono, the Way of Living, which discusses how the concept of pono encapsulated “an overarching belief system that defines the right way to live.”

These definitions help capture the spirit of the mission of , which provides student support for domestic Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander (AANHPI) students and focuses on removing barriers students who are furthest from educational justice.

Made possible through , the Pono Program centers retention strategies needed for success throughout students' identity development and empowerment in community college.

Learn more about the Pono Program

Community Connections

Throughout May, members of GRC's Pacific Islander, Asian, and Asian American (PIAAA) Caucus interviewed members of the Green River community about their expereinces, background, and take on AANHPI heritage month. Expand the names below to learn more.

Please introduce yourself and share your AAPI identity.

My name is Leilani Hoglund, daughter of Debra Charlene Hoglund and Allen Richard Hoglund. My mother is full Chamorro from the island of Guam, born in Oahu, Hawaii and my father is Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, German, Irish and French....so my grandmother used to say ...just tell folks you are Heinz 57? I grew up in California and as a child I would always say that I was Guamanian, as Chamorro is mainly used for those native to the island of Guam and those who were born and have lived on the island. My grandfather was in the Navy and very proud of his heritage, so much that he helped found the Sons and Daughters of Guam Club in National City, San Diego, CA. He was proud to be a Guamanian (even though he was born and raised in Guam), it was not until much later in my life did I learn more about my family history and why he was adamant about being a Guamanian versus a Chamorro. I learned that it was the Navy that wanted to distinguish between the two names and because of the tragic events to my great great grandparents that took place during World War II, my grandfather wanted to be proud of his new identity.

What does AANHPI heritage month mean to you? How do you experience it?

I still have mixed feelings about the combining of the different identities only because as a Pacific Islander, I feel that we don't have very many on our campus and liked when we celebrated separate months. It now feels like we are competing to be seen in some ways, but also like that there is so much effort and collaboration in AANHPI in order to be seen!

What's a local restaurant rooted in your culture that you'd recommend?

Guam Grub is located in the Everett Mall and then there is Ray & Dee's Chamorro Food in Silverdale. I heard there is a new one in Beacon Hill called Family Friend, but I haven't tried it yet and do not see the traditional meals that I am used to seeing in my culture, it gives more of the fusion type vibe to me!

What's a cultural dish that makes you feel rooted in your culture?

Estufao, red rice, kelaguen and finadene...with Bunuelos for dessert!

Is there an artist, creator, or storyteller from your AAPI community that you love? Who are they and why do you love them?

An artist I love from the PI community would be Toka Valu, he is an amazing artist and perhaps you have already driven by and seen some of the murals installed around Seattle and King County. His website is: https://www.tokavalu.com/ and you can see his artwork on Instagram @tokavalu.

And then I have two favorites sisters that I love working within the education system! Sui-lan Hookano is an educator, amazing storyteller and such a wonderful loving person! I met her while working on a project to start a PI Charter school and planning the Aspire Summit, she worked for GRC and is now the Cultural Support Program Manager at Enumclaw School district, she works with our youth and many projects and programs in the state with UW and her canoe ohana when she is not in Hilo, she is teaching students here in the Pacific Northwest about our culture, how to canoe and how to navigate and create our own Mo' oelo!

My favorite storyteller and a new author who recently started her own Consulting Firm and wrote Guiding Principals of Aloha and a kids book called Let's Live Aloha! Is Dr. Gerry Ebalaroza- Tunnell. her website is: https://www.co3consulting.net/ and you can buy her book at www.bookshop.org/shop/evolutionofaloha!

Please introduce yourself and share your AAPI identity.

Talofa Lava! My name is Leilani Salu, I use she/her pronouns and I identify as Samoan-American.

What does AANHPI heritage month mean to you? How do you experience it?

May gives me anxiety in all the worst and best ways for me. Growing up, May was one of the very few ways I could really see and learn about myself. It was a moment in the year I looked forward to all the celebrations, luaus, and heritage events. But let's be real, more often than not these 'celebrations' of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage are usually put on by overworked, underpaid and burnt-out people of color. I still remember the tireless nights, times I missed class, countless meetings and constantly advocating as a student planning heritage events. Too many times have I seen mentors, friends and community pour themselves into cups filled with bottomless cracks. May gives me anxiety in that I still see my people give so much of themselves for one moment, one month in a year. My anxiety around May serves as a reminder for me not bind my identity and who I am to a calendar. So although the month of May is my anxiety demon that annually tells me to put blood, sweat and tears into events 'because its AANHPI month', I use it as an opportunity to take a step back and remind myself to give me grace, love and patience.

What is a value or practice rooted in your AAPI community that you are proud of?

A value that guides me and the work I do is an old Samoan proverb, 'O le ala i le pule o le tautua'. Translated, it means 'the path to success is through leadership and service'.

Is there an artist, creator, or storyteller from your AAPI community that you love? Who are they and why do you love them?

Epeli Hau'ofa is a scholar, novelist and poet who has played a key role in my life and why I do the work that I do. His work, Our Sea of Islands and The Ocean in Us have shaped the ways in which I carry myself. My favorite quote comes from The Ocean in Us: “Oceania is vast, Oceania is expanding, Oceania is hospitable and generous, Oceania is humanity rising from the depths of brine and regions of fire deeper still, Oceania is us. We are the sea, we are the ocean, we must wake up to this ancient truth and together use it to overturn all hegemonic views that aim ultimately to confine us again, physically and psychologically, in the tiny spaces which we have resisted accepting as our sole appointed place, and from which we have recently liberated ourselves. We must not allow anyone to belittle us again, and take away our freedom.”

Please introduce yourself and share your AAPI identity.

I'm Dr. Joan King and I'm a Korean American daughter of immigrants.

What does AANHPI heritage month mean to you? How do you experience it?

To be honest, I am not a fan of heritage months. This country loves designating heritage months to virtue signal. I celebrate being Asian American every day. What should be an opportunity for folks outside of our communities to come together to celebrate and learn more about our cultures has now become a crippling burden on my people. I watch as my folks overwork themselves to throw something spectacular for the month of May; a group, mind you, that already experiences disproportionate workload since as a whole, this country expects BIPOC people to go above and beyond. So what should be a month of reflection and learning becomes a parade of exhaustion, pushing past work-life balance, and contention as the country suddenly looks to us to put on a show. Meanwhile, many white communities fear contributing to the heavy lift because they are terrified of cultural appropriation, and we've lost sight of the difference between appropriation and appreciation. And because AAPIs struggle to even ask for help in the first place (Google: “Group identity”), we’re left on our own once again. Not to mention, the impossibility of a truly inclusive AAPI heritage month that includes over fifty cultural identities and doesn't make space for intersectionality. Because someone decided to cram together AA and PI, we faced a lose-lose situation when we fail to encompass all identities. So I ask, if heritage month is truly for us, why do many of my people groan, and dare I say, dread the arrival of May?

What's a local restaurant rooted in your culture that you'd recommend?

I get quite a few recommendations for Korean food from non-Korean folks, and they usually end up being disappointing. But then again, I don't eat out when I want Korean food... I go to my mom's house.

What is a value or practice rooted in your AAPI community that you are proud of?

This might sound strange to some, but I value my intergenerational "anger". Koreans are notorious for carrying the intergenerational trauma response of being fiery. It helped us survive colonization. We needed that fire to preserve our culture and our heritage when our books were burned, and our language was banned. I proudly carry the sacrifices of my ancestors who fought to survive. And in turn, that makes me a survivor. I always marvel when people come to the same conclusion when they meet me: They describe me as "spicy". They always use that word, and I just can't help coming across that way. I just don't know how to be anything else because it's in my blood. I'm four star spicy. I might not be what you ordered, but then again... I don't really care what you ordered.

Please introduce yourself and share your AAPI identity.

I’m Amanda, a faculty librarian! I’m Chinese-American. I was born in the deep south (Alabama) and have moved steadily west over the years. Washington is my 7th state to live in, and I attribute this life journey to my immigrant parents who were always looking for a better opportunity when I was a child. My father was born in Mississippi and his side of the family comes from a long line of laborers (pre-1960s Chinese migrants) in the railroads and mines. That part of my family was part of the “Delta Chinese”. My mother immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child, during the post-1960s era of “educated labor” - my grandfather got work as an engineer and brought her, her siblings, and my grandma over from Taiwan.

What does AANHPI heritage month mean to you? How do you experience it?

I free-wrote my thoughts about AANHPI month when I wrote a collegewide email earlier this month. And, re-reading that response, I feel like it is still true to my general feelings about the month. So, I’m re-posting a slightly revised version of what I had written there, to give folx a chance to read it (in case the email fell into their inbox black hole).

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AANHPI month is always a mixed blessing and curse for those of us in the AANHPI community. To me, it often means a lot of extra labor to produce "celebrations" and content for others to enjoy...labor that we take on because so many of our communities are rooted in service to others and we are not prone to making visible the hard back-breaking efforts we put ourselves through. This labor is not only done with great love, but it is usually not recognized or remembered outside of our community.

On the other hand, this month is one of the only times in the year when the nation and others outside of our communities truly take time to "see" us. We do not often share ourselves widely, and many of us do not ask for recognition or visibility. But the issues we struggle with, the burdens we carry, have the potential to be carried by others, in this one moment. It would be lovely if everyone were to celebrate and honor AANHPI communities every day of the year, just as we do for ourselves. But we know that is not always the reality.

So, I know deeply that we can take care of our own, no problem. But a small part of me does like it when others take the time to care for us, too. Perhaps, for now, having a nationally recognized month is the reminder people need to see voices that often scream in silence. Despite the burden that is often placed on AAPI communities during this month by the nation and systems of power...I do look forward to AANHPI month, if only so that others make the time to "see" me...when it is such a difficult thing for me to ask for myself.

What is a value or practice rooted in your AAPI community that you are proud of?

I’m not entirely sure how to call this practice, but it’s something like “I am my family, and my family is me”.

Sometimes this can manifest itself in toxic ways...for instance, the immense mental health challenges that Asian American students often face because their grades are an extension of their parents/family’s success. Thus a “unsatisfactory grade” is not only the student’s “failure”, but also the “failure” of their family. It is seen as deeply shameful, and, combined with a community that struggles to seek help, leads to severe impacts when a student is struggling in school (suicide rates among Asian American teens is quite high).

Like many cultural values and practices, it is a double-edged sword.

However, the reason why I am proud of this value is because it also means that I am part of a larger picture. What is mine is my family’s, and what is my family’s, is mine. We share our happiness collectively, just as much as we share our burdens.

I remember once my (white) husband telling me how he sometimes worries about losing his job, and the financial trouble we will face.

I understood that worry, and it is something we all might face. But, in that moment, I also realized why I did not feel that fear as deeply as he did. It’s because I knew, without a doubt, that I would have someone to turn to if times became tough. Just like my parents took my little cousin in for a year when we were kids, when my aunt broke her leg. Or when my aunt’s house burned down, and everyone shipped boxes and boxes of supplies and clothes to her immediately. Or even when a car has been passed between families and younger generations so often (from cousin to cousin to cousin...) that it is now known as “the family car”. In the end, I know that things will be okay. I have my family. And, as an AAPI individual...this includes my non-blood AAPI family as well. We are all each other’s aunties and uncles and cousins. We all take care of each other.

What is a stereotype that is commonly associated with your AAPI community or culture? What's your experience with that stereotype?

As an East Asian individual, I run up against the “model minority” stereotype quite often, and it’s a lose-lose situation. On the one hand, I am expected to be a “good” minority, but white people are taken aback when I “don’t smile enough” in a job interview. Or, when people find a typo in a document I created, because “it’s not like (you) to make mistakes”.

On the other hand, I’m not “of color” enough, or oppressed enough, to be seen as a part of the collective anti-racist movement.

I’m okay with this, to some extent. I acknowledge my privilege, as a minority more closely aligned with whiteness in this racial caste system we live in. I recognize my responsibility in fighting to combat my internalized whiteness that has been ground into me by my elders when assimilation was the key to survival.

But I am also filled with rage, for myself, and for my auntie who tells me to “always laugh at the white man’s joke”. I hate that I am placed in a position with high expectations that I can never successfully accomplish.

Is there an artist, creator, or storyteller from your AAPI community that you love? Who are they and why do you love them?

I wanted to end my interview on a more affirming note! But, since it’s long enough, I’ll just drop one artist recommendation here: Mimi Choi. She’s an amaaaaaazing makeup illusion artist. Check out her website portfolio (Mimi Choi Makeup Artistry — creatives) or Instagram (@mimles)!

I love that she is this amazing Asian woman who goes hard into this alternative art form (makeup) with themes and ideas that are wild, often sprinkled with various Asian cultures, and something disturbing to the point of grotesque. She takes a feminine aesthetic medium and her use of it defies images of the China Doll or geisha. I find her work mesmerizing.

Please introduce yourself and share your AAPI identity.

I'm Robert Bean, Carpentry Faculty. My AANHPI identity is Thai. Although I am mixed race (Father was Caucasian and Mother is Thai), I have always found more interest in Thai culture and have always been considered by most people as "non-white" anyway.

What does AANHPI heritage month mean to you? How do you experience it?

The AANHPI heritage month is still too new for me to have it be very meaningful yet. So, I don't currently have a way of experiencing it. But I anticipate this is the perfect excuse for me to try different foods and cuisine that I am not familiar with.

What is a stereotype that is commonly associated with your AAPI community or culture? What's your experience with that stereotype?

Some people don't know there's a difference between Thailand and Taiwan. People have asked, "What's your heritage?" I'd say "Thai" and they respond "Oh, Taiwan?" Or "oh Thailand, spicy food". "you must like spicy food" or "I love Thai food".

What's a local restaurant rooted in your culture that you'd recommend?

It's difficult to recommend a Thai restaurant so I'll recommend 2. My choice, because it's closer to where I currently live, is Khao San Thai Cuisine100 Front St S, Issaquah, WA 98027. My Moms favorite place is Royal Orchid Restaurant http://www.royalorchidthaicuisine.com/.

What's a cultural dish that makes you feel rooted in your culture?

I like using Prik King with beef as a measuring stick for food quality and spiciness level.

Please introduce yourself and share your AAPI identity.

My name is Third Andresen and I am Filipino American whose ancestors migrated in the mid 1920s from the Philippines to Seattle when the "Philippine Islands" was a United States territory/colony.

What does AANHPI heritage month mean to you? How do you experience it?

AANHPI heritage month to me is collective solidarity effort in order to have a political influence in our society. It is also a month to acknowledge AANHPI history, contributions, and resilience. AANHPI heritage month is an opportunity to address anti-Blackness and settler colonialism that Asian Americans participate in and benefit from the context of the system of White supremacy everyday whether we know it or not. It is also an occasion to address the colorism prevalent in the Asian American community and the lack of representation and space for the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. I experience AANHPI heritage month by participating in teach-ins, educational workshops, community engagement and organizing efforts, and other AANHPI cultural-based activities. I actually celebrate Filipino American history month in October more than the AANHPI in May.

Is there an artist, creator, or storyteller from your AAPI community that you love? Who are they and why do you love them?

While I acknowledge that many of these artists draw inspiration from Black culture within the context of music, I also make it a point to listen to and support numerous Filipino American artists such as Bruno Mars, H.E.R. Saweetie, Apl de AP, Ruby Ibarra, Rocky Rivera, Klassy, Dj Qbert and the Invisible Scratch Pickles, Dj Babu from Dilated Peoples, Blue Scholars, Olivia Rodrigo, Dj Nasty Ness (one of the godfathers of Seattle Hip Hop) and others that I forgot to mention. I support them because they are at most respectfully representing the Filipino American community in some way or the other through their artform.

Who is your role model in your AAPI community?

The inspirational community organizers in AANHPI community (I'm getting flustered and overwhelmed with emotions as I type their names) for me are:

  • Haunani-Kay Trask-Kanaka activist, educator, author, poet, and a leader of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
  • Dorothy Cordova- Matriarch of the Filipino American community in Seattle who founded the Filipino Youth Activities and Filipino American National Historical Society. In her 90s, she continues to spend her time advocating for social justice issues, preserving Filipino American history, and empowering the Filipino American youth.
  • Yuri Kochiyama-Japanese American Civil Rights activist who was right next to Malcolm X on the day he was tragically shot and killed in 1965. She advocated for Black and Asian solidarity.
  • Grace Boggs-Chinese American activist and philosopher who exemplified the power of organizing between Black and Asian communities in the pursuit of racial justice. Her work highlights the importance of discovering shared interests, committing to collective action, and cultivating resistance.
  • Helen Zia-Chinese American journalist and activist for Asian American and LGBTQ rights, played a pivotal role after Vincent Chin's murder. She helped establish American Citizens for Justice, which successfully advocated for a federal trial.
  • Larry Itliong-Filipino American labor organizer and a key leader in the Delano grape strike of 1965, which united Filipino and Mexican American farmworkers in the fight for better wages and working conditions. His efforts were instrumental in the formation of the United Farm Workers (UFW) alongside César Chávez and Dolores Huerta.
  • Philip Vera Cruz- a Filipino American labor leader and a founding member of the United Farm Workers (UFW), who played a crucial role in the Delano grape strike of 1965. His lifelong dedication to improving the rights and working conditions of farmworkers made him a significant figure in the labor movement and the fight for social justice.
  • Fred Cordova-Filipino American community organizer who founded the Filipino Youth Activities and the Filipino American National Historical Society along with Dorothy Cordova. He spent his lifetime advocating for social justice issues, preserving Filipino American history, and empowering the Filipino American youth.
  • Bruce Lee- Chinese American martial artist and activist from Seattle. Lee's activism extended beyond the screen as he actively fought against racial discrimination in the entertainment industry. He refused roles that perpetuated harmful stereotypes and pushed for authentic representation of Asian culture and philosophy. Lee's philosophy of Jeet Kune Do, which emphasized adaptability and self-expression, mirrored his broader vision for societal change, advocating for breaking down barriers and embracing diversity. Bruce Lee's legacy of resilience and resistance against racial stereotypes has also found a strong sentiment in Hip Hop culture. Many Hip Hop pioneers and artists see Lee as a symbol of strength and perseverance, someone who overcame significant obstacles and broke down racial barriers in Hollywood. Moreover, Lee's visual impact—his iconic poses, fluid movements, and distinctive fashion sense—has been a source of inspiration for Hip Hop's visual art forms, including graffiti, break dance/bgirl/bboy, and fashion. References to Bruce Lee appear frequently in lyrics, music videos, and performances, underscoring his enduring influence on the culture.
What's a local restaurant rooted in your culture that you'd recommend?

The emergence of Filipino/Filipinx diaspora food in mainstream US society is 100 years in the making. While a lot of Filipino Americans think that this is a good thing, others may see it as another way to commercialize and co-op Filipino food by non-Filipinos particularly by the White-owned establishment. In my perspective, there is no such thing as "authentic" food once it becomes diasporic.

James Beard nominee- one of the most expensive Filipino American restaurant out here: https://www.archipelagoseattle.com/

Seattle Met restaurant of the year: https://www.musangseattle.com/

For deserts such as ube cheese cake/cookies and spirits https://www.hoodfamousbakeshop.com/

Or you can always visit your Filipino American friend's house to enjoy some home-cooked Filipino food from their parents (if they cook).

Be sure to book mar this page and revisit as stories from across campus continue to be shared throughout the month.

Movement Makers

Below are a number of individuals, activists, and organizations that were either fundamental to the AANHPI movement, or who are currently making a difference in our local, regional and global communities. This list will continue to grow as AANHPI Heritage Month progresses so be sure to check back in.

Yuji Ichioka

Yuji Ichioka

A Japanese American activist and historian, led the charge to honor Asian American history and contributions in the 1970s. He pressed for increased visibility and representation of their experiences in American society.

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Emma Gee

Emma Gee

In 1968, Chinese American Gee and her Japanese American partner and future husband Yuji Ichioka, both graduate students at University of California, Berkeley, founded the Asian American Political Alliance and coined the term "Asian American."

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Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs

A Chinese American activist, championed civil rights and labor causes for over 70 years. She backed the Black Power movement, feminism, and environmentalism, believing in collective action for positive social change.

 

 

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Yuri Kochiyama

Yuri Kochiyama

Japanese American activist, interned during WWII, fought against injustice for 50 years. Advocated for African Americans, Asian Americans, Puerto Ricans, nuclear disarmament, reparations, and release of prisoners of conscience.

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Haunani-Kay Trask

Haunani-Kay Trask

Native Hawaiian activist, educator, author, poet, and a leader of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. She was professor emerita at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where she founded and directed the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies.

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Larry Itliong

Larry Itliong

Filipino American activist, pivotal in UFW union founding, notably leading the 1965-66 grape strike. His lifelong dedication spanned over 40 years, advocating for farm workers, immigrants, and Asian Americans.

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Kamla Bhasin

Kamla Bhasin

Indian feminist activist, poet, and author since 1970. Championed gender education and human development from New Delhi. Renowned for founding Sangat and her empowering poem "Kyunki main ladki hoon, mujhe padhna hai."

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Cecilia “Chilang” Cruz Bamba

Cecilia “Chilang” Cruz Bamba

A Chamorro woman orphaned during WWII attacks on Guam, she rose to be an advocate, businesswoman, & Senator who introduced legislation for War Reparations Commission. Her journey sheds light on Guam's wartime struggles.

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