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Antonio Borja Won Pat

Antonio Borja Won Pat (December 10, 1908 – May 1, 1987) was a Guamanian politician and member of the Democratic Party of Guam. He served the first Delegate from Guam to the United States House of Representatives from 1973 to 1985.

Antonio Won Pat
Antonio Won Pat.png
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Guam's at-large district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1985
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byBen Blaz
Speaker to the Guam Legislature
In office
January 7, 1957 – January 4, 1965
Preceded byFrancisco Leon Guerrero
Succeeded byCarlos Taitano
In office
January 1, 1951 – January 3, 1955
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byFrancisco Leon Guerrero
Personal details
Born(1908-12-10)December 10, 1908
Sumay, Guam, U.S. (now Santa Rita)
DiedMay 1, 1987(1987-05-01) (aged 78)
Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyPopular (Before 1961)
Democratic (1961–1987)
Spouse(s)
Ana Salas Perez
(m. 1932; his death 1987)
Children8, including Judith

Early lifeEdit

Won Pat was born in Sumay (now Santa Rita), Guam to his father Ignacio Won Pat, an immigrant from China, and his mother Maria Soriano Borja. He had two brothers and one sister, Francisco Won Pat, Vicente Won Pat and Eulalia Won Pat.

Political careerEdit

Won Pat completed his primary education at the Normal School in Hagåtña. He then became a teacher and after teaching for eight years[citation needed], Won Pat was nominated to the advisory Guam Congress in 1936. Prior to the signing of the Organic Act in 1950 which provided for US citizenship and limited self-government, Guam's citizens were under complete US Navy rule. The pre-Organic Act Guam Congress sat only as an advisory body to the naval governor. It consisted of two houses – the House of Council and the House of Assembly. Its members were elected by the people of their districts.

Following World War II, Won Pat began to attain influence on the island forming the Guam Commercial Corporation in 1946. Supported by the naval government, he prioritized economic self-sufficiency before achieving citizenship. GCC played a role in the post-war economic boom, but ultimately went bankrupt in 1954. By this time, Won Pat was entrenched in the House of Assembly beginning in 1948 becoming speaker of the Guam Legislature in 1951.

After World War II, the drive for American citizenship gained momentum due to the Chamorro’s loyalty to the United States during the Japanese occupation of Guam. After attaining the role of speaker in the Guam Congress, Won Pat along with naval Governor Carlton Skinner and Francisco B. Leon Guerrero, began work on what would become the Guam Organic Act. Gaining approval in Washington D.C., the act gave the people of Guam American citizenship and the right to establish a civil government.

Guam Delegate (1965–1985)Edit

Guam took another step toward self-representation under Won Pat in 1964 when I Mina’ Siete na Liheslaturan Guåhan/the 7th Guam Legislature created Guam's Washington Office as an elected position. Won Pat lobbied for the post and won it. While in office Won Pat spread awareness to the other state representatives about Guam and the political situation it was in, and increased federal support following his effective lobbying.

In his post in Washington, D.C., Won Pat continued the battle to gain representation in Congress and in the process gained many allies. These allies included California Congressman Philip Burton, a member of the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee. Burton used his influence to gain the support of committee chairman Wayne Aspinall and twenty co-sponsors. Public Law 92-271 was passed on 10 April 1972. The groundbreaking bill gave Guam and the Virgin Islands representation in Congress for two-year terms. Elected officials could now speak on the House floor and introduce new legislation though they could not vote on the floor. On 3 January 1973, Won Pat became the first resident of Guam to take the oath of office as a member of the 93rd Congress.

While Won Pat was Guam's delegate to the US Congress his efforts weren’t limited to his constituents on Guam. During his tenure as delegate to the U.S. Congress, he was instrumental in helping what are now the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; the Federated States of Micronesia, comprising the island states of Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap; the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau achieved more political self governance through the dismantling of the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands.

Shortly after World War II, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, not including Guam, was created and administered by the United States. In the 1970s work began to dissolve the Trust Territory as the districts voted to end their trustee status. The last district to gain political independence was Palau in 1994. The Northern Mariana Islands is now a US Commonwealth and its people US citizens. The Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau negotiated Compacts of Free Association with the United States. Consequently, Guam's northern neighbors, all much more recent members of the American family, have the right to determine issues on a local level, including issues such as minimum wage and immigration, whereas the residents of Guam do not. He served six terms, until he was defeated for re-election in 1984 by Republican Ben Blaz.

Personal lifeEdit

Won Pat was married to Ana Salas Perez (1912–1995) in 1932 and they had eight children: Aveline Ploke, Marilyn (1934–1990), Jacqueline Won Pat, Ellen Chargualaf, Anthony Won Pat, Rosalind Fleet, Mark Won Pat, and Judith Won Pat, who is the former Speaker of the Legislature of Guam (2008–2017).[1]

He is the uncle of Anna May Baleto of Santa Rita, the mother of Christine Baleto.

Retirement and deathEdit

After his 1984 defeat for re-election, Won Pat retired to Sinajana, Guam. He died in Silver Spring, Maryland on May 1, 1987 of a heart attack. He is interred in the Veterans Cemetery, Piti, Guam.

HonorsEdit

On January 1989 the Guam International Air Terminal was officially named as Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport in his honor.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Limtiaco, Steve (2006). "Candidate Profile: Judith T. Won Pat". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved 2011-03-19.

External linksEdit

Political offices
New office Speaker to the Guam Legislature
1951–1955
Succeeded by
Francisco Leon Guerrero
Preceded by
Francisco Leon Guerrero
Speaker to the Guam Legislature
1957–1965
Succeeded by
Carlos Taitano
U.S. House of Representatives
New constituency Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Guam's at-large congressional district

1973–1985
Succeeded by
Ben Blaz