December 8 has vexed me for 28 years now. It was the day, in 1993, when my Catholic school teacher, Ray Caluag, raped me for the first time. I was 13.
I want to say that children should not read or watch this story. It becomes graphic. But, in another sense, if there is a child living in fear and terror like I did for nearly a year, maybe seeing this story can spark courage to say something. And perhaps if they come to you, you will know what to do. Perhaps society – its institutions – will treat victims of rape better than I was.
I woke up on December 8, 1993 a wide-eyed virgin, who wondered what role I would have in the upcoming Christmas play at St. Anthony School, and whose only real ambition was to make it into the National Junior Honor Society.
St. Anthony was known in those days for its musical productions – an annual Christmas play and spring concert, where the politicians and the elite of the island paid $1,000 a table to see a bunch of kids dance and sing in what was considered at the time to be Guam’s best-equipped auditorium. The man responsible for these twice-a-year galas was a music teacher, Ray Caluag.
The parents loved him. The Sisters of Mercy, who ran the school, loved him. Archbishop Apuron loved him. The Archdiocese loved him. And the rich people swore by his talent.
Companies and philanthropists flocked to sponsor off-island trips to California and New York, where Caluag would take a few pre-pubescent boys to watch musicals. If anyone found it odd, they said nothing. But such is the culture that continues even today in the Archdiocese of Agana.
Ironically, culture partly is what perplexes me about December 8 every year. In 1993 I woke up on that day – the Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion – as I had every year on that day since the first grade: to walk in the procession in commemoration of Santa Marian Kamalen, the protectress of our beloved island. I put on my uniform that morning and my grandpa dropped me to St. Anthony School, where Ray Caluag – who was in his 30s at the time – told me to come. We would be practicing the production for the upcoming Christmas play, he told me.
I thought I was early; no one but him was there. After a while he asked me if I wanted to get something to eat with him. I was excited and jumped at it. As we left the school, he said he needed to get something at his place. We pulled up to the condos that now are behind DFS Galleria in Tumon, and he told me to get down. I walked in, took off my shoes, and went straight to a colorful aquarium at the far end of the living room. I didn’t notice where he went. After a while, he called out my name and said, “Troy, come here.” I went into the bedroom on the right, where his voice seemed to come from, and there he was, laying on his bed with only a towel on.
He said he needed a massage and told me to massage his back. Everything about it all felt wrong, but who was I to question it? He was the teacher. After a while he turned around, and then he took off that towel and exposed his erect penis.
That was the moment I knew for sure that what was happening was wrong. In those few seconds, my innocence flashed right in front of me and I had a choice to make. In those very few seconds before he pushed my head down onto his erect penis, I had to think whether I could run out of the room fast enough, get to the door fast enough, unlatch the three locks fast enough, and find someone fast enough to save my life.
And even if I did manage to save myself, where would I go after that? Who would take me home? Would I walk? And then what would happen at school? I’d be expelled. The sacrifices my dad made to pay my tuition would have gone down the drain. I wouldn’t have any friends. My teachers and the nuns would hate me.
I had never thought so quickly of so many different things in a five-second span in my life. But, there I was… 13, and growing up in five seconds.
I don’t know how long the oral copulation lasted, but he made these nasty moaning sounds and directed me on how to suck and lick his groin. I hated every second of it. Before long he got up and laid me on the bed instead, taking my clothes off despite my protest. He grabbed a white bottle of Jergens lotion, applied it to his penis, and pushed himself into me.
It didn’t last long. When it was over, and he told me to wipe myself with the towel and put on my clothes so he could drop me to the procession in Agana, I was so relieved. I thought it was over forever and I would never have to do something like that again in my life.
On the way to Agana, and as we were passing St. Anthony Church, he told me never to say anything to anyone. That if I did, I would be in a lot of trouble. That his friend, Madeleine Bordallo, was powerful and the police would arrest me and my family. He said it was our little secret what happened.
He dropped me to the parking lot, where Winchells in Agana is now, and I brushed myself off, semen leaking from my anus, I composed myself, and I walked in that procession. I said nothing to no one, and did not dare look at that Cross or Santa Maria with the sin I had committed.
What followed that day can be summed up by a black and white landscape, where in the dark side of the room was an absolute terror, and the other side a part of my childhood wrestled from my memory and my experience. Before that day I had come home from school, made myself a plate of my grandma’s cooking, taken out my books, fallen asleep on the couch, woken up to a rerun of the Flintstones and Scooby Doo, talked on the phone with my cousin John Roberto, done my homework. Before that day I knew where Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and En Vogue were on the pop charts. Before that day I waited with anticipation for my dad to get off work so I could ask him if we could go eat ice cream at McDonalds or if we could watch a movie on the weekend.
I have no idea what I did after that day. I’m sure I did stuff when Ray Caluag wasn’t whisking me away to his disgusting apartment or the band room of St. Anthony School to put his filth inside me. I just don’t remember it. What took all my mental, emotional, and physical energy, was figuring out how to stop the rape. It happened 20 to 30 more times. I wasn’t counting. And this is not like exercise or getting a tattoo. This isn’t even like getting your heart broken. The emotional pain and the terror does not subside with each rape. The anguish only deepens. And the weird thing is, it wasn’t just him I was mad at. I was mad at myself. I blamed myself for not stopping it every single time it happened… every time I laid there, a 13-year-old boy whose rectal lining leaked of adult semen that smelled of the Jergens lotion used to lubricate the rape.
Telling this story in the late 90s and even into the new century provoked a much different response than the political correctness of today, when it is fashionable and trendy to come to the defense of a person who says they have been sexually assaulted. When I first started telling this story, I was met by a mixture of disbelief, silence, and even the questions of why I allowed the rapes to happen.
I am among the few lucky survivors of rape, who had the fortune and happenstance of people whom I trusted believing me, when I told them what happened. As I took the first step outside the prison of my own mind I had no idea I was even inside, it was a teacher named Felizardo Yanger, who heard my admission and reported what happened to my principal and to the police. When they told my dad – and I was so afraid to tell him and so very ashamed of the dirty filthy person I saw myself as – he came straight to me and told me it wasn’t my fault. He believed me and told me he loved me and assured me that what I had been through was not my fault at all.
My dad took me to Pedro’s Plaza in Agana, where I a police officer for hours questioned me – asking me the same questions over and over and taking notes. Then he asked me to write down what happened. I must have relived that nightmare six times before having to commit it to writing. Years later, when I worked in the governor’s office, I asked for my file. A file number with my name exists, but the file is empty. Someone, somewhere since 1994 knows what happened to that file, and is either living in silence and guilty, or already dead.
When we were done with the police, dad took me to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse near GMH, and we went to this place called Healing Hearts. That’s where I met Dr. Davina Lujan, who was so very nice. She examined me and wrote notes during the exam. At one point she took a long q-tip and told me she was going to insert it into my penis, and that it would hurt. She did, and it did.
I remember her telling my dad after examining my rectum that there was trauma consistent with anal penetration.
I don’t remember how long after, but we went back to that same building because I needed counseling. That’s where I met Tom Babauta, who, among other things he told me, admitted during the therapy that oftentimes child victims of sexual abuse – if they don’t get help early – end up abusing children when they become adults. Up until that moment I had dreamed of becoming a parent one day. When he told me that, I knew I could never become one. Even though – to this day – I have never desired children sexually, in my mind I am terrified that one day because of the rapes and the trauma something will snap in my head and I will become a predator.
Around the same time I searched for my police report from 1994, I also searched for my records at Mental Health. The director at the time, Rey Vega, had his staff search the files. In it was a metal file box that was locked. The maintenance staff, he said, went through nearly all the keys until one opened the box, and there was my file. In the writing from Dr. Lujan was the notation that my physical trauma was consistent with rape. Written on the files were my police case number, my Child Protective Services case number, and a paper trail in a process that simply ended.
Despite doing everything needed to bring Ray Caluag to justice, nothing ever happened. When I went back to school, I knew the teachers knew by the way they looked at me. And I thought, ‘how could they not have known even before that?’ Caluag was gone, I was told. Fired, I was told.
When my dad checked back on the case – several times over the next three years – GPD and the attorney general’s office told him Ray Caluag fled to the Philippines and there was nothing they could do. After the three-year statute of limitations had expired, I was a junior at Notre Dame High School and was walking in the cafeteria for lunch, when I saw him. Sr. Regina Paulino, the principal, was taking him on a tour. After school that day I called her and told her what I had been through and she accused me of lying, said I would face dire consequences for it and that she had hired Caluag earlier that day. I begged her to believe me and I told her there’s a police report and the Archdiocese even knew about it. She said she’d call me back, and when she did, she told me she spoke with the Chancery and that Caluag would not be working at NDHS.
The irony is that Ray Caluag’s mother, Dr. Josie Caluag, was one of the highest officials within the Archdiocese. She was the director of the office of family ministries. Fitting.
A little more than four years later, in late 2002, Dr. Caluag walked into the office of then-Gov.-elect Felix Camacho to drop off an envelope to Camacho. She had a brief conversation with his chief of staff, Bernadette Sterne, then left. I asked Bernadette what that was about and she told me Dr. Caluag wanted Governor Camacho to write her son, Ray, a recommendation letter because he was about to get a job at Maria Ulloa Elementary School. I told her what happened to me, and Bernadette made sure Caluag did not work in the public school system.
In 2014, I told my friend Ana Babauta what happened to me, and she decided to look him up. In YouTube videos, there he was – the band teacher at St. John’s School in Tumon. I told my co-worker, Arthur Clark, who was president of the St. John’s PTA, about what happened to me, and within a day, the principal called me to find out what she could. He was removed from the school.
Two years ago I connected with a couple of my teachers from St. Anthony School, who told me they felt so bad for what happened. I told them ‘It’s okay, there’s nothing that could have been done. He fled to the Philippines.’ And that’s when I was told that was not the case at all. Ray Caluag was not hiding in the Philippines. The Archdiocese and the nuns, they said, whisked him away to San Francisco, where he lived in a home paid for by the church. He was hidden by the Archdiocese while the statute of limitations clock was ticking.
And then when criminal charges could no longer be pursued, he returned to Guam, and no one who knew what he did had done anything to stop him from regaining access to other children.
I’m telling this story because the Archdiocese of Agana continues to act with impunity about its active cover up of my rape and the rapes of so many more boys and girls over decades. It is not in the past. It haunts us every day.
I’m telling this story because Ray Caluag is still out there. No one has ever done anything to hold him accountable, and nothing has ever been done to have him and his abettors account for the scores up rapes he committed against myself and at least three others.
I’m telling this story because I was not the first, and heartbreakingly I was not the last boy to ever be raped by a teacher on this island.
I’m telling this story because for little boys and girls who are trapped today in the kind of nightmare I faced might see this and know that there is freedom if they will just break their silence.
It would be so much more dramatic if I told you that every December 8 since I have wondered why – if Santa Marian Kamalen came on the back of a crab on a journey from the Heavens lit by two candles as she approached the pier of my hometown of Merizo to protect our island – was I the only one left out of that promise? This story would have more Hollywood umph if I said that for the past 28 years I wondered why Santa Maria did not protect me. But, then I’d be lying.
For whatever reason, I’ve never felt that way. Strangely, I feel I remain part of her promise over this land. Despite what has happened and all that still hasn’t in the way of justice and peace, December 8 is more about light than loss.
Biba Santa Marian Kamalen. God bless and protect our Mariana Islands.