Josefina Blas celebrates 105th birthday

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Each year since Josefina Dorotea Yamanaka Blas joined the exclusive centenarian club, which has just a few members on Guam, her extended family, which includes six children and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, have been part of a big and extra special family celebration at her Talofofo home.

On Saturday, during her 105th birthday, most of her family still celebrated with her but at a distance — many of them on video — because of Covid-19.

Blas was born on May 9, 1915.

Josefina Blas

A school teacher since she was 19, long before World War II, Blas spent decades as a teacher at Talofofo Elementary School in her home village until she retired in 1968.

Born to Catalina Mendiola, a CHamoru woman, and Kioshi Diego Yamanaka, of Japanese heritage, the centenarian survived the horrors of World War II.

While CHamoru families were forced to work in labor camps and saw the killings of loved ones under the Japanese military occupation, her father, Kioshi, was deported to Japan by the U.S. military immediately after the war, and that's where he died.

Blas, in a prior interview, said she has long since forgiven people and has chosen to live a life without ill feelings.

“I’m most grateful to God and those taking care of me,” Blas said, on her 103rd pre-Covid-era birthday.

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