I am a daughter of Guam – born and raised by my parents, Francisco Perez Limtiaco and Julia Garrido Limtiaco, both of whom came from very humble beginnings. Growing up, I learned from my parents the important values of hard work, determination, responsibility and integrity.
My parents did not have the opportunity to obtain a college education, but they made sure that we, their children, understood the importance of education and life-long learning. They stressed receiving a quality education, being disciplined in our studies, and pursuing and graduating from college. My parents worked hard to support us throughout our childhood and through college, and there were, like many families, struggles and challenges along the way. My siblings and I were able to graduate from college and we became the first generation of our family to be college educated.
My parents were always hard workers. I remember going to my Mom’s work after school, waiting for her to finish her day while I did homework in the corner. Looking up from the corner desk, I would watch my mother — she was such a conscientious and serious worker, and also possessed such a friendly personality and smile greeting and talking with her co-workers and visitors. She instilled in me the importance of responsibility and having a strong work ethic – she believed in not only getting the job done but investing the time and energy to ensure a quality work product even if it meant taking your work home and staying up long hours to complete the tasks.
My father, who worked in the government and in the private sectors and retired after 47 years, taught me the importance of always doing what is right, or as he would say more candidly, “Right is right, wrong is wrong.” He taught me that if I wanted to accomplish or achieve my goals or aspirations, I had to have the willpower, drive and determination to succeed. He stressed the importance of understanding and being sensitive to people’s situations esp. their hard times and doing whatever we could to help them and their families.
My husband and daughter, and the love, support and encouragement they continue to give me especially in the most difficult of times, are my steadfast foundation – my rock – and reinforce in me the importance of having a strong family foundation and appreciating and treasuring the time we share as a family.
Growing up, experiencing my family’s – my grandmother, mother, aunties and uncles, life-long determination, advocacy and efforts for the protection and return of our ancestral lands, has inspired and instilled in me what I believe is our moral, ethical and legal responsibility to seek justice and redress for those that have been disenfranchised and wronged.
“The women who have influenced my life – my grandmothers, mother, mother-in-law and aunties, are strong and courageous. My daughter, who is the light of my life, continues to inspire and motivate me every day to become a better person and a better parent. They have inspired me to be the woman and mother that I am today. They have taught me about unconditional love for our children, and about being as my mother says, the “trungko” of the family – the strength and foundation that keeps our family together. My aunties who were victims of domestic violence at a certain time in their lives, and who took a stand for themselves and their children and said “No More” are true survivors and have influenced my life more than they probably know. The women in my life have also taught me the important values of respect – respect of oneself and of others, the right to human dignity, and always being true to yourself.”
I attended elementary and middle school at St. Anthony Catholic School, and graduated as the salutatorian of George Washington High School. I completed college at the University of Southern California, and earned my juris doctorate at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law. My educational life experiences provided me with not only academic achievement, but also a strong foundation in basic human values.
These experiences played a role in shaping my views and who I am as a person. I attribute my accomplishments and successes to having a strong family foundation, to teachers and professors who were caring and supportive, and to professional mentors who were inspirational and instilled in me the importance of returning home, the value of public service, and the responsibility and obligation of younger generations to contribute and give back to our island community.
I believe we must support and respond to the needs of our most vulnerable, and hold offenders accountable. As a local prosecutor – Sex Crimes and Family Violence prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Office of Guam, as the Attorney General of Guam, and the U.S. Attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI), I worked with victims and survivors of crime, most especially those considered the most vulnerable populations – our children, our elderly (Manåmko’), women, and persons with disabilities. I spent long hours and saw the tears, the fears, and the courage of many of our children and families. I understand the importance of being committed to justice and being a voice and advocate for our children and families. They were not just cases; the lives of people were involved and profoundly affected. And prosecution – our criminal justice system – has a very important role in ensuring that justice is served for all people.
My experience and work with victims and survivors, and the criminal justice system also reinforced my belief in the resiliency of the human spirit to overcome even the worst of circumstances, and that it is imperative for community partners to come together and collaborate when addressing safety and security in our community, and to provide for and respond to the needs of victims, survivors and their families. We must also provide those support services necessary for the successful reentry of offenders who have completed their terms of incarceration so that they may reintegrate and become productive members of the community, which contributes to the safety of our island and reducing recidivism.
I believe that our life experiences, though they may seem small to us at times, shape our values and vision as human beings. Our life experiences also teach us the important values of self-respect and respect of others, of open communication regardless of our differences, and about patience, tolerance and understanding. I believe that we, as individuals, and as a community, must act each and every day to improve the quality of life of our families and children.
I also have come to appreciate that education is what we are formally taught in the classroom, but just as importantly, it is what we learn and are exposed to outside of the classroom – in our homes and family upbringing, and in our everyday interactions with people in our neighborhoods, in our villages, and in our travels and visits to other places and communities. We learn about and witness social justice and human rights abuses in our community, in the U.S. mainland, in the Pacific region, and internationally, and we must address how these critical issues impact our island and people, and find solutions for them.
I believe that how people interact and relate to each other matters. And how people, like all of us within a community, cooperate, communicate and work with each other, sometimes makes all of the difference of whether we, as a society and as a community, are able to function – and sometimes, even whether the values we as a society and a community uphold survive to the next generation.
I believe that it is our life experiences and the choices we make – choices that must be informed and responsible — that will define who we are as human beings and will shape our vision of the world and what we want to contribute to the world around us. Sometimes that path and journey will be “tough” and hard, but we learn and grow from these “tough” and hard times, and more importantly, we move forward together.