By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Ada Trust and Investment Inc. has purchased the San Vitores Memorial Park in Tumon, one of the properties listed for sale by the Archdiocese of Agana as part of a compromise deal that settled the sex-abuse survivors' civil suit against Guam's clergy.
Siska Hutapea, president of Cornerstone Valuation, said Ada Trust purchased the 2,334-sqm property for $4.3 million. The sale was completed this month, she added.
“When it was listed my sisters and I discussed the merits of the property and how Ada's Trust and Investment, Inc. might go about making a bid,” said Sonny Ada, president of Ada Trust, a real estate and investment company. “We proceeded and our bid was accepted. After cleaning up the title a bit we proceeded with the purchase.”
Nestled between Sails/Nana’s Café and Guam Reef Hotel, the landmark is also known as the San Vitores Martyrdom Site. It is a memorial for Father Diego Luis de San Vitores who was killed along with his assistant Pedro Colungsod in 1672 during the CHamoru resistance against Catholicism on Guam.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that made a lot of sense for us to purchase,” Ada said, noting that the memorial park sits between two properties owned by his company.
“Now that we own it, it gives us multiple options on how to deal with the property singularly or jointly with our adjacent properties,” he added.
The San Vitores Memorial Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
However, the park facility has been forlorn for many years. Its structures are deteriorating, wall paint is peeling and the ground is covered with overgrown vegetation.
“Since the purchase, we will have spent around $30,000 to get it to a decent state after a long, long period of neglect,” Ada said.
The lot where the park sits was originally owned by the Ada family.
“From what I gather, on Jan. 24, 1947, our great grandfather Vicente Ada Palomo donated the property, upon which lies the Pale San Vitores Monument, to the church represented by Bishop Baumgartner,” Ada said.
He said the company’s acquisition of the property comes with the responsibility of guarding and preserving the sacred point where San Vitores and Calungsod were martyred.
“These martyred missionaries, from 1668-1672, had an extraordinary impact on Guam's CHamoru history and culture from their introduction of the Word of God and the Catholic faith in Guam and the Marianas,” Ada said.
“The focus will be how to balance the property's commercial opportunities and the preservation of a truly significant site tied to our Catholic faith and cultural history. For now, we will look at how we will make a way for the faithful to visit and perhaps renew the spirit of Blessed Diego and Saint Pedro,” he added.
The San Vitores Memorial Park was among the 41 church assets identified for liquidation in the archdiocese’s bankruptcy case.
Funds generated from the sale of church properties will cover the settlement amount of between $34 million and $45 million for plaintiffs in the sex abuse lawsuit.
Nearly 280 individuals sued the church, alleging they were raped and molested by priests and other members of the clergy from the 1950s to as late as 2013. (With reports from Jan Furukawa)