Saipan’s first local postmaster honored today

The life led by the first appointed postmaster of Saipan was a life of unassailable integrity and compassion.

Segundo Tudela Sablan diligently assisted the citizens of Saipan during the Second World War in more ways than one.

Sablan is known as the first native appointed postmaster on Saipan. He didn’t just establish the first post office on Saipan, but also offered his home many times as a shelter to islanders, as a temporary post office, and as the temporary office for the first Coca-Cola bottling plant on the island.

According to Sablan’s daughter, Jean, her father was compassionate toward the people of Saipan who were less fortunate than they were. This is what continues to make her and her youngest brother, Ron, extremely proud of their father.

According to Jean and Ron, Sablan was compassionate, humble, and well respected and this is why he was selected by the federal government to run the first federal building on Saipan, which was the post office.

Sablan would sacrifice holidays with his family for the people of Saipan. He worked to ensure that the people of Saipan would receive mail that arrived on the holidays. No amount of rain, flood or typhoon, he was there to serve and deliver.

Today, after the many years following his death, the Chalan Kanoa post office will finally be dedicated as a memorial for the late Segundo Tudela Sablan and the many fallen heroes that fought alongside Sablan during the Pacific War.

As the dedication day of the post office approaches, Jean and Ron told Saipan Tribune that they would also like to acknowledge the people that assisted their father in developing the post office of Saipan. The names that Jean could recall were Mrs. Brown, Dolores Benavente, Mathilda Villagomez Guerrero, Inez Seman Ada, and Esther Seman Chong, who for over 10 years was acting postmaster.

Aside from being the island’s first postmaster, Sablan also served as an interpreter for the Japanese army during World War II. Because Sablan was an interpreter for the Japanese, he knew of their plans for Guam and Saipan and it caused him to turn to the Guamanians and seek help in informing the American Army of these plans.

In 1944, the American Army chose Sablan and 44 other Saipanese men to undergo Marine-style training and was placed under the command of the 6th Provisional Police Military Battalion. The battalion’s job was to search the island of Saipan for Japanese holdouts and stragglers that were still hiding on the island of Saipan.

Besides serving as a stepping stone in the American victory over Japan, Sablan also served as a hero for many islanders. During two devastating typhoons, Sablan and his wife opened their home to over 24 families. Sablan and his wife even handed out food to those families and did not ask for repayment.

In 1961, Sablan was forced to retire from the postal service even though he loved it so much. He could no longer carry out all the tasks that were required of him physically. This was due to a spinal injury he acquired when he was forced to swim from the island of Rota to Guam by Japanese soldiers during the war.

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Kimberly A. Bautista Author

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