Thursday, February 23, 2017
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
BUENAS NOCHES MARIKITA is a Johnny Sablan original.
I grew up listening to this song since the early 70s.
SOME LANGUAGE NOTES
Marikita. Spelled Mariquita if using the Spanish style. It comes from the Spanish way of adding -ita or -illa to feminine names or words to make it more affectionate or to emphasize smallness. Maria is Mary and Mariquita is "little Mary" or "darling Mary."
Lipstick. Chamorros had a hard time with the P, S and T all together so they added an I in between the P and S and said lipistik or libistik. Remember that, in the old days, Chamorros were like Spaniards who had a hard time saying an initial S followed by a consonant. School is es-kool and student is es-tudient. The stick in lipstick becomes istik.
Essitane. To mock or ridicule someone or something. It comes from the word o'sitan or e'sitan, which means to joke. But many Chamorros shorten essitane to estane as you can hear in the song when Johnny sings it.
Monday, February 20, 2017
We live in a time now in Chamorro history where there are less and less fluent speakers of Chamorro, and yet there are now greater differences among Chamorro speakers than before, and a bit of confusion and even irritation.
There have always been differences among Chamorro speakers in the past. These differences have occurred between the islands and even between villages. When I was pastor of both Malesso' and Humåtak at the same time, I noticed a few differences in the words and manner of speech used by both villages, and these two villages were just a mile apart!
But these differences of the past were differences between communities.
Now, individuals are taking it upon themselves to introduce innovations and novelties in the language, under the claim of being more proper.
Not everyone agrees.
Some years ago, since around the 1990s, some people stopped saying "Buenas dias" as a morning greeting. From what I heard, they did this to eliminate from the language a Spanish greeting. Before we go any further, I'd like to point out that it may be a Spanish greeting in origin, but we Chamorros already changed it! In Spanish, the phrase is buenos días. Buenos, with an O.
Chamorros don't say buenos días. They say buenas dias, or buenas for short. We changed it. If a Chamorro said "buenas dias" in Madrid, he or she would be corrected.
Second, not everyone agrees that we should eliminate every Spanish-origin word in our language. Those borrowed words did not bother our grandparents 70 years ago and they don't bother a whole bunch of Chamorros to this day. No identity crisis need arise from the borrowing of foreign words, which happens across the globe to nobody's great anxiety.
Third, coming up with an indigenous replacement does not necessarily mean we have revived an ancient usage. I have never seen in the early accounts what our ancestors said to greet each other in the morning. Maybe they didn't even have a specific morning greeting. Not every race or community does.
So, what phrase was chosen by those people wishing to replace the Spanish-origin phrase buenas dias.
They chose manana si Yu'us.
Manana si Yu'us is not a new phrase. Our grandparents and their grandparents have been saying it for at least a couple of centuries, at least since early Christian times when the concept of Yu'us was adopted by Chamorros. Thus, that phrase has had an established meaning for some 200 or more years, held by an entire community and not just individuals. It means "daylight."
The word manana itself means "clear, visible, obvious, evident, certain."
Ti ya-ña yo' si påle'. The priest doesn't like me.
Mananana ha'. That's clear. That's obvious.
Yu'us means God and is the Chamorro pronunciation and form of the Spanish word Dios, meaning God. When Sanvitores translated some prayers into Chamorro, he still used the word Dios even when writing in Chamorro, because, at the time, Chamorro had no word for God (the idea of God in the Judeo-Christian sense did not exist among our ancestors). Sanvitores had no choice but to use the Spanish word Dios. Since Dios was a new word among the Chamorros, it took a while for the people's modification of it to come down in written form.
(As an aside, in the Philippines, the concept of God was named Diyos (sometimes Dios) in their languages, taken from the Spanish word Dios, and in Chuuk, where American missionaries worked long before Catholic missionaries came, their word for God is Kot, taken from English "God.")
Even the Spanish word adios (farewell) was changed by Chamorros to ayu'us; further indication that Yu'us comes from the Spanish Dios. Thus, if we dropped buenas dias because we don't like Spanish, then we've got to somehow take care of that Spanish derivative Yu'us, too.
So does manana si Yu'us mean that God is clear? Obvious? Evident? As if God were hidden at night?
I don't think so. That would be bad catechesis.
Instead, I believe the Chamorro sense is that, once it is daylight, the things that God made, creation, is now visible. That's why the man in the video looks around the area he is at and says "while it is daylight, we are in the pasture and the farm working," because God has made daylight reveal the things of earth with which we work.
Perhaps, "manana i nina'huyung Yu'us," "the things made by God are seen."
This is why older Chamorros chuckle or shake their heads when younger people greet them with manana si Yu'us. That phrase is a statement of fact, not a greeting. It means that daylight has come. One can imagine a younger person meeting an older person, saying :
Younger : Manana si Yu'us. (It's daylight.)
Older : Mananana ha'. (That's obvious).
At a time in our history when we could be uniting more closely as we face linguistic and cultural loss, we are introducing new ways of speaking that create greater divergence among us. By introducing these neologisms, Chamorros are becoming less able to understand each other when we speak to each other.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
In 1895, just three years before the Americans took possession of Guam, the elite of Hagåtña met to cast their consultative votes for the appointment of city officials. The Chamorro elite (principalía) meant former and standing city officials, whose vote was merely a recommendation. The Spanish authority made the actual decision, and the priest of the city or village added his voice to the process as well. In a few cases, non-Chamorros were also among the elite as, for example, long-time Filipino residents, especially those married to Chamorros.
The highest office for Hagåtña was the Gobernadorcillo, literally the "little Governor." Other positions were of the teniente (assistant), juez de sementera (superintendent of fields), alguacil (sheriff) and the juez de ganado (superintendent of farm animals), among others. The city was divided into barangays (neighborhoods) and these were headed by a cabeza (head).
The 15 electors were as follows :
Juan de Castro
Miguel de Borja
Eulogio de la Cruz
Justo de León Guerrero
Nominated for the position of Gobernadorcillo of Hagåtña were :
Remigio Pangelinan Martínez
Joaquín Cruz Pérez
Justo Sánchez de León Guerrero
In the voting, Martínez received 5 votes, Pérez 4 and de León Guerrero 6, for a total of 15 votes.
So these results were sent to the Spanish Governor.
The report of the parish priest, Father Francisco Resano, also was submitted to the Governor. This is what he had to say about the three candidates. I will not name them, since the descendants of these candidates could very well be alive today.
About one of them, Fr Resano said that he was apathetic, of little activity and lacking any interest or enthusiasm.
About another, Fr Resano said he was somewhat good, but not very good.
About the third and final candidate, Fr Resano said that he had "very beautiful manners" (de bellísimas costumbres) but was not a strong character (de poco carácter), meaning he was not someone who took command of his responsibilities and duties.
In the end, the Spaniards chose Justo Sánchez de León Guerrero to be Gobernadorcillo of Hagátña.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
According to an American missionary writing right after the war, one of the customs some Chamorros observed concerning weddings was the lamenting of the marriage. Rather than parents and other elders in the family rejoicing over the newlyweds, they would weep and bewail the wedding as something horrible!
Other writers have stated that the bride's family generally bewailed the loss of the daughter to the groom's family. The wedding breakfast hosted by the bride's family, for example, was without music, because the bride's family saw nothing joyful about losing their daughter that morning to the groom and his family. The wedding breakfast had a somber tone to it, and was finished as soon as possible. Nobody wanted such a serious and formal meal to be prolonged more than necessary.
But the American missionary adds this. Female relatives on both sides of the family went through the motions of regretting the wedding. It's important to understand that this regret may not have been real; both families may have indeed been very happy over the marriage. But custom dictated that older relatives display some displeasure that their son or daughter was, in some sense, leaving the nest.
It was the custom that neither set of parents attended the actual wedding in church. Godparents and other relatives would attend. So, after the wedding, the couple would go to the bride's parents first and kneel before them. The mother of the bride would begin to cry and wail, "Ai hagå-ho! Gof na' masi' na hagå-ho!" "Oh my daughter! My most pitiable daughter!" The mother would continue to state that the groom would be a bad provider, that he is lazy, that he will be a drinker, that she will have a miserable life with him and so on.
Then the couple would go to the groom's parents' house and the routine would be repeated. This time, the groom's mother would say that her son would never be fed right by the new wife, that his clothes will never be clean or repaired, that the house would always be filthy and so on.
It's not that brides abandoned their parents entirely. But the bride would definitely be unable to give her parents unlimited attention as a married woman, since she now lived with her husband, with her own children to raise. Men had more opportunity and freedom to attend to their parents.
Of course, as in almost all things, not everyone observed this. Not every single Chamorro family lived by one code.
Monday, February 13, 2017
These two streets in Santa Rita are named after two Spanish Capuchin missionaries of the 1930s.
Santa Rita, as you know, was established after World War II for the former residents of Sumay. The people of Sumay had a reputation for being very religious. That trait carried over into post-war Santa Rita and is shown in the way that village named many of its streets after priests.
The first street is named after Påle' Eugenio. Håya is a direction, which many consider the equivalent of "east," but which, in reality, is the direction away from the sea.
This is interesting because Påle' Román was never the pastor of Sumay. However, he would have been known to the people of Sumay, as he was known by almost everyone on the entire island. He not only would assist now and then in every parish, he was frequently called on to preach at the village fiestas, because he was by far the best speaker of Chamorro among the Spanish missionaries.
Påle' Román just made it his business to go around and be with the people. This was not always on pleasant business! He would sometimes try to woo people back to the Church who had become Protestant. Or, he would try to influence someone not to marry someone from outside the island community. So, he was at times a controversial figure. But, for most people, he was a very influential priest who was consulted by many. He translated numerous religious books into Chamorro that were used by many people. Even though he was never pastor of Sumay, such was his stature that Santa Rita named a street after him. He was one of the last Spanish missionaries to leave Guam, just three months before war broke out in 1941.
Friday, February 10, 2017
At least one priest is still calling it a konbento , and this is a young priest, at that.
When I was growing up, even the stateside priests called it the konbento.
In Chamorro, the konbento is the priest's house at the parish. Many people now just call it the rectory, and, at the Cathedral, the pastoral center.
In English, there are half a dozen names for the residence of the clergy at a church or parish. In Ireland, one can immediately tell if one is referring to a Protestant church or to a Catholic church simply by how one calls the clergy residence. In Ireland of long ago, one went to a Catholic presbytery and to a Protestant rectory.
The word konbento comes from the Spanish convento. That itself is taken from the Latin conventus, from convenire, to "come together," an "assembly." It was applied to a religious house, where religious persons came to live together under one roof. Monks in their house, priests in theirs, nuns in theirs and so on. This is where we get the English word convent, which in English means a house for women religious (nuns or sisters).
But the Spanish word convento was applied to more than just houses for women religious. A home for friars was also called a convento, as was the priest's house in a parish. This is how konbento entered the Chamorro language, and with only one meaning - the priest's house in a parish - since our islands did not have friaries for men nor convents for women until well into the American era.
Spanish records sometimes called the priest's house the casa parroquial, the parish house. But, among Chamorros, only one word was used for that - the konbento.
When we finally had a friary in our islands as well as sisters' convents, we reverted to the English names for these place (friary, convent), even though, in Spanish, convento can mean a friary or a sisters' convent. Sadly, not in Chamorro. If we said in Chamorro that sister lived in a konbento, people would be scandalized. Our historical lack of friaries and sisters' convents till after the war means that the meaning of konbento was frozen into one meaning alone.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Sometime around 1850 or so, an American sea captain, Alfred K. Fisher, visited Tinian. Not surprisingly, the focus of his subsequent tale, published in American newspapers, was the House of Taga and its mighty latte stones, and the story of its builder, Chief Taga.
But there was also a description of dwarves by one Juan Taitano, a Chamorro of Hagåtña who knew much about Tinian and the story of Taga. Fisher was advised to go and interview Taitano, who shared stories about dwarves on Tinian. These drarves can be none other than the duendes.
But Taitano shared some things about these duendes that differ somewhat from what is said about them today. Keep in mind that Taitano's story is from 1852 and that folklore changes over time in some aspects. Also keep in mind that the story is not directly from Taitano himself, but rather from an American newspaper writer who could be 2 or 3 persons distant from Taitano, the original source. Things can change between the original source and the third person quoting that source!
Benevolent. One of the first differences between our modern idea about the duendes and Taitano's version is that the duendes were kind, rather than mischievous, as we believe them to be today. Rather than kidnap children, the duendes found lost children in the jungle and returned them to the parents.
Secondly, when the duendes saw how the giant spirits (perhaps what we call taotaomo'na today) punished people with sickness, the duendes came day or night to heal the stricken. Indeed, the duendes healed any poor person who was sick, no matter the occasion.
Reclusive. This is not so different from our modern idea of the duendes, but Taitano says that the duendes do not speak at all. This differs from what some older people say about the duendes, whom, they say, have been heard to speak in an unintelligible language.
Descendants of Taga. According to Taitano, the duendes were the children of the daughter of Taga, who had married a giant. Though small, the duendes were powerful.
Eyewitness Description. Taitano claims to have seen a duendes himself. It happened one night when he was sleeping in the jungle. He awoke in the middle of the night to see one dwarf looking intently at him. The duendes had big blue eyes and was staring at Taitano with a mild and gentle look. The duendes vanished quickly, as soon as Taitano awoke and looked at the duendes briefly.
For more about the duendes :
Monday, February 6, 2017
A story from the 1950s
Guaha baila gi pupuenge ya manhånao hame ni man amigan eskuela para in fan baila.
(There was a dance in the evening and us school girlfriends went to dance.)
Man eståba lokkue' i man ma'estra yan man ma'estro na man mamumulan.
(The teachers were also there who were watching over us.)
Magåhet na gof ya-ho este na låhe ya duro ham kumuentos yan chumålek.
(It's true that I really liked this boy and we kept talking and laughing.)
Kalan ti in atiende i baila sa' duro ham kumuentos.
(It's like we didn't pay attention to the dance because we kept on talking.)
Lao mampos ga' kumuentos este na 'boy' ya esta ha na' o'son yo' umekkungok.
(But this boy was way too talkative and he already made me tire of listening.)
Sige sige de ha sångan taiguine an taiguennao.
(He kept saying this and that.)
Esta måtto gi hinaso-ko, "Haftaimano siña hu na' påra gue' kumuentos?"
(It already came to my mind, "How can I stop him from talking?")
Pues hu hålla gue' mågi giya guåho, hu toktok ya hu chiku.
(So I pulled him to me, I hugged him and I kissed him.)
An monhåyan hu chiku, må'pos ha' gue' sa' ti ha hongge håfa bidå-ho!
(After I finished kissing him, he just went away because he couldn't believe what I did.)
Despues, ha lalåtde yo' si nanå-ho sa' sinangåne gue' ni ma'estra håfa bidå-ho.
(Later, my mother scolded me because she was told by a teacher what I had done.)
"Håfa na un chiku?!?"
("Why did you kiss him?!?")
"Mamá, pot para bai na' påkkaka' gue' na hu chiku!"
("Mom, it was to shut him up that I kissed him!")
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Chester Butler ran one of two movie theaters in Hagåtña before the war. His was called the Gaiety Theater.
Butler, who had married a Chamorro woman (Ignacia Pangelinan Bordallo), had two young Chamorro men run the projector. But all they could do, and wanted to do, was play the movie reels. Anything beyond that, especially if dealing with electricity, was not to their taste.
An American Navy man with the needed skills was hired by Butler to be the sound technician. He would lend a hand in other things when needed.
The Navy man believed that the great fear of many Chamorros of electricity stemmed from the death of a young boy whose kite got stuck in the electrical lines in the early days of the city's power plant. Trying to retrieve his kite, the boy climbed the pole and touched the lines and got knocked down to the ground and died. Word quickly spread that electricity kills, and many Chamorros thereafter kept their distance from handling electrical issues.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
By and by, the two races, Carolinian and Chamorro, learned to live together. In fact, a few began marrying someone from the other race. Today, we call people of both Chamorro and Carolinian heritage Chamolinians. The term did not appear until the 1970s in Saipan.
One thing that helped popularize the term Chamolinian were a few music albums put out by Saipan artists, like Candy Taman and Frank "Bokonggo" Pangelinan. Candy, I know for a fact, is himself part Carolinian (Taman) and Chamorro (Babauta).
Which race did these mixed-heritage people identify with? Which language did they speak?
In the old days, the most common answer was both. Most, if not all, spoke both languages and identified with both, though the story changes somewhat case by case.
It is said that if the mother was Carolinian, the child identified more with the Carolinian side and spoke better Carolinian. This is because, in both cultures, it is the mother who is the strongest influence over the child. In Carolinian culture, one's clan identity and even land ownership is carried through the mother. The Carolinian mother will make sure her child grows up with a lot of contact with her (Carolinian) side of the family.The child will still grow up identifying with his Chamorro father, but the "pull" will be strongest with the mother.
Putting aside the possibility that there were the occasional Carolinian-Chamorro mixes long before records were kept, and putting aside also the mixed Chamorro-Carolinian babies born out of wedlock, we find in the Saipan records the following early Chamorro-Carolinian unions :
Although we don't hear the name often, there is a Fausto family of the Marianas. Two, it seems.
In the 1897 Guam Census there is a Fausto family of recent origin from the Philippines (recent, meaning arriving from around 1880 onwards) and an older one, already mixed with Chamorro blood by the 1830s. It is this older Fausto family which is involved with our topic.
One Manuel Fausto, born in Hagåtña of an unknown father and a mother named Rosalía Fausto, eventually moved to Saipan by the 1850s. There he married a Carolinian woman who was given the Christian name Maria Aurora. Apparently, she was not given a Spanish surname (as was sometimes done) nor did she carry her original Carolinian name as a surname (as was mostly done). In all the records, she is simply named Maria Aurora. The records say that her family was from Lamotrek.
This Manuel Fausto, though Chamorro, seems to have been an "honorary" Carolinian, almost an integral part of the Carolinian community. He often acted as godfather to many Carolinians being baptized. He taught them, as did his son Mariano Borja Fausto (son of a prior marriage) who taught the Carolinians living in Tamuning. It is almost certain that Manuel Fausto spoke Carolinian or at least had a very good grasp of it. Speaking Chamorro and almost assuredly some Spanish, he would have made an excellent go-between for the Spaniards and Chamorros in their dealings with the Carolinians, who, in the main, could not speak Spanish nor Chamorro. People relied on those who could speak all the main languages to do the interpreting.
It should be noted that sometimes the records spell the name Fajusto, and I have heard older Chamorros in Saipan pronounce the name Fajusto. That is, FA - HUS - TO. But 90% of the time, the records spell it Fausto and most people say FAUS - TO.
Here's the important thing.
Manuel Fausto and his Carolinian wife Maria Aurora had many daughters who married Chamorro men. They married into the Camacho, Arriola, Palacios and Salas families (among others), which are big clans in Saipan. Being that these unions go back to the 1870s, there are a lot of Chamorros in Saipan today who have Carolinian blood in them, thanks to Maria Aurora.
Here is a very interesting story with a twist.
There are many Reyeses in Saipan whose "Reyes" ancestor was not born a Reyes. He was a Carolinian.
A Carolinian man on Saipan named TAROLIMANG, sometimes also called Igifer, was baptized and given the Christian name Juan (John). From then on, he should have been called Juan Tarolimang, and he was. But then the records changed and start calling him Juan de los Reyes. It couldn't be because it was later admitted that his biological father was someone named Reyes, because the records do tell us the names of his Carolinian and non-Christian parents. So, why did he soon get the last name Reyes?
It's because, in those days, people were very casual about names. And not just in the Marianas.
People easily dropped old names and adopted new ones all the time. My Irish grandfather, for example, in the 1910s, dropped his first name Patrick when he moved to the U.S. That name, he felt, marked him as an Irishman and the Irish were unwelcome by many people in the U.S. in those days, depending on what part of the country you were in. The point is that, in those days, people often changed names quite easily, without a lot of legal procedures. And so it was for Juan Tarolimang. Perhaps in an effort to assimilate more with the Spanish-Chamorro establishment, he took Reyes as a last name. It could be that he had a Chamorro godfather named Reyes, or perhaps a man named Reyes was his benefactor or employer.
So the Carolinian Juan de los Reyes married a Chamorro from Luta (Rota). Her name was Anacleta Matantaotao Orpus. Sometimes spelled Orpos and Oppos. Anacleta was born in Luta and so were her parents. Matantaotao is definitely a Chamorro name, but the jury is still out on Orpus. It could be an old Chamorro name, or it could be from somewhere else. Until we find records to say one way or another, we'll have to leave it at that.
Juan and Anacleta married a long time ago, in 1865 or so. They had many children, all carrying the name Reyes. Some of them married Chamorros and some of them married Carolinians. So, in Saipan, there are many Reyeses who are descendants of a Carolinian named Tarolimang who married the Chamorro Anacleta Matantaotao Orpus.
We just elected an Esteves to the Guam Legislature, and his roots go back to the Esteves from Saipan, which then spread out over the other islands of the Marianas.
Antonio Esteves was a Carolinian from Satawal, living in Saipan.
Because he is named Antonio, we know that he was eventually baptized Catholic. That's probably when he also acquired the last name Esteves, which is Spanish/Portuguese. Why did a Carolinian get a Spanish/Portuguese name? As mentioned above, people dropped and picked up names very casually in those days. Sometimes, a Carolinian would take on the full name or sometimes just the first or last name of their godfather. Whatever the reason, what we do know is that Antonio Esteves was a Carolinian.
He married a Chamorro lady from Hagåtña, Josefa Campos. Everyone in the Marianas named Esteves (barring recent arrivals who come from a different origin) is a descendant of the Carolinian-Chamorro union of Antonio and Josefa.
But, a Carolinian named Quitipung (spelled various ways at times), from the island of Sooc who then lived in Saipan, was baptized Catholic and married a Chamorro from Luta (Rota) named Maria Hocog Inos. After his baptism and marriage to Maria, he was known as Bernardo de Santa Maria.
The records sometimes say he was from Chuuk, and Sooc could be a shortcut of Pulusuk, an island in Chuuk.
Many people think Matagolay (Matagolai) is a Chamorro name, but coincidences do exist and it is a coincidence that måta (face/eyes) and gollai (vegetables) are also Chamorro words.
But a Carolinian man from Unoun (today's Ulul?) named Matagolay was baptized and became known as José Matagolay. He married a Chamorro woman, Carmen Cruz from Sumay, living in Saipan. From them, the Matagolay clan was born, being of both Carolinian and Chamorro blood.
Even the Carolinian wife, Concepción Altariba, was apparently a Guam Carolinian (Tamuning). She married the Chamorro José San Nicolás from Hagåtña and moved to Saipan. Their daughter Rosa, a Chamolinian, married into the Chamorro Manahane family.
Altariba is not a Carolinian or Chamorro name. It is Spanish (spelled also Altarriba) and the name of a few places in Spain. For all we know, she got this name from a Spanish godparent or benefactor.
One of the last Chamorro-Carolinian unions in the 1800s was the marriage between the Chamorro Felix Reyes Sablan and Luisa Malug Parong (sometimes spelled Parung). They got married around the year 1895.
Felix was born in Luta (Rota), but both his parents, Mariano and Maria, were Chamorros from Hagåtña. Mariano was often a government clerk and moved where he was needed, such as Luta and then Saipan.
Luisa's father was from Unani and her mother was from Ilato (Elato) in the Carolines.
From this union came Elias, the future Mayor of Saipan, and his siblings.
Elias was such a prominent figure in civil affairs in Saipan, especially right after World War II when the Americans tried to get Saipan back on its feet after the war. Elias could wield influence over the two Saipan communities, the Chamorro and Carolinian. Who better to unite the two races as mayor than someone whose blood included both races! It could be said that Elias enjoyed even more influence over the Carolinian community because he had also married a Carolinian, Carmen, from the Mangarero family.
Many other Chamorros married Carolinians after 1900, but I have mentioned only the ones I know who married before 1900. Many of these Chamolians from after 1900 are prominent to this day in business, politics and the professions.
A Filipino named Agatón Celis moved from Guam to Saipan and married a Carolinian lady named Enriqueta Antonia. Records give two places for her origin. Some say she was from Aurupec (probably today's Eauripik) and some say Lamotrek. Either way, both islands are from the same region of the Carolines.
Enriqueta Antonia is her Christian name, the female forms of the names Enrique (Henry) and Antonio (Anthony). She had a prior Carolinian name that was soon dropped, at least in official records.
So, their children were not Chamolinian but rather Fililinian (Filipino-Carolinian). But some of their children eventually married Chamorros and the grandchildren became Chamolinian (with Filipino, too).
Monday, January 23, 2017
American universities usually have two main semesters, a fall and a spring semester, and the University of Guam follows this system.
If you wanted to translate "fall" and "spring" into Chamorro, you run into a challenge. Our language lacks terms for the SEASONS "fall" and "spring" because we lack those seasons.
But, given the great urge many people have today to promote the language and translate as much as possible into Chamorro, someone, perhaps, went ahead and looked up "spring" in a dictionary, or asked around for the word or maybe already knew of the word. Perhaps it was only for this one class offered above. I am told that others at UOG go with Fanuchånan (Rainy Season) for Fall and Fañomnagan (Sunny Season) for Spring.
What is "spring" in Chamorro?
The next thing someone should have asked is, "What kind of spring are you talking about?"
1. Water. There is, first of all, the water source called a "spring" or "fountain." The Chamorro word for that kind of spring is måtan hånom. Literally it means "face of water" and I can picture that. Just as the eyes (måta) cry tears, the earth opens its "eyes" and "cries" water (in a natural spring). There is also the word bo'bo', but that I believe refers more specifically to any burst of water from the ground, whereas måtan hånom refers to the source of water which becomes a body of water like a pool, lake or stream. Along the shore, one can often see bo'bo', fresh water leaking up through the sand and running to the sea close by.
2. Season. Second, there is the season after winter called spring. We don't have a Chamorro word for that because we don't have a season after winter, nor do we have a winter. We have twelve months of temperatures changing between 75 and 95 degrees, with many exceptions exceeding 95. If we had to talk about a season called spring, we might say primabera (if we went with the Spanish primavera) or we might use the English word "spring." Older Chamorro dictionaries, written by people closer to the period when Spanish greatly influenced Chamorro life, include the word primabera for the season "spring."
3. Action. Then there is the verb "to spring," as in to quickly move or leap up. Chamorro has more than one word to describe that action, but ta'yok is the best word to describe a sudden leaping or springing. "To spring" can also mean to "originate," as "it sprang into being," Dokko' could be used poetically for that.
4. Object. Then there is the object "spring," as in the springs of a watch or a car. Kuetdas can be used for that (a cord wound up into a spring). Another word for the object "spring" is mueye. Both words are borrowed from Spanish.
Using måtan hånom ("spring" as in water source or fountain) to describe the season of Spring (which we don't have) would be like using the word Poddong or Tomba for the season of Fall.
If people want to invent new words or give new meanings to old words, no one can stop them. It happens all the time in languages all throughout history. But, given the state of the Chamorro language today, is it in our interest to keep things in constant flux? A Renaissance that has no brakes?
Friday, January 20, 2017
This is a song about a man communicating with his sweetheart by the light of the moon under her bedroom window. It's obviously a scene from our islands long ago when we had homes like that, where a girl's bedroom window was raised on haligi (pillars) or on the bodega (basement). I can think of no better village to represent that kind of old, island living than Inalåhan, which preserves many pre-war homes.
The tune is borrowed from the World War II song "Lili Marlene," popular among both Allied and Axis forces! It was originally a German song and speaks about a young woman under the lantern, she being the love of a lonely soldier in the battle field.
The Chamorro version keeps much of that imagery.
1. Gi papa' i kandet gi kanton guma' annai hu nanangga i guinaiya-ko.
(Under the light by the side of the house where I am waiting for my love.)
Kao ti un hungok nai chumefla yo' gi kanton i bentanå-mo?
(Didn't you hear when I whistled by the edge of your window?)
Sa' hågo ha' guinaiya-ko keridå-ho nene.
(Because you alone are my love, my beloved baby.)
2. Sikiera i anineng-mo kerida korason u fåtto giya guåho ya hu konsuelan maisa yo'.
(Would at least your shadow, beloved sweetheart, come to me so I can comfort myself.)
Papa' i ma'lak i pilan gi kanton i bentanå-mo.
(Under the brightness of the moon at the edge of your window.)
Sa' hågo ha' guinaiya-ko kerida mia korason.
(Because you alone are my love, my beloved sweetheart.)
Kånto. A word which means "edge, side, bank." It is borrowed from the Spanish word canto, meaning "edge."
Chefla. To whistle. So as not to get caught by the girl's parents or family, he whistles to signal her that he is waiting just outside her window.
Sikiera. "At least." From the Spanish siquiera, meaning the same.
Kerida mia. Taken exactly from the Spanish "my beloved."
Korason. Means "heart" but is the equivalent of the English term "sweetheart." Sometimes people say "mames korason," literally meaning "sweet heart."
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Our mañaina were great believers in corporal punishment, and many still are to this day, though the punishment has become much more mild and today's parents turn a blind eye to so much nowadays.
But what were the normal infractions that would merit corporal punishment?
I recently came across the childhood reminiscences of a man who grew up in a southern village of Guam in the 1930s. Here are some examples from his life :
Skipping school. The man and his siblings, including some cousins living in the same house, lived several miles from the school house. In those days, one walked to school. So, during the rainy season, you ducked under huge trees like the lemmai (breadfruit) tree and tried to stay as dry as possible. Sometimes there was no choice but to get drenched.
One day it was raining so bad that the oldest cousin suggested they skip school that day. But rather than return home, he said they should pretend they had gone to school and play in that isolated area instead. And that they did. They were so contented that their scheme worked that they tried doing it several more times in the weeks that followed, till the school teacher (there was only one, for all grades) paid a visit to the family home to inquire why the kids had missed several days of school.
For that, their backs were whipped and sore for about four days.
Theft. Not far from the village school were some garden patches owned by the neighbors. During recess or right after school, it was usual for the kids to play in the area next to these gardens. One favorite game was hide and seek. Well, how convenient that sugar cane stalks grew in the garden and served as excellent cover while playing hide and seek?
Hiding among the stalks, one boy decided to break off a cane ready for the eating and began tearing off the outer skin with his teeth and started chomping away. Just a few steps away, and hid again by the sugar cane, were watermelons. He took out his pocket knife and started carving away, his mouth dripping with watermelon juice.
He was so proud of his achievement that he told his friends about it and, soon after, the boys devised a way that they could all take turns hiding in the garden patch, helping themselves to the sugar cane and watermelon, while the other boys created a diversion with their loud screaming so that the owners paid no attention.
However, the rascal boys were careless with their leftovers and the owner soon one day discovered watermelon rinds and sugar cane strips which the boys forgot to collect. The owner also saw foot prints left on some vines and grass and put two and two together. The owner waited for the next day and hid among the sugar cane right before school let out. There he caught two boys chomping on sugar cane red handed.
That evening, he was generously whipped by his grandmother to screams of "Taimamahlao! Aniti!" (Shameless! Devil!)
A few days later, the boy had to go back to the garden patch owner with a big basket of lemons that his grandmother grew as partial repayment of the sugar cane and watermelon eaten illicitly.
Peeping Tom. Near the school was a stream and a wooden bridge that enabled one to pass over the stream. The kids that lived on that side of the village had to cross that wooden bridge no less than twice a day to go to school. The bridge was made of wooden beams about 2 inches apart. Every now and then, the kids would stop in the middle of the bridge and look through those 2 inch gaps to see if the stream had any shrimp or fish to catch.
The boy started to reason to himself, "If one can look down in between those gaps, one can also look up." So he and two other boys would wait under the bridge very quietly and wait for the girls to cross the bridge. All was well till another boy, who had not been included in this conspiracy, tattled on the boys.
This time it was the teacher who executed the punishment. First, she had the three boys stand on one foot for half an hour. Then she made them switch feet. Then she hit their fingers stretched out on their desks with a ruler. Finally, she made them lie on the classroom floor and gave them ten lashes each. She said she would have done worse than that if she could.
Public Nuisance. In the village was a public area where water pipes were available to anyone needing municipal water. Almost no one in those days had piped water inside the home. There were latrine sheds, with men and women latrines separated, and also showers (again separated by gender) and a large sink for anyone needing to do hand-washed laundry.
In the middle of this small complex was a large pole with a single light bulb on top. That light was for the safety and benefit of the people who might use those public water services at night or early morning. This boy noticed that, now and then, the light would die then turn on again on its own. By observing this several nights, he discovered that the light would die every time there was a strong breeze or gust of wind. The bulb is loose in its socket!
One night, for his own merriment, he waited till some people were inside the sheds using the water, and he started to pull on the heavy wire that helped hold the pole in place. Back and forth the pole swung and, of course, the loose light bulb flickered on and off. Other electrical wires feeding power to some homes were connected to the pole, and with every swing these electrical wires would bounce off the tin roofs of those houses, making a racket.
People, especially the women, some with wet hair, came out of the sheds very upset at the noise, disoriented by the flickering light in the darkness. Some people in the homes came out shouting "What's going on!" The boy fled.
But someone must've recognized him because, the following morning, a messenger went to his house several miles outside the village, requesting that the boy report to the village commissioner's house at 7 o'clock that evening. The commissioner had him lie on his stomach on a bench. His buttocks received six lashes, with a warning that if he ever did that or anything similar again, he'd receive twelve next time.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
For a little more than three years, Guam was home to 28 or so prisoners of war from German New Guinea. Not surprisingly, accounts of that time tell us how fascinated and entertained the Chamorro people were with these men from such an exotic place. Their physical appearance, clothing and rumored cannibalism fed the imagination of our people, always in the mood for something new and different.
The idea that they were man-eaters apparently came from one (or more) of the New Guineans. We can't discount the possibility that whoever said that said it in jest, having fun scaring the Chamorros. But we can't exclude the possibility either that some of the New Guinean POWs had practiced cannibalism at one time, since cannibalism was not unknown in their part of the world.
When a camp was set up on Guam for New Guinea POWS, it was nicknamed "Cannibal Town." Americans would have probably coined that name and used it, rather than Chamorros, who wouldn't have had that kind of grasp or use of English that early in the century.
Just north of Australia and not too far south of Micronesia lies the island of New Guinea. At the time period we are talking about (around 1915), the island was divided between the Dutch who ran the western side of the island; the British, who ran the southeastern portion; and the Germans who owned the northeastern part of the island.
In addition, the Germans ruled over many islands to the east of New Guinea, then called the Bismarck Islands, and today called New Britain. They also owned the island of Bougainville, which is part of the Solomons.
Written accounts of the time have conflicting information about where specifically these New Guinean men came from and how they became connected with the ship. It is possible that they didn't come from just one area of German New Guinea. I'll send the list of their names to someone from Papua New Guinea or New Britain and see if we can tell, just from the names, where these men were likely from.
The New Guineans were part of the crew of the German ship the SMS Cormoran which hid in Apra Harbor in 1915, fleeing the Japanese with whom they were at war. In 1917, the US declared war on Germany and the Germans scuttled their own ship. Most of the crew survived and were made prisoners of war. The New Guineans were employed by the US Navy on various public works projects.
In 1919, with the war over, the New Guineans were sent back home, though one of them reportedly died on Guam before war's end and could have taken up residence with a Chamorro woman. Whether they had a kid or more is anybody's guess at this point.