Friday, August 18, 2017


An Indian Teen of the 1800s

The whaling ships and others who visited Guam in the 1800s brought people here from all corners of the world.

Take, for example, a 16-year-old man named Sheg Apdug. He was from Calcutta (modern-day Kolkata) and was brought to Guam on George H. Johnston's schooner, the Ana, in 1865. Johnston was married to Ana Olivares Calvo, of the Calvo clan that settled in the Marianas. More than likely, Johnston recruited Sheg to work on his schooner out of Hong Kong, which Johnston would visit once in a while. Sheg was Christian, by the way; a Protestant. It could be that he was taken in by Christian sponsors, or a church, in India or Hong Kong. He wasn't educated in a Christian school, though, because at age 16 he still wasn't able to sign his name.

José Aguon Herrero was his sponsor on Guam. I am not sure whatever became of Sheg. If he stayed, married and had children, we should see some evidence of that in the records, but we don't. It could be he eventually left Guam. As easily as many came, many left.

Sheg wasn't the first Indian who lived on Guam.

In 1638, the Spanish galleon the Concepción sank off the southern coast of Saipan. A Lorenzo Malabar was a survivor who remained in the Marianas all the way till the arrival of Sanvtores in 1668. As a layman, he joined Sanvitores' missionary crew. Malabar isn't his family name. It describes him as coming from the region of Malabar in India. Located in southwestern India, Malabar had many Christians.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Chamorro man on right with Carolinian men, early 1900s
NMC Archives

As the island had been depopulated of its native Chamorros by the 1740s, when the Spanish authorities moved the Saipan Chamorros down to Guam, where they mixed and became indistinguishable from the Guam Chamorros, the Spanish government allowed Carolinians to settle in Saipan in the early 1800s. The generally accepted date is around 1815.

That was only the beginning. People from islands such as Satawal, Woleai, Eauripik and many others continued to move to Saipan for the rest of the century into the early 1900s.

By the 1850s, the Spanish officials in Guam wanted to bring the Carolinians more and more into the cultural and religious environment the Spaniards had established on Guam and Rota. So the Spaniards sent a Chamorro teacher from Guam to Saipan; they organized the Carolinians into a community with their own leaders holding Spanish colonial titles; they sent a priest to establish a church on Saipan.

There were no forced conversions at the point of a spear or gun barrel. But the resident priest, and the handful of Chamorro settlers, did encourage the Carolinians to consider baptism, especially for their children if there was danger of death. In time, the children were regularly brought to the priest for baptism, even when the parents remained unbaptized!

Who, then, were to be the godparents of these Carolinian children (and adults, too!). In the 1850s and 60s, it was the Chamorros from Guam and Luta who moved to Saipan who acted as godparents for the Carolinians. This shows that the two groups did interact with each other and formed some bonds. For most of the 1800s, the Carolinians were the majority group in Saipan, until the late 1800s and early 1900s when both a higher Chamorro birthrate and increased movement of Guam Chamorros to Saipan between 1890 and 1914 pushed the Chamorro population higher than the Carolinian.

Here are some early Carolinian baptisms, with the names of their Chamorro godparents :


Mónica Mangud
Mónica Pangelinan

Mariano Metao
Mariano Arriola

Pedro Failimas, 14 years old
Mariano Paulino, alcalde (mayor) of Saipan*
Gregorio Rangamar, infant
Father from Satawal
Mother from Elato
Gregorio Perez, of Agaña
Carmen Parong, infant
Father from Olou
Mother from Satawal
Carmen de los Santos, of Agaña
Antonio Kileleman
Parents from Satawal
Antonio de Torres, of Agaña

Benigno Kaipat, infant
Rodrigo de Castro, of Agaña

Ana Pialur, infant
Ana de los Reyes, of Agaña

Dolores Olopai, 8 months old
Dolores Lizama
Ana Selepeo, 4 years old
Maria Mangloña, of Rota

Jose Laniyo, 3 years old

Eugenio Cepeda
Basilio Rapugao, adult, in danger of death
Basilio Gogue, of Agaña


  • Many of the Carolinians took on the Christian name of the godparent. Most, if not all, Carolinians maintain the tradition of carrying their Carolinian given names to this day, even if those names are not seen on birth certificates and are used only inside the family, clan or close associates.
  • The majority of the godparents came from Agaña, a few (not shown here) from other villages of Guam (Agat and Sumay, for example) and a tiny number from Rota
  • I have modernized the Carolinian names so they can be identifiable to modern generations; the Spaniards spelled some of these names in very unique ways!
  • Not all the Chamorros in Saipan at the time stayed there. Gregorio Perez (whom I suspect was the founder of the Goyo clan, but I have no proof for this) did not remain in Saipan for the rest of his life. There is no trace of him in the Saipan documents later on.
* Mariano Paulino was not Chamorro. The founder of the Paulino clan of Guam, he was a Filipino who married a Chamorro, Maria Borja Aguon.

Monday, August 14, 2017

"MISS GUAM 1830"

Juliana's signature in 1864

I say that in jest, of course, as there were no beauty contests on Guam in 1830.

But it does suggest that Juliana Aguon was a beautiful woman, who captured the hearts of four Spaniards, more or less one right after the other!

Some suggest that she was born in 1805. If that is not the exact year, then it is close enough. Juliana's "busy" years being pursued by Spaniards (or did she also pursue them?) seem to begin around 1825 when she would have been 20 years old or so.

An early suitor was no less than the Spanish Governor of the Marianas, José Ganga Herrero, who arrived on Guam in 1823. Apparently he already had a wife, but that didn't stop him and Juliana from having two sons. Perhaps he didn't bring his wife with him to Guam. In any case, the Governor legally recognized them as his sons, so they carried the Herrero surname. Although the Governor left Guam (amid a lot of controversy with his own Spanish government), his sons remained on Guam with Juliana and the family was later involved in government and commerce.

Another suitor was no less than a Spanish priest, who arrived on Guam in 1829. He eventually became the priest of Hagåtña. He had a daughter with Juliana named Dolores. The priest couldn't legally recognize her, so Dolores remained Dolores Aguon. Dolores eventually married Manuel Flores and their descendants are the Kabesa Flores clan. And I always noticed how many of the Kabesas have Spanish features! The priest died on Guam in 1843. The Kabesas have always been prominent on Guam in all aspects of public life.

Finally, Juliana got married. Her husband was the Spaniard Luís Portusach. They had a son Joaquín, and from him came the Portusach family of Guam, perpetuated by his sons José and Francisco. This family, too, was always involved in government and commerce.

We may as well go for a fourth! After Portusach died, Juliana married another Spaniard, Francisco Salar and had a daughter named Rita with him, so the Salar last name eventually disappeared in the Marianas when Rita got married.

So there you have it. At least four Spaniards became the fathers of Juliana's children. I would think that had Guam a beauty contest in 1830, Juliana would have been one of the prime candidates for that crown.

NOTE : When Juliana signed her name in 1864, even though she had been married to Portusach and then to Salar, she followed the Spanish custom whereby married women retained their birth names and did not take on their husband's surname.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


It isn't a surprise that José de la Cruz had a nickname. Names as common as his almost required a nickname, to help people distinguish WHICH of the many José de la Cruzes you were talking about.

What's surprising is that this José de la Cruz had a Mexican nickname.

In the 1832 document, this person's identity is, "José de la Cruz, alias 'el Guachinango.'"

Having an ear for regionalisms, I suspected it was Mexican. And sure enough, there is a town in the State of Jalisco in Mexico called Guachinango.

To make matters more interesting (or more complicated), guachinango can also mean a kind of fish (red snapper). In Cuban and Puerto Rican dialect, it can mean a clever person, a joker or a flatterer.

So why does this Chamorro guy have a nickname like this?

Well let's not assume he was Chamorro. In 1832, there very well could have been a Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican or just about any Latin American person living on Guam. But even if he were Chamorro, Mexican influence made a mark on the Chamorro language and culture in the 1700s. The Acapulco Galleons were passing through Guam until the time during Mexico's war for independence in 1815, not too long from 1832, the date of this document.

In some parts of the Philippines, gwatsinanggo means "shrewd" or "cunning," among other things, which follows one of the meanings of the word for in the Caribbean. The fact that the word made it even as far west as the Philippines makes it more credible that the word spread to the Marianas.

The fact is that our islands were always getting visitors from east and west and being influenced by them. Why José was called "El Guachinango" will remain a mystery.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Garapan in German Times (1899 - 1914)

Garapan was the only village in Saipan from the start of the resettlement by Carolinians sometime around 1815, until the founding of a second village, Tanapag, between 1879 and 1889. Still, Garapan remained the larger of the two villages and the seat of the island government.

By the time the Germans came in 1899, Garapan numbered close to 3000 people. The Chamorros and the Carolinians lived in separate sections. The Carolinians lived in the southern part of town.

Two partial church records indicate the names of some of the streets in Garapan. There may have been more streets named on a second or third list which have been lost, so we cannot say these were the only street names. But at least we know some.

The first record was made just at the end of German times (1914) and was written by a German priest. The second record was made in the early years of the Spanish Jesuit administration of the church, but it shows a continuity with the German records. There is no big change in names. The interesting thing is that, in 1923, the Japanese were already ruling Saipan and had their own street names. The street right along the beach was called Kaigan Dori in Japanese (Seacoast Street). But the priests continued to use the older, non-Japanese names for the streets, at least in these early years.

(Father Francisco Street)

This Father Francisco was Father Francisco Resano, the last Augustinian Recollect priest of Garapan, who departed Saipan in 1907 when the German Capuchin priests took over. Father Resano was also the last Augustinian Recollect priest of Hagåtña and left Guam only because the American Naval Governor Richard P. Leary expelled the Spanish Recollect priests from Guam in 1899. Resano left Guam and moved to Saipan.

Father Francisco Resano appears in the middle of this picture, in between two German Capuchins, and some Saipan residents at the sides, at the front door of Garapan's church in 1907.

(Spanish Street)

The Spaniards left the Marianas in 1899, but a street named after them maintained their memory, at least for a few more years.

(Macabebe Street)

This is an interesting one because it is named for a group of people the Saipanese were glad to get rid of! In early 1899, around 700 Filipino soldiers and their families from Macabebe, a town in the Philippines, arrived in Saipan. These soldiers were on the Spanish side of the war against both Americans and Filipino nationalists. Seeing how the war was ending with a Spanish defeat, these Filipinos who fought for Spain decided to escape for Saipan, still under Spanish control. The people of Saipan now had to house and feed 700 extra people and it wasn't easy. The military commander of the Macabebes was bossy and made the Saipan people obey his orders. When the Germans took over Saipan towards the end of 1899, the Saipan people rejoiced in seeing the Macabebes leave island. And yet there was a street named after them.

Macabebe soldiers on the ship taking them away from Saipan in 1899

(Gravel Street)

None of the streets were paved, in the modern sense, but not all, apparently, were covered with gravel.

(Bodeg Street)

"Bodeg" was the nickname given to a branch of the Ada family. Originally from Guam, the family moved to Saipan but, in time, some moved back to Guam and the Bodeg family can be found in both islands. True enough, the head of the Bodeg family, Pedro Pangelinan Ada, and his wife María Martínez, lived on Bodeg Street. Pedro had a large, two-storey mampostería (stone and mortar) house with a metal roof on this street.

A list of people living on Bodeg Street includes Pedro Ada and his wife María

(Gallego Street)

Although the German priest spelled it Callego, I am pretty sure he meant Gallego, as there is no word or name Callego in Chamorro or Spanish. But there is both a word and a name Gallego in Spanish and Chamorro. In Spanish, gallego means a person from Galicia, a province in Spain. In Chamorro, Gayego is the nickname of one branch of the Díaz family, found in Saipan but also elsewhere.

(Carolinian Street)

The German priest wrote this in German, and it means "Carolinian Street." The "Carolinians" are those islanders from many different islands in Micronesia such as Elato, Satawal, Lamotrek and Eauripik among many others. They began living in Saipan around the year 1815. For many years they were the majority race until the Chamorro population increased and became the majority.

Carolinian men of Saipan

(Laolao Street)

Another name given in German. Laolao is the name of the largest bay in Saipan, and it lies on the eastern part of the island. Many Westerners called it Magicienne Bay, after a British ship which anchored there in 1858. The area was heavily populated during the pre-contact time and there are remains of pre-contact villages there.

Laolao Bay

This is just to show that there were people not living on a street but rather on the beach or coast. Their houses were described as being on the oriyan tåsi (along the sea).

Monday, August 7, 2017


Filipina Mestizas

The 9000 or so people who made up the Marianas in the late 1800s were an interesting mix. In the rural villages and in Luta, the majority of the people had roots closer to the pre-contact race. In Hagåtña and Saipan, the mixed blood, or mestizo, dominated : a mix of the the original pre-contact race, Spaniards, Mexicans, Filipinos, Chinese, Anglo-Americans and smaller numbers of Portuguese, French, Dutch and others.

Not to be excluded from this melting pot of races was the mixed-blood, higher class Filipinas. There were at least two of them who lived in the Marianas in the second half of the 19th century.

Doña Regina Sigüenza y Soto was from Manila, the daughter of Don Agustín Sigüenza and Doña Silvia Soto. She was married to Don Vicente Calvo y Olivares, of the Calvo clan that eventually became part of the Chamorro community. Don Vicente was born in Manila of a Spanish father and mestiza mother. As his father, Don Félix, had a government position on Guam, Don Vicente lived on Guam also, but the Manila connection was never lost or weakened. The Calvos were constantly going back and forth between Guam and Manila.

As the Calvos were government officials and entrepreneurs, and very Spanish, they would have married within their class and milieu. Regina was almost certainly of a somewhat elevated class. We know from existing documents that she had her own financial affairs to attend to in Manila, separate from whatever her Calvo husband had. She filed to have someone in Manila represent her interests there, since she lived on Guam.

Regina Siguenza's signature
The Spanish custom is for married women to keep their family names

More than likely she would have had an education and was conversant in Spanish. Her racial lines are not precisely known, but her Spanish surnames and the fact that Spaniards and mestizos tended to marry women with at least some Spanish blood point in that direction.

As a widow, Doña Regina befriended William Safford, the Secretary to Guam's first American Naval Governor. The educated and erudite Safford spoke excellent Spanish. One can sense that Regina looked forward to her chats with him. She made sure to send him little treats, like jam, now and then.

The second Filipina (more than likely a mestiza) was Doña Elena Chabran. She was married to another Calvo, by the name of Bonifacio. He was a retired captain in the Spanish military. After Bonifacio died, Elena remained in the Marianas, marrying Don Juan de León Guerrero, who is described in records as a platero (silversmith) of Hagåtña. But he eventually moved to Saipan and became the Alcalde (mayor). Many of Doña Elena's descendants live in Saipan to this day.

I still need to get clear information on this, but family tradition also says that Elena also married Manuel Sablan Calvo, patriarch of the Yigo Calvos.

Elena Chabran's signature

Thursday, August 3, 2017


A Chamorro Girl

The American and British whalers who stopped on Guam in the 1800s often found many young Chamorro men very willing to join the crew. But, in one case, it was a young Chamorro girl that an American captain wanted.

Leonard Gifford was the captain of the whaling ship Hope. In 1862, the Hope sailed into Apra Harbor and stayed for some length of time. Gifford was accompanied by his wife Lucy Ann, who had given birth twice while on the high seas, sadly losing both children in infancy. By the time Gifford came to Guam in 1862, there was a young daughter Ella in tow.

While on Guam, Gifford made acquaintance with a Joaquín Iglesias of Hågat. Joaquín had a daughter aged 11 years by the name of Leocadia. We don't know if Iglesias made the offer first, or if Gifford made the request first, but the result was that Iglesias agreed to let Leocadia take up residence with Gifford wherever he may be, whether on Guam or elsewhere, to serve the Gifford family.  This isn't a surprise, since Gifford had a wife who was either pregnant or having just given birth. She needed help. The legal contract between Iglesias and Gifford stipulated four years of service, after which time Gifford was responsible for bringing Leocadia back to Guam.

Gifford was obliged to feed and clothe Leocadia, to treat her well and not prevent her from fulfilling the duties of her Catholic religion.

It seems that Gifford went off for a while, leaving Lucy Ann and Ella on Guam in the meantime. A Sydney newspaper reports that Gifford brought 1000 coconuts to sell in Australia. A son was born to him on Guam in November of 1863, and he was named Leonard Stanhope Gifford. His place of birth is indicated in this 1865 Massachusetts State Census. He is the 2nd name from the bottom.

1865 Massachusetts State Census

What happened to Leocadia?

Not long after the birth of his son on Guam in 1863, Gifford and family left the island. By 1865, the whole family was living in New Bedford, Massachusetts, including a 13-year-old girl born on Guam listed as Gorza. She is also listed as being black or brown in color. This is more than likely Leocadia, who would have been 13 going on 14 in 1865. Why is she called Gorza? It wasn't unusual for Chamorros to go by new names once they left the islands. They adopted names easier for their Caucasian bosses or masters to pronounce.

Imagine. A Chamorro teenage girl living in Massachusetts at the end of the American Civil War.

Gifford died in 1868 and Leocadia (Gorza) is not seen in any documents after 1865. Did she ever return to Guam? It's possible. But it's just as possible that Leocadia stayed in the U.S. till her death.

Leonard Gifford (left) 
Joaquín Iglesias (right)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Rosemond of KKMP radio station in Saipan does a great service announcing funeral arrangements in Chamorro.

I asked her to let me record her doing one and, since we needed a name of a deceased person, I had her use my late brother's name.

The script can be used by any funeral. Just the names, dates and places need to be changed. Here is the recording followed by the script.

Para u ma na' fan manungo' i familia, i man parientes yan man atungo'

(name of the survivor) na måtai i (relationship/spouse/child/etc) as (name of deceased)

gi (day of the week) na ha'åne, (month) dia (day), (year).

I difunto/a as (name of deceased) låhen/hagan (name of parents, better-known-as if applicable).

I Misan Intension ma ofrerese kada dia/pupuenge gi oran a la/las (time)

gi gima'yu'us (name of church) ya tinattitiye nu i Såntos Lisåyo.

I malaknos-ña yan i ma entieru-ña i difunto/a para i (day of week) na ha'åne,

(month), dia (day), (year).

Para ma esgaihon i tataotao i difunto/a ginen i (name of funeral home) gi oran a la/las (time)

gi ega'an/talo'åne/despues de talo'åne, ya para ma konne' guato para i gima'yu'us (name of church).

I Misan Entiero Kilisyåno para i oran a la/las (time) gi ega'an/talo'åne/despues de talo'åne

ya u tinattiye ni mahafot-ña gi sementeyon (name of cemetery).

I finatton-miyo yan i tinayuyot-miyo ma sen agradese.

Si Yu'us ma'åse' ginen i familia.


1. Rosemond pronounces Jude as Hoo - day as is said in Saipan. Remember that traditionally, in Chamorro, the J is sounded like an H, as in Jose, Juan and Joaquin.

2. Anunsio is the noun (announcement) and anunsia is the verb (to announce). Notisia can also be used but it specifically means "news."

3. Malaknos. Laknos means "to take out" or "bring forth," "put out." In terms of death, it means the time when the casket of the deceased leaves the mortuary.

4. Entiero means funeral service, usually a Mass.

Monday, July 31, 2017


mentioned in this song

The Chamorrita is a style of singing in the Chamorro culture consisting of four lines. These verses were supposed to be composed extemporaneously, "in the moment," with one person answering back the first verse sung by another and continuing this "verse and response" interplay, competing, as it were, who could outwit the other.

In time, certain verses became well-known and standard, repeated in many singing sessions all from memory, such as most of the verses in this recording.

This recording was made of a group of singers in Saipan who had connections with the Northern Islands like Pågan, Agrigan and Alamågan. They add a verse mentioning two of the Northern Islands.


1. Buenas noches Ton Saina-ho.
(Good evening, my elder.)

Oppe yo' pot kilisyåno.
(Answer me because I am a Christian.)

"Håfa, iho, malago'-mo?"
("What is it you want, son?")

I tinalo na hagå-mo.
(Your middle daughter.)

2. I tinalo na hagå-ho
(My middle daughter)

esta guaha seguru-ña.
(already has someone sure.)

Ya ti ya-ña ma atborota
(And she doesn't like to be bothered)

sa' malilinek ilu-ña.
(because she has a headache.)

3. Ya hu faisen gi besino
(And I asked the neighbor)

håfa åmot malinek ulo.
(what is the medicine for headaches.)

Ya manoppe i besino
(And the neighbor answered)

na ma chiko ma na' duro.
(to kiss her vigorously.)

4. Desde Saipan asta Pågan
(From Saipan to Pågan)

Pågan asta Alamågan,
(from Pågan to Alamågan,)

ti manli'e' yo' gåtbon flores,
(I didn't see pretty flowers,)

solamente as Pakåkang.
(only the Pakåkang.)

5. Ai nåna atende
(Oh mother attend to)

Ai nåna i taotao.
(Oh mother, the person.)

Ai nåna, nåna konsidera
(Oh mother, mother consider)

sa' sumen chago' tano'-ña.
(that his land is far away.)


Ton Saina-ho. "Ton" is the general title of respect for older males or males with a higher status than the speaker. "Saina" means an elder, not necessarily due to age but also due to status or ranking within the family. Because the singer addresses the person with the male title of respect, asking for a daughter's hand, we know that this is a man seeking permission from a father to court his daughter.

Oppe yo' pot kilisyåno. "Kilisyåno" literally means "Christian," but Chamorros used it to refer to persons in general, since everyone was a baptized Christian in those days. The term implies a certain dignity, since the person is not just a mere human being but a baptized one, meaning he or she is an adopted child of the one true God. Thus, having this kind of dignity, he or she has certain rights and privileges. "Answer me," the man says, "because I have certain rights and privileges due to my Christian status. You, the father, are a Christian, and so am I. So let us treat each other as brother Christians."

Seguru-ña. "Seguro" means "sure" or "certain." The young lady already has a man she is sure of courting and perhaps marrying.

Malinek ulo. This headache was certainly an excuse for dismissing the suitor, and he knows it, because, with some sarcasm, he asks a neighbor what is the cure for headaches, and the answer (sarcastically) is vigorous kissing.

Pakåkang. This is the nickname for a family in Saipan named Cruz whose members also lived in the Northern Islands. This line may be a loving tease of that family. The singer traveled to three islands and didn't see any pretty flowers, only a member or members of the Pakåkang family!

Ai nåna. This verse speaks of the hospitality and compassion found among many Chamorros for strangers and travelers. The singer asks the mother to attend to the needs of the person, because he is far from home.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


How do you say "legend" in Chamorro?

Well, if you go to the spot where the legend of the Two Lovers supposedly happened, the people behind this marker state that "legend" in Chamorro is lihende. The marker announces "I Lihenden i Dos Umaguaiya." "The Legend of the Two Lovers."

No less than the Chamorro language people at the Department of Education, and esteemed Chamorro language teacher, the late Tona Castro, also use the word lihende for "legend." Here we see the "Legend of the Ifil Tree." "I Lihenden i Trongkon Ifit."

I wondered about the history of this word lihende. Can we find it in the pre-war Chamorro literature?

Apparently we can't.

Looking as far back as Ibáñez's 1865 Spanish-Chamorro dictionary, words used to denote a legend or myth would be fábula (fable) or kuentos tumåtnon. Tåtnon means "to entertain, to please" as in with some diversion. Kuentos means "speech," so kuentos tumåtnon means a story meant to entertain. The story isn't literally true. Its value is in its pleasant diversion.

A myth or legend can also be something instructive or educational, so the word ehemplo (example) can also be used.

A legend is a tale, so even estoria (story) can be used to denote a legend.

Valenzuela's 1967 dictionary even includes imbensión (invention) to point out the fictional character of myths and legends.

All these terms (fábula or fábulas, ehemplo, estoria, kuentos tumåtnon) can be found in Chamorro dictionaries prior to 1970.

Then comes lihende. It appears after 1970. Probably, I suspect, from Chamorro language teachers. How did they come about this word?

Well, it's no surprise to notice that lihende looks very much like the English word "legend."

Just change the G to an H, as we do with the English word "gigantic" which becomes Chamorro higånte (borrowed from the Spanish). Then add a vowel, in this case an -E, to the end of an English word which ends with a consonant, and it becomes Chamorro, right?

The morphing of the English word "legend" to a Chamorro-sounding word lihende looks like this :



What I'd really like to know is why the people who came up with lihende thought it was necessary, or desirable, to come up with a new word for "legend," when there were several options historically available.

Languages all over the world are always in a state of flux. Old words drop out of usage, and new ones are added. The difference today is that we can almost point to an actual person and time when new words are added whereas, in the past, much of that was never documented in any way. They remain mysteries.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Street scene in Luta during Japanese times

Reinhold Atalig Mangloña, as his first name suggests, was born in Luta (Rota) when there was still a German priest there. He was baptized Reinhold, a German name, but Chamorros also Hispanicized it to Rainaldo.

But the Japanese had just come to the Northern Marianas and the Japanese language and culture were about to influence the Chamorros of Luta and Saipan in a very big way.

Reinhold went to school and learned the following story from his Japanese teacher, a woman. It was shared with me by his son Richie Mangloña and the text is Richie's own spelling and wording. The English translation is mine.

The moral of the story : respect the elderly as sources of wisdom.

Gi tiempon antigo giya Hapon, eståba ti man ma gef polu' i manåmko'-ñiha
(In ancient times in Japan, they did not really consider their elderly)

komu man gai båli osino man malåte'.
(as having any worth or else as being intelligent.)

I manaotao Hapones sesso man ma fa'tinåsi kuåtto i manåmko'-ñiha
(Japanese people often made rooms for their elderly)

gi santåtten guma' pat gi la chågu' ginen i gima'-ñiha
(in the rear of the house or farther away from their houses)

putno u fan ma atendin maolek sa' ma po'lu na esta meggai-ña
(so as not to attend to them well because they considered that they were more)

estotbun-ñiñiha ki todu i prubechu.
(of a bother rather than a benefit.)

Pues guaha un familia mañåsaga Hokkaido'.
(So there was a family living in Hokkaido.)

I tåta as Mitsuro, i nåna as Mikki, i hagan-ñiha as Eiko yan si nånan-biha as Mio.
(Mitsuro was the father, Mikki the mother, Eiko their daughter and Mio the grandmother.)

Ma na' såsaga si nånan-biha gi dikiki' na kuåtto gi tatten-guma'.
(They housed grandmother in a small room behind the house.)

Un dia sigi umesalao i taotao i Impiradot na para u guaha kumpitensia
(One day the Emperor's people kept shouting that there was to be a contest)

para todu i famagu'on eskuela ya i håyi gumånna
(for all the school children and whoever won)

para u ma nå'i dångkulu na premiun salåpe'!
(would be given a large prize of money!)

Magahet si Mitsuro sumen popble ya ha tåtanga na puedde u gånna
(Truly Mitsuro was very poor and he wished that perhaps)

i hagå-ña i premiu komu ha na' saonao gi kumpitensia!
(his daughter would win the prize if he made her participate in the contest!)

Infin humalom i påtgon Mitsuro gi kumpitensia ya man ma na'i hafa para u ma cho'gue.
(At last Mitsuro's child entered the contest and they were given what they were to do.)

I kuestion nai man ma presenta i famagu'on ilek-ña, "Haftaimanu nai siña
(The question which was presented to the children said, "How can

en na'halom i hilun man laksi gi esti i gai maddok na alamli nai
(you put the sewing thread into the hole of this wire which)

ma chaflilik gi todu direksion ya para un na'huyong gi otro banda?"
(twists in all directions so that you make it come out on the other side?")

Ha chagi i påtgon todu i tiningo'-ña lao ti siña ha na' adotgan
(The child tried with all her knowledge but could not run through)

i hilu ginen i un måddok esta i otro.
(the thread from one hole to the other.)

Ni si Mitsuro yan i asagua-ña ti ma tungo' taimanu para u ma cho'gue este na chagi.
(Not even Mitsura and his wife knew how to do this attempt.)

Esta ma po'lu na imposipble esti para u ma cho'gue ya man triste i familia
(They already figured that this was impossible to do and the family was sad)

sa' ma hasso na ti siña ma gånna i premiu.
(because they thought that they couldn't win the prize.)

Pues annai man matata'chong gi kusina mañochocho un oga'an, ha lipåra si Eiko
(So when they sat down eating in the kitchen one morning, Eiko noticed)

na man guaguasan si nånan biha gi hiyong i kuatto-ña gi lachago' na distansia.
(that grandmother was trimming outside her room at a far distance.)

Ilek-ña, "Nangga ya bai faisen si nanan-biha kao ha tungo' taimanu nai siña
(She said, "Wait and I will ask grandmother if she knows how it is possible)

ta na' adotgan esti i hilu guini na alamli".
(for us to push the thread through the wire.")

Man oppe ha' si Mitsuro, "Esta ennao i biha maleffa, hafa gue' ennao tiningo'-ña!".
(Mitsuro answered, "The old lady already forgot that, what does she know about that!")

Ti man osgi si Eiko, ha bisita guato si bihå-ña ya ha faisen. Ilek-ña si Mio, 
(Eiko didn't obey, she visited her grandmother and asked her. Mio said,)

"Ai iha na linibiåno ennao i finaisesen-mu. Fan aligao oddot agaga' ya
("Oh daughter what you are asking is so easy. Look for red ants and)

un godde i tataotao-ña nai hilun man laksi.
(tie its body with the sewing thread.)

Na' hålom gi halom i måddok pues po'luyi asukat i otro banda
(Put it through the hole then put sugar for it on the other side)

sa' siempre ha tatiyi i pao asukat ya humuyong gi otro bånda!"
(because for sure it will follow the smell of sugar and go out the other side!")

Ha cho'gue si Eiko i tinago' i biha ya magahet macho'cho'!
(Eiko did grandmother's instruction and it truly worked!)

Ha håla magahet i oddot i hilu ginen i un båndan i alamli esta i otro banda!
(The ant really pulled the thread from one side of the wire to the other side!)

Sumen magof si Eiko!
(Eiko was really happy!)

Måtto i ha'ane para u ma presenta i famagu'on håfa ineppen-ñiha guato gi Impiradot!
(The day came for the children to present their answer to the Emperor!)

Meggai chumagi man man na'i ineppe lao ti kumfotmi i Imperadot.
(Many tried to give an answer but the Emperor didn't agree.)

Annai måtto tarea-ña si Eiko, ha fa'nu'i i Imperadot taimanu ma cho'gue-ña.
(When it came to Eiko's turn, she showed the Emperor how it is done.)

Mampos manman i Imperadot ya ha faisen i påtgon.,
(The Emperor was really amazed and asked the child,)

"Kao hagu ha' esti humasso para un cho'gue pat ma ayuda hao?"
("Was it only you who thought of doing this or were you helped?")

Ti yaña si Eiko mandagi pues ilek-ña, "Ahe', si bihå-hu yu' fuma'nå'gue!".
(Eiko didn't like to lie so she said, "No, my grandmother taught me!")

Annai ha tungo' i Imperadot na ayu i un biha sumåtba i finaisen-ña na kuestion,
(When the Emperor knew that it was one old lady who solved the question he asked,)

ha rialisa na lachi eyu na hinengge i para u fan ma chachanda i manåmko'!
(he realized that it was wrong thinking to be rejecting the elderly!)

Ginen eyu na tiempo, ha otdin na debi todu i manåmko' Hapon
(From that time, he ordered that all the elderly of Japan)

ufan ma atiendin maolek ya u fan ma setbi komu siha kumåkatga i ancho na kinimprendi.
(were to be attended to and served well as being the ones who carried broad understanding.)

Magof si Eiko' annai man siha yan si Nånan-biha ta'lo gi halom guma'
(Eiko was happy when she was together again with grandmother in the house)

ya kada dia ha atendi komu guiya i tesorun i familia!
(and she took care of her as being the treasure of the family!)

Reinhold Atalig Mangloña
1917 ~ 2002


Hapon/Hapones are the older Chamorro words for "Japan" and "Japanese," borrowed from Spanish. More recently, especially among Chamorros from Guam, American influence has brought into the language the word Chapanis for "Japanese."

Monday, July 24, 2017


A village picked itself up and moved down the road.

What we call Agat today was not the original location of that village, called Hågat in Chamorro.

Why the change? World War II


In this pre-war map, you can see that Agat was located north of the present location of the village. A good landmark to orientate yourself is Ga'an Point, where there are Japanese guns located to this day. Ga'an Point is where the present village of Agat is located. In the higher circle, you can see the original village of Agat, with its several streets. The area which later became New Agat was once farmland.

Here is another map, based on pre-war information, showing the original location of the village. South of the old village, there is nothing but farmland and jungle.


But the war was to change all of that. In July of 1944, the Americans returned to invade the island and take it back from the Japanese. Two beaches were chosen to land the American invading forces : Asan and Agat. This meant the destruction of the two villages. American planes bombed Agat to smithereens in order to weaken the Japanese defensive forces entrenched in the village and its beaches.

This map shows the invasion point for the U.S. forces in Agat. The village is clearly in the way of the incoming American troops. The village church and its homes were all destroyed or damaged by American pre-invasion bombing.

Another view of the American invasion. The original village is just to the left of this map outlining the invasion. The new village lies in the center of this map, at Ga'an Point.


When the battle was over and the Americans had to care for the civilian population, it was decided to relocate the people down the road from the original village. The Americans did the same with the people of Sumay, relocating them a few miles east of the village. But this new village for the Sumay residents was not called New Sumay. It was called Santa Rita, the name of that location since before the war.

But in Agat's case, the Americans called the new location of the village "New Agat." The name "New Agat" persisted even into the 1960s.

The area where the current village is located covers places with different names. By the shoreline is Ga'an, which is also the name of the point. As the terrain then rises gently up to Mount Alifan, the inner part of present-day Agat was called Alifan. In the first map posted above, you can see the names of the other sites in the area.

In this map right after the war, you can see the village is now called "New Agat" and it is located down the road from the original location.

"New Agat" right after the war, with temporary housing structures built for the people.

A government record of planned sewage lines after the war talks about connecting the lines to "New Agat."

Even into the 1960s, as seen in this 1963 economic report, the government talked about "New Agat." The name "New Agat" disappeared from ordinary conversation by the 1970s. "New Agat" just became "Agat" or "Hågat."


The boundaries of Old Agat were the Ñåmo River to the north, and the old cemetery to the south. This area, once abandoned right after the war, became repopulated slowly over time, as this current map shows. The old cemetery is still in existence, and indicated the southern end of the old village of Agat before the war. A good landmark for old Agat is the 76 gas station, which older people say was the location of the pre-war church.

Photo by Frankie Casil
The 76 Gas Station is approximately where the pre-war church used to stand.

The old Agat Cemetery, which can be missed by passersby, is the southern border of the old village.

             Looking at a modern map, showing the relation between the old village and the new

Thursday, July 20, 2017


José Díaz Wilson
(spelled Willson)

In the 1800s, there was a Wilson family in the Marianas.

James (in Spanish, Santiago) Wilson arrived in Guam around 1826, according to an 1831 document listing the names of foreigners living on the island.

Other records suggest that his full name was Robert James Wilson.

His main occupation, it seems, the whole time he lived on Guam was pilot at the port. This means he directed to shore the boats that would pick up passengers from the larger ships anchoring at Apra.

He seems to have married twice and had nine children, but we're not sure of all of their names, nor of the first wife's name.

But one of the older children seems to have been a María Wilson, born around 1827 and a 70-year-old widow by the time she is listed in the 1897 Census. Her deceased husband was Juan Díaz, who was dead already by 1866. In 1897 she is living with two grandchildren.

1866 document stating that María Wilson was the widow of Juan Díaz

There seems to have also been a Juana Wilson, deceased by the 1897 Census but the first wife of Francisco Pangelinan, aged 76 years, listed in the 1897 Census.

Juana Wilson and Francisco Pangelinan could be the parents of one José Wilson Pangelinan, born around 1878 who moved to Saipan. He married twice. His first wife was Dolores San Nicolás Sablan and his second wife was María Cabrera San Nicolás. He was better known as Jose'n Obo.

This Juana Wilson, married to a Francisco Pangelinan, might explain why there is also mention of a man named Lorenzo Wilson Pangelinan, He is absent from the 1897 Census but there does appear there a widow named Valeria de la Cruz, who had been married to a Lorenzo Wilson Pangelinan, dead by 1897.

We are more certain about James' children from his second wife, Rufina Palomo Díaz.

One was a daughter named Eduviges, who married Antonio Pangelinan Martínez. Many of their children married into socially prominent families. Antonia married into the Goyo clan (José Flores Pérez); Emilia married the American William Notley; Ana married Carl Bergquist; Josefa married Julián Pérez Sáiz; Joaquín married Rita Anderson Millinchamp; and Ángel married Emilia Roberto Kamminga.

Another daughter, María, married into the Siket family of Castros. Her husband was Ezequiel León Guerrero Castro. From the Chamorro pronunciation of Ezequiel (E - se - kiet) is derived the family nickname Siket.

Thus it seems that James had two daughters named María; one from the first wife and the other from the second wife.

James had one son whose name appears frequently in the old documents. His name was José, and he followed in his father's footsteps and worked as a pilot at the port. In those days, the boat carrying passengers from the ships would land at the pier in Piti, which was part of the village of Tepungan. José was civic head of Tepungan a few years, too.

Here is a reference to José Wilson and his son from an author who wrote about arriving at Apra harbor in 1895:

"About sunset on Christmas eve, we sight the high table lands of Guam....and finally drop anchor at Fort (San) Luis de Apra. As there was nothing to be gained by going on shore long after dark, we deferred our landing till next morning. About nine o'clock a boat comes off, manned by a crew of natives, under the command of the son of Joe Wilson, the pilot." (1)

It's interesting that the American author calls José by an American nickname - Joe. With all those British and American whalers visiting Guam in the 1800s, it wouldn't surprise me if José, half-white himself, was called Joe by the British and Americans.

José married Encarnación de San Nicolás and had some daughters and a son Antonio, but we cannot find descendants from Antonio and so the Wilson name eventually died out on Guam.

(1) Christian, FW. The Caroline Islands (1899)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


A View of Pågan

It is rare that I come across a song written about one of the northern islands, but I caught something on Facebook. It was a home recording of Tomasa Taman Ada, also known as Tan Båcha', singing about missing the island of Pågan. Tan Båcha' was born in Agrigan but spent part of her childhood on Pågan. Pågan was evacuated in 1981 when its northern volcano erupted but, since then, small groups of people have gone back and forth to Pågan and some live there to this day. Against vocal opposition from the local community, the U.S. military hopes to use Pågan for live-fire shooting practices.

In this homemade video, Tan Båcha' is asked by her daughter to sing the song. Without prior rehearsing, she needed some help in remembering some of the lines.

Later, I made the following recording of the song with the help of two talented musicians, Tony Treltas and John Perez.


I langet yan i chinago'-ña, hongga ha' hulo' i piniti-ho.
(Heaven and its distance, my sorrow is heard above.)

Kulan ha' mo'n para bai hu måtai, ya u dingo yo' i anti-ho.
(It's as if I am going to die, and my soul depart from me.)

I Faibus yan i chinago'-ña, hongga ha' påpa' i koron man ånghet.
(Faibus and its distance, the choir of angels is heard below.)

Olåra mo'n ya bai hu li'e' i tano'-ho iya Pågan.
(Oh that I would see my land of Pågan.)


Chinago'-ña. The sorrow of the singer is due, in part, to the distance that separates her from heaven and from Pågan.

Mo'n. Is a shortening of the word mohon, which indicates something hoped for or possible.

Anti-ho. The song is very theological. In Catholic theology, death is defined as the separation of body and soul. The body dies; the soul does not die. The body dies when the soul leaves it.

Faibus. Is the name of a location on Pågan. It is probably Carolinian in origin. Carolinians (as well as Chamorros) settled on Pågan. There is also a place called Faibus on Tinian, which at one time was settled by Carolinians.