Friday, July 22, 2016


Juan C. and Rosa M. Paulino
Juan is the grandson of Mariano, the founder of the Paulino clan

All the Paulinos of Guam can trace their ancestry to one man named Mariano Baza Paulino.

Mariano was originally from the Philippines and came to Guam around 1840. By the late 1850s he was the alcalde or mayor of Tinian. Tinian did not have a permanent population but was rather a government cattle ranch, staffed by 20 or so Chamorros from Guam who worked there for a couple of years and then were replaced by another round of workers from Guam.

The income from the sale of Tinian beef helped raise funds for government projects like the hospital for lepers (Hansen's Disease) run on Guam.

Thanks to baptismal records in Saipan which survive to this day, where Tinian baptisms were recorded, we have documented evidence for Mariano.

Mariano's wife was Maria de Borja Aguon, a Chamorro of Hagåtña.

Some of Mariano and Maria's children were born in Tinian and Saipan.

Eventually, Mariano and family moved back to Guam and settled in Inalåhan. From there, the family grew and spread to the rest of Guam and, now, to the U.S. mainland and perhaps even beyond.

One of Mariano's sons, Vicente, was living in Hagåtña in the 1890s with his wife Fabiana Cepeda, but apparently moved back to Inalåhan some time later.

Mariano and Maria had three sons to carry on the name, and three daughters.

The three sons were Manuel, Vicente and Jose. All those who carry the surname Paulino of the Marianas can trace their ancestry back to one of these three men.

Jesus Paulino on the far right with other Inalåhan parishioners in the early 1970s accepting a donated car for the parish from Ricky Bordallo

Jaime D. Paulino (right) was Mayor of Inalåhan from 1981 to 1989

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Karakot gi halom tåsi
(Shell inside the sea)

A'anok yan lalamlam;
(visible and shiny;)

i linamlåm-ña yan i bunitu-ña
(its brightness and beauty)

ti chumilong yan i guinaiya-ko.
(are not equal to my love.)

Ya i napu gi taddong tåsi
(And the waves in the deep sea)

måfåtto yan humåhånao;
(come and go;)

taggam, taggam yanggen siña
(block it, block it if you can)

lao adahe hao nu i chaochao.
(but be careful of the turbulence.)

~ Author unknown


Karakot. Borrowed from the Spanish caracol, meaning "snail, seashell, conch, shell or cochlea in the ear."

Chilong. To match, balance, make equal. A synonym is the Spanish loan word pareho. Na' chilong i che'cho'-mo yan i apås-mo. Make equal your work and your pay. In other words, work for your pay.

Taggam. To block, stop, confront, repress. It also came to mean "to meet someone arriving," because, in one sense, to meet someone arriving at the airport or dock is to stop their movement traveling. Taggam is also used to describe how the priest meets the casket of the dead when it arrives at the church door for the funeral rites.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Meggai åños tåtte na tiempo, åntes de i finatton i Españot, måtto gi islå-ta un tiempon ha'ilas.
(At a time many years ago, before the arrival of the Spaniards, a time of drought came to our island.)

Man måtai todo i tinanom siha. Ni un pedåson suni pat dågo pat ni håfafa na klåsen tinekcha siña ma sodda'.
(All the plants died. Not one piece of taro or yam nor any kind of fruit was able to be found.)

Man sen ñalang todo i taotao siha, kololo'-ña i man dikkike' na famagu'on.
(All the people were very hungry, especially the little children.)

Manetnon todo i maga'låhen i san lago na bånda para u ma deside håf para u ma cho'gue.
(All the chiefs of the northern/western* side met to decide what to do.)

Yan taiguennao lokkue' bidan-ñiha i maga'låhen siha gi san haya na bånda gi isla.
(And the chiefs of the southern/eastern side of the island did the same.)

I un gurupu ti ma tungo' håfa para bidan-ñiñiha i otro na gurupu.
(The one group did not know what the other group would be doing.)

Lao todo i dos gurupu ma deside para u tågo' uno na maga'låhe yan dos ga'chong-ña påtgon para u fanhånao para i otro na bånda pot para u tungo' håfa na nengkanno' siña guaha guihe.
(But both groups decided to send one chief and two child companions to go to the other side in order to know what food might be there.)

Ya ennao magåhet ma cho'gue.
(And that is, in fact, what was done.)

Sigiente dia, finakcha'i na uma'sodda' todo i dos na gurupu gi talo' gi isla.
(The following day, it happened that both groups met in the middle of the island.)

Hinengan i dos maga'låhe na pareho ha' intension-ñiha para u ketungo' håfa na nengkanno' siña ha' guaha gi otro bånda ya ma tutuhon i dos kumuentos pot i eskases ni muna' fañachatsaga todo i taotao siha gi isla.
(The two chiefs were surprised that their intentions to try to know what food might there be on the other side were the same, and the two began to converse about the scarcity which was putting all the people of the island in hardship.)

I kuåttro na famagu'on, pot i man yayas yan man ñålang, man åsson gi edda' para u fan maigo'.
(The four children, because they were tired and hungry, lay on the ground to sleep.)

Pot fin, kontodo i dos maga'låhe malingo maigo'-ñiha gi annai esta gespainge.
(At last, even the two chiefs fell asleep when it was already very late in the night.)

Gigon makmåta i dos maga'låhe, ma sodda' na man måtai i kuåttro na famagu'on mina' i niñalang-ñiha ni esta ti siña ma sungon.
(When the two chiefs woke up, they discovered that the four children died of their unbearable hunger.)

Gi trinisten-ñiha, i dos maga'låhe ma håfot i famagu'on ya ma håtsa åcho' latte gi naftan siha.
(In their sadness, the two chiefs buried the children and set up latte stones on the graves.)

Todo i taotao siha tumungo' na este na lugåt nai man ma håfot i kuåttro na famagu'on.
(Everyone knew that this was the place where the four children were buried.)

Åños despues, ma sodda' na kuåttro na trongko man dokko' guihe na lugåt, un trongko kada naftan.
(Years later, they saw that four trees grew in that place, one tree for each grave.)

Tåt nai ma li'e este na klåsen trongko, lao annai ma sotne ya ma kånno i tinekchå-ña, ei na minannge'!
(They had never seen this kind of tree, but when they boiled and ate its fruit, it was delicious!)

Ma ågang "lemmai" ya desde ayo para mo'na, tåya' na man måtai ñålang i taotao gi isla,
(They called it "lemmai," and from that time on, the people of the island never died of hunger,)

sa' achok ha' påkyo pat ha'ilas i tano', lamita gi sakkan guaguaha ha' lemmai para mantension i linahyan taotao.
(because even if there is typhoon or a drought in the land, half of the year there is still lemmai for the sustenance of the people.)

* san lago and san haya mean two different directions depending on which island (and sometimes village) you live in.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Just as we did centuries ago with Spanish, we do with English today.

We borrow the word and change it to fit our grammar and, many times, our pronunciation.

Nice to see also, as in the photo above, we feel free to change the spelling to match the way it really sounds to us.

So English "type" becomes Chamorro taip. Not as in "What's your type?" but rather "Can you type?"

Ti hu tungo' mantaip.
(I don't know how to type.)

This is interesting because, according to the normal rules, N+T becomes a simple N.

Man+tunu (to barbeque) becomes manunu.

Man+tungo' (to know) becomes manungo'.

So man+taip should become manaip. At first it sounds weird, but perhaps if heard often enough it wouldn't sound so strange. And, there are always exceptions to rules, so perhaps it would have remained mantaip.

Håye tumaip este?
(Who typed this?)

How about "typewriter?"

In other languages, the word becomes a compound word meaning "writing machine."

In Spanish, máquina a escribir.

In French, machine à écrire.

In German, Schreibmaschine.

So I suppose, in Chamorro, it could be måkinan månge'.

Måkina = machine (but also engine)

Månge' = to write (man+tuge' becomes månge')

Now månge' looks a whole lot like månnge' ("delicious") so be careful.

If you misplaced a typewiter you really liked, you could say

"Mångge i mannge' na måkinan månge'?"

"Where is the really good (literally, delicious) writing machine?"

We call anything we really like månnge' (delicious).

Friday, July 1, 2016


On December 8, 1941, when Japan attacked Guam from the air, the American Naval Government prepared for the imminent invasion.

Part of the plan was to set free the civilian prisoners serving time in the capital city's jail. That way, they wouldn't all perish at the same time if a Japanese bomb made a direct hit on the jail. In fact, a Japanese bomb did land close enough to the jail to damage a corner of it. But it was quickly repaired.

When the Japanese were securely the masters of the island, Saipan Chamorro interpreters helped round up the prisoners released by the Americans. The Japanese word for "interpreter" is tsuuyaku.

A man named Takeshi Shimada was a police investigator whom Saipan interpreters said was police chief during the Occupation, or at least acted as one. Helping him were fifteen or so Saipan interpreters who did more than translating. They also supplied the muscle in performing police work and in physically punishing civilians under police custody.

Some Guam Chamorro inmates continued to be a source of irritation to the Japanese police.

Juan T. was arrested for stealing a fusiños (hoe) and was thrown into the city jail and beaten.

Jose M., Enrique R. and Jose C. made the daring move to escape from the Hagåtña jail. They claimed hunger drove them to do it. They roamed around looking for food and were finally caught by the Japanese in Ordot. They were taken back to the jail and beaten.

Some inmates were caught playing dice late at night on New Year's Eve and were punished with beatings.

One Saipan police interpreter got drunk and started berating the Guam Chamorro inmates, telling them that they longed for the return of the Americans, but that they would never eat "bacon and ham" again. He then started beating them in his drunken state.

A Guam inmate testified that, during his entire time jailed in Hagåtña, he witnessed around 50 separate beatings of other inmates. Some were serious enough that the victim died as a result of the beating.

In their defense, some Saipan interpreters said that they had to be hard on their fellow Chamorros from Guam because the Japanese were watching. The last thing they wanted was to be accused by the Japanese for being soft on the Guam Chamorros. The Japanese expected total loyalty from the Saipan Chamorros, since they had grown up under the Japanese since 1914. They would have gotten a worse beating from the Japanese, they said, had they not satisfied the Japanese.

Thursday, June 30, 2016


Påle' Daniet
(Fr Daniel de Arbácegui, OFM Cap)

It's interesting how a little-known bit of personal history can become a song  sixty or more years later, sung in a different place by people unconnected to the event.

The song deals with a Spanish Capuchin missionary in Yap in the late 1890s and early 1900s. His name was Father Daniel de Arbácegui. In Chamorro, Daniel is pronounced Daniet.

There was a small community of Chamorros living in Yap since Spanish times and they were close to the Spanish missionaries.

A young boy of around 6 years of age lost both parents and was then raised by Påle' Daniet. But then the Germans took over Yap and the Spanish missionaries had to go. At some point, the little boy moved to Saipan, but nothing more for certain is known about him.

The story was kept by Juan Sanchez, a writer, poet and storyteller in Saipan who was very close to the clergy.  Alex Sablan, the composer and singer of the song, learned the story from Sanchez.


There was one other boy in Micronesia raised by the Spanish Capuchins. His name was Miguel de la Concepcion. Was this the boy raised by Påle' Daniet? I have my doubts.

First of all, the boy in the song was from Yap whereas Miguel de la Concepcion was from Ponape. Påle' Daniet, too, was a missionary in Yap and never stayed in Ponape, where Miguel was from. Finally, the boy in the song moved to Saipan, but Miguel moved to Manila where he continued to be raised by the Spanish friars there. But...I think we should leave some room for the possibility that the orphaned boy in question is Miguel de la Concepcion and that, as often happens, the oral information passed from person to person, got some details mixed up.


Sais åños ha' trabia i idåt-ho annai kinenne' as Yu'us i dos saina-ho.
(My age was only still 6 years when God took my two parents.)

Ya si Påle' Daniet pumoksai yo'; dumångkulo yo' gi gima' misionario.
(And Father Daniel raised me; I grew up in the house of a missionary.)

Hu nånå'e gråsia si Yu'us pot i yino'åse' Påle' Daniet.
(I give thanks to God for the kindness of Father Daniel.)

Guiya kulan tahguen i dos saina-ho. Si Påle' Daniet pumoksai yo'.
(He was like the replacement of my two parents. Father Daniel raised me.)


Idåt. Age. From the Spanish edad. Some people spell it and pronounce it edåt.

Yino'åse'. The more usual rendering is yine'ase'.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016



When the Japanese occupied Guam, from late 1941 till mid 1944, our people were called by different but similar names by the Japanese.

One word was tomin, which meant "islander" and is made up of two Chinese characters, the first for "island" (to) and the second for "person" (min).

This name was applied to all the native people of the islands in Micronesia.


A second name was a bit different.

The first character is for do, which means "land." The second character is once again "min" for "person."

So domin means "people or person of the land." Just as in taotao tåno'.

But, by the time of the war, domin carried with it a negative flavor. It meant someone uncivilized and barbaric.


Finally, there was dojin. Again we see do for "land" and now "jin" which is similar to "min" and means "person." "Person of the land."

This, too, had a derogatory connotation.

Many Chamorros during the Japanese Occupation knew of these words and knew about the intended put-down.

Even in Saipan, when the war was fully on and was going badly for the Japanese, the Japanese changed their attitude towards the Chamorros in Saipan. They lost trust in them and considered them potential enemies. The Japanese felt that somehow the Saipan Chamorros secretly favored the Americans, perhaps because Chamorros had been somewhat westernized by Spain and shared the same Christian background as the Americans. 

So, the Japanese put many restrictions on the Chamorros in Saipan and some ended up on Japanese lists of suspected people. The Carolinians, too, of course, suffered the same restrictions. The harsher the Japanese treated their own Chamorro subjects in Saipan and Luta, the more Chamorro support for Japan eroded.

The Chamorros and Carolinians of Saipan were, also, for the Japanese military, dojin.

The tensions of an impending American invasion, and defeat in war, brought out the underlying truth that there never was an integration of the Saipan/Luta Chamorros into the Japanese community. The Japanese made sure of that by always considering others as non-Japanese, no matter how long these others had been under the Japanese flag or how well these others spoke Japanese and served the Japanese system.

There had always been "race consciousness" and a racial hierarchy with the Japanese, who were at the top of the ladder. These were followed by the Okinawans, then the Koreans, then the Chamorros and Carolinians. Closer to the truth is that the Japanese considered themselves a world apart from everyone else. There was the Japanese, and then there was everyone else. 

The same thing can be said about other racial or national groups around the world. American military personnel on Guam had to be reprimanded by their own naval authorities for using racial slurs against Chamorros. There were other signs given by Americans that they and the Chamorros were two different kinds of people. Chamorros, too, can be guilty of looking down on people from other races.

It is human nature to love oneself, and everyone else around us is an extension of the self, to greater and lesser degrees. The closer those others are to the self, the more loved. So, after "me" comes "my family," "my town," "my island/state/province," "my race," "my country," "my region of the world" and finally, "my human race!"

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Charles Freeman was the captain of a whaling ship. In 1856 he arrived on Guam and was in search of young Chamorro men to work on his ship catching whales.

By then, the Spanish Government on Guam already had a system in place. The whaling captain would enter into a formal agreement with the Spanish Government for the services of a young Chamorro man.

The agreement included the following terms :

1. The Chamorro recruit was allowed by the Spanish Government to leave the island for eight months to serve on the whaling ship. After that, he had to be returned back to Guam by the captain. (The Spanish Government in the Marianas often expressed how Chamorro young men were so quick to abandon the islands forever, when the islands in fact were low in population. This may have been a way the Government sought to keep these young men from leaving the island permanently. It didn't work.)

2. The Chamorro recruit was paid up front by the captain before leaving island.

3. The captain could not oblige the Chamorro recruit to leave the Catholic religion and had to allow the Chamorro recruit to observe Catholic practices. (Most American and British captains were not Catholic and many of the crew were also not Catholic. This would be the first time Chamorro young men would be exposed to a non-Catholic environment.)

4. The captain had to deposit money with the Spanish Government which he could reclaim once he fulfilled the terms of the contract and returned the Chamorro recruit to Guam.

The interesting thing is that many Chamorro recruits never did come back to Guam. Many whaling ships called on Guam once, never to return again. Many of these Chamorro seamen gladly continued with their work and travels overseas. With neither the captain nor the Chamorro whaler wanting to return, Guam continued to lose many, if not most, of her young whalers. The loss of the deposit was not a big loss perhaps for these captains.

Here's what the contract said involving Captain Freeman and the Spanish Government for the services of one José Quintanilla of Hagåtña :

In the City of Agaña on March 15 of 1856, before Don Felipe de la Corte, Military and Political Governor of these Mariana Islands, and us, Don José de la Cruz and Leocadio Crisóstomo, with the interpreters Don Vicente Deza and José Pérez, appeared Mr. C. Freeman, captain of the English whaling ship Sir Edward Perry, and José Quintanilla, native of this city, a bachelor of 17 years of age, they stated that Mr. Freeman obliges said José Quintanilla to sail on his ship in the class of sailor for a period of eight months during which he must return him to this same island of Guam satisfying him or paying him for his work in one for every 170 of what they may catch while he is on board, not obligating him to follow or adhere to any other religious principle save that of the Catholic, Apostolic, Roman which he professes, allowing him the proper expressions of it. And that on account of his work in what he may earn he gives at this moment the quantity of 13 pesos which José Quintanilla acknowledges as received, obligating himself to sail on said ship for the time mentioned. And for the security of this contract, both parties are obliged with their persons and acquired goods and since Mr. Freeman has specially mortgaged the sum of 80 pesos in currency which he deposits in the hands of the Governor who acknowledges it as received and is obliged to return it as this contract is completed and the mentioned José Quintanilla is presented satisfied of the completion of it, and as he does not know how to sign his name he made a cross at the side of his name, the Governor and Captain and interpreters signing, of which we attest.

A recruitment contract between the Spanish Governor of the Marianas and a whaling captain

Monday, June 27, 2016


A catechism is a summary of church teaching, traditionally in question-and-answer format.

Blessed Diego Luís de Sanvitores taught the catechism to Chamorros in the Chamorro language, setting it to music, as our people loved to sing.

Sadly, we don't have many copies of the Chamorro writings used by the missionaries 300 years ago. But we do have a catechism in Chamorro composed by the first Chamorro priest, Padre José Palomo (Påle' Engko') written 100 or more years ago.

Palomo was born in 1836 and his parents were born around the beginning of that century, and his grandparents were born in the last decades of the 1700s. When Palomo was a teen, he would have known people born in the 1750s and would have heard the Chamorro that they spoke. So when you see Palomo's Chamorro writing, we most likely have a glimpse into the language that goes back to the mid 1700s, very close to the pre-contact language. One will see very clearly that the Chamorro spoken by Palomo was deep in the indigenous tongue, though Spanish loan words are present. Palomo's catechism uses Chamorro words that today have fell into disuse and he uses words in now-forgotten forms.

When Palomo set out to write a Chamorro catechism, he did the time-efficient thing and decided to translate a Spanish catechism into Chamorro, rather than compose one from scratch. Why reinvent the wheel!


In Palomo's day, there were only two widespread Spanish catechisms, known by the last names of the authors : Astete and Ripalda. It was said that these two catechisms were the only truly known and used catechisms in Spain for many years that when two Spaniards met up for the first time, they would ask each other, "Astete? Or Ripalda?"

Palomo chose Astete's catechism. You can see Astete's name on the title page of the Palomo catechism at the top of this post.

A Spanish edition of Astete's catechism


Monhan. An old word, not even appearing in the latest Chamorro dictionary (2009). It is connected to the still-used word monhåyan. They both mean "completed" or "finished."

Yuhe. "That." Today we mostly say "ayo," which was also used in the past. Uhe is another form of yuhe.

Hulon. "Superior, chief, top, supreme." From the root word hulo' (top, above). Can also mean "judge." I am of the opinion that the last name Taijeron comes from the words tai (without) and hulon (superior) because the Spaniards often used an R in place of our L in words. The tai changes the hulon to hilon, just as the tai changes guma' to gima' (taigima' = homeless).

Ini. "This." Ini was gradually lost and replaced by the Spanish word este.

Ereda. "To inherit." From the Spanish word heredar, "to inherit." Ma ereda yo' ayo na tåno'. I inherited that land. Erensia (also from Spanish) means "inheritance," but inereda can also mean "inheritance."

Atochocho. "To force, coerce." Ma atochocho yo' humalom. I was forced to go in.

Chihet. "To join, adhere, get close to, unite with." Na' chihet hao as Yu'us. Get close to God.

Kaikai. "To move." Ti ha kakaikai yo'. It doesn't move me.

Iseknåne. "To judge wrongly, to damage someone by judging wrongly." Cha'-mo mamaiseknånåne ni håye. Do not judge anyone wrongly.

Kahna. "To cast spells, witchery." From the pre-contact makahna who were intermediaries with the spirits.

Guailaye. "Useful, necessary, helpful." Diddide' guailaye-ña. It has little usefulness. What remains today is the expression "Ti guailaye," or "It isn't necessary."

Pekka'. "Position, charge, responsibility, duty." I man gai pekka'. Those in charge.

Pennga. "Habit, custom, tradition."  Båba penngå-ña. He has bad habits. This was gradually replaced by the Spanish word kostumbre.

Chengle. "Detain, capture, imprison, enslave." Ma chengle yo' annai måkpo' i gera. I was detained after the war.

Mansangan. "It is said." From ma+såsångan.

Tuka'. "To poke, as with a thorn." The word "thorn" or tituka' comes from this. Tuka' can also mean "to incite, to spur to action, to begin something" as when one is poked from idleness and starts to move.

Fa'hiyunge. "To calumniate, to accuse someone falsely." Cha'-mo mamahiyunge. Don't accuse someone falsely.

Muto'. "To resolve, to obligate oneself." Minito' is "resolution, determination." Muto' yo'. I am resolved.

Alle'. "To make a mistake, commit error." Inalle' is "defect, sin, fault, mistake."

Guot. "To maintain, hold on to." Ha guot i kanai-ho. He held onto my hand.

Guahåye. "To provide." From guåha (to have, to exist) and the suffix -e (for someone).  Bai na' guahåye hao karetå-mo agupa'. I will provide you with a car tomorrow.

Eppok. "To excite, stimulate, persuade." Ha eppok yo' humånao. He persuaded me to go.

Diles. "To excel, to surpass." Cha'-mo didiles i lai. Do not go beyond the law. Mandiles hao. You shined.

Famaiche'cho'. "Force, effort." Na' famaiche'cho' i ilu-mo umestudia! Force your head to study!

Måsga. "To change for the better, to repent." Ha tutuhon mumåsga. He has started to change for the better. It is a surname in Luta.

Fa'aila'. "To accuse, to report a wrong-doing." Esta ma fa'aila' i sakke. The thief has already been reported.

Seko. "To punch, to beat with the fist." Gi Misa hu seko i haof-ho. I beat my chest at Mass.

Fegge'. "Impression, image or imprint left behind." Guåha feggen måtan taotao gi liga. There is an imprint of a man's face on the wall."

Ingen. "To detest, to abhor, to reject." Hu gof ingen i dinage. I really detest lies.

Friday, June 24, 2016


People lived on this beach perhaps 3500 years ago!

Despite the fact that this beach was the scene of a large American invasion in 1944, greatly disturbing the physical environment, archaeologists were able to dig and search and find evidence of human settlement going as far back as 3500 years.

Unai Chulu is a beach in the northwest corner of Tinian.

The signs of human habitation at this beach, going so far back in time, show that our ancestors lived almost anywhere along the coast where dwellings could be built, even if the beach was a small one and the reef close to shore.

Tinian is a rather flat island. This beach area would have been more exposed to the elements as there are no caves and no high cliffs in this area. The people may have have depended more heavily on the sea for food than in other places in the Marianas where land resources would have been more plentiful.

Chulu is not far from a fresh water lake, which is more like marsh land, called Hagoi, which is the Chamorro word for "lake." But the water, at least now, is brackish, though ancient people could have probably strained or boiled it for drinking purposes. Otherwise, people would have collected rain water as a main source of drinking water.

This pottery sherd was found at the House of Taga, south of Chulu. But a unique and more decorated one was found at Chulu.

A unique find at Chulu was a pottery sherd which was decorated on both sides, including the inner part of the bowl or pot. On both inside and outside walls of the pot, a line of impressed circles filled with lime (åfok) can be seen. These decorated sherds are from the earliest period of human settlement in the Marianas.

Cow bones buried in the soil at Chulu point to the cattle ranches that the Spanish government maintained at Tinian in the 1800s for the benefit of Guam.

This map of the US invasion of Tinian in 1944 shows just how vulnerable Chulu Beach was at that time (White Beach 2).

As the US military always has its eye on northern Tinian for military exercises to this day, let's hope our ancestral cultural treasures do not suffer destruction any more!

Thursday, June 23, 2016


1. Hu gofli'e hao Jesus-ho, ya hu na' matuna hao :
(I love you, my Jesus, and I make you praised :)

Chorus : O Korason Jesukristo, magof hu adora hao!
(O Heart of Jesus Christ, happily I adore you!)

2. I sendålo as Longinos guiya bumabaye hit
(The soldier Longinus was he who opened for us)

ni korason Jesukristo i mina' fan såfo' hit;
(the heart of Jesus Christ who saved us;)

Lao Jesus guåho man ige' sa' hu kekelånsa hao.
(But Jesus I have surpassed him because I have pierced you.)

2. Ya ma baba sen ma baba, a'annok i korason
(And it was opened wide, the heart is visible)

gi kalaguak Jesukristo, kalan guåfe hahanon.
(in the side of Jesus Christ, a burning fire.)

Tåya' tailaye na guåho ni i ti gumuaiya hao.
(There is no sinner but me who does not love you.)


Longinos. In tradition, this was the name (Longinus in Latin) of the Roman centurion who pierced the side of Jesus with his lance. Tradition identifies him as the same centurion in Matthew 27:54 who came to believe that Jesus was truly the Son of God. Later he was baptized and left the military. He was later martyred for the faith and is considered a saint.

Saint Longinus

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


I ran into former Senator Benigno Manibusan Palomo and I asked him, "How did you get the nickname 'Sam?'"

He answered that it wasn't just his nickname but that of his branch of the Palomos.

He said his great-grandfather had a long white beard that reminded people of Uncle Sam's long white beard. So, he got stuck with the nickname "Sam" and it was passed on to his children and grandchildren.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


In 1960, we had Commissioners, not Mayors.

It was just 16 years after the war and Guam just had 67,000 people in 19 municipalities or villages. Agaña was considered a city and New Agat as well. But that's another story.

Needless to say, everyone knew everyone and village Commissioners, as is still the case in many smaller villages today, were personally known to the majority of village residents.

In those days, your Commissioner wasn't Jesus S. Camacho; he was Chubado' (some say Chibado'). Not Joaquin SN Diego but rather si Gådao.

Here are the winners of the 1960 municipal elections :

The Two Biggies

The two largest villages at the time were Sinajaña and Barrigada. This is reflected in the fact that these two villages had an Assistant Commissioner, which they hold to this day (even though Sinajaña for the longest time now is nowhere near the most populated village on island).

Sinajaña : Luis Camacho Baza

Baza did not have a long term; from 1956-1964. Sinajaña Commissioners tended to have short terms in those days.

Barrigada : Jesus Sablan Camacho (Chubado')

Chibado', on the other hand, was Commissioner for twenty years (1948-1968). In those days, if you were a popular Commissioner, you tended to keep your job for as long as you were interested in running.

Luis Camacho Baza

Jesus Sablan Camacho (Chubado')

Other long-term Commissioners re-elected in 1960 :

Inarajan : Joaquin SN Diego (Gådao) served from 1944 until 1972

Agaña Heights : Juan L. Pangelinan (Kotla) served from 1956 until 1968

Hagåtña : Juan D. Perez served from 1952 until 1962

Asan : Joaquin S. Santos served from 1956 until 1972

Piti : Vicente A. Limtiaco served from 1956 until 1972

Santa Rita : Joaquin D. Perez served from 1952 until 1968

Yoña : Jose B. Sudo served from 1952 until 1972

Mangilao : Jesus T. Pereira served from 1952 until 1968

Dededo : Vicente SA Benavente served from 1952 until 1976

Merizo : Francisco C. Chargualaf served from 1952 until 1976

Short-term Commissioners :

Tamuning : Higinio San Nicolas served from 1956 until 1964

Chalan Pago/Ordot : Francisco LG Valenzuela served from 1956 until 1964

Agat : Juan LG Leon Guerrero served from 1956 until 1962

Yigo : Jose D. Perez served from 1956 until 1964

Finally, there were three Commissioners elected for the first time in 1960 :

Mongmong/Toto/Maite : Jose C. Farfan, who served from 1960 until 1972

Umatac : Jesus S. Quinata, who served from 1960 until 1968

Talofofo : Juan C. Tenorio, who served from 1960 until 1968

And now the Assistant Commissioners :

Sinajaña : Jacinto B. Calvo

Barrigada : Jose F. Mendiola

Tamuning : Gregorio A. Calvo

Only these three villages had an Assistant Commissioner in 1960 as these were the three most populated villages at the time.

Monday, June 20, 2016


The Our Father in Chamorro
according to Sanvitores in 1668

On this Father's Day, someone asked me, "Is tåta a true Chamorro word?"

The inquirer points out that tata is used by many Hispanics clear across the Pacific Ocean in Central and South America.

Among our own Austronesian cousins, who share many words, grammar and other features with us, the word tata is rarely the word for "father." Far more common is ama and tatay. In some Austronesian languages, tatay is the informal way of addressing a father while ama is the formal title for a father.

Given the wide variety of Austronesian words for "father," including ama, sama, tama, baba and dozens of other forms, including the occasional tata, it could be that Chamorro is one of those rare Austronesian languages where tåta is the indigenous word for "father." That Tagalog speakers and other Filipinos use tatay, sometimes as the informal word and sometimes as the actual word for "father," makes one suspect that tata and tatay are two forms of the same word. And, yes, even tata is used by some Filipinos as an informal form of "father."

In Latin America, where tata is often an informal way of addressing a father, people do not speak Austronesian languages. Yet, it shouldn't surprise us that tata is said there, and for two reasons. Firstly, tata is also used by other languages all around the world, besides Austronesia and Latin America. Tata is the informal word for "father" in different languages and dialects in Europe and in Africa, for example.

Secondly, a large number of words for "father" in the different languages across the globe are variations of the a-a form. Dada, baba, papa and tata all follow this.

So it seems that our ancestors could very well have used the word tåta for "father," just as we find it in many languages in every corner of the world.


But then I remembered this. Just to add to the mystery.

When Sanvitores came to Guam in 1668, he obviously needed to teach the people Catholic prayers in their own language. Therefore, as early as 1668, there should have been a Chamorro version of the Our Father, in the Chamorro spoken back then, which would have been free of foreign words except for a few words where the native language may have lacked them. But "father" should not be one of these words, since every one has a father! did Sanvitores translate "Our Father" into Chamorro in 1668? That should clear up, without a doubt, what the certain Chamorro word for "father" is.


I'm afraid Sanvitores' rendering of "Our Father" provokes more questions than provides answers.

As you can see from the picture at the top of this post, Sanvitores' opening words of the "Our Father" are :


That should mean "Our Father." Instead it means "Our superior God."

Two words are easily recognizable; the Chamorro Sayna, spelled today as saina. And the Spanish Dios, meaning "God."

Saina can be applied to many people. The fundamental meaning of saina is "superior," someone higher in status than you. It has nothing to do with age. On occasion, a nephew will actually be older in age than his uncle. Still, the 15-year-old uncle is saina to his 16-year-old nephew. "Uncle" trumps age when it comes to status.

A 40-year-old priest will be called saina by an 80-year-old woman. Priesthood trumps age (in traditional Chamorro culture) when it comes to status.

The word maming is måme (ours, exclusive) if you think about it. Why then did Sanvitores add the ng? Probably because he learned his rudimentary Chamorro from a shipwrecked Filipino who lived on Guam for seventeen years before he was picked up by a passing Spanish ship and taken back to the Philippines. It is possible that this Filipino retained traits of his native Filipino language and mixed it with his newly acquired (and possibly rough) Chamorro. Sanvitores wrote this version of the Our Father in Chamorro before he even landed on Guam, Sanvitores himself wrote that he had to make corrections in these early writings in Chamorro.


So the question is, "Why didn't Sanvitores use tåta when translating 'our father?'"

Even if his Filipino tutor spoke "broken Chamorro," surely the Chamorro word for "father" would be so commonly spoken in ordinary conversation that the Filipino couldn't get that one wrong!

So now we can speculate that perhaps our ancestors did not say tåta for "father," otherwise, why didn't Sanvitores use it?

Check out this other little piece of evidence :

When Sanvitores wanted to translate into Chamorro "Holy Mary, mother of God," he wrote the above words. Most of the words are easily recognizable as the following :

Santa Maria, saina palao'an ni Jesucristong Dios

Holy Mary, woman superior of Jesus Christ God

Once again, some traits more Filipino than Chamorro (at least modern Chamorro) are seen. We don't say ni to mean "of," at least, not any more. But this is exactly what is said in Filipino. And we see once again the -ng ending (in Jesucristo) which isn't done in Chamorro (at least anymore) but which is done in Filipino.

But the main thing to notice here is that Sanvitores translates "mother" as saina palao'an.

This would suggest that "father" is saina låhe, a term which is found, in fact, in the rest of Sanvitores' writing.

So, one theory could be that our ancestors did not say tåta and nåna, but rather saina låhe and saina palao'an. Tåta and nåna could have come into the language later, maybe from Filipino influence (tatay and nanay) or Latin American influence.


But here's another theory.

Perhaps our ancestors did say tåta and nåna. Then why didn't Sanvitores use those terms in his Chamorro writing?

It's possible that tåta and nåna were considered too informal, like "daddy" and "mommy." Among Tagalog speakers, one constantly hears tatay and nanay in ordinary speech. But when Filipino people pray the Our Father, they switch to the formal word ama for "father."

Perhaps this is also what happened when Sanvitores wrote his version of the Our Father and his other religious writings. In time, perhaps, the missionaries and people switched to using tåta in prayer when the religion was securely established in our islands.

Tåta is found in Chamorro word lists going back to the early 1800s and for centuries now we've been saying Tåtan-måme, and not Sainan-måme, when we say "Our Father."

Until we find more Chamorro writing of the time, which is a remote possibility, we can't be certain at all about these questions for the time being.

Friday, June 17, 2016


Some time ago I explained how the word fåkkai means "to distribute, pass out, disseminate, divide."

It was not a curse word. Later on it did become a fighting word, as in "I will do you harm" if someone told you, "Bai fåkkai hao!" I reasoned that perhaps the idea came from the original meaning "to divide, break apart." "I will tear you to pieces," comes to mind.

Under American influence, fåkkai received even more negative connotation because of the closeness of sound to an English curse word.

Many people, to this day, are convinced that fåkkai is and can only be a bad word, since the original meaning has been lost to these modern speakers of the language.

However, the literary evidence proves that fåkkai is far from a bad word. It was used in Catholic prayer books and now I have come across it in a Chamorro Catholic catechism.

The title on the page seen above uses the word fåkkai, spelled fakai.

If we remember that one has to divide what one will be distributing, we can see how "Mafakai i Doctrina" means "The Division of the Doctrine," meaning "the Catechism." In other words, the book has to be broken down into parts.

Finakai (I would spell it finakkai) is the noun form of fåkkai. This would make the verb "to divide" the noun "division."

Finenana na finakai means "the first division," meaning the first section, the first part.

Still, there are many people who for years have only understood the word fåkkai to be a bad word that no amount of historical evidence will ever change their minds about it!