Friday, May 18, 2018


Portrait by Paul Jacoulet

Well, there are two versions of the story. It's up to you which one to believe!

Strange things happen at night. Even in the small, sleepy village of Asan in 1902.

Pedro Evaristo Salas, from Aniguak, was spending the night at his friend's house in Asan, a young man of 28 years named Francisco Taitano Taijito.

Just past midnight, Francisco and Pedro were awakened by a man calling out, "Hombre! Hombre!" "Man! Man!"

The two of them getting up and going outside to see what was up, they found an American Marine Private named Nelson Tracey standing there.

"Are you the brother of Rita?" Tracey asked Taijito. "No," Taijito responded.

Tracey turned to Salas and asked, "Is he the brother of Rita?" "No," Salas replied.

At that, so testified Taijito and Salas, Tracey took out his revolver and pointed it at Taijito's chest. He forced the two men to accompany him to Salas' house in Aniguak, at which point Tracey grabbed Salas by the collar, asking for a fight. Salas declined and, when Tracey wasn't looking, Salas quietly entered his home and evaded further involvement. That left Taijito alone with Tracey, who forced Taijito to go with him to Rita's house to call for her. Finding no one at Rita's house, Tracey let Taijito go and they went their separate ways.

It would have ended there, except that Taijito and Salas then filed a complaint in court against Tracey, accusing him of threatening them.

When questioned in court, Tracey had a different story to tell. He says that he was out for a walk in Asan that night, where he lived. He saw a young man in the street and he asked him if he knew where he could get some tuba. The young man said he'd go look, and Tracey gave him a peso. The young man said he'd be back in 10 minutes. When 30 minutes went by with no tuba or young man in sight, Tracey went looking for him. He found someone resembling the young man walking, and he asked him if he found tuba. The person said "no." Tracey asked him if he was the person he gave a peso to. Again the person said "no." Where could he find the man, then, Tracey asked.

That's when this young man went to the home of a woman named Rosa, which happened to be Taijito's house, and called out "Hombre!" When Taijito and Salas exited the house and met Tracey on the road, Tracey asked him if he was Rosa's brother. Taijito said he was not the brother of Rita, nor of María, but he was the brother of Rosa, although all three women were sisters.

Tracey felt he was being played around with and put his hand on Taijito's shoulder, asking for the tuba. At some point his revolver fell from his jacket to the ground and he picked it up, but at no time did he threaten anyone with it. Then, a village official, Carlos Maañao Tydingco, came on the scene, at which point Taijito went away.

Tydingco was also questioned and said that he saw none of this happen at all!

So it became the word of two against one, with no independent witnesses to corroborate either side's stories.

So we will never know. Was the American Marine Nelson Tracey looking for Rita that night? Or for tuba instead? Was it for love, or for liquor?

Tracey's name on a list of Marines stationed on Guam in 1901

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Some people call it "Chamorro Time." Others call it "Island Time."

It's the notion that many people don't show up on time for things here in our islands. Mind you, even Filipinos talk about "Filipino Time" and Mexican Americans talk about "Mexican Time."

This one lady told me the story of her mother, who was always on "Chamorro Time."

Fuera de i Misa, tåya' na måfåtto si nanå-ho gi ora.
(Besides Mass, my mother never came on time.)

Yanggen guaha lisåyon måtai, pat gupot pat ma gradua i famagu'on,
(If there was a rosary for the dead, or party or graduation of the kids,)

todo i tiempo atrasåsao si nanå-ho måtto.
(my mother always arrived late.)

Ha na' fan gof mamåhlao ham,
(She made us very ashamed,)

sa' hame kumokonne' gue' para masea håfa na okasion,
(besides we were the ones taking her to whatever occasion,)

sa' ti mañuñugon si nanan-måme,
(because our mother didn't drive,)

lao tåya' tumungo' na guiya ha' muna' fan atrasao ham man måtto.
(but no one knew that it was she who was making us arrive late.)

Annai esta gof malångo si nanan-måme,
(When our mother was already very sick,)

ya gaige gi espitåt, ya esta båba i korason-ña yan chatsaga hinagong-ña,
(and was at the hospital, and her heart was bad and she had trouble breathing,)

ha atan ham todos ya ilek-ña, "Bai hu måtai lamo'na."
(she looked at all of us and said, "Tonight I will die.")

Ilek-ña i che'lu-ho mås påtgon,
(My youngest sister said,)

"Nang, ti para un måtai lamo'na. Tåya' na måfåtto hao gi ora."
("Mom, you won't die tonight. You never come on time.")

Ya magåhet na måtai si nanan-måme gi sigiente dia gi talo'åne.
(And it was true that our mother died the next day at noon.)

Monday, May 14, 2018


From a list of Chamorro government officials in the 1830s, we find these names for the village of Asan.

CLEMENTE MEGOFÑA was the village mayor, or Gobernadorcillo ("little governor). His name appears as a village official over many years.

MIGUEL MEGOFÑA was the second-in-command, or Teniente. I haven't found yet any indication how and if Miguel and Clemente were related.

CENÉN MEGOFÑA was the Agricultural Officer, or Juez de Palmas, Sementeras y Animales. Cenés is the Spanish name of a lesser-known saint. Again, I have no idea how he is related to the other Megofñas.

FRANCISCO NAMAULEG, MARIANO TERLAJE and IGNACIO TAITANO were the neighborhood leaders of Cabezas de Barangay.

The Megofña name comes from the word magof (happy) and when a Megofña from Asan moved to Saipan, the name was spelled Magofña there, as it remains today. In some Guam lists, too, from many years ago, the name is spell Magofña.

Mariano Terlaje's last name was actually spelled TARLAGI in this document, and shows that the TER in Terlaje or the TED in Tedtaotao is actually TAT, a shortcut of TÅYA' meaning "none, lacking."

In Spanish, a G before an E or an I has the sound of H.

As you can see, all the Asan officials in this list from the 1830s have indigenous Chamorro surnames, not Spanish ones like Pérez, Flores or Cruz. Besides Megofña and Terlaje, we have Namauleg ("make good, correct, repair") and Taitano ("no land").

We have an abundance of written evidence that shows that the Spanish, Mexican, Latin American and Filipino soldiers settled in Hagåtña while the outlying villages in central and southern Guam (the north lacked any villages for 200 years) remained the centers of the indigenous people. In time, both groups would mix to create the society our grandparents came from.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


In 1947, the Decca record label issued a single entitled "My Dearest Uncle Sam," sung by the Andrews Sisters.

The song was based on the Guam, wartime song "Uncle Sam," sung by Chamorros as an underground resistance song against the Japanese.

Guam was inundated with American military personnel and others right after the American return in July of 1944 all the way to the end of 1945. Tens and tens of thousands of Americans passed through Guam in those two years. It's not surprising that the Uncle Sam tune got to the ears of Alex Kramer and Joan Whitney, a married couple who also co-wrote songs. One can only suspect that someone passing through Guam during the final period of World War II heard the tune and passed it to someone who passed it to someone who.....

Kramer and Whitney borrowed the Guam melody (attributed to Pedro Taitingfong Rosario, "Pete Seboyas") but changed the substance of the wartime Chamorro original. The record even stated that the song was "Based on an Island of Guam Native Song." But the new version portrayed an island girl in love with all things American - the men, chocolates, spam and jam. The romantic attraction American men held over island women is underlined. There are two verses where that is emphasized.

The original song was all about the Japanese Occupation and the hope that the US would come back to liberate the island from the Japanese.

Eighth of December, 1941
People went crazy right here on Guam.

Our lives are in danger, you better come
and kill all the Japanese, right here on Guam.

Now compare with the lyrics of the American version :


On far Pacific island by a mango tree
lonely maid is cryin', lookin' out to sea.

Refrain : Oh Mister Sam, Sam, my dearest Uncle Sam
won't you please come back to Guam.

One year ago September that's when it began
from a boat there landed a big American.

She learned to love his chocolates, she learned to love his spam,
she learned to spread her pancake with huckleberry jam.

He was very handsome but one thing she liked best,
fascinating picture tattooed on his chest.

She wanted education, he taught her ABC's
but she kept asking questions about the birds and bees.

She started to imagine that he was here to stay
but man in Washington he say come right away.

According to another source, there is this additional verse, not heard on the recording above :

He taught her how to say, "Ah loves you honey chile;"
also dance to record boogie woogie style.


Notice the way the Andrews Sisters pronounce the A in a lot of the words, as well as the O in words like "education" and "questions," modified to sound like the A in Guam.

Thanks to Sean Rodriguez

Monday, May 7, 2018


Guadalupe Cruz Díaz of Sumay, then Santa Rita, was a devout Catholic.

Born in 1914, she lived a long life, dying in 2007 a month shy of her 93rd birthday.

She never married but was a loving sister and aunt in the family. She went to Mass daily, and lead prayers and devotions in Chamorro.

In the late 1970s, Santa Rita's pastor, Father Ferdinand Stippich, was moved to Saint Fidelis Friary in Agaña Heights where he could get the attention and help he needed in his old age. He was stationed in Santa Rita from the 1950s till the 1970s, and wanted to leave Santa Rita only in a "wooden box," as he used to say. He was so attached to the village.

Tan Guadalupe made a promesa (promise). Once a week she would be driven by a family member to the Friary and clean Father Ferdinand's room. She would sweep and dust and put a few things in order.

Father Ferdinand

When I first started living in the Friary in the early 1980s, I was surprised to see a little old lady walking down the hallway to the priest's rooms in the middle of the morning, around 9 or 10AM. I think I would see her carrying a broom and dust pan, and maybe some rags. She'd only be there for about an hour, and then I wouldn't see her anymore. Someone then told me that she was an old parishioner of Santa Rita who had made that promise to do something for Father Ferdinand.

Later, in the 1990s, when I was already a priest, I would cover Santa Rita parish, sometimes for 2 months in the summer, while the pastor went home to the mainland to visit his family. There I would see Tan Guadalupe at daily Mass and see her pray and lead prayers, too. Rest in peace, Tan Guadalupe.

Tan Guadalupe's signature on one of the many Chamorro novena books she owned

Thursday, May 3, 2018


Preparing for the Field Trip to the Northern Islands in 1967
L-R Pilot Emmet Kay, Father Arnold of Saipan, Father Sylvan
who made the trip north

After World War II, when the northern islands were more or less depopulated, small numbers of Chamorros and Carolinians from Saipan gradually moved north to Pagan, Agrigan and the other northern islands.

By the 1960s, the numbers were bigger. Since they were all Catholic, a priest missionary from Saipan would periodically go up to these islands to say Mass for them and perform other religious duties. The Trust Territory Government, aware that the islanders were Catholic, provided the ship transportation for the priest, alongside the government workers also making the trip.

Here's a report on those islands made by one of the missionaries who made the trip there in 1967.


Population in 1966 : 43
Population in 1967 : 18

Mainly Carolinian.

That's a reduction of 25 people in one year!

Industry : Copra

Landing : open sea on rocks along the beach and only good in fair weather.

No springs or natural water. Only rain water can be collected.


Population in 1966 : 15
Population in 1967 : 3. All males. Chamorros.

Industry : Copra and pigs.

Landing : Poor. Only possible in good weather.

The population dropped in 1967 to just three males because the community leader was treating the people like slaves, and stealing from them, according to Father Sylvan.

To go from the ship to land, one had to use a smaller boat and hopefully manage to jump on the rocks and not land in the sea!


Population in 1966 : 48
Population in 1967 : 19

Mainly Chamorros.

Industry : Copra, pigs, some cattle. Over 60 pigs exported when ship came the last time. Has large citrus supply, but little is exported.

Landing : can be made at two villages, Perdido and Songsong, but only by jumping from vessel to the rocks. Guaranteed wet landing! Unsafe to do so in bad weather.


Pågan was the only northern island with an airstrip.

Population in 1966 : 89
Population in 1967 : 53

Mix of Chamorros and Carolinians. Even a Palauan here and there.

Industry : Has the greatest potential of all the northern islands, but, so far, money to be made is mainly from collecting brass shells from Japanese war remains in caves.

Only northern island with a dock for small boats.

Only northern island with an airstrip.

Only island with roads good enough for cars to use.

Pågan has two lakes and a natural hot spring.

The island could easily support 1000 people if developed.

But both volcanoes are active.

Catholic Chapel
Possibly on Pågan


Population in 1966 : 153
Population in 1967 : 100

Mainly Carolinian.

Most devout Catholic population.

Landing : One good beach possible to land in almost any weather.

Industry : Copra.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018


So how do you climb the pugua' tree when you have no ladder?

You make a gapet!

Betel nut trees (pugua') have thin trunks that grow straight up and are slippery. Many times lumut (moss) also grows on the trunks to make them even more slippery.

But the gapet is made with fibrous material, like the bark of a pågo tree or rope. Putting your feet inside the gapet while you straddle the trunk as you climb up keeps you from sliding down the trunk.

Here's one man showing how. His name is Miguel (Mike) San Nicolas, father of the Guam senator of the same name. Even modern, factory-made material can be used as a gapet, as this video shows.

Courtesy of Senator Michael San Nicolas

The gapet was used to climb coconut trees, too, as when collecting coconuts or checking on/taking down the tuba containers that hung there.

This gapet is made from the bark of the pågo tree that usually grows by the shore or river banks

Just make sure that the gapet has a secure, tight knot so that it doesn't come loose while climbing and down you go!

Thanks to Lorenzo Reyes

Monday, April 30, 2018


Ana in 1918

Ana McKay was born Ana Martínez Pangelinan on January 3, 1868 in Hagåtña, Guam. Her parents were Vicente Pangelinan and Antonia Cárdenas Martínez.

Apparently she had no brothers, but she had two sisters who married prominent Chamorro men.

Her sister Dolores married Vicente Roberto Herrero, the grandson of the former Spanish Governor of Guam, José Ganga Herrero. Vicente farmed and also engaged in commercial business.

Her other sister Rosa married Juan Crisóstomo Martínez, who was also a prominent farmer and trader. Juan's son Pedro became one of the wealthiest Chamorro men on Guam before the war, and his daughter Ana married James Underwood. His other son Vicente also engaged in business. A daughter Concepción married Hiram Elliott.

Ana remained single for a very long time. It wasn't until the American period, when she was in her 30s, that she married. She married an American named Edward McKay. The couple had some financial means. They hired a domestic staffer (muchacha, for women helpers, in Chamorro), a woman from Yap named Josefa and nicknamed Josefa'n Gupalao. Gupalao is the Chamorro word for islanders from Palau, Yap and the rest of the Carolines. Later, Ana traveled throughout Asia.

Ana's General Merchandise Store

Ana ran a general merchandise store in Hagåtña, near the Plaza de España. She traveled to Manila, and other places, on occasion to purchase items for her store.  Apparently, she was plagued with debtors, people who didn't pay their bills. This was a common occurrence on Guam, right up until just several decades ago. Many a Chamorro store went out of business because Chamorro store owners were hesitant to decline customers who bought on credit, who never paid back their debt.

In one month's time, from June to July in 1917, she took twenty-nine people to court for non-payment of debts. In one month! She certainly gave the court enough to do that month.

Her debtors taken to court in that period were : José de León (Ila), Vicente Siguenza, Vicente Castro (Payesyes), Lorenzo Aguon (Cristina), Gabina Cruz, Ignacio Camacho (Aragon), Josefa Camacho (Måtot), Ana Sablan (Ana'n Felix), Rosa Castro (Payesyes), Luís Terlaje, Santiago Agualo, Vicente Sablan (Berela), Ignacio Agualo, Vicente Flores (Kabesa), Ignacio Santos (Lencho), Antonia Santos, Juana'n Buche, Filomena Rosario (Lo'lo'), María Rivera (Agaga'), Francisca Javier (Morere), Francisco Javier (Morere), Joaquina'n Carmelo, Pedro LG Perez (Korincho), Vicente Ignacio (Paeng), Mariana Concepcion (Emo), Joaquin Cruz (Le), Ana Aguon (Makaka'), Felipe Cruz Perez (Manga), and Juan "Yoe," a nickname.

Most of the debts were under $20.

Ana disappears from the Guam records by the 1920s. It seems she and her husband Edward never had children.

Thursday, April 26, 2018


Hens have a natural instinct to lay their eggs in a safe place and they like to do it privately.

In olden times, besides other places where hens laid eggs, our ranchers sometimes made baskets just for the hens to lay their eggs. They were called ålan månnok. Åla means "basket," and månnok means "chicken."

You can see in the pic above that the basket is open wide enough for the hen to go inside and lay her eggs cozily.

Kids used to say this verse in the old days :

Punidera, punidera! Falak guato gi alå-mo!
(Hen, hen! Go over to your basket!)

Ennao guiya i hilitai, ya u tinicho' i chadå'-mo!
(There's the iguana, and it will devour your eggs!)

The hilitai (iguana) is a lizard that loves to eat chicken eggs, as well as the chickens! And many other things besides.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018



Don't salute with a hat not your own.

That is the literal meaning, but the saying means something else.

Don't take credit for someone else's doing. You're the one greeting someone with a hat, but the hat doesn't belong to you.

Here's a scenario :

~ José, kao un li'e' si Tomás?
~ José, have you seen Tomás?

~ Åhe' adei Kiko', ti hu li'e'.
~ Nope, Kiko, I haven't seen him.

~ Kao siña un nå'e gue' ni este na balutan mångga?
~ Can you give him this bunch of mangoes?

~ Hunggan!
~ Yes!

Moments later, José sees Tomás, taking with him the mangoes from Kiko'.

~ Tomás! Chule' este na balutan mångga ni hu tifi'e' hao!
~ Tomás! Take these mangoes which I picked for you!

Monday, April 23, 2018


Perhaps the newspaper statement was melodramatic. It was a time of many earthquakes on Guam, but none as strong, it said, as the appointment of a "Filipino rebel" to one of the highest government positions of the American Naval government of Guam.

That "Filipino rebel" was Pancracio Rábago Palting and, in 1903, a man who, just a few years before, fought to end American rule in one place, was appointed by Americans to occupy a high government position in another place!

Palting was an insurrecto (insurgent) who rose up against Spanish and American control over the Philippines. Captured by the Americans, he was exiled to Guam in 1901, along with other Filipino nationalists, one of the more famous being Apolinario Mabini. These Filipino political exiles were camped at Asan Point, known as the Presidio in Spanish times.

But what was supposed to be punishment turned out to be a kind of reward! Palting was appointed by Guam's Naval Governor William Sewell in 1903 to serve as a judge of the Court of First Instance. Only the Governor himself was a higher authority than this court.

But, I suppose Sewell could have argued, he needed capable men to hear and judge cases and Palting was educated. He spoke excellent Spanish, still the normal language of the court in 1903. An American Naval officer served as judge at times, too, and so did several Chamorros who could read and write Spanish. Interpreters were available for witnesses who could only testify in English or Chamorro.

Meanwhile, Palting was improving his English as fast as he could and, in time, was able to speak decent, legalese English. One observer remarked that legal English was all he really ended up being able to speak. Casual, informal English was not his strong suit, according to this writer.

Palting had already served as clerk (escribano, in Spanish) of the court in 1902 after he was pardoned by US President Teddy Roosevelt. Nearly all of the Filipino prisoners on Guam returned to the Philippines, but Palting was among the few who decided to make Guam their home and Sewell thought he could use Palting's skills.

Palting when he was the clerk of the court in 1902

Still, some took exception to Palting's appointment because of his recent revolutionary past. But the newspaper article doesn't specify who didn't appreciate Palting's appointment. Was it a few Americans, who held it against Palting that he had fought against the US just a few years before? Was it a few Chamorro government officials, who thought that their loyalty to the US made them the justifiable choice for high jobs, as opposed to a rebel? Or could critics of Palting be found among both peoples?

Whatever outcry this newspaper article indicated, it didn't amount to much because Palting stayed in his job for a while. He married a Guam girl of Filipino ancestry, Soledad Gozum Dungca. After leaving the bench, Palting worked as an attorney on Guam. After the war, the Palting family became active residents of Tamuning. One of his sons, Paul, was elected to Guam Legislature. One of the streets in Tamuning is named after Pancracio, though the first name is misspelled.

Another street sign that needs correcting. His name was Pancracio.

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Today is the third Sunday after Easter.

Starting in 1835, that meant that today was the ninth and final day of the Nobenan Promesa, a novena prayed by the people of Hagåtña and its surrounding villages, asking the Blessed Mother for protection against earthquakes, which had been terrifying the island in the years before 1835. The documents authorizing this novena specifically call on Mary in her Immaculate Conception and it was the novena to the Immaculate Conception that was prayed during the Nobenan Promesa.

The hymn included here below is strongly associated with that nobena. It was also sung in the Cathedral, at least since after the war, after the Saturday morning Mass, traditionally celebrated in honor of Mary.

No one knows for a fact when and where this hymn comes from, or who composed it. It appear in Påle' Román's pre-war Lepblon Kånta so it must go back at least to the 1920s if not earlier. I have always heard, since the 1980s, from older people, that it supposedly goes back to Spanish times, but we have no hard evidence for that.

If it does go back to the 1800s, there are clues in the hymn itself that seem to jive well with that.

First, the hymn portrays a clear link between Guam itself and Our Lady. She is called the må'gas (head/ruler) and raina (queen) of Guåhan (Guam). The refrain underlines the love the Chamorros have for her. The people calling out to her are the natives of this land (taotao håya). The concerns expressed are island-wide concerns : earthquake, tidal wave, typhoon, famine and so on. Finally, there is a verse, not included in this recording, describing the finding of Mary's image in the waters between Dåno (Cocos Island) and Malesso', the image which became Our Lady of Camarin (Sånta Maria'n Kamalen) and venerated in the Hagåtña church.

It seems pretty clear to me that this hymn was written for the Chamorro people, expressing their love for Mary and asking her protection from natural disasters. That fits very well with the Nobenan Promesa's whole intent.


O Señora Nånan-måme, Må'gas yan Rainan Guåhan,
(O Lady, Our Mother, Ruler and Queen of Guam,)
talak papa' giya hame ya magof pumulan ham.
(look down to us and happily watch over us.)
I taotao guine tåya' otro fanlihengan-ñiha.
(The people here have no other shelter.)

I Chamorro, O Maria, siempre hao un guinaiya!
(The Chamorros, Oh Mary, will always love you!)

Tungo' na sen ti yan-måme i mañuha as Jesus,
(Know that we truly do not like to stray away from Jesus,)
sa' gos metton giya hame hinengge as Yu'us.
(because we are very attached to faith in God.)
Na' måfnas nai Maguaiya i tinaihinenggen-ñiha.
(Erase then, Beloved, their lack of faith.)

Chomma' Nånan mina'åse' i pakyo yan i niñalang,
(Prevent, Mother of Mercy, typhoon and hunger,)
i linao, i napon tåse, yan todo i na' mahalang.
(earthquakes, the waves of the sea and all sorrow.)
Pulan i taotao håya yan i guinahå-ña siha.
(Watch over the native people and all they possess.)

"Third Sunday of Easter (Promesa)"

The Nobenan Promesa ended on this Sunday. Taken from the Debosionårio, a Chamorro prayer book of standard devotions, written by Påle' Román de Vera, Capuchin missionary.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


When the island of Guam rocked with violent earthquakes in April of 1825, and more earthquakes came again in April and May of 1834, civic leaders in the capital city of Hagåtña, and the leaders of the five satellite villages of Aniguak, Sinajaña, Asan, Tepungan and Mongmong, met and voted to observe every year a novena to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, asking for deliverance from future earthquakes.

The expenses of this annual observance were voluntarily shouldered by these officials.

The petition was endorsed by the Spanish Governor of the Marianas and, as a final step, granted approval by the Bishop of Cebu, under which the Marianas came.

Some of the Spanish terms seen below will be explained at the end of this post.

The local government officials, almost all Chamorros, who signed the petition in 1834 were :

Lucas de Castro - Gobernadorcillo of Hagåtña

Justo de la Cruz - head of the 4th Company of Urbanos, Justice of the Peace

José de Torres - Interim Sergeant Major, head of soldiers, active and retired

Pedro Pangelinan - head of the barrio of San Ignacio

Faustino de Borja - head of the barrio of Santa Cruz

Nicolás de León Guerrero - head of the barrio of San Nicolás

José Fernández de Cárdenas - head of the barrios of San Ramón and San Antonio

Francisco Crisóstomo - head of the Artillery Company

Pedro Guerrero - head of the 1st Company of Urbanos

Emeterio Pangelinan - head of the 2nd Company of Urbanos

Antonio de la Cruz - head of the 3rd Company of Urbanos

Javier de Salas - officer

José Tainatongo - officer

Miguel de la Cruz - officer

Nicolás Cepeda - officer

Diego Taitague - Gobernadorcillo of Aniguak

Clemente Megofña - Gobernadorcillo of Asan

Andrés Chargualaf - Gobernadorcillo of Tepungan

José Tedtaotao - Gobernadorcillo of Sinajaña

Juan Asuda - Gobernadorcillo of Mongmong


Gobernadorcillo - This literally means "little Governor" and it meant the head of a town or village.

Urbanos - The Compañía de Urbanos was a kind of military unit that acted as policemen as well.

Barrio - A district within a town. At this time, there were five barrios of Hagåtña : San Ignacio, Santa Cruz, San Nicolás, San Ramón and San Antonio.


Tainatongo. We think of Malesso' when we hear this name but it originally came from the Hagåtña area. Then Tainatongos moved down to Malesso' in the last half of the 1800s and established that branch there.

Asuda. Might be the Chamorro word asodda' (to find each other) but this is just a guess.

Megofña. In this list, Clemente's last name is actually spelled Magofña, the way the Saipan branch of this family spells it.

Notice that the gentlemen from Hagåtña have Spanish and Filipino surnames. Pangelinan, for example, goes back to a soldier or soldiers from Pampanga in the Philippines named Pangelinan who moved here. The officials from the outlying villages have Chamorro surnames like Tedtaotao. The Spanish, Mexican and Filipino soldiers in the early 1700s lived in Hagåtña and many married Chamorro women, giving birth to a mixed-blood Chamorro people. People living in the outlying villages had less contact with foreigners.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


A man killed his father in Litekyan in 1905. When you read the story, you'll see how utterly senseless the killing was.

Litekyan is the Chamorro name for the northernmost point of Guam. The Spaniards spelled it Retillan or Retidian and the Americans favored the spelling Ritidian.

Patricide is the killing of one's own father. Sometimes the word parricide is used for the same thing.

Since the murder occurred just 113 years ago, and descendants are sure to still be around, I won't mention last names for the people directly involved in the murder.


Around 5 o'clock one Saturday afternoon in July of 1905, a grandfather from Hagåtña arrived at his son's ranch house in Litekyan. According to one grandchild, the old man started joking around with two of his grandsons when the father of the boys came in and said, "Instead of joking with them, you should beat them." Another grandchild said that the grandfather arrived and saw that the grandchildren were crying because they hadn't gotten their share of watermelon which the father was slicing.

In any event, provocative words were exchanged between the old man and his son, the father of the kids, and the old man picked up a long piece of wood as if to hit his son on the back. One grandchild said he actually did. The son walked out of the ranch house, towards the beach, with the old man following, clutching the knife which, apparently, the son left on the table.

At the beach, the son asked his father what he intended to do with the knife. "Kill you," replied the old man. At that, the son knocked his father to the ground, grabbed the knife from him and began to stab him multiple times. Some of the grandchildren ran to call neighbors to intervene. But when people began to arrive, it was too late. The old man lay lifeless on the sand, face up. His son was straddled on top of him, still holding the bloodied knife. One of the adult men who came on the scene forcefully took the knife out of the murderer's hand.


Someone must have gone to Hagåtña in the dark of night to report the murder because, early the next day, the Commissioner of Hagåtña, Lorenzo Lizama Fránquez, gathered a group of men to follow him up to Litekyan to investigate. The Island Attorney, who prosecuted cases, Tomás Anderson Calvo, was one of them. The court alguacil, or marshall, Lucas Pangelinan Camacho, also went along, as well as guards named Enrique Taijeron, Vicente Mendiola, Manuel Taitingfong and Félix Benavente.

They found the body of the old man still lying on the beach, in the initial stages of decomposition. There was no blood surrounding the corpse, since at high tide the sea water came in and washed it away. The men observed stab wounds on the face, neck, chest, abdomen and back of the victim.

The murderer, the victim's son, was waiting for the officials in a neighbor's house. He did not resist arrest and quickly confessed to being the perpetrator. The body of the victim, the arrested suspect and the knife he used to kill his father were all taken down to Hagåtña.

The court documents seem to be incomplete, as I found no verdict and no sentencing.

Whatever may have been the legal punishment, both the guilty and the innocent suffered the loss of a father and grandfather, and the remorse of being responsible for that loss.


Monday, April 16, 2018


Puffer Fish or Butete

Antonio Dueñas de la Cruz of Hågat was better known as "Chiget." Chiget, in Chamorro, means to pinch in or press in on two sides, as when using a clothes pin to hang the laundry, or when a car runs over you.

On March 19, 1902, on the feast of Saint Joseph, Chiget ate the wrong thing.

Chiget was at his ranch in Talaifak, in the area of the old Spanish bridge. His wife María Álvarez Charfauros was not there; she was at Mass for the feast day. Someone had caught butete, or puffer fish, of which there are more than one kind. But they are dangerously poisonous. People had warned Chiget not to eat it, but he went ahead and cooked it. I have been told by experienced fishermen that there is a way to remove the poison and eat the butete safely, but it has to be done right. Perhaps Chiget messed up trying to do so! He served some to two of his children, but they ate just a small amount. His brother-in-law Félix Taitague Babauta, married to his sister Soledad, also ate some but, again, a small amount.

After stuffing himself with butete, Chiget went to sleep. He woke up in miserable pain, located in his abdomen. He was in such pain that he could not talk to the people trying to see what was wrong. Félix Babauta also felt pain, in his stomach and hands, but in time the pain went away. The two children did not get sick. Finally, Chiget died that same afternoon. RIP

Due to the unusual circumstances of his death, the government formally investigated the event, and we still have the court documents in Spanish that concluded that Chiget died from eating poisonous fish.

It's a good thing that Félix Taitague Babauta, the brother-in-law, did not die or else there would be no Sa'i family in Saipan today. Félix, very soon after, moved himself and his family to Saipan where they became known as the Sa'i family with many descendants, including a former Governor of the CNMI!