Monday, January 20, 2020


1839 ~ 1907

Even today, many people in our islands die without writing a last will and testament prior to death.

In the past, this was even more the case. There was a Chamorro judge, lawyer and politician I once knew who died in the early 1980s - with no will! He had the profession of helping people draft their wills, and got paid for it, but didn't have one himself!

Many times, the person made known his or her wishes before death, and in many cases this was respected. In many court documents involving land ownership, many people claimed ownership of a piece of land "as inherited by my late father or mother," with no document to show that, and everyone accepted the claim in many cases. But as the American judicial system started to become observed more and more, and when estate issues started to become more contested, things got more complicated.

If the deceased had little to nothing left behind, things weren't complicated at all! But in the case of a wealthy man or woman, it wasn't so easy.

Take the case of Antonio Pangelinan Martínez, who died in 1907 at the age of 68 years. According to the standards of Guam at the time, Antonio was a wealthy man. And he died without a will.

To make matters more challenging, he had numerous children, and some of his heirs didn't live on Guam. So the court had to get involved, and it took six years to settle the estate. There were no squabbles among the heirs, but one administrator of the estate decided to move to Manila, so another had to be appointed. Antonio's holdings had to be appraised, so a committee of competent men had to be appointed by the court to do that. Family members died or moved away in the meantime, changing the dynamics of the process.


When the estate was settled, one of the biggest assets of Antonio was his cattle ranch in Dandan, west of Malojloj. Dandan was more or less flat and grassy, and considered an excellent location for cattle ranching. The court divided the ownership of his cattle ranch equally among the heirs. In Chamorro, this is called påtte pareho, or "equal parts." Påtte means "part" and pareho means "equal, the same." This phrase is often heard among families when a parent dies and either the will, or lack of one, distributes the assets equally among all the heirs.

When Antonio died in 1907, he owned the following assets :


at the time

One house of masonry with tiled roof in Hagåtña


A second house of masonry with tiled roof in Hagåtña


A lot in Hagåtña


A lot and building in Hagåtña


Cattle ranch in Dandan (land only)


A lot in Mongmong


A lot in As Penggao


A lot in Maso’


A lot in Mañila’


144 cows, bulls and calves


One horse


37 carabaos, male and female


Furniture, household goods, bullcarts, etc.


TOTAL : $7214.50

In today's value, Antonio's estate was worth $190,000.

Antonio's wealth is visible in that he had two houses built of masonry (mampostería), a mixture of rock and lime, rather than a house made of wood or bamboo. Both roofs were made of tile, not thatched, although zinc was also starting to become more common in roofing for those who could afford it.

Antonio had properties, mostly in central Guam not far from Hagåtña, but that piece of Dandan land in southern Guam used for cattle ranching was also a big asset. He had a large herd of cattle, as well as carabao. Very few locals had a horse, but Antonio did.

The attire speaks volumes about their social standing

The court decided there were seven heirs of Antonio; the five children who were alive when he passed away in 1907; one daughter who died before Antonio but who had children who took over her interest; and one grand daughter, the only child of one of Antonio's sons who died before him. The other children who died before their father Antonio died left no heirs. Antonio and his late wife, Eduviges Díaz Wilson, had fourteen children together but some died in childhood or in their youth.

While various lesser goods were distributed to different heirs, ownership of the Dandan cattle ranch was divided equally among the seven. Påtte pareho as far as the ranch went. It was up to each of the seven parties to decide whether to sell their share to someone else or go along with everyone else if they all wanted to sell to another buyer at the same time.

Thursday, January 16, 2020



This one photo is an image of the melting pot Guam was for all its modern history. "Modern" from 1668 to this day.

The woman in the photo has Chamorro blood. And Spanish. And English. And Scots. And Polynesian blood from the Marquesas.

The man in the picture is Portuguese but born in Hawaii.

The baby boy is all of the above. His great great grandmother was a Castro. His great great great grandmother was a Cruz. All the rest of his recent ancestors on his mother's side were Duarte, Andújar (both Spanish), Millinchamp (English), Anderson (Scots) and a Polynesian great great grandmother whose last name is hard to pin down. Pacific islanders traditionally didn't have surnames until European powers colonized them.

On his father's side, the baby boy is all Portuguese.

But, a Chamorro biha (elderly lady) living on Guam in 1920, if she asked who the baby's parents were, and heard that the mother was Rita'n Duarte, the biha would've said, "O! Låhen Duåtte!" "Oh! Duarte's boy," and the baby boy would have been considered Chamorro, part of the local, indigenous community. Even with all the extra ethnic lines. Why?

Because as long as there is one Chamorro line among the many; as long as the community can say, "Oh. So-and-so is the mother, grandmother, father, grandfather," and know who they're talking about, and whose parents they had, then the baby boy belongs to the Chamorro community. One drop of Chamorro blood makes you Chamorro, according to Chamorro culture, because it's all about connections. We don't care who else you're connected with. If you're connected with us, you're connected.


She is Rita Millinchamp Duarte, born on Guam in 1896. Her father was Pedro Andújar Duarte, a Spaniard but born in the Philippines. He became a Spanish military officer and was sent to Guam, where he married María Victoria Anderson Millinchamp of Hagåtña. She was the daughter of Henry Millinchamp, born in the Bonin Islands of an English father and a mother from the Marquesas, in French Polynesia.

María Victoria's mother, though, was Emilia Castro Anderson, so the Chamorro enters in with Castro, and even her father, Juan Cruz Anderson, was Chamorro through his mother, a Cruz.

Adventure on the high seas brought Anderson to Guam, being part of the Freycinet expedition and, according to one account, remaining on Guam because of some past controversy. Proximity to the Marianas and troubles in the Bonin community brought the Millinchamps from those islands to Guam. Spanish military service brought Duarte to Guam. Working for the Cable company brought American David Dias from Hawaii to American Guam. Everyone else in the baby boy's lineage was born here.


One of the first things the Americans did after they took possession of Guam in 1898 was connect Guam to the worldwide cable system. This put Guam in cablegram communication with the rest of the world. Electrical impulses on Guam were sent via an underwater cable to connection points all over the world and, voila, news and information could be sent and could be received within minutes.

The Cable Station was located in Sumay.

David Dias, born in Hawaii of Portuguese parents who moved there, came to work for the Cable company in Sumay. He met Rita Duarte and they were married at least by 1918, because their baby boy Walter was born on Guam on May 28, 1919.

Monday, January 13, 2020


A short, but to me catchy, song brought to us by Larry and Mary Saralu.

It seems to me that the man doing the talking in this song caused the woman great pain through his infidelity. He promises to be faithful from now on. Let's hope!

Saosao i lago' gi matå-mo ya un chagi kumomprende
(Wipe the tears in your eyes and try to understand)
na i korason-ho manehyok pot hågo.
(that my heart aches on account of you.)

Saosao i lago' gi matå-mo ya un chagi kumomprende
(Wipe the tears in your eyes and try to understand)
na magåhet yo' desde på'go giya hågo.
(that I am true to you starting now.)

Humånao yo' lao ti para bai åpmam,
(I left but I won't be long)
yan bai hu fañotsot asta i ha'ånen finatai-ho.
(and I will repent till the day of my death.)

Thursday, January 9, 2020



When your life and sustenance depended on getting food off your own land and at other times from a thick jungle, nothing came in handier than a machete.

With a thicker upper edge that made the whole blade heavy, the machete could cut, chop, slash, split, scrape, scoop and even dig. With the thick, blunt edge, it could even hammer and crush. It could handle animals, all sorts of trees, bushes and vegetation and crack open a coconut. If you needed to protect your life, a machete could help do that.

Europeans brought the machete, as well as all metal implements, to our islands. Even before the Spaniards set up a permanent presence here, passing Spanish and other European ships would trade with our ancestors riding their sakman (flying proas). The Europeans wanted food and drink; the Chamorros only wanted lulok, lulok! Iron, iron! They even knew the Spanish word for it. Hierro, hierro!

I'm sure the machete, or something similar, was wanted by our ancestors yelling "Hierro! Hierro!" to passing ships, besides wanting nails, axes and chisels.

The word machete is Spanish in origin, and it comes from macho, an old word for hammer. This shows you the versatile use of the machete. It could cut but it could also hammer.

We can't discount the possibility that our knowledge of iron hundreds of years ago also came by means of Asian sources, such as China, the Philippines or Indonesia. Choco from China, who predated Sanvitores, knew a thing or two, it was said, about hard metals.


More than one visitor to the Marianas during Spanish times remarked that the daily uniform of every adult Chamorro male included the machete. Chamorro men may not have worn much, due to the climate, but a machete was almost always attached to the waist. Some remarked that you never saw a grown Chamorro male walking around without a machete strapped to his hip.

In time, Chamorros didn't always need someone from off island to bring a new machete. Once the local men learned how to work with iron, they could fashion a machete out of iron. Some Chamorro men specialized in iron smithing and became ereros or fragueros. Erero comes from the Spanish word herrero (iron smith) and fraguero comes from the Spanish word fragua or "furnace."

Because many machetes were made locally from spare bits of metal, many of them had their own distinctive look. The handles could also be unique and thus identify whose machete it was. Court records show that a machete found at the scene could sometimes be traced right back to the owner, due to the distinctive look of the machete. People didn't just leave their machete lying anywhere. Iron was hard to come by, so every machete was valuable and was passed down from one owner to the next, usually from father to son. If you saw a machete just lying around in an odd place, you could expect its owner was in trouble or worse. He wouldn't have just left it lying there on purpose.

Romualdo Chargualaf Diego from Inalåhan, aged 96 years in 1959, shows a machete that had been in his family for 150 years. It was given to him by his father. The handle of the machete was made from a carabao's horn.

Take a look at what William Safford says about the machete, writing in 1899 :

"Notwithstanding the fact that Don Joaquín is one of the principales (leading citizens) of this island, and occupies the highest social position, he was dressed simply, like any other native, in a loose shirt and trousers, and wore sandals. Hanging to his belt in a leather scabbard was his machete. Conforming to the custom of the natives I also carried a machete - a very good one it is - made by the village blacksmith and armorer of our native guard, Don Joaquin Leon-Guerrero. The blade was fashioned out of a condemned musket's barrel, with the steel from the spring of the trigger - welded in as an edge. The handle is of carabao horn and is inlaid with coin silver."

As you can see, Safford says it was the "custom of the natives" to carry a machete as they went about. It was made locally, using spare metal. And, like Romualdo Diego's machete, the handle was made from carabao horn. Safford was second to the American Governor and was interested in all things Chamorro.

The machete allowed you to cut stepping grooves in any coconut tree so you could climb and enjoy the fruit when needed.


Since the machete was always attached to the hip of a Chamorro male, the machete always posed a danger to everyone else!

Time and time again, the court records of Guam in Spanish days and in the early part of the American period show how the machete could have been used, and was used, as a weapon against people. Two men meet on the road and start an argument. One of them loosens his machete hanging on his waist, as he makes threatening remarks.

Salomón Garrido, the island's prison warden, was mortally wounded with a machete and died from those wounds in 1904. Various people were wounded with angry adversaries carrying machetes, and in some cases people took revenge by crippling their enemies' cattle, slashing them in the legs with machetes.

Recently, two young men were arrested for threatening drivers and damaging their cars with machetes. It's an old tool, but it still does the job, good or bad. That depends on whose hands those machetes are in.

EVEN IN 2019


If a machete was used in the commission of a crime, the courts could, and did, confiscate that machete from the criminal and sell it to the highest bidder in an auction? The money would go into the court's coffers.


Monday, January 6, 2020


At age 16, he witnessed José carry off the fabric, promising payment which never came

In 1907, Pedro Lizama Cepeda, better known as Pedro'n Kókora, had a little store in his Hagåtña home in the barrio of San Ignacio, on Maria Ana de Austria Street. He was actually a neighbor of my great grandmother.

One January day that year, a man named José, who was known for being something of a petty crook, walked into the Kókora store, asking to look at some fabric. Pedro'n Kókora was away that morning, but his wife Natividad Santos Mendiola was minding the house and store. She showed José a bolt of fabric called crespón rayado (crepe with stripes).

Striped Crepe Fabric
"Crespón rayado"

José asked for 15 and a half yards of it and Natividad cut it out. José then took up the fabric in his arms and turned around to walk out. Natividad asked him for payment. He told her, "I will pay you soon. I have to go home and get the money."

Natividad balked. She said, "I cannot allow that. My husband is not here and he would not be happy if I did that."

"Then let one of your children walk with me back to my home," José said.

Natividad then instructed her daughter Isabel, ten years old, to follow José to his house to get the money; seven Mexican pesos and 75 céntimos. But after they crossed the Hagåtña river, on the north side, José told Isabel to go back home and said he had no money to pay her mother.

Isabel went back home and told her mother.

Meanwhile, José went to a house and asked the owner if he would be willing to exchange the fabric for tuba. As the owner had no tuba, he declined. José had better success selling the fabric to two sisters, for 2 Mexican pesos and one dollar in gold. When the sisters asked José where he got the cloth, he made up the story that he got it as payment from the cable company in Sumay.

When Natividad learned from Isabel that José was dodging his obligation to pay for the cloth, she went, accompanied by a male neighbor, to look for José. When they found him, José said he had burned the cloth!

Natividad had no other option than to take the matter up with the law. José was tried and found guilty of swindling. He was sentenced to two years and four months' imprisonment and ordered to pay the sisters to whom he sold it. The fabric was recovered from the two sisters and used as evidence in the trial, after which it was restored to the Cepedas. José had to pay for the expenses of the trial or work on public projects if he had no money. Part of the reason for the severity of the sentence was the fact that José had been in court several times already for charges of theft, perjury and swindle.

Natividad's children Isabel, Pedro and Rosa testified at the trial.

She was 13 when she saw José swindle her mother

Thursday, January 2, 2020


Chicken that packs a punch - probably with red chili pepper - can aptly be called Dynamite Chicken.

But in 1907, Guam had a different kind of Månnok Dinamita (Chicken Dynamite), and it wasn't due to donne' (red chili pepper).

Instead, 100 pounds of dynamite were stolen from the Navy's machine shop, located at the old Customs Office at Punta Piti.

Punta Piti, or Piti Point, was the landing spot for vessels anchored in Apra Harbor. From the big ships, people and cargo would ride smaller boats and land at a wharf (pantalán) at this point in Piti. This is where passengers' paperwork was processed and import taxes levied if applicable. When necessary, passengers were quarantined on Cabras Island nearby and, in those days, Cabras Island was really an island, not connected by a bridge yet to the main island as it is today.


When the Americans started governing Guam in 1899, they built up Punta Piti little by little over the years, including improving the facilities and the road from Piti to Hagåtña. The old customs house at Piti was a machine shop operated by the Navy by 1907.

Police and naval authorities were at a loss who stole the dynamite but they didn't lack "persons of interest," and they were Chamorros.

The two main characters in the story were Tomás Espinosa de la Cruz from Malesso', and Pedro Camacho Quitugua, better known as Pedro'n Karabao, of Piti.

They both had two different versions of the story.

Cruz claimed that he had come up from Malesso' to Piti by boat, with a fighting rooster to sell. He says that Quitugua became interested in the rooster, and asked if Cruz would trade it for dynamite. Cruz said he'd have to ask the owner of the rooster, Juan Barcinas of Malesso', who happened to be in Hagåtña at the time. Barcinas, Cruz claimed, said go ahead and trade it. But Cruz couldn't find Quitugua when he returned to Piti.

Cruz gave the rooster to Mónica de San Nicolás, also known as Oka, of Piti, to hold on to. Cruz said if Quitugua appears, to trade the rooster with him for dynamite.

The following day, Cruz checked on Oka. She said Quitugua did come by but told Oka, "Tell Cruz to take back the rooster and eat it. Where can I steal dynamite?"

But when Cruz met up with Quitugua shortly after that, Cruz claimed Quitugua was willing to make the trade, chicken for dynamite but would give Cruz the dynamite the next time Cruz was in Piti. Cruz left the rooster with Oka in Piti and left on his boat for Malesso'.

Back in Malesso', Cruz had a talk with Vicente de Torres who informed Cruz that using dynamite was illegal. Cruz then asked Torres to retrieve the rooster from Oka, as Torres was intending to travel north. Torres eventually did just that. The rooster ended up back in Malesso' in Cruz's hands.

Well, none of this made Quitugua look very good but Quitugua had his own tale to tell.

He said that Cruz came to Quitugua at the Beach Master's Office at the old custom's office at Piti, asking where he might find Vidal de los Santos, for he was going to trade the rooster for some dynamite Vidal supposedly had. Quitugua informed Cruz that Vidal was working in Sumay and had no dynamite anyway.

The enterprising Cruz then asked if Quitugua would be interested in trading dynamite for the rooster. Quitugua said he would, if he could find any.

Later, Quitugua met up with Oka and told her to tell Cruz to keep the rooster, as he had no dynamite. When Quitugua went back to his home, he discovered some detonators that mysteriously appeared there. He took the detonators to the American Beach Master, who then went to the machine shop and discovered the missing dynamite and detonators.

It sounded all too suspicious. All this talk about dynamite just when 100 pounds of it were stolen.

Yet, despite all the interrogations, officials could not find any solid evidence who stole the dynamite and no one was ever charged.

Thus ended, with an unimpressive thud, Guam's first Dynamite Chicken story.

Early 1900s

Monday, December 16, 2019



Genuine hospitals were a new thing on Guam when the Americans first took over the island. Under Spain, there was a military medical doctor on duty at times, and a US Navy report says the Spaniards had a "primitive hospital." There were also secluded houses set up for lepers and those mistakenly considered lepers. But hospitals in the modern sense of the word did not yet exist.

Yet, even when the US Naval Government set up a hospital in Hagåtña, with free medical care for the civilian population, many Chamorros avoided the hospital at all cost.

"Sagan finatai ayo," some people said. "It's the place of death," when speaking about the hospital.

Well, to the casual observer it may seem so. Although the medical service was free and as good as was possible at the time, given all the limitations being as distant as we are, not everyone survived surgery or treatment. Some patients arrived when the disease was too advanced and nothing could be done. So, many a patient who walked into the hospital did not leave the hospital except to be buried in the cemetery.

Sagan finatai for sure.

But many people came to the conclusion that the hospital actually made you die! To be sure, even in our own day, this can be true!

So many Chamorro people in the old days preferred to stay at home, and be treated with traditional, herbal remedies furnished by a suruhåno or suruhåna. They claimed that the American medicine did them no good, and that there were side effects to them, as well.

"Atdet-ña i amot ke ni chetnot." "The medicine is worse than the disease."

"Ti fina'maolek si tatå-ho ni amot Amerikåno. I amot Chamorro ha' ha angongokko." "My father was not helped by American medicine. He only relies on Chamorro medicine."

Besides staying home, the old Chamorro habit was for the sick to stay home with all the windows closed, making the room as hot and as stuffy as possible. Blankets were even put on top of feverish patients. The belief was you could sweat the disease out of you, and that the draft or cool air (sereno) was deadly and what made you sick in the first place.

Closing up all the windows was the exact opposite of what American officials urged people to do. But no amount of American pressure could convince Chamorros to open the window.

Even in the 1990s, I would bring holy communion to the home-bound elderly, many of them quite sick. Their rooms were often dank and humid, because they always kept the windows closed.


Another thing many old time Chamorros avoided was any sort of amputation, big or small. Or even the removal of internal organs.

"Malago' yo' na ha sodda' yo' kabåles si Yu'us, taimano i ha fa'tinas yo'."

"I want God to find me complete, the way He made me."

"Singko na kålulot ha nå'e yo' si Yu'us, singko na kålulot bai nana'lo."

"God gave me five fingers, five fingers I will return."

These are some of the sentiments expressed by many man åmko'.

Even when warned that keeping the diseased body part would lead to death, some older people refused to have any body part amputated or removed.

These religious reasons may have been just a convenient way to cover up fear or dread of living the rest of one's life with one foot. Not living at all was better for them than living with one foot.

Friday, December 13, 2019


Where is this Chamorro guy above going? With his rooster under his arm? Accompanied by an armed man, what looks like a village head or gobernadorcillo, wearing a top hat and with staff in hand, and a clerk with record book in tow?

Well to the cockfight, of course! The gayera was a strong element of Chamorro colonial times under Spain.

A visitor to Guam in 1849 says this about the cockfight as he saw it. It is written in a style of English sometimes strange to our eyes or ears, so I have explanatory comments in parentheses and in italics :

"Between the government house (the palace or palåsyo) and the calaboose (prison), which stood directly opposite it, was a small grass plot (it must have been what we now call the Plaza de España), toward which we saw several parties of Spaniards as well as seamen, directing their steps, and we retraced ours. There we found active preparations going on for a cock-fight, some four or five cocks being already there, a small cord being tied to the leg of each, and at the other end a small peg which was driven in the ground, beside each cock stood its owner, descanting (speaking at length) upon its merits, and waiting for bets, previous to heeling (attaching blades to the heel) and matching them.

Within a few yards of the last, another group were seated gambling for money, at a game peculiarly their own, and they too, within one hundred yards of the church, and the sound of the little bell before the altar, which we distinctly heard.

Nearly every individual then was laboring under a severe attack of the influenza, which was raging fearfully and fatally upon the island; but neither death nor disease prevented them from practicing this cruel and brutal amusement as it is termed.

At four o'clock the services of the church were concluded, which was announced by the tinkling of the bell, when they immediately uncovered (their heads) and dropped on their knees, remaining in that position until the boxed (I can only assume he was being carried in a litter) priest and his retinue had passed, the game cocks standing proudly erect, as though conscious of their superiority to the degraded beings who knelt around them.

The procession having turned an angle of the government mansion, they sprang from their knees, adjusted their hats and proceeded to cock-fighting with as much nonchalance as a Broadway exquisite would sip his julep."


1. Cockfights were always held on Sundays after morning Mass. The church service the writer talks about having ended around 4PM was not Mass; it was Vespers and Benediction, always held in those days (in bigger churches) on Sunday afternoons. Mass in those days was always celebrated quite early; 4AM or 5AM. On Sundays, a second or third Mass was possible but none past 10AM.

2. The Sunday cockfight was THE social event of the Sunday, after church. People came out in large numbers. At times even the village priest attended the cockfight and sometimes even, if the writer was telling the truth, entered his own rooster in the contest! All this in opposition to church rules.

3. Chamorros in those Spanish times played different games of chance now forgotten, except for Tres Siette, remembered by a few. But other games were called paiket, tangga and panggengge. Games could involve cards, dice and other things.

4. The visitor happened to come the very same month a ship from Hawaii brought the flu to Guam, January of 1849, killing 200 people. His ship arrived on January 21 for three days, leaving on the 24th. Had the ship left the following day, the 25th, this visitor would have experienced one of the worst earthquakes the island had felt in a while. The church tower in Hagåtña even fell.

5. The writer speaks of a "boxed priest." Only one thing comes to my mind, to explain this curious phrase. People could be carried about in boxes carried on men's shoulders, called a litter or palanquin.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019



The Japanese bombed Sumay and other targets on Guam on December 8, 1941. They continued doing so on December 9.

But the Japanese didn't land on Guam till the early morning hours of December 10.

An invasion force landed at Apotguan (what most people today call the Alupang side of Tamuning, or Dungca's Beach) and then marched west to Hagåtña, following what is now Marine Corps Drive. When they got to Hagåtña, they were met with the small and futile defense of the Chamorro Insular Force Guard in the Plaza de España, and a few American Navy men.

The Japanese victory was swift, but not without bloodshed and loss of life. At least seven men, Chamorro and stateside, died that day at the Plaza de España. Others perished at other island locations.

One of them was Ángel León Guerrero Flores, a married man aged 31 years or so, with five young children.

A story, which has been disputed by some who were at the Plaza that day, says that Flores was ordered by the Japanese to lower the American flag in front of Government House, the residence of the American Governor. Despite repeated orders shouted menacingly at him, Flores refused to lower it. A Japanese swung at his head with a sword but another Japanese did the job by pushing his bayonet into Flores. Other versions of the story say that he was killed a day or two later. To this day, no one knows where the Japanese buried his body, nor the bodies of some others killed in the Japanese invasion.

In 1978, the US Navy and the local government commended Flores posthumously, and others, for his conduct as a Prisoner of War under the Japanese.

Whether the flag story happened or not, what can be said with more certainty is that Flores remained at the Plaza, facing the threat of superior invading Japanese forces, at the risk of his life, which he eventually did lose.

A street in Sinajaña. where his widow and children resided after the war, is named after him.

Friday, December 6, 2019



There are three main clans of Lizamas in Saipan, known by their nicknames :

Pilåkku'. Batittang. Pina'lek.


These are the earliest Lizamas to move from Guam to Saipan. Around 1893 or 1894, Vicente Cruz Lizama, from Hagåtña, Guam, and his wife Rosa Taisague Cabrera, also from Hagåtña, moved to Saipan. A son Antonio had already been born on Guam but Vicente and Rosa had many other children born on Saipan. These children in turn had many offspring and the Pilåkku' clan was well-established.

Vicente had a brother Antonio who also moved to Saipan but it seems he and his wife did not have children. Another brother of theirs, José, died in Saipan in 1895, apparently a bachelor.

Vicente was the son of Juan Mendiola Lizama, born around 1838 in Hagåtña (his father was Mariano and his mother was Margarita) and his wife Margarita Demapan Cruz, born around 1846 in Hagåtña, the daughter of Casimiro and Josefa.


This clan of Lizamas in Saipan was founded by Joaquín San Nicolás Lizama, pictured above. Joaquín was born in Guam, the son of José Lizama and María San Nicolás. At some point he moved to Saipan, where he got married in 1903 to Carmen Mendiola Mendiola, of the Damoa clan, which had both Guam and Luta (Rota) origins.

Joaquín and Carmen had almost a dozen children, so the Batittang clan spread.

I knew one of Joaquín's daughters who told me how her father was a kapitan in the sendålon Alemán (a captain among the German soldiers). What she meant was her father was one of the local men recruited by the Germans to be police officers in Saipan.

Joaquín also had two boats which he used for trade and fishing. His daughter said, "Ti in tingo' tenda," "We didn't know anything about stores, because my father always bought or traded things with the other boats."


The Pina'lek Lizama were the last of the three main clans to move to Saipan from Guam, making the move around 1915 or so.

Two brothers, Luís de León Lizama and Juan de León Lizama, moved to Saipan. They were the sons of Mariano Lizama and Rosa Palomo de León. They were already called the Pina'lek clan in Guam, and not all of them moved to Saipan. Luís and Juan had siblings who remained on Guam.

Luís married a Naputi and Juan married a Crisóstomo, and their descendants continued the clan in Saipan.

Luís was an artillery man in the local insular force under the Americans in Guam in the early 1900s before he moved to Saipan.

The clan's nickname, Pina'lek, means "heartburn" in Chamorro. Why the clan is named that is something I have found no conclusive reasons for.


There was one other Lizama who moved from Guam and to Saipan, and she was actually there before the others.

Lucía Fausto Lizama, probably born in Guam and the daughter of Javier (also called Gabriel) and María was already in Saipan in the 1870s bearing children although she was not married. In time, she married the biological father of these children, José Acosta Arriola, and the children all became Arriolas.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


The witness mentioned five people, but no last names!

As most of you know, nearly every Chamorro family has a nickname; a "better-known-as."

On an island where there was a José Cruz, Manuel Flores and Ana Dueñas around every corner, such nicknames were very helpful in specifying who you meant.

It seems that it was such a prevalent thing in the old days that, many times, people sometimes didn't even know the actual last names of the people they were talking about!

Take, for example, this court case in 1906 involving a land dispute.

A witness mentioned the names of five people who might be able to provide information on the case. He didn't use a single last name for any of the five. He called them all by their family, or perhaps, personal nicknames.

Let's see who they were.


This would have been Juan Muña Garrido, whose family was better known as the familian Humåtak. In those days of Spanish influence, J sounded like H as in Juan and José. The Spaniards didn't use a K in their alphabet (except a few times when using Greek words, for example), so they used a hard G to spell Jumatag (Humåtak).


This would have been Juan Concepción Garrido, a relative of Juan Muña Garrido, but whose family was better known as the familian Emmo', after their patriarch Anselmo Camacho Garrido. The -elmo in Anselmo became Emmo'.


I haven't been able to find a family better known as Ama, so it could be that this is Vicente's wife's nickname or his mother's nickname. Sometimes people were identified by their spouse's first name. Like José married to Ana would be called Josen Ana, and Ana would be called Anan José. Or, there could have been another explanation for Ama, but we don't know what it is.


There are families better known as familian Chåda', mostly with the last name Cruz.


Quico is the Spanish spelling of Kiko', since there is no K in Spanish. Kiko' is the nickname for Francisco. There are several families better known as familian Kostat, so it's hard to say which one. Kostat is the Chamorro word for bag.

So when this witness mentioned all five of these people by their nicknames only, I wonder if the Chamorros in the court room (the judge, clerks, advocates) nodded their heads, saying to themselves, "Yes, we know who they are."


The witness was asked to identify someone, and his answer was,

"Tio Joaquín, Bådo, ti hu tungo' i apeyidu-ña."

"Uncle Joaquín, Bådo', I don't know his last name."

Imagine! It's his "uncle"; he knows his personal name and his nickname. But not his last name.

That's how it was for a lot of people in the old days. Last names were sometimes not known, even of the people you personally knew.

Friday, November 29, 2019


If you've ever gone shopping with older Chamorro ladies, especially when they are on a pilgrimage or otherwise shopping in a religious store, you know that they really go for fancy rosaries.

The more glittering and sparkling the rosary, the more she likes it. It's probably the rosary that will grace her folded hands in her casket when she dies.

This is not a new thing; new as in only since American times. Court documents from Spanish times show that this has been going on for two hundreds years or more.

As simple as life was for most people during Spanish times, even the Chamorro lady who lacked many fancy things often was the owner of a gold rosary. Despite the fact that the Marianas did not have ships bringing in imported goods frequently; despite the fact that we had few "stores" to speak of in Spanish times, many of our people did have jewelry, watches rosaries.

Gold rosaries show up in court documents over a hundred years ago in the Marianas in surprising frequency.

A last will and testament states that a gold rosary owned by the deceased is to be given after death to a certain daughter in the family.

A complaint is filed in court against a platero (a silversmith) for failing to replace beads in a gold rosary as the owner had requested.

Another complaint is filed in court alleging that so-and-so stole a gold rosary when the alleged thief was employed as a house servant.

That stolen gold rosary passed to no less than three different buyers until the matter was brought to court.

In another case involving the payment of a debt, a debtor includes a gold rosary as part of the payment.

Gold rosaries were highly prized by Chamorro women

Monday, November 25, 2019



Someone writing for a newspaper in 1849 called Guam the "El Dorado" of recruiters.

He meant whaling recruiters, looking for young men to replace dead, sick or deserted crew members on the whaling ships that crossed the Pacific and beyond.

Working on a whaling ship was miserable. One whaler said, "We have to work like dogs and live like pigs."

So, it's no surprise that many crew members left the ship, unauthorized, when they pulled into a new port. Whaling captains were always looking for replacements, and Guam had a reputation for being an easy place to find them.

Thus the remark El Dorado, the mythical city of gold which was later applied to any place of fabulous wealth or opportunity. The Marianas did not have gold or silver, but it did have young men dying to leave island and join the whaling ships. And not just whaling ships. Even merchant ships recruited men from Guam.

Just take a look at these Guam maritime recruits from one single year, in 1868. There is one man with an unfamiliar surname, Gioto. Either he was not Chamorro and just happened to be on Guam in 1868, or someone spelled his name wrong. There is also a man surnamed Pelayo. He could also have been non-Chamorro but was on Guam at the time.


Vicente de la Cruz, Manuel de la Cruz, Isidoro Pelayo, Vicente de Salas, Juan de la Concepción, Bernardo Blas and Pedro Gioto were recruited on the Hawaiian schooner JH Roscoe under the command of Captain N.T. Jones. 

Luís de Guzmán and Antonio Pereda were recruited by Captain J.R. Spencer for the Hawaiian schooner William H. Allen.

Martín Dueñas and Juan de la Cruz were recruited to go to Asención (Ponape) by Captain Bell of the American merchant ship Aguila.

Leocadio Gogue and José del Rosario were recruited on the Anglo-American whaler Acorn Barnes under Captain Jeffries. "Anglo-American" means the ship was owned by a joint British and American company.

José Camacho, José de San Nicolás, Rufino Tenorio, Raimundo Tenorio and Juan Taijito. were taken by Captain Henry F. Worth of the Anglo-American whaler John Carver.

José Taitano, Pedro Luján and Ignacio Guerrero joined the crew of the Anglo-American whaler Eugenia under Captain W. Barnes.

Ramón de los Santos, Cecilio Materne, Pedro Namauleg, Mariano de la Cruz and Mariano Camacho were taken as crew members in the pesca de ballena (fishing of whales) by J.M. Soule,  captain of the American whaling ship Adeline.

José Mendiola, Isidro Mendiola, José de la Rosa and Mariano Baza were recruited by Captain Phillips of the American ship Monticello.

The majority of these men, from the looks of their surnames, would have been Hagåtña residents. Materne might have come from Aniguak. Taijito from Asan. Namauleg could have come from Hagåtña, Aniguak or Asan. Perhaps some from Sumay. But there are no Babautas from Hågat, Afaisens from Inalåhan, Quinatas from Humåtak, or Nangautas from Malesso' on this list, for example. I don't see any Luta names either, although a few men from Luta did get recruited in the 1800s.

A whaling captain of days gone by

Friday, November 22, 2019


Mwar, or floral crown

This song has been recorded by others, but this one is by the group Ti Napu.

Un na' beste hao koronan flores
(You dressed yourself with a crown of flowers)
para i che'cho'-mo.
(for your work.)
Asentådo i magagu-mo.
(Your clothes were proper.)
Ma kehåye hao mismo i amigå-mo
(Your own friend told on you)
na guaha otro ya dinanche i keha
(that there was another and the grumbling was correct)
sa' un fatta hao gi halom taotao.
(because you revealed yourself in public.)

Lao bai sungon i pinadese.
(But I will endure the pain.)
Håfa yo' bai cho'gue?
(What will I do?)
Yanggen ennao disposision-mo
(If that's your decision)
ai lokkue' nene.
(oh well baby.)
Ya un dia siempre un tungo' piniti-ho
(And one day you will surely know my hurt)
ya un tånga tåtte i gimå'-mo.
(and you will want back your home.)

I trongkon åtbot annai manflores
(When the flame tree flowers)
hu hasso hao nene
(I remember you baby)
ya hu tånga hao gi fi'on-ho.
(and I want you by my side.)
I famagu'on-ta konsuelu-ho kada puenge
(Our children were my comfort each night)
an un dingu ham pot i otro na guinaiya-mo.
(when you left us for your other love.)

Monday, November 18, 2019


Everybody today knows it as the Plaza de España. If we were to render that in English, Spain Square.

But it wasn't called that originally, not even by the Spaniards!

They called it the Plaza de Magallanes. Magallanes is the Spanish form of the last name Magellan, after Ferdinand Magellan, the first European that we know of who made contact with our islands. That happened in 1521, just 19 years after Columbus bumped into what we now call the Americas.

In English, Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan was Portuguese by birth, and his last name in Portuguese is Magalhães.

When Chamorros learned of the Spanish version of his name, Magallanes, they pronounced it the Chamorro way. In Chamorro, we do not have the Y sound as in "yellow." Our Y is like Yigo or Yoña. In Spanish, double L (LL) has the Y sound like "yellow." In Spanish, Magallanes sounds like ma - ga - ya - nes. But our Chamorro elders pronounced the Y like the Y in Yigo or Yoña.

That's why when we say Acfalle, Tajalle or Quintanilla, the LL sounds like the Y in Yigo or Yoña. Double L (LL) in Spanish sounds like the Y in "yellow," but like the Y in Yigo and Yoña if being said with the Chamorro pronunciation.


The first Governor's palace (palåsyo) in Hagåtña was built in 1736 so we can assume that a plaza of sorts was laid out in front of the palace. It was really just a big, empty space. At times, paintings and sketches suggest it was surrounded by hedges or even crops. We do know that, since it faced the palace, it was where people gathered to listen to special announcements from the Governor or to celebrate some events.

But, more or less, it was just an empty space. Not much going on on the site itself, except there seems to have been a cock fight done there every Sunday afternoon. It didn't always have straight four lines like a square.

The Plaza in 1819
Not a true four-sided square


It was the Americans who started calling it the Plaza de España. Maybe Magallanes was too hard for them to say.

They were also the ones who built the kiosko (gazebo) in the center, various times, even beginning with a thatched roof one. The kiosko served as a bandstand at times and the military band played there weekly.

The Plaza has been the location of several important events in recent history. This is where members of the Guam Militia, Chamorros, shot their machine gun at the invading Japanese on December 10, 1941. This is where the Japanese made the American Governor and Spanish bishop strip to their underwear and run around the Plaza in order to show the Chamorros who was in charge now. This is where a Chamorro-organized protest against George Tweed was held. The Plaza has been the site of inaugurations, weddings, social events, political rallies and even movie and TV filming over the years.


Wikipedia is an online, reader-contributed informational website.

The people who write the articles are human, so mistakes are bound to happen. And it happened with the wikipedia article on the Plaza de España in Hagåtña.

Whoever wrote the wikipedia article used information from the nomination of the Plaza to the national register of historic places. In that documentation, it is stated that the Plaza was originally named after Magellan, in Portuguese Magalhães.

While it is true that Magellan's real name, his Portuguese name, was Magalhães, the Spaniards called him Magallanes, not Magalhães, and so the Plaza was never called the Plaza de Magalhães, unless a Portuguese were writing or speaking.

Secondly, the author of the wikipedia article may have thought that Magalhães in the nomination was a typo. He may have thought that magalahes (chiefs / governors) was meant. That is not the case. It was never called the Plaza de Magalahes. In Chamorro, we do not make words plural by adding an S, as we do in English or Spanish and other languages. And in documentation from Spanish times never do we ever read about a Plaza de Magalahes. Plaza de Magallanes, yes. The author was confused by Magalhães, the Portuguese form of Magellan/Magallanes. The ~ over the A in Magalhães is a clue. The ã is a letter used by the Portuguese, but not by the Spaniards.


Not so!