Tuesday, June 27, 2017


What we call our village mayors today were our village commissioners in the 1950s and 60s.

In one of those village elections for commissioner in the late 1950s, a candidate in a southern village won by only three votes.

The daughter of the winning candidate tells me the story :

Påle', ginen Commissioner si tatå-ho. 
(Father, my father was once a Commissioner.)

I fine'nana na biåhe na mangånna, tres ha' na boto muna' fangånna si tatå-ho. 
(The first time he won, just three votes made my father win.)

Ilek-ña i kontrariu-ña despues de ma deklåra na si tatå-ho mangånna, 
(His opponent said, after my dad was declared the winner,)

"Hu tungo' håye siha i tres na boto ni muna' fangånna hao! 
("I know who those three votes were which made you win!)

I dos techan guma'yu'us yan si nanå-mo!" 
(The two church prayer leaders and your mother!")

Maolek ha' nai na ga' guma'yu'us si bihå-ho 
(Good that my grandmother was a church-goer)

ya ha kombensi i dos techa para u ma bota si tatå-ho!
(and she convinced those two prayer leaders to vote for my dad!)


Ga'. This prefix means "fond of, liking." Ga' kumuentos is someone who likes to talk. Ga' salåppe' is someone who likes money (avaricious). Ga' guma'yu'us is someone who likes church or religious events and things. A "churchy" type.

Techa. Prayer Leader. Usually a female, but can also be a male, in which case he is still the techa, not a techo. Techa is not borrowed from Spanish, which observes gender (masculine -o and feminine -a). Techa comes from the Chamorro verb tucha, which means to lead public prayers. The Chamorro language does not observe gender. A tall person is lokka', whether male or female. It isn't lokko' for a man and lokka' for a woman. There is no gender in the Chamorro language.

The techa is the one who leads the public recitation of the rosary before Mass every day at church. She also leads in novenas and other devotions at church. A techa also leads in prayers done at home. One becomes a techa simply by being recognized by others as being capable of leading the prayers. There are techa who lead prayers occasionally, such as for home devotions or a funeral now and then. And then there are techa who are "parish techa" who lead prayers on a daily basis at church. These parish techa are their own category and are considered something like "super Catholics" since they practically live in church.

It is this kind of techa who were credited with the victory of this political candidate! :)

The Power of the Techa

Monday, June 26, 2017


Frederick Vehling was something of a showman.

An immigrant from Germany to the U.S., he got some attention sailing his schooner, the Kussiloff, unaided, from Kodiak in Alaska to San Francisco. Then he decided to pursue an even more difficult long voyage, from San Francisco to Guam.

This time he brought along his whole family; a wife and seven children, including two boys, aged 14 and 12. And one black man, as well.

He also brought along items for trade once he arrived at Guam : two cases of clay pipes, one coil of rope, 24 pounds of tobacco, 5 barrels of flour and many other things.

He set sail from San Francisco on May 5, 1894. He made a brief stop at Honolulu after sailing for 28 days.

Vehling had been to Guam long before, during his seaman days, and dreamed of returning to settle on Guam permanently and grow coffee.

He was in Guam by the end of July or early August. The story of his voyage to Guam was carried in many newspapers all over the United States.

Despite a warm reception by the Spanish Governor, it seems Vehling did not stay long on Guam. He was never heard of again.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
November 5, 1894

Thursday, June 22, 2017


This song was recorded by Sonny Flores and Joe Norita of Saipan back in the 1980s.

It's a love song, as many Chamorro songs are, with that familiar touch of male insecurity! He promises her true and undying love; he is not totally sure where her heart stands.


Mamaisen yo' keridå-hu nene
kao magåhet na manguaiya hao nu guåho.
(I asked, my beloved baby,
if it is true that you love me.)

Mungnga ma na' låstima i lago'-mo
sa' i tiempo-ko para hågo todo i ora.
(Don't waste your tears,
because my time for you is always.)

Bai hu sungon nene i kontråta,
puede ti manguaiya hao otro mås ke guåho.
(I will endure, baby, the agreement,
hopefully you don't love another more than me.)


Kerida. This is borrowed from the Spanish querida, from the verb querer (to love, to wish) and it means "beloved" but can also mean "darling, sweetheart" and every romantic epithet you can think of.

Tiempo-ko. Literally "my time" but he means that he is available to meet her needs at all times.

Todo i ora. Literally means "at all hours" but he means "always, at any and all times."

Sungon. It literally means "to endure" but here he means he will endure any hardship, make any sacrifice, to keep the understanding between him and her that they are a couple.

Kontråta. It sounds like "contract" and it can mean that, but also "agreement, understanding, plan."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Many families on Guam practice the following custom after a baby is baptized.

When the baptism is over and the baptismal party leaves the church and goes to the house where the christening party will be celebrated, the patlino (godfather) gathers in front of the people, with the children usually standing or squatting right in front of him, and yells out "Biba!" three times in honor of the newly-baptized baby. The people reply with their own "Biba!" each time the patlino yells "Biba!"

Then, the patlino breaks open rolls of quarters and scatters them all over the place. As much as $20 worth of quarters are thrown out, but the amount is up to the patlino.

Anyone can pick up the quarters, but it's usually the children who do. They can keep whatever they catch.

This custom is simply a way that the family and guests can express joy that a baby in the family has been baptized into God's Church.

Here is how Cathy Ogo explains the custom in Chamorro :

One person from Saipan told me that this isn't done on that island. That usually means it isn't done on Tinian or Luta either. But, if someone can share if this custom is practiced on these other islands, please leave a comment.

A godfather about to throw out the quarters at a christening party.

Younger and older picking up the quarters.

Monday, June 19, 2017


The CNMI's first Senators are sworn into office, January 1978

When the Northern Mariana Islands were made a Commonwealth of the United States in 1977, a bicameral (two house) legislature was created. The House was made up of representatives based on population. Thus, Saipan got the bulk of representatives while Tinian and Luta got one representative each. The House would be headed by a Speaker.

The Senate, on the other hand, gave each of the three main islands (Saipan, Tinian and Luta) three senators each. The islands north of Saipan (Pagan, Alamagan, etc.) would be included under Saipan. The Senate would be headed by a Senate President.

The first elections for the new CNMI government, executive and legislative branches, were held in December of 1977.

In those days, there was a Democratic Party in the CNMI, but not a Republican Party yet. The alternative party then was the Territorial Party. The Territorials proved victorious in the legislative race of 1977, while the Democratic candidates won the Governor and Lieutenant Governor positions.


Territorial (8)
Oscar Rasa (Speaker) - Saipan
Pedro Nakatsukasa - Saipan
Alonso Igisomar - Saipan
Miguel Kileleman - Saipan
Jose Lifoifoi - Saipan
Felicidad Ogumoro - Saipan
Placido Tagabuel - Saipan
Misael Ogo - Luta

Democrat (6)
Manases Borja - Saipan
Antonio Guerrero - Saipan
Jesus Guerrero - Saipan
Jesus Sonoda - Saipan
Joaquin Villanueva - Saipan
Serafina King - Tinian


Territorial (5)
Lorenzo Guerrero (President) - Saipan
Pedro Tenorio - Saipan
Julian Calvo - Luta
Joseph Inos - Luta
Benjamin Manglona - Luta

Democrat (4)
Serafin de la Cruz - Tinian
Hilario Diaz - Tinian
John Hofschneider - Tinian
Herman Guerrero - Saipan


  • The 1977 election gave the Carolinians a significant amount of representation in the House; 5 out of 14 seats (over a third). Because the Carolinians heavily voted Territorial, that boosted the Territorial Party's ability to capture the majority in the House.
  • Because 2/3 of the Senate was made up of the Luta and Tinian delegations, where there is no historical Carolinian community, Carolinian members of the Senate could be expected to be few.
  • Luta was strongly Territorial at the time; Tinian was strongly Democrat.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Hagåtña in the 1920s

Our mañaina really did it up in the past when it came to religious celebrations.

A news article in the Guam News Letter from June, 1915 talks about the Corpus Christi procession that year.

"The feast of Corpus Christi was celebrated on June 6, 1915 by a solemn procession which was attended by a very large number of people. The Blessed Sacrament was borne by His Lordship the Right Reverend Bishop of Guam, preceded by (the) volunteer Band, who played hymns which were sung by all the people. The houses on both sides of the streets through which the procession passed were adorned with embroideries and colored curtains; and lighted candles were placed in the windows and on the varandahs."

"Along the route of the procession, there were erected four pretty little chapels, constructed of bamboo and palms, and adorned with flowers and religious images. At each of these chapels, the Bishop stopped and the people knelt down while the Blessed Sacrament was incensed."

"The good order of the procession and the fervor with which the Church Hymns were sung, were especially noticeable. This was a source of pleasure and satisfaction to the Very Rev. Bishop, who after the procession expressed his appreciation of this religious enthusiasm."

Pre-War Lånchon Kotpus

Some things to take note of....
  • a marching band accompanied the procession
  • people sang the hymns from memory (there were no printed hymnals for wide public distribution yet)
  • the people sang with fervor
  • the houses along the route were decorated, not just the lånchon kotpus (little chapels)
  • the people knelt (on the bare earth; streets were not paved yet)
  • look at the lånchon kotpus above. No K Mart, no Home Depot. Yet look how elaborately decorated it is.
Our mañaina really had faith back then and knew how to express it. Puts us to shame.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Tubero, or tuba seller

In 1807, Elías Topasña was killed. He was stabbed by a tubero named Francisco Quitaoji.

A tubero is a maker and/or seller of tuba, an alcoholic drink made from coconut sap.

On October 5th, the body of a dead man was discovered in the Fu'uña area of Hågat. There was a stab wound below the left nipple. The blade went into the body in the direction of the heart. The body was soon identified as that of Elías Topasña, a bilånggo of Hågat. A bilånggo was a peace officer or constable.

A search party was organized, looking for the knife. It was found by Javier Quidagua and Domingo Laguaña on the roadside. Two knife experts, Mariano Luján and Vicente Muña, studied both the knife and the wound and declared that the knife was the instrument of death.

The next step was identifying the owner of the knife. Very quickly, fingers were pointed at a certain Francisco Quitaoji, also of the Fu'uña area of Hågat. The knife was used by Quitaoji for cutting tuba.

When questioned, Quitaoji admitted he had stabbed Topasña during a struggle when Topasña met Quitaoji on the road and attempted to confront Quitaoji with a garrote. A garrote was a strangling device, often made of cord or rope. This is where Chamorro gets the word galute.

Despite his apparent justification based on self-defense, Quitaoji was found guilty and imprisoned at the jail in Hagåtña.

Prior to this incident, Quitaoji had been punished by the government for having fled to the mountains.


People debate where Fu'uña was located.

A village by that name is mentioned as far back as 1682, the year García's book on Sanvitores was published, just ten years after Sanvitores' death. The vague descriptions of Fu'uña point to an area north of Humåtak and south of Hagåtña, on the western side of the island, but nothing more precise can be ascertained.

In this 1752 map of Guam, there is a small island called Funna (possibly Fu'uña) off the coast of Hågat. Perhaps the area on shore facing this island was also called Funna/Fu'uña.

Others believe that Fu'uña is actually Fouha, a point further south, closer to Humåtak. In other words, Fouha and Fu'uña are the same place, according to this school of thought.

This list of Guam place names used by the US Navy in 1946 shows this belief that Funna (Fu'uña) is the same place as Fouha Point.

Personally, I would be very hesitant to come to the firm conclusion that Fouha Point is really Fu'uña and more so the Fu'uña involved in the killing of Elías Topasña.

The documents all point to Fu'uña being a location in Hågat, whereas Fouha is clearly within Humåtak's boundaries. It would be too far for the principal players in Topasña's death, all Hågat people, to be walking so far down south to Fouha and back up to Hågat where the Hågat village leadership resided. You would think that if the killing really happened at Fouha, just up the shore from Humåtak, that Humåtak's authorities would be the ones investigating Elías' death.

The Topasña surname today is principally found in Humåtak, but two hundred years ago it was also found in other villages, such as Hågat. The document is clear that Elías Topasña was born in Hågat.

The fact that old maps speak of an isle (or rock) called Funna, located way north of Sella (Sydia) and Cetti (Aty) bays in the 1752 map, also point to a location in Hågat called Funna/Fu'uña.

In time, the location once called Fu'uña in Hågat district was no longer so called by the people. It no longer appears in more recent maps. In time, we get written evidence that people regarded Fu'uña and Fouha as the same place. But why? The answer to that still evades us.

We're at the mercy of old maps, often created by people not even living on Guam, passing on mistakes of older maps and making their own mistakes in spelling and location.

In many cases, history humbles us and we just have to say, at times, "We don't know for sure."

Monday, June 12, 2017


Mappot ma pångon i kadu' mamaigo'.

It's difficult to wake up someone pretending to be asleep.

I kadu' mamaigo' ti siña ma pångon sa' åhe' ti mamaigo'. Esta makmåta.
(The person pretending to sleep cannot be awoken because he isn't asleep. He is already awake.)

Some people choose to be ignorant. There is no educating them. Their ears and minds are closed by choice.

They are like those who pretend to be asleep. They cannot be awakened, because they already are. They are just pretending to be asleep. By their own choice, they can go on and on and on as if they were asleep.

Friday, June 9, 2017


Pablo Pérez was the Spanish Governor of the Marianas for a little less than seven years, from 1848 till 1855. He was a controversial figure, often at odds with the Spanish missionary priests in the Marianas.

In 1854, for example, Pérez took issue with Father Vicente Acosta. Acosta has erected a chapel at the beach in Tomhom (Tumon) where tradition says Father Sanvitores was martyred in 1672. The location was pointed out by some very old people who kept the memory of the site as they had learned from their parents.

The shrine had an altar, a large cross and a painting of Sanvitores.

Acosta then sang Mass at the chapel on May 3, 1854. Two principal ladies involved in this Mass were Matilde de Campos and her sister Luisa. Matilde had a strong devotion to Sanvitores and Father Acosta asked her to take care of decorating the altar. Her sister Luisa assisted her.

The Governor was very displeased with the priest's actions. Pérez maintained that Acosta needed the Governor's permission to build a chapel. He also took issue with the priest's omission of not even informing the Governor of the chapel nor of the Mass.

Pérez started official proceedings against Acosta, gathering oral testimony from witnesses. He sent all of these to the higher authority in Manila, which received these reports in early 1855.

The reports went nowhere as Manila had decided it was time for Pérez to be replaced as Governor of the Marianas. In May of 1855, a new Governor arrived on Guam and Pérez was put on board to leave island.

Acosta and Pérez
No love lost between them

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


My favorite beach in all the Marianas

I came across a Chamorro phrase the other day that I never heard of before.

Chopchop unai.

When I first saw it, I already knew what both words meant separately. But I didn't know what those two words were doing together.

Chopchop means "to suck, to absorb." As when you suck on an orange, or when the sponge sucks up (absorbs) whatever liquid has spilled.

Unai means "sand."

So I learned that chopchop unai means "beach."

Some say chopchop i inai. And if one started by saying "the beach" then it would be "i chepchop i inai" or "i chepchop unai."

I wonder how our ancestors came up with this phrase. A beach is covered in sand. Is it chopchop unai because it's as if the land soaked up (chopchop) the sand (unai).  

What other reason might there be?

A reader mentioned that it can be observed at times that the water filters through the sand. It is as if the sand is sucking up or absorbing the water. Thus, the name. 

The more common way of saying "beach" in Chamorro is kånton tåsi, meaning "sea side."

Some readers say that chopchop unai refers specifically to the area where the sea water reaches the sand, not the dry sand area.

You see how language is not just a long list of words for this or that. It shows the way a group of people (who speak that language) see the world.

Just make sure that you don't say the Chamorro word chopchop the same way you say the English word "chop." The Chamorro O is different at times from the English O, which has more than one sound. Have a listen :


Monday, June 5, 2017


The area we call nowadays "East Agaña" obviously wasn't always called that.

Believe it or not, there was a time when English was not spoken on Guam! 😊

When I asked an old auntie of mine (born in 1900) what that area was called before the war, she said "Trinchera." I immediately thought of the word "trench," and "trinchera" is, in fact, a Spanish word meaning "trench" or "ditch."

I was actually driving this aunt of mine through the area, so I knew she understood precisely what area I was referring to.

I wondered why people, perhaps beginning with the Spaniards, would give this stretch of narrow land between the ocean and the cliffs such a name. Were there trenches in this area at one time?

I thought the name Trinchera was lost to modern generations but the name is still used by some. For example, the beach in Trinchera is called by some maps "Trinchera Beach."

The building where Crust Pizzeria is located is called Trinchera Plaza, after the name of the area.


I just came across something that might explain why this area was called Trinchera.

The Jesuit Father Francisco García, in his book about Sanvitores and the early Jesuit missionaries, written just ten years after the death of Sanvitores, based on missionary letters and reports, while many of the missionaries were still alive, speaks about trenches (trinchera) and a wall built by the Chamorro enemies of the missionaries.

García says that the opponents did this about half a mile from Hagåtña on roads leading to the villages, in order to prevent the missionaries from traveling to the villages. García doesn't say in what direction from Hagåtña this was, but his description of the area gives us clues. He says that the Chamorros dug these trenches and built the wall across the trail, taking advantage of the tight space between the ocean and the cliffs. This description fits well with East Agaña.

From García's own words,

"The indios....built a wall and trench (trinchera) on the beach to block the way to their villages. The wall was made of coral and rocks from the sea, where it was protected by a rocky hillside, at a distance of an eighth of a league from Agadña." "Indio" is a word that Spaniards used back then to describe natives of the American and Asian/Pacific island places they went to.

I can just imagine a trench (trinchera) and a wall across this narrow stretch of land between the water and the cliff

The cliffs of Trinchera (East Agaña) match the description of the terrain in García's book

Thursday, June 1, 2017


In the village of Santa Rita lies a street named after the late Blas dela Cruz.

Most people are surprised that a man's first name is Blas, since Blas is a well-known family surname in the Marianas. But what is known in the Marianas as a last name is actually a first name. "Blas" is the Spanish version of the name Blaise. There was a saint by that name, and that is how his name got spread all over the Christian world. The saint was Armenian, and his Armenian name was Vlasi. Vlasi became Greek Vlasios and then Latin Blasius. After that, Latin Blasius became Spanish Blas.

Just as first names like Francisco, Pablo, Ignacio and Jesús became family, or last, names, so did Blas.

The Blas we are concerned with, for whom this street is named, was born in Hågat in 1895, the son of Antonio Hocog de la Cruz and Ana Aquiningoc.

Somehow, he enlisted in the US Navy and served during World War I, something that was not done by many Chamorro men at the time. While he was in the service, in California, he was naturalized a US citizen in 1919. Thus, Blas could claim, with only a tiny handful of other Chamorros, that he was made a US citizen long before the Organic Act made all the other Guam Chamorros US citizens in 1950.

Blas de la Cruz's headstone, along with his wife, at Agat Cemetery. It proudly states that he served in the US Navy in World War I.

Blas de la Cruz's petition for US Naturalization, showing his nationality as "Guam." 

Blas was still in the US Navy as the new decade dawned in 1920. He is missing from the Guam Census in 1920. He is also seen on a list of servicemen sailing on the USS Logan with Guam as its destination in 1921. At some point in the 1920s, Blas left the Navy and settled in Sumay, marrying a lady living in Hågat, Natividad Barcinas Reyes, around 1923 or so. Blas and Natividad had four children, two sons and two daughters. When Sumay was closed and the residents transferred by the Navy to Santa Rita, Blas and family moved with the others to the new village. Since his house was on this street, the street was named in time after him.

One thing that Blas did, when he returned to Guam in the early 1920s, was he kept the original Spanish version of his last name de la Cruz. Almost all other de la Cruzes on Guam dropped the "de la" and became known simply as Cruz.

Blas dela Cruz, and wife Natividad

On a personal note, I met Blas once or twice at Guam Memorial Hospital in the 1980s. I was visiting the sick and walked into his room and saw him in bed as a patient with his daughter Ana attending at his side.

He passed away in 1987. RIP

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Bira i platu-mo yanggen guaha taotao gi lamasa na kahulo' ya må'pos.

Turn your plate if someone at table gets up and leaves.

This folk belief isn't held by everyone. In fact, from asking around, I'd say it is practiced by only a certain number of people. Most of the people I talked to don't practice it. Some have heard of the belief, and many haven't heard of it at all until I asked them. And these were older people.

The idea is that, by turning one's plate, the person leaving will make it safely to his or her destination. As soon as the person leaves the table, give your plate a rotation. A full one; 360 degrees. It will prevent the person leaving getting into an accident or meeting some other misfortune.

The practice raised my suspicions and I inquired among my Filipino friends and, yes indeed, this belief is also found among them, though not all practice it.

They call it "ikot plato," the turning of a plate. They also do it for the same reason; the protection of the one leaving.

The majority of the older people I talked to had heard that some people do this, but they didn't. Nor had their parents and grandparents, so we're already going into the 1890s if we're talking about an 80-year-old's grandparents.

And, yet, there are some who say that their grandparents did practice this, and that takes us back to the 1890s as well.

Monday, May 29, 2017


(photo courtesy of Angelo Villagomez)

...or Pagan. Not the picture. But the place of work. The picture is definitely Agrigan.

An Englishman named H.T. Williams tried to make money here in the Marianas in the 1880s. He was up in Saipan in 1885 seeking money-making opportunities and one way to make money in those days was through the sale of copra, the dried meat of the coconut. The oil extracted from the dried meat could be used in a variety of products that needed a dose of oil in them. Think of soap, for example.

Copra production was found everywhere in the Marianas but the boon to doing it in the northern islands, like Agrigan or Pagan, was that there were no property owners! It was all government-owned, and an entrepreneur only had to secure approval from the Spanish government to lease the entire island. Williams was not the only one to seek his fortune in northern islands copra.

Williams recruited forty Carolinians living in Saipan to work on the coconut plantations in Agrigan or Pagan that year. The contract stated that the work period would not exceed fifteen months. The men were to be paid three pesos per month, with a six peso advance. Williams was to provide for their daily meals and to transport them back to Saipan within that fifteen month period.

Why Carolinians? There were indeed Chamorros living on Saipan in 1885 but, at that time, the Carolinian community was still the majority of the Saipan residents. Saipan had zero human residents from around 1740 on, thanks to the Spanish policy of relocating everyone north of Luta to Guam or Luta. It was just the birds and animals on Saipan for the next seventy years or so.

Around 1815, Carolinians were allowed by the Spanish government to settle on empty Saipan, and the Chamorros (mostly from Guam, a few from Luta) followed behind them in very small numbers. The Chamorro population began to soar by the end of the 1800s and by the early 1900s the Chamorros became the majority of the Saipan population.

But, in 1885, it was still a Carolinian majority and they were available for hire. The Chamorro settlers were busy tending their own farms; too busy to be hired in big numbers to help other ventures. The Carolinians at that time did not farm in the same way the Chamorros did, with their almost 200 years of Spanish experience with the plow and hoe. The Carolinians fished and planted in the old, island way; yam and taro. Other foods, like breadfruit, didn't even planting. Just pick them off the tree when edible. Less time was needed for these, compared to western farming, and so there were Carolinian men available for hire.

Carolinian Men of Saipan
Early 1900s

We have the names of the Carolinian men hired by Williams in 1885. Many of the family names are still around on Saipan to this day. I am listing them here in the way their names are spelled in the document. Keep in mind that the spelling comes from Spaniards (and Chamorros) who heard the Carolinian names with their Spanish and Chamorro ears. Thus, the spelling. I am also putting the more modern way of spelling these names.

Included in the list is one man from Satawal, spelled Sataguat, which would be the Chamorro way of pronouncing Satawal. Satawal is one of the many islands where the Carolinians of Saipan originated. In other words, this man from Satawal was from the same ethnic group as the Saipan Carolinians. But he is not baptized; otherwise, he would have had a Christian first name, as all the others do.

Mariano Matagolay (Matagolai)
Pedro Caipat (Kaipat)
Gregorio Rangamar
Vicente Faibar
José Faibar
Juan Ulaitiman (Olaitiman)
Timoteo Ruiliang
José Parong
Juan Rapugao
Miguel Rogolifoy (Rogolifoi)
Demetrio Olorit
Vicente Taroligay
Matías Rapaito
Uguleal de Sataguat (Uguleak of Satawal, an island in Yap State)
Romualdo Taralimang
Antonio Angailen
Simón Ulaitiman (Olaitiman)
Andrés Robopes (Rogopes)
Romualdo Ylisua (Lisua)
Lucas Itauer
Carlos Ruabutac
José Maifes
Ygnacio Capileo (Kapileo) (Ygnacio is now spelled Ignacio)
Francisco Angailen
Juan Angailen
Vicente Railog
Juan Leangarang
Macario Robopes (Rogopes)
Matías Faibar
Ramón Faay
Guillermo Satur
Juan Rabauliman
Mariano Ygubor (Igibor)
Ramón Ysarobong
Juan Faay
Félix Saralu
Sebastián Mangud
Vicente Saralu
Domingo Robopes (Rogopes)
Vicente Taman

Matagolai is a name many people think is Chamorro, since it's a coincidence that it seems to be made up of two Chamorro words : måta (face/eyes) and gollai (vegetables). But an older Carolinian told me in the 1990s the way it is pronounced in Carolinian, and documents show that the first Matagolai recorded was a Carolinian.

Some of the more familiar last names to me here are Rabauliman, Olaitiman, Satur, Rogopes, Taman (Candy, the singer), Kaipat, Rogolifoi, Rangamar, Kapileo, Lisua, among the others. Saralu calls to mind the Saralu singers. Malua Peter, a well-known lady in Saipan, is from the Angailen clan. There is an area on Saipan called As Rapugao, after the family. A lady from the Parong family married into the Chamorro Sablans, which gave birth to one of Saipan's mayors after the war, Elías Parong Sablan.

If there are other names that are spelled differently today, leave a comment.

What we have is a document spelling out the contract between Williams and these hired men. Whether they actually did go to Agrigan and completed their work is not known (yet).

When the contract needed to be signed, the names of the Carolinian men were all written down by the Chamorro clerk. But the Carolinian men could not sign their name; they had not been taught to read or write, since they lived the traditional, island ways from before the Europeans' arrival. Even up to American times, a good number of Chamorros, especially the women, could not sign their names as well.

So, instead, they made a cross with the pen on their names, which the clerk pointed to. Some people think this is where the last name "de la Cruz" comes from, which means "of the Cross." This may have been true in some cases, but not in every case, and, I suspect, not in the majority of cases. If that were really the case, then all these Carolinian men would have then become known as "de la Cruz" since none of them could sign their names, but only draw a cross next to their names.


Thursday, May 25, 2017


This song was, so I am told, originally a Chuukese song written by a prolific composer by the name of Nichon, who was born blind. The song talks about him being born with a disability.

Later, a man from Saipan named Alfonso Saures translated it into Chamorro for a little girl in Saipan, who was his neighbor, who also had a disability.


Tuhu i lago'-ho kada hu konsidera todo este siha i hu padedese.
(My tears fall every time I think about all these things that I suffer.)

1. Ai na nina'masi' yo' na finañågo, inutit yo' na påtgon i mafañago'-ho.
(Oh pitiable I was when I was born, from my birth I was a disabled child.)

2. Olaria mohon ya bai hu gefsaga, sa' gaige yo' på'go gaige gi chatsaga.
(Oh if only I would be rich, because now I am in hardship.)


Olaria is one version of the word ohalá.

Ohalá comes from the Spanish word ojalá, which means, more or less, "God willing." It comes from the Arabic word for God, Allah. The Muslim Moors ruled over much of Spain for hundreds of years till 1492. All those 700 years or so of Moorish presence in Spain left many marks, including on the Spanish language and, from Spanish, on Chamorro!

Originally, Chamorros said ohalá, just as is said in Spanish. But, over time, many Chamorros started pronouncing it olåra, and adding the word mohon which is a Chamorro word meaning "if only."

Other Chamorros changed it to ola mohon, and, as this singer renders it, olaria mohon, and many speakers shorten mohon to mon.

Despite all these different versions, Chamorro speakers understand what is meant by all of them.