Thursday, March 31, 2011


Today we look at a family with an indigenous name.  A few Chamorro last names end in -ta.  Not to be confused with Spanish surnames that end in -ta (Evangelista, Acosta, Ballesta, etc), in names like Quinata, Ungacta, Taguacta, Nangauta and Maratita, the "ta" means "our."

So Babauta means "our babau."  The question is, "What is a babau?"

It's a Chamorro word that fell into eventual disuse (though it can be revived) and it means "banner" or "standard," as in "emblem, symbol or coat-of-arms." 

Writing in the early 1680s, Jesuit Father Garcia, in his biography of Blessed Diego Luís de Sanvitores, describes the "babao Dios" or the "standard of God."  We would say today "babao or babau Yu'us."
For the Jesuit missionaries, the "babao Dios" was the Holy Cross.

We can picture our ancestors using symbols or emblems, of whatever material, for warfare or ritual, called "babau."

The homeland of the Babauta surname is both Agat and Merizo (Hågat yan Malesso').  They seem to be two different families.  That they perhaps sprung from the same people in the far distance of time is anybody's guess.

The Hågat Babautas apparently come from two men named Raimundo and Jose.  What their connection is remains a mystery as no older baptismal records have been found to show us.  Raimundo and Jose would have been in their young adulthood in the 1840s.

Raimundo married Joaquina Taimanglo, and Jose married Ana Hokkok (also spelled Hocog, Jocog).  All four of these ancestors have indigenous Chamorro names (Babauta; Taimanglo or "without wind;" and Hokkok or "depleted").  There is a large Hocog family in Rota (Luta), and only one Hokkok family in Hågat, so there may or may not be a connection.

From these two men grew the numerous Hågat Babautas, some of whom moved to Sumay, Umatac (Humåtak) and Saipan during Spanish times and who are now all over the world.

The Malesso' Babautas have several ancestors, whose possible connections cannot be determined as of now.  The following ancestors would have lived around the 1840s and 1850s.  One Francisco Babauta, who married Alejandra Ugua.  One Dámaso Babauta, who married Dominga Espinosa.  One Vicente Babauta, who married Dorotea San Nicolas.  One Mariano Babauta, better-known-as Budo, who married Simona Chargualaf.  There is also one Silverio Charguane Babauta, a widower and older man in his 60s in 1898.  We do not know the name of his deceased wife so we cannot tell who his children were, assuming he had any.  The Malesso Babautas also can be found all over the world today.

There was one Babauta family living in Hagåtña in 1898.  Their father, Manuel Babauta, deceased by then, was better-known-as "Chabok."  He was married to Cipriana de Leon Guerrero Dueñas.  It isn't known if he was originally from Hågat or Malesso' or anywhere else.

P.S. Don't confuse babao with baobao, the latter meaning "hollow."
P.P.S. There was also another Hågat family named Babauña.  The name died out.

                      SOME WELL-KNOWN BABAUTAS

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Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs
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His mañaina moved from Hågat to Saipan in the late 1800s


  1. What is the names of Raimundo Babauta and Joaquina Taimanglo children?

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