Monday, May 30, 2011


Since Spanish Times

Chamorro and Yapese Women
Early 1900s

The two Chamorro women in the middle show evidence of greater western influence in their dress
Chamorros have been traveling the world for hundreds of years, albeit in fewer numbers in the beginning.  As far back as the 1600s, a few Chamorros accompanied the Spaniards to the Philippines and perhaps even Mexico.  There are perhaps stories of Chamorros who left the Marianas for elsewhere that have not been documented during Spanish times.

By the 1800s, many Chamorros started leaving Guam on the whaling ships that visited Apra Harbor.  These Chamorros ended up in many places - Hawaii, the U.S. mainland and only God knows where else.  Other Chamorros moved to the Bonin Islands in between us and Japan, and some others spent time in the Philippines.

But in 1886, the Spaniards established a colonial government in Yap, just south of Guam.  Although politically separate from the Marianas, there had been and would continue to be contact between Guam and Yap, thanks to the Spanish flag flying over both islands. 

Even before the Spaniards officially established their presence on Yap, there was a Chamorro woman, Bartola Garrido, living on Yap with her American companion.  When the Spaniards came in 1886, the door was opened for more Chamorros from the Marianas to move to Yap as teachers and settlers.  One of these Chamorro teachers in Yap, Ascension Martinez Cruz, met a Spanish soldier stationed there, Pascual Artero y Sáez, and married.  They moved to Guam right in the first years of the American administration of Guam.

Some of the Chamorro families that settled in Yap were the Untalan, Cruz and Diaz families.

When Yap and Saipan were both under the Germans and then under the Japanese governments, some Chamorros from Saipan moved to Yap.

One of the Untalans from Yap, a woman, married a Filipino by the last name of Hondonero.  He and his Chamorro wife and half-Chamorro children were deported by the Japanese to Palau during World War II and executed there by the Japanese in September of 1944.

When World War II ended, the chiefs of Yap asked the American Trust Territory government to remove the Chamorros from Yap.  It was not due to hatred or hostility.  The Chamorros and Yapese had lived in harmony for sixty-some years.  But the Yapese (numbering 2400 in 1946) wanted their island free of this sizeable minority.  That is how most of the Chamorros from Yap moved to Tinian, which had no population, in 1948.  A few moved to Saipan or Guam instead, but by 1948 there were no more Chamorros living permanently in Yap.


  1. Are there any Chamorros still living that were on Yap in 1945? We would like to contact them about their memory of the Japanese soldiers.

    1. Yes, there are Chamorros born in Yap who are still alive. Most of them would have been born in the 1930s and 1940s and have little to no memory of the Japanese era or war time. But if I find someone, I will let you know.

  2. My great-grandparents lived in Yap and all their children were born there. I didn't realize this until I saw the 1940 Guam census on that lists all the children's birthplace as Yap. They were known as "familian Yap" when they returned to Guam. I knew that my two great aunts were born in Yap but didn't know my grandfather was also born there.
    My great grandfather's name was Gregorio Blas Blas. The children were all born in a the late 1890's and early 1900's. I would like to learn more about Chamorros in Yap as it is part of my heritage.

    1. When I first moved to Guam in the mid 80's, there were still several Chamorros, who not only were born and raised on Yap, they spoke Yapese better than I did. The words that they used were bigger and deeper in meaning. Sadly, they had all passed away. Their children are still alive and perhaps they could help you in locating others who may still be living today. The Flemings from Barrigada, the Untalans from Chalan Pago and Mangilao, and the Blas' from Tamuning.

    2. There are also the Borjas, the Benaventes and the Babautas. There are also the Untalans from Tinian.

  3. I am the decent of a Ramon Borja Aguon who also lived in Yap during the 1800 hrs. and later migrated to Palau with his Yapese wife. Any information about Ramon's siblings who they were and where did they spend their lives?