Monday, May 23, 2011


Ma håtsa gi 1856 na såkkan
Si Påle' Juan Fernandez, Rekoleto, humåtsa

I lived a very short while in the oldest, continuously-inhabited private residence on Guam.  What memories.

Father Juan Fernandez was the priest who built it in 1856.  Fernandez was a Spanish missionary of the Augustinian Recollect Order which was in charge of the Marianas at the time.  Fernandez was first assigned to Malesso' and Humåtak in 1851.

Since it was built, it has been the residence of the priest of Malesso' and Humåtak except for most of the 1990s when Pale' Jose Villagomez, Capuchin, built a temporary konbento using as a foundation the stage that used to be on the side of the basketball court.  Both temporary konbento and basketball court have since been removed since the dedication of the new church in 2002.

With the new church came a restoration of the konbento and the priest moved back to the historic residence. 

In the photo above, taken in the 1920s or 30s, you can see the bodega on the ground floor.  A bodega was a basement, and the more affluent people often built a house with a bodega on the ground floor and a second floor for the family living quarters.  Today, the bodega is used as a parish office and museum.

By the time I lived there for a few weeks in the 1980s as a seminarian watching the place when the pastor was away, the old building was falling apart.  The floor and ceiling were collapsing.  It was stuffy, hot and humid.  But at least I did not live alone; I shared the premises with hundreds of God's little creatures - termites, cockroaches, geckos, rats and snakes.  I remember visiting Pale' Lee there in the 1980s.  We sat down in the kitchen, and Pale' saw a rat, in broad daylight, leisurely walk across the kitchen counter.  Pale' took his sneaker off and threw it at the rat, which picked up speed and scurried away into hiding in one of the many holes and crevices of the old building.  Rat out of sight, Pale' Lee returned to our conversation as if nothing happened.  And indeed nothing had.

(To those down south who may think this anecdote unflattering, you know that my years with you were some of the best of my life.)

1 comment:

  1. The truth is the truth no?...I would not consider it "unflattering" at all. Thank God it was renovated and not 'wreakovated' or worse, torn down. Thanks again for the history lesson! PAS.