When the Spaniards colonized the Marianas, a new system of naming individuals was introduced to our people. First of all, one was given a Christian name at one's baptism - Jose, Maria, Juan, Rosa.
Now, as to the father's last name and the mother's last name. The Spanish system was followed. Which means : FATHER'S NAME FIRST, MOTHER'S NAME NEXT.
So when Jose Cruz and Rosa Santos had a baby girl Maria, she was called MARIA CRUZ SANTOS.
Or, just plain Maria Cruz. If the mother's name needed to be initialized, she was called Maria Cruz S.
Sometimes, the Spanish put the word "y" in between the two last names. "Y" means "and." It is pronounced like an "ee" in English. Maria Cruz y Santos.
In a Spanish document, if you see someone named Manuel Flores Diaz, you would know that his father was the Flores and his mother was the Diaz.
Women did not adopt the last name of their husbands when they got married. They kept their names.
All this is important to know when you research your family tree and are using Spanish documents.
It took 20 years of American administration for them to change this system, adopting the American system in 1920 of MOTHER'S NAME FIRST, THEN THE FATHER'S NAME.
In the Northern Marianas, the Spanish system continued under the Germans and Japanese until the end of World War II.