Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When the Spaniards rounded up all of the people to live in specific villages on Guam, one of these selected villages was Pago, on the northern shore of the bay we all know by that name.  For years, it had its own church, rectory and government building.  In 1849, a strong earthquake did much damage to these buildings and the sea level rose, flooding the whole village.  When the waters receded, dead fish covered the ground, including fish never seen before by the people.  In 1855, a bad typhoon did further damage.

In 1856, a smallpox epidemic killed nearly half of the island population.  Pago lost so many of its residents that the survivors packed and moved elsewhere.  Over time, a few people continued to live at Pago Bay, usually fishing for a living.  The Spaniards established an infirmary for lepers there in 1890 but it closed the following year because a typhoon damaged the building.

The outlying villages of Guam were populated mainly by more pure-blooded Chamorros, unlike those in Hagåtña, so it's not surprising that some of the families with roots in Pago had indigenous names like Quichocho, Agualo, Taisipic.  These later moved to Hagåtña and Sinajaña.

Pågo is the name of a kind of hibiscus (tiliaceus) that frequently grows on the shore in the tropics.  The plant is very useful in making cords and rope, and were prized by seamen because these ropes did not rot in water.

Our Chamorro word pågo is related to words for the same plant in other languages in our Austronesian family : bago (Ilokano), baru (Malay), fau (Samoan), balibago (Tagalog).

No comments:

Post a Comment