Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Three years after establishing the Catholic mission in the Marianas, Påle' Sanvitores decided to send three Catholic Chamorros to Manila so that they could grow stronger in their new convictions by seeing the larger picture of the Church.  They would come back to the Marianas, then, and tell the others what they saw in Manila.  I wonder, though, if Sanvitores also saw this as a way he could win more support for the Marianas mission from Spanish authorities in Manila by showing them the fruit of their labors.

The three Chamorros sent were all from the nobility.  Two were brothers, Pedro Guiran and Matías Yay.  The third was Ignacio Osi.  Two things to mention right away :

The pre-contact Chamorros, like everybody else in the beginning, had personal names only.  They did not have last (or family) names.  When they were baptized, they received a Christian name as well.  Their original Chamorro name then became like a last name.  So, a Chamorro named Taimañao, for example (meaning "fearless") might be given the name Jose at baptism.  He'd now be called Jose Taimañao.

That's how two brothers, Pedro and Matías, had two different "last" names, Guiran and Yay.

Secondly, I wonder if Guiran and Yay truly represent the Chamorro names, or if Spanish ears heard it their own way.  We're not totally sure but we think Chamorros did not have the R sound, so Guiran may not have been the actual sound of that name (was it Gilan?).  Chamorros also didn't have the Y sound, making Yay problematic.

The three men arrived in Manila in 1671 and, according to the Spanish historian, were very impressed.  Matías was so impressed he stayed longer than the other two, who after a year in Manila left for Mexico with Guam as the final destination.  Ignacio got stranded on an island when he missed the ship leaving for sea, but that proved providential since the ship got lost and Pedro was never heard of again.  Ignacio made it back to Manila, connected with Matías and both of them made it to Mexico.  But after Mexico, we lose all trace of them.

Just as many Chamorros in the Marianas have Mexican blood, I think there are a few people running around Mexico with Chamorro blood, thanks to Ignacio and Matías, if in fact they remained in Mexico and raised families.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I'm Chamorro running around Mexico...!! But I got here by airplane. Everyone here thinks I'm Mexican. But there's so many things here that remind me of Guam that I feel like I'm at home.