Sunday, December 25, 2011


The Ma Nginge' Niño Team
Donation Box - Niño - Bell


According to one elderly Chamorro priest, now deceased, the custom of taking the Niño Jesus from house to house started with Pale' Román, who was the pastor of Santa Cruz Church in Hagåtña (located near the Santa Cruz Bank of Guam).  He needed to raise funds for church renovations.  So he sent out teams of people to bring the Niño to the homes to venerate and to sing carols.  The custom grew after the war and spread to all the parishes, including the Northern Marianas.

Kampåna (Bells)
They are cheerful, and advise the homes from a distance that the Niño is near


Continuing this custom today is full of challenges.

  • In many villages, there are more non-Catholics who refuse the Niño teams at the door.  Some apartment owners inform the parish in advance not to send their Niño team to that apartment building.
  • Some parishes are huge in land area and population.  Covering all the homes in that parish would require a hundred or more volunteers.
  • It is getting harder to find people willing to give up their Christmas (and other days) to walk in the sun and/or rain, face barking dogs and (sometimes) barking people.
  • The smaller and/or southern villages might have a better chance of keeping the custom alive. 

Ma Nginge' Niño in Mangilao

In Toto, an improvisation.  Carolers stay in the pick-up truck while several teams visit the homes.

By the way, the carolers are singing Sen Bonito.  Here are the words of the refrain caught on the video clip :

Sen bonito O Maria / i patgon-mo as Jesus
(How very beautiful, O Mary / is your child Jesus)
i matå-ña ha na' annok / na guiya i Lahen Yu'us.
(His face shows / that He is the Son of God.)

Here is the Spanish original of that song :

Compare the refrain in Spanish with the refrain in Chamorro :

Ay qué lindo, ay qué bello, ay qué hermoso, ay, ay, ay
(Oh how lovely, oh how beautiful, oh how handsome, oh, oh, oh)
que el amor a sus ovejas del cielo lo hizo bajar.
(that love for His sheep from heaven made Him descend.)

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