Tuesday, February 14, 2012



In February 1903, Jose was assisting his boss Harvey at the Navy Public Works shop in Hagåtña.

"What are you doing, boss?" Jose asked.
"Writing my Valentine," Harvey answered.
"What's a Valentine?" asked a puzzled Jose.
"Here.  Look."  Harvey showed Jose the card he had just written.

"My dear miss,
I send thee a kiss."

Later that afternoon, Jose put pen to paper and wrote his own Valentine to his sweetheart Amparo, who went by the nickname Pau :

"Guaha minaulek-ho,
guaha lokkue' isao-ho.
Yanggen kombiene para hågo,
malago' yo' na hågo para i Pau-ho.
Yanggen guåho i trongko,
pues hågo i hale'.
Maila' ya ta assagua agupa'
yanggen konfotme si påle'."

(I have my good points,
I also have my faults.
If it's OK with you,
I'd like you to be my Pau.
If I am the tree,
then you are the roots.
Let's get married tomorrow,
if the priest agrees.)

Jose folded this note up just as tiny as he could get it, not like the pretty card trimmed with lace that Harvey had.  No; if Pau's parents ever saw his note, the little lady would have gotten a nice scolding.

Instead, Jose went to Pau's house with the gift of a basket of young, green mangoes for the parents.  As he turned to walk out the door, he let the little note drop next to Pau's foot, unnoticed by anyone but her.  With her one foot, Pau swept the note under the living room bench for later retrieval when everyone was asleep on the guåfak (mat). 

Unfortunately, Pau's mother was always the last to sleep, and she saw the piece of paper under the bench.  Unable to read or write, Pau's mother simple threw the paper the following morning in the fire in the outside kitchen where she was boiling alåguan (rice gruel) for breakfast.

And thus, the first Chamorro Valentine ever written was never read.  It didn't matter.  A year later, Jose and Amparo were married, and all was well.  Love conquers all.

~~~A fanciful story born in my imagination at 7AM, Valentine's Day

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