Saturday, June 2, 2012


Chailang is a vivacious, cheerful friend of mine from Saipan since the 1990s.

When I last visited her, we talked about many things but she also showed me the things she has growing around the house.

Sunin Honolulu.  Taro imported some time ago from Hawaii?

Mendioka.  Tapioca. The yellow kind (amariyo).  Which she says is considered tastier.

Chå'guan Lemon.  Lemon Grass.  Stuff it in a roast pig to flavor the meat.

Alageta.  Avocado.  All the rage now in health circles.

Åbas.  Guava.  The leaves can be used medicinally.

Papåya.  One tree is påsmo (withered), the other as strong as the telephone pole, she says.  "Haligen telefon."  I had never heard the word påsmo applied to a plant before, only to pneumonia in humans, so I laughed.  Now I know.  You can learn something new everyday if you just look and listen.

Lalanghita.  A kind of green orange.  From the Spanish naranjita, or "little orange."

Lemmai. Breadfruit. Lemmai Balåko to be exact.  Balåko means "boar," or large male pig.  There's also the variety known as either Lemmai Palau (Palau Lemmai) or Lemmai Måhlos (Smooth Lemmai).  Some Chamorros (as you can hear Chailang say) pronounce måhlos "måslos."  Chailang says the Balåko variety is native to the Marianas, and the Måhlos variety from elsewhere (she says her sister's tree probably came from Ponape), hence the other name Lemmai Palau.


Chailang is known all over Saipan for her signature phrase, "Atcha baby!" which can mean anything, as long as it is positive.  She says it several times in the video.

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