Friday, July 20, 2012


One of the better homes in Hagåtña

Here's a description of one of the homes of the Chamorro elite in Hagåtña at the turn of the 20th century.  It is taken from William Safford's "A Year on the Island of Guam."

"Called on Don Juan de Torres, Auditor of the Treasury.  He lives in a large house of masonry not far from the beach; met his wife Doña Juliana Perez.  The rooms of Don Juan's house are very large; the floors of polished Afzelia wood; some of the furniture is of island manufacture and the rest brought from Manila by some former governor; a piano of good tone and in remarkably good tune (Don Juan's brother is an accomplished musician); a good library, including the various codes - criminal, commercial and civil - of the Spanish colonies..."

In the garden, many plants and fragrant shrubs.

  • During Spanish times, there were a good number of Chamorros who were quite educated and cultured in things European.  Some of this was due to the mixed blood of some of these Chamorros; some had the opportunity to go abroad; some had close contacts with Spaniards, Americans and other Europeans who lived on Guam
  • The better homes were made of mamposteria masonry and tile roofing.  There was always a bodega or basement.
  • The "polished floors" that Safford describes reminds me of the way one of my aunties kept her ifit floor shiny, using a cut coconut husk as a brush.  She would move this husk in a circular way just using her naked foot.

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