Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Very sloppy work, doing a bad job, as in the horrible sewing shown above, is called che'cho' chapus.

A bad hem; buttons sewn in the wrong place; one sleeve longer than the other....all che'cho' chapus.

The stress is on the last syllable; cha - PUS. 

Now don't use your Americanized head and pronounce it as in bus or fuss.

Use your Chamorro head and pronounce it OO, as in loose or juice.

Che'cho', of course, means "work" or "deed."

The word chapus comes from the Spanish chapuz, meaning "sloppy work."

Påle' Roman, in his pre-war Chamorro dictionary, has this word, but he spelled it chapuus, showing that, at least some Chamorros in his day, changed the pronunciation a little, giving it three syllables : cha - pu - us.

But the lady who taught me this phrase pronounced it like the Spanish original : cha - pus.  Two syllables.

I don't know anything about plumbing, but maybe the above is another example of a che'cho' chapus.

Monday, April 29, 2013


It's always good to see signs in Chamorro.

But this is another example of using a glota where it is not needed.

We seem to think : the more glotas, the more Cha'mo'rro'.

Remember that the glota is a glottal stop.  A glottal stop is a closing of the back of the throat, at the place indicated in the depiction below.

Basically, you choke.  If you don't hear a choke in the word, you don't need a glota.

The Chamorro word for "pull" is pronounced HÅL - LA.  No choking.

Notice we kind of hang around on the L sound.  We don't say HÅ then LA.  We say HÅL then LA.  So I put two L's there to indicate that.

On another matter, the two A's in hålla are not the same sound.

The first A is rounded, like the English sound made in AW.  Thus the little circle is placed above that A to indicate that sound. Å.

The 2nd A is flat, like the English sound made in Alabama.

Well, at least I give them credit for not putting a glota after a consonant, as in hal'a.  There's no way you can close the back of the throat after a consonant.

So, in the end, I would have spelled it HÅLLA.  Pull.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


These FD students in 1962 formed the Yearbook Committee that year.

The two teacher advisers are, Mr John Forbes, on the left, and Capuchin Father Donan Hickey on the right.

In the front row, left to right : Alberto Lamorena, Antonio Martinez, Johnny Okiyama, Sebastian Ongesii, Nick Abelardo, Jesus Borja.

In the back row, left to right : Juan Cruz, Anthony Quan, Jose Blas, Wilfred Aflague, Jesus Babauta, Ricky San Nicolas.

The three seminarians sitting on the ledge on the right : Vandrick Cepeda, Joseph Sablan, William Perez.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


A comfortable family of Hagåtña

"Few masters, few slaves" was William Edwin Safford's way of describing the egalitarian society of the Chamorros on Guam in 1900. 

Everyone was the same, it could be said; they were all poor!

"Poor" in the sense that no one lived a life of luxury, but few lived a miserable existence.

Everyone had land.  There was enough land to go around, when the entire island had just 10,000 people.  There was so much land that people often farmed land that wasn't legally their own, with little complaint from others.

Very few people had a lot of cash; cash wasn't needed.  There was hardly anything to buy.  And one grew or made oneself what was needed for life.

This meant that class distinctions were not as sharp in the Spanish Marianas as they are today.

Before the Spanish, the Chamorros did have sharp class distinctions, especially between the lowest (the manga'chang) and everybody else, grouped in middle (achaot) and high (matua) classes.  The manga'chang couldn't mix socially with the others; marry someone from the higher classes; use all the tools and implements used by the others.  Even their diet was somewhat different.

Under the Spanish, there certainly were some class differences.  But they tended to be expressed in feelings of cultural status and not in material terms.  A family might have more status because they were more Spanish in customs and behavior, but even they had ranches and farms.  There was no university that only their children could afford; frequent trips abroad that only they could purchase tickets for; large plantations that they hired hundreds of workers for, while they supervised from their porches drinking lemonade. 

The cultural elite in Chamorro society under the Spaniards was a small group indeed.  The several who went to the Philippines for an education; a few who ventured abroad for business or as whalers; some who could speak, read and write excellent Spanish.

Mixed bood alone wasn't sufficient to put you in a high status.  There were a number of Chamorros whose fathers were Spanish or some other caucasian, who didn't rise on the social ladder. 

Between the better-off family in the first photo above, and the more humble family in the second photo below, the material differences are not staggering.

Both houses are made of local, easily procured material, though the first is perhaps sturdier than the humbler home below.

The family above is dressed in finer clothing, but the simpler family below has very similar clothing, though not as fine.

But we're not contrasting a five-star condo above, and a hovel below. Both families spoke Chamorro; went to the same Catholic services; relied on locally-grown farm products and fish; re-thatched their roof regularly; abided by the same cultural norms; dealt with the limitations of travel, education and commerce that prevailed in the Marianas at the time.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013



Hagåtña, March 1917.

Missus X owed Mister Y seventy-five cents.  I suppose that in 1917 that could have been a significant amount for many Chamorros who did not have salaried jobs.

But Mister Y decided to force Missus X to hand over the 75 cents by kidnapping her baby.

The kidnapping lasted for less than a day, as the baby was found before the day's end, and Mister Y was somewhat thankful for it, as the baby under his "care" refused all food he tried to give it.

What is most amazing is that the police didn't arrest Mister Y.  The baby was returned to the mama; the judge declared the debt cleared and that was that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Sometimes you can drive right past it and not even notice it.  It's Malesso's old schoolhouse, built in 1941.

In one of Guam's most Chamorro villages, it has the most un-Chamorro name of the "Merlyn G. Cook Schoolhouse."

It was named in 1931 in honor of the first head of the Department of Education under the American Naval Government.  He served during Governor Maxwell's term (1914-1916).  There had been superintendents of schools prior to this, but not of department status.

The original schoolhouse, built as a barracks in 1922, was extensively damaged by the typhoon of November 1940.  So a new schoolhouse, further up the road at the present location, was built and completed in the summer of 1941.  War broke out that December. 

The Japanese used it as a schoolhouse, the Mashiyama Gakko, with day classes for children and night classes for adults.  It was also used for meetings.

After the war, when it no longer served as a schoolhouse, it served as a youth center and at times was even abandoned.

Saturday, April 20, 2013



Taimanglo is an indigenous Chamorro name.

Tai = without, lacking

Månglo' = wind

This is one of those Chamorro names that makes one wonder what our ancestors were thinking when they came up with names.

You may remember that, before they became Christians, Chamorros had just one name.  Some scholars state that even this one name could be changed, depending on some important event in someone's life.

Many Chamorro names have a negative (as we see it today) connotation.  Tai (without), Chat (defective), Tat (Never).  The Spaniards spelled it Char as in Chargualaf and Charfauros; and Ted or Ter as in Tedtaotao and Terlaje.

There are Taimanglos found in Humåtak, Inalåhan and Hagåtña in the 1897 Census, but it seems that Sinajaña is where many of them lived, especially of the Fegurgur Taimanglo clan.

AKA The Juggernaut

Friday, April 19, 2013


While Guam was under direct Navy rule from 1899 till 1949 (except during the Japanese occupation), there was, obviously, a chaplain for Navy officers and enlisted men.  He was always a Protetant.  Since Guam was predominantly Catholic, the Catholic Navy men could attend Mass with the locals.

Old-timers used to tell me that the Protestant Navy chaplain didn't have much to do.  Besides Sunday services, there might be another spiritual meeting once during the week, but not much more.  Sunday School couldn't have been a heavy task, since there wasn't a huge number of Navy children dependents.

So to give the man something to do, the Protestant Navy chaplain was almost always made head of the Education Department.  All schools were run by the Navy government, except for the private and non-denominational Guam Instititue.  The Catholic Church was not allowed to run its own schools.

Imagine the chagrin of the Spanish friars who ran Guam's Catholic churches; all those Catholic Chamorro kids under the supervision of a Protestant chaplain!  In reality, there was no active effort to convert the Catholic children to Protestantism.  The real rub came when schools planned plays, dances and other events during Lent, which was strictly observed in those days.


In 1929, the public school in Sinajaña was renamed "Chaplain Salisbury School" in honor of former Education head, Lieutenant Stanton W. Salisbury, Navy chaplain.  He served as department head from 1924 till 1926 and in that time had a new schoolhouse built in Sinajaña.

Principal Jose Kamminga, Deputy Commissioner Vicente Gogo and Congressman Joaquin L. Atoigue all participated in the ceremonies, but most interesting was that a prayer at that event was offered by none other than Catholic missionary, Capuchin Pale' Javier of the Cathedral. 

Salisbury Junction

I believe that location is named after another Salisbury, Governor George Salisbury. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


On April 20, 1940, the USS Henderson left Guam bound for Manila, taking on her the following Guam residents :

Mrs. Agueda Johnston and her daughters Cynthia J. Torres and Marian A. Johnston;

Mr. & Mrs. Manuel S. Reyes

Father Jesus B. Duenas

Jose A. Flores

Juana Untalan

Felisa C. Baza

Mrs. Leocadio Bautista

Lourdes S. Leon Guerrero

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


TOLLAI : bridge

Filipinos say tulay and we say tollai.  I can see a bridge somewhere there.

This newsletter uses the word tollai in its name.  The definite article "i" ("the") changes the pronunciation of the word tollai.  The O in tollai is changed to E.

We see this in other words with an O in the beginning of the word, such as :

OKSO (hill, mountain) becomes I EKSO.

TOMMO (knee) becomes I TEMMO.

TO'LANG (bone) becomes I TE'LANG.

It's not just the definite article but any preceding word with an I in it, such as "gi."  "Gi" means "at, in."

GI TELLAI.  At/on the bridge.

NI TELLAI.  Of the bridge.

But this rule doesn't apply in every single case of an initial O.  For example :

BOTE (boat) remains I BOTE, not "i bete."

KORONA (crown) remains I KORONA, not "i kerona."

The Spanish Bridge at Sella Bay

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Beautiful Pagan

With Spanish galleons passing through the Marianas on their way between Acapulco, Mexico and Manila, it isn't a stretch of the imagination to think that there are treasures at the bottom of the sea when one of these vessels sank.  Indeed, the wreck of the Concepcion, which sank in 1638 off Saipan, yielded quite a bit of treasure when it was collected in 1987.

But treasure buried in the ground?  On remote Pagan island?  With its active volcanoes?

Apparently yes.  At least there were stories, told and re-told over and over again, in the 1800s.  According to the legend, an English captain, around 1820 or 1822, carried some treasure from Chile or Peru when those countries won independence from Spain.  He buried this treasure in Pagan.  He later returned to Guam seeking permission from the Spanish Governor to look for his treasure in Pagan.

Several newspapers around the world carried a story in 1916 about 50,000 being wasted in an attempt to retrieve "pirate's treasure" at Pagan Island, "in the Ladrones" islands.  Navigational books of the time also make mention of this myth of buried treasure.  Georg Fritz, German Governor of the Northern Marianas, also wrote an even more detailed, or perhaps embellished, account of the legend.

Monday, April 15, 2013



San Antonio was a district of Hagåtña before the war.

Today, it would be in the area just north of all that bridge construction on Marine Corps Drive.

On November 21, 1913 a fire broke out in that neighborhood.  Some paper that was burning in a stove blew against the thatched walls, setting the house on fire.  The house was owned by Domingo Blas.  Unfortunately, his neighbor's house also caught fire.  It was owned by Jose Rosario.

The good breeze and the proximity of the houses, plus the highly flammable nature of the housing material, all added to the success of the fire.  Though no one was injured, much less died, both owners lost a lot of their possessions.  The houses, it seems, were not totally destroyed and could be repaired.

Friday, April 12, 2013


You never throw old containers away.  Other people may save four or five containers, but we keep mountains of them around the kitchen.  You always need them for the sopbla.  Leftovers.  I think these four plastic jars, just a fraction of what else was in the kitchen, were going to be used for pickled mango.

(empty, of course)

Thursday, April 11, 2013



It was not all baseball for the Third Marine Division after the recapture of Guam in July-August of 1944.

The next year, when the Third Marines returned to Guam after securing Iwo Jima, Agueda Johnston, head of the public schools, would round up some of the older girls after classes with calls of "Marvin House, girls!  Marvin House!"

Marvin House was a dance hall in Yoña, where the Third Marines were.

The girls would get into military trucks around 2pm and head up there with Mrs. Johnston and a few others as chaperones.  Even some of the fathers of the girls would go up there to keep an eye on things.  The Chamorro girls served as dance partners for the Marines till about 8pm when the supervisors would call it a night.

One of the women who joined the dancing told me, "One of the frustrating things was we switched partners constantly.  There were too many Marines, and too few girls.  So the Marines were constantly tapping each other's shoulders wanting to cut in on the dance with the girl."

She also said, "We didn't like the officers' parties.  Our dads did, because they could rub elbows with the brass.  But we girls didn't, because the officers were older and already married.  We liked the dances of the ordinary soldiers.  They were closer to our age and more fun to be with."

Music was provided by a band made up of Marines.

One of the women who was almost always at these dances was my mother.  She was a dance-aholic.  Even when my mother was in her 60s, she would put on Tommy Dorsey or Glenn Miller and show me what the dances of the 40s were like, dancing with a make-believe partner in our living room.  That's all I heard from mom about life after the war.  Jitterbug, jitterbug, jitterbug.

Well, my mom met my dad at a dance, but during the Korean War.  But right after World War II, my mother was one of the crowd favorites at these dances.  Many women he knew her said that my mother was a very social and popular dancer.  One of her chaperones was her relative John Cruz, better known as "Johnnin Gaga."  He was very tall.  Good; his job was to keep an eye on my mom.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Everybody on Guam knows, if you want your Chamorro "fix," you go to Chode's.

Empanåda, latiya, titiyas....you name it.  You can find it at Chode's.

If you know the family, they are the Sablans.  So how did the nickname "Chode" come about?

First, let me get something off my chest.  It's not CHOT - DE.  It's CHOD - DE.  I would spell it "Chodde."  We hang around a bit on the D sound before we move on to say DE.  So I would put an extra D in there.

But it's definitely not Chot - de.

A family member told me that their grandfather was short.  If you know them, and I do, they are short people.  So someone started calling the grandfather "shorty."

Well, 70 years ago, you try getting Chamorros to say "shorty."  We don't like the R sound.  Sorry, R.  But "guitarra" becomes "gitåla" and "horno" becomes "hotno."  That's "guitar" and "oven" for those who may not know.

So there's the first change.  From "shorty" to "shotde."

But we don't like the SH sound either.  It's not found in Spanish, either.  But Spanish "sandia," or "watermelon" becomes Chamorro "CHandia."  We like the CH sound!  Just make sure it's a true Chamorro CH sound, not a Spanish or American CH sound.  That means our CH sounds more like TS.

So, "shotde" becomes "chotde."  But it takes less effort and rolls off the tongue more easily to make the T a D.  Chotde becomes Chodde.


Not all family nicknames come from Spanish times.  Chode was invented during American times.  Nicknames are being invented even now.  So be careful about what you do or what you say.  Your grandkids may one day be called by that word or action!


I was visiting a family the other day and I noticed a tree on their property that was full of soursop.  I had never seen so many soursop fruits hanging on one tree, and this size.  They were huge.

This fruit is native to Central America and the Caribbean.  It's almost a guarantee that it was brought to the Marianas from Mexico when the galleons stopped on Guam on their way from Acapulco to Manila.

The Filipinos call this guyabano, but we call it laguaná.  The name for it in Mexico and other places in that region is guanábana.  I can easily see how Chamorros modified the pronunciation of guanábana into laguaná.  Just as Chamorros heard people say, in Spanish, "la mesa," "the table" and made it one word "lamasa," they probably heard people say, in Spanish, "la guanábana" and turned it into "laguaná," a shortcut of "laguaná - bana."  This leads me to believe even more that the fruit came to the Marianas directly from Mexico and not from the Philippines (who got it from Mexico as well) since we did not adopt the Filipino name for the fruit.  I can also see how guyabano may be a variation of guanábana, but laguaná is more clearly derived from guanábana rather than from guyabano.

There has been a lot of enthusiasm for soursop lately because of its purported medicinal benefits, including claims that it fights cancer.  The medical establishment is not as excited about it, and consuming large amounts of soursop can pose health risks, too.

I don't go crazy over soursop but I do like it when it comes across the table, especially on very hot days.


A few days ago I posted a paragraph from a Chamorro sermon written in 1873 and invited readers to offer their translations.

Here is the original Chamorro :

An måtai håye, ya gef gåsgås ha' i anti-ña, u hungok este na sentensian Jesukristo : "Maila', bendito ni i Tatå-ho, hålom gi minagof i Saina-mo." An ta chuchule' mohon håf na pedåson lulok ya ta na' hålom gue' gi guafe, ta lili'e na ma fa' kalan guåfe ha', ya kåsi ti ma distingge ni i mismo na guåfe, sa' sen figan i lilok. Pues taiguennao u fan gaige i anti-ta gi as Yu'us, sa' u fan gaige man bula ni i todo na iyon Yu'us. U ta li'e si Yu'us man a'afana', ya taiguihe i Guiya gue'; u ta li'e ya u ta tungo' klåroro todo i misteriu-ña siha; håf mina' ha na' huyong todo gine i taya'; i taihinekkok na minaulek-ña annai ha poksai hit; i gine'fli'e'-ña yan i piniti-ña nu hita annai ha na' fan libre hit; i gråsia siha ni i ha nå'e hit para u ta na' fan gånna ni i todo na tentasion yan desgråsia gi hilo' i tano'; i taihinekkok na mina'ase'-ña nu hita annai ha po'lo i sakramenton-ña siha para i suette-ta, i fottunå-ta yan i dinichosu-ta.

Here is one reader's translation :

When one dies with a clean Soul they will hear this sentence from Christ Jesus: "Come, blessed of my Father, and enter into the joy of your Lord". If we take any piece of metal and plunge it into a fire, we see that it becomes fire-like, and it becomes hard to distinguish it from the fire, for the metal is so hot. Therefore, so should our souls be as unto God, filled with all godliness. We will see God face-to-face, as He is, as will clearly behold His mysteries; why he brought forth the world out of nothingness, His infinite goodness in bringing us into being, His Joys and sufferings in liberating us, the graces he bestows upon us to give us victory over the temptations and disgraces of this world; of His infinite mercy with us, when He instituted His Sacraments for our benefit, our treasure, and our happiness.

And another :

When we die, we who are pure in spirit will hear his voice. “come, you who are blessed by my Father, enter into God's joy/happiness.” When we take a piece of nail and put it through the fire, we only see fire. We are not able to see the nail because of the scorching heat. Our spirit also must be as such before God. We must come before him filled with Christ’s spirit. If we are like him, we can see God and we will then have a clear understanding of Christ’s mysteries. He who goes forth without himself (?), shall be raised into everlasting life. God’s love and suffering has set us free. He gave us to endure temptation and disgrace while on earth. Because of his everlasting mercy, he sacrificed himself so we may have our freedom, our wealth and our faithfulness.
So I decided to take the original paragraph apart and translate it piecemeal.  I make a few comments here and there :

An måtai håye, (When whoever dies)

ya gef gåsgås ha' i anti-ña, (and his soul is all very clean) - Notice the word "ha'."  "Gåsgås ha'."  That means "only clean, entirely clean."

u hungok este na sentensian Jesukristo : (he will hear this sentence of Jesus Christ : ) - Not a grammatical sentence but a judicial sentence.

 "Maila', bendito ni i Tatå-ho, hålom gi minagof i Saina-mo." (“Come, blessed of my Father, into the joy of your Lord.”)

An ta chuchule' mohon håf na pedåson lulok (If we were to take whatever piece of iron) - Notice the word "mohon."  That gives the sense of "suppose, for example."

ya ta na' hålom gue' gi guafe, (and we put it in fire)

ta lili'e na ma fa' kalan guåfe ha', (we see that it becomes as if it were fire itself) - Again, "ha'."  It become as if fire only; nothing but fire.

ya kåsi ti ma distingge ni i mismo na guåfe, (and it’s almost indistinguishable from  the very fire) - "kåsi," "almost."  It's almost as if one couldn't tell the difference between the heated iron and the fire itself.

sa' sen figan i lilok. (because the iron is very hot.)

Pues taiguennao u fan gaige i anti-ta gi as Yu'us, (So in that way will be our souls in God,)

sa' u fan gaige man bula ni i todo na iyon Yu'us. (because they will be full of all that is of God.) - "Iyon Yu'us."  What belongs to God, meaning, His personal characteristics (such as the brightness of fire).

U ta li'e si Yu'us man a'afana', (We shall see God face-to-face,) - "A'fana'," "to face each other."

ya taiguihe i Guiya gue'; (and in the way that He is;)

u ta li'e ya u ta tungo' klåroro todo i misteriu-ña siha; (we shall see and know clearly all His mysteries;)

håf mina' ha na' huyong todo gine i taya'; (why He created all from nothing;) "how" would be "håftaimano." "Håf mina'" is "why."  "Håfa mina' måtto hao mågi?"  "Why did you come here," or "What made you come here?" "Gine" is an older form of "ginen."

i taihinekkok na minaulek-ña annai ha poksai hit; (His infinite goodness when He raised us;)

i gine'fli'e'-ña yan i piniti-ña nu hita annai ha na' fan libre hit; (His love and His suffering for us when He freed us;)

i gråsia siha ni i ha nå'e hit para u ta na' fan gånna (the graces He gave us so that we overcome)

ni i todo na tentasion yan desgråsia gi hilo' i tano'; (all temptation and adversities on earth;) - "Desgråsia" sounds like English "disgrace" but it means "adversity" or "misfortune" both in the original Spanish and in Chamorro.  Getting into a car accident is a "desgråsia."  A misfortune, not a shameful or disgraceful thing in the English sense.

i taihinekkok na mina'ase'-ña nu hita (His infinite mercy for us)

annai ha po'lo i sakramenton-ña siha para i suette-ta, i fottunå-ta yan i dinichosu-ta. (when He established His sacraments for our advantage, our wealth and our happiness.) - This sentence contains a few words that have a certain sense and not necessarily a literal meaning.  "Suette" usually means "luck," but that can't be the meaning here.  When someone is described as being "lucky," it can mean he has a certain advantage not enjoyed by everyone else.  The help that the sacraments give are for our advantage and benefit.  "Fottuna" can be understood as a "good outcome" in things but it can also mean material blessings.  The sacraments are our spiritual blessing, wealth and treasure.  Just as one relies on one's material blessings, we rely on the sacraments.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013


around 1962

There is hardly anything at the Paseo.  The Cathedral stands out, having been finished in 1959.  The "Pacific Daily News" building did not exist yet, nor the Bank of Guam headquarters.


Monday, April 8, 2013


Part of a Chamorro sermon written in 1873 by a Spanish Recollect priest on Guam :

An måtai håye, ya gef gåsgås ha' i anti-ña, u hungok este na sentensian Jesukristo : "Maila', bendito ni i Tatå-ho, hålom gi minagof i Saina-mo."  An ta chuchule' mohon håf na pedåson lulok ya ta na' hålom gue' gi guafe, ta lili'e na ma fa' kalan guåfe ha', ya kåsi ti ma distingge ni i mismo na guåfe, sa' sen figan i lilok.  Pues taiguennao u fan gaige i anti-ta gi as Yu'us, sa' u fan gaige man bula ni i todo na iyon Yu'us.  U ta li'e si Yu'us man a'afana', ya taiguihe i Guiya gue'; u ta li'e ya u ta tungo' klåroro todo i misteriu-ña siha; håf mina' ha na' huyong todo gine i taya'; i taihinekkok na minaulek-ña annai ha poksai hit; i gine'fli'e'-ña yan i piniti-ña nu hita annai ha na' fan libre hit; i gråsia siha ni i ha nå'e hit para u ta na' fan gånna ni i todo na tentasion yan desgråsia gi hilo' i tano'; i taihinekkok na mina'ase'-ña nu hita annai ha po'lo i sakramenton-ña siha para i suette-ta, i fottunå-ta yan i dinichosu-ta.

Translation anyone?

I'll post my translation of this in a day or two....

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Father Dueñas Memorial School was founded in 1948 for one main reason : the education of Guam's future priests.  Only in the 1990s did that core mission disappear from the school.

Father Donan Hickey, Capuchin (top row, far left) was rector of the FDMS seminary in 1962.

The seminarians are :

Bottom row (L-R) : William Perez, Anthony LG Ramirez, Joseph Okada, Roque Mendiola, Santiago Cruz, Ignacio Reyes.

Top row (L-R) : Joseph Cruz, Vandrick Cepeda, Jose Flores, Juan Meno, Maximino Mendiola, Andrew Sablan, Juan Guerrero, Anthony Apuron, Norberto Ungacta, Jose Cruz, Joseph LG Sablan, Pito Leon Guerrero.

Most of these young men did not go on for ordination, and only one of them remains a priest today. But not just a priest; an Archbishop!  Archbishop Apuron.

Friday, April 5, 2013


The building manager thought it would be helpful if this sign were posted in multiple languages, including Chamorro, advising people that no flushing was necessary in this waterfree urinal.

Let's look at the Chamorro...


Grammatically, this is an excellent sentence.

Tai (without) hanom (water) este na (this) systeman (system) fanme'meyon (place of urinating).

But, a couple of suggested corrections.

Systeman shows the writer is thinking in English.  We don't spell it syña, or Tamunyng or Myguel.  We use the I.  So, sisteman.

Fanme'meyon.  "Place of" is FAN+VERB+AN.  Not -ON. 

Me'me' (to urinate).  Notice there are two glotas.

Chamorros would say fanmemi'yan.  Not fanme'meyon.

Now on to the next sentence in Chamorro in the sign :

TI NISISITA "MAFLUSH"  for "No flushing required."

Now, we often use the English directly in an English sentence.

But how would one say "flush" in Chamorro, and not borrow the English word?

We didn't have flushing till the Americans came and we had our first modern toilets.

We can describe the action, though.  To flush is to "na' machuda' i hanom."  To "make the water pour down."

So perhaps, "Ti nesesita ma na' machuda' i hanom."  I spell it nesesita because that's how I learned to pronounce it.  Others may have learned differently.

Longer, but it avoids borrowing directly from English.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


BUBU : angry

Binibu.  Anger

Pot i binibu-ña, ha yamak i lamasa.  (Because of his anger, he broke the table)

Na' bubu : make angry

Cha'-mo yo' ma na' bubu!  (Don't dare to make me angry!)

Nina' bubu ni famagu'on.  (The children made him/her angry.)

Na' bubu : irritating

Na' bubu na taotao. (An irritating person.)

Habubu : easily angered

Adahe gue' sa' habubu! (Be careful of him/her because s/he is easily angered.)

Bubuye : to anger someone

Yanggen un bubuye gue', falågo!  (If you get him/her angry, run!)

Bibubo : irritable.

Ti bibubo na maestra.  She is a calm, tranquil teacher.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Inalåhan Ranch Scene
Early 1900s

Years ago, almost everything needed for life was obtained from the land and sea, with just a bit of human effort needed to harvest these resources.

For sure, metalware for farm implements, tools and household goods had to be imported.  Perhaps certain medicines, too, could not be found locally.  Otherwise, even leather and cotton could be obtained in one's backyard.

At the turn of the last century, an American official could say that true, dire poverty did not exist on Guam.  Though no one lived a luxurious life, everyone had the necessities of life.  The American said he knew of only one person on Guam who needed charity from others in order to live, for she was without family and was blind.

But then he visited the home of a blind couple, an elderly husband and wife.  Though blind, the man spent his time weaving pineapple fiber into fishing nets.

The couple's son, strong and able, tended to the family farm : corn, tobacco, coffee, coconuts, sweet potatoes, taro, yam, betel nut.  Not acres and acres of them, just a little patch here and there, but enough to feed the small family.  The animals included a few head of cattle, pigs and chicken.

The young man went up a coconut tree and brought down tuba for the American to drink.  All throughout the American's travel in and out of Guam's ranches, he saw people pleasantly growing crops, greeting him politely, with some of the children taking his hand to show reverence.

When a fellow American asked him if he thought the U.S. should civilize the Chamorros, this man's answer was "God forbid!"  From what he saw, the Chamorros were just fine.  In fact, better off than many elsewhere.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Old Hagåtña

1822 is a long time ago.  It marks, more or less, the mid-point of Spanish colonization in the Marianas.  In 1722, the Spaniards were firmly settled in the Marianas, with all the Chamorros Catholicized; the Chamorros of the islands north of Luta moved to Guam with some exceptions; the Hispanic and Filipino soldiers married to Chamorro wives and living in Hagåtña.

By 1922, the Spaniards were gone.

So, what did the Hagåtña population look like in 1822?  A list of prominent citizens eligible to vote for Hagåtña's civic leaders shows us what names made up the list of Hagåtña's VIPs. 

Municipal elections were merely consultative.  Not every male could vote; only those who had already held or were currently holding municipal positions.

The voters were :

Manuel Sánchez
Luís Garrido
Luís de Torres
Felipe de Guzmán
Agustín Pangelinan
Antonio de Torres
Mariano Pereda
José de Cárdenas
José Ramírez
Ignacio de Cárdenas

You can see that some of these families have died out (Cárdenas) or are not that visible at the forefront of today's politics (Garrido, Guzman, Pereda).  Some, like the Torreses, are still prominent in Guam social circles.

There's not a single one with an indigenous last name, like Taitano or Aguon.  These electors were mestizo, mixed blood.  But the Chamorro language and culture prevailed because of their Chamorro great grandmothers.

Besides the electors, there were also the following men holding various positions :

Scrutineers (of the voting process) :

Silvestre Inocencio Palomo (the father of Padre Palomo)
Joaquín de León Guerrero

The Secretary of the Governor : Nicolás de Borja

The candidates for Alcalde, or Mayor, were :

Justo de la Cruz
Juan de Rivera

The members of the city council were :

Vidal Valenzuela
Faustino de Borja
José Palomo de Rivera
José García de Borja
Felipe de Guzmán
Manuel Sánchez

The city attorney was : José de León Guerrero

So, the list of VIPs in Hagåtña in 1822 looks somewhat different from the list of Chamorro VIPs in today's Guam.  Names such as Calvo, Bordallo, Pérez don't surface till later, and even Camachos, Floreses and Chamorro names like Ada and Taitano don't emerge till later.  The Torreses and León Guerreros are represented as far back as 1822, though.

Monday, April 1, 2013


The HMS Centurion (center) battles a Spanish galleon

The British ship Centurion looks so mighty in the sketch above, but such was not the case with her crew in the summer of 1742.

Having left South America and wandered for more than two months in the big Pacific Ocean, the ship was low on food and the crew sick with disease by the time she saw land on August 23.  It was Anatahan, which would have been difficult to land at.  Over some days, the ship passed by other islands, again too small or too high, without good anchorage, to be of any use to the emaciated crew.

The lack of wind did not help the ship move more speedily.  But, finally, on August 26, they spotted Tinian.  A flat island, it gave the ship, and her commander, George Anson, much hope. 

Then they saw a proa, so they prepared to defend themselves, as much as the sickly crew could.  They even raised a Spanish flag and a red one, as well, to pretend to be a Manila galleon.  The proa turned out to be carrying a Spanish official and four Chamorros.

From them they learned that Tinian was a garden paradise, full of cattle, swine and poultry, and fruits and vegetables.  Anson landed at Tinian, preventing the Spanish officer from using his boat to sail down to Guam to inform the Spanish Governor, who might send up a sufficient number of armed men to threaten the British, still weak and sickly.  The Chamorro ranch hands fled into the interior, fearing the British.  This left vacant the huts used by the Chamorros, which the British then used for themselves.

The sick crew members were transported on land, some of them borne on the shoulders of the stronger men.  Many died, and were buried on Tinian.

The rest, however, began to recover after eating Tinian's lush fruits, especially the citrus ones to make up for their Vitamic C deficiency.  The records of Anson's crew use the word "incredible" to describe the amount of cattle, hogs and chicken running wild all over Tinian.  The British came across a new kind of food - breadfruit (lemmai).

If it weren't for Tinian, Anson and his men may have never survived their trek across the ocean.

But they couldn't - and didn't - tarry long in Tinian.  They got out as soon as they could, before the Spanish on Guam could reach them.

But they didn't leave without first stocking huge supplies of water and fruits to prevent scurvy from breaking out again among the crew.